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March 2015
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Addicted to Bliss with Gina Menza
Ishta Yoga
56 East 11th Street
New York, NY 10011

Mon, 11:15 AM To 12:15 PM

Warning: A good restorative teacher may be addictive.

For anyone unfamiliar with restorative yoga, it is a series of passive, mainly reclining postures. Regular restorative practice helps mind and body reach a state of harmony. As internal competition ceases, you can begin to relax and heal.

I lay on the floor of the dark room, surrounded by seven other devotees. The music is soft. After only minutes, Gina's soft voice leads us to our breath. There is no strain in her voice, no imprecise instructions that leave you fumbling to get it right.

Bolsters sit under our bent knees, our arms are at our sides, and our eyes are closed. As I breathe, I feel hands lightly touch my shoulders, and they slip several degrees further toward relaxation. A barely perceptible sensation of air moving over my face indicates that Gina is spreading a blanket over me. Ten minutes into class and I'm already floating toward euphoria.

In the darkness there is only the padded surface of the floor supporting my back and the bolsters under my legs. Gina's meditative voice tells us, "If you are in a position that feels right for you, you can choose to stay in that position for as long as you like, even for the entire class."

Yes, you heard right, I tell myself. You have permission to have it your way for as long as you deem necessary.

We move through a series of maybe six postures, but at this point, who's counting? By the end of the hour my euphoria has killed my anxiety. Next time, Sleuth may even stay in that first posture the whole time.

One the other hand, I'm not sure I can resist following Gina to the outer reaches of relaxation.

After class, I ask Gina what restorative yoga book she recommends. She mentions her former trainer Judith Lasater's book, Relax and Renew. I notice her eight-year-old daughter, whose calm engagement in today's class is evidence of her mother's influence.

This class is highly recommended. Just don't let the simplicity of Gina's class deceive you—simplicity is a supreme form of elegance.


-Magdalen Pierrakos for Yoga Sleuth

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