I made another tour stop a couple weeks ago, and gathered up some of my sweet yogi friends to join me for an evening class at Black Crow Yoga in Arlington.
Tour Stop: Black Crow Yoga, Arlington
Date: Monday, June 25
Class: All Levels Flow to Music (75 mins)
Instructor: Brittney Burgess
Practice Pals: Sarah C., Sarah H., Yana
Sarah C. lived in Arlington for a while and previously had a monthly membership to BCY, so had some insider information about the studio. Sarah H. is a current citizen of Arlington, and had been round to practice a couple times. Yana and I were noobs.
The check-in process was very easy, and the front desk staff were friendly. We received a warm welcome, a brief orientation to the space, and an invitation to make ourselves at home. A single drop-in set me back $19, which is a slightly higher rate than peer studios in the area, but their unlimited membership is a mere $99 per month, so it’s clear what type of clientele they’re hoping to grow.
The space is on Broadway in a corner lot building that may previously have been a garage or some other industrial space. There’s a long hardwood floor, exposed brick, and tall windows to light the space. Blocks and straps are available as props, and mats for rent, of course. It was still light out when we arrived, but the sun went down as class progressed, and some soft interior lighting added to the warm feel of the space.
What I observed: There were about 20 students in the room, representing a variety of ages, colors, and abilities. I overheard chit-chat between practitioners before class began. Sarah C., who used to practice each week said there is a true feeling of community at BCY, fed by the regular attendance from yogis in the neighborhood. Some students looked well practiced and athletic, some looked unsteady and a bit unsure, but all found ways to move about their mats during class.
Brittney has a kind, friendly personality. She was full of smiles and encouraging comments, all of which felt sincere. She was mobile during the practice, making her way to different areas of the practice space to do a little demonstration, and provide some hands-on adjustments. Hers fell more under the category of “i’m here, i’m your teacher, and i’m acknowledging you with this caress” rather than a physical assistance aimed toward correcting or helping to deepen a posture.
The sequence for the class was nearly entirely standing postures. Apparently, that’s Brittney’s signature style, as is the inclusion of Warrior III in almost every lunge sequence. Her cuing of the breath was consistent, guiding us through inhales and exhales with each posture and through each part of the vinyasa. She peppered class with some sweet moments in static postures, such as inviting us to intentionally connect with both our strength and our vulnerability during the practice. During one samasthitihi, she noted simply, “you can stand on your own two feet,” which might have come across as tremendously patronizing, but instead felt validating.
She gave an option for the arms in trikonasana (top arm in a half bind, bottom hand to the heart) that made me feel pretty and also helped me connect with the rotation of my spine in that posture.
What I missed: With the nearly complete omission of seated postures, prone or supine postures, arm balances, and inversions, the sequence felt to me a bit unbalanced. The entrance into each of the many lunge sequences began with stepping a foot backward. I teach and practice by stepping a foot forward to find my warrior stance or lunge stance, and I couldn’t seem to get enough distance between my feet when entering those postures the other way around. As Sarah H. mentioned afterwards, there was a lot of “skooching” the back foot farther back from our little crew of traveling yoginis.
Brittney’s breath cues were consistent, as I mentioned, but I don’t think I heard any guidance regarding alignment or anatomy. She gave the option to take galavasana, inviting yogis to enter the posture if they had been working on that arm balance, but didn’t provide instruction on how to get there if you hadn’t been working on it. I personally like to hear the cues for advanced postures even if I’m not about to try them myself―the information gives me a place to aim down the road.
Recommended for: Practitioners who are familiar enough with the foundations of yoga that they can land basic postures safely without too much instruction. Yogis seeking a cozy practice, a chance to build heat, and a space to move the body alongside other members of your community.
Would I return? Yes. I know I’ve already used the terms “warm” and “nice” to describe the experience, but those are both accurate, and certainly things that I’m seeking in a yoga class. With the heated space and heavy inclusion of standing postures, I definitely built up a sweat and burned calories. I don’t think I would take to BCY for daily practice, but I liken the class to a chocolate chip cookie: immediately familiar, not too fancy, crowd-pleasing, and a way to treat yourself everyone once in a while.