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February 2020
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Gym Yoga for Your Health with Susan Malcolm
Equinox 76th St
344 Amsterdam Avenue at 76th Street
New York, NY 10024

Sat, 11:30 AM To 12:45 PM

Heading downtown on the subway I ran into my friend, Susan Malcolm, who was on her way to teach at Equinox. Since a good Sleuth is always armed with yoga clothes, I tagged along and was able to slip right into her packed class of 50 fans.

They’re fans for good reason.

Before class, Malcolm greets each student. She actively inquires about injuries and conditions and gives little tips on how to relieve nagging knee pain or create more room in a tight right hip. This is before the class has even begun.

I notice how many students complain of back pain and ask Malcolm if that is normal. She says it is and that the pain is caused by all sorts of conditions and situations. I think to myself, it must be difficult to address all those people in a gym class where students are looking for exercise as much, if not more, than relaxation and reparation.

Malcolm’s mission is to keep her students healthy, to stay safe from injurious habits and correct asymmetries before they become lifelong problems. She accomplishes her goals with laser-like focus, good humor and knowledge about both bone alignment and the relief that can come from deep muscle stretching.

We start in Tadasana with a block between our ankles. Malcolm asks us to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, taking a few laughs in between in order to release facial muscles and reduce tension in the jaw. We then come into a deep forward bend with bent knees to help counter hamstring limitations and lower back tightness. After a standing backbend and side stretch, we begin to flow.

It’s Krishna Das meets Annie Lennox on her music mix. As I practice I’m aware of the songs, but not disturbed by them. Malcolm’s knowledgeable banter and good humor keep them as background singers to the real stars…the students.

As we move, she asks Gretchen to raise her left hip, Rachel, who’s five months pregnant, to back off from a backbend, and Naomi to take care of her knees so she doesn’t re-injure them. For Sleuth, she places a block between my knees and ankles as I jump back into Chaturanga to solve the nagging turnout of my right ankle. Her suggestion works, and I promise that I’ll add this prop use into my regular practice.

We take Warrior 2 and Peaceful Warrior: “Joan engage that back arm, John take your front thigh parallel to the ground. Oh Alice, it’s great that you’ve got more room now to stretch your inner leg.”

Malcolm is watching everyone’s practice with eagle eyes and the students around me become more and more attentive to the weight on their feet, the activation of their biceps and the work of their cores as a result.

We take Warrior 1 and Warrior 3. Core work includes forearm Planks and Chakravakasana working into our “Cat” variations from the abdomen. We take twists and Crow and Side Crow, all the while watching how we line up our feet, how one shoulder is lower than the other and how our palms meet with equal weight.

Malcolm knows that yoga is a lifelong endeavor and she teaches that way.

As we lay in Savasana, after taking our choice of inversion, I think how lucky these Equinoxers are.

They probably don’t know how good they have it: an excellent teacher invested in their individual well-being and a practice that’s worth its weight in yearly memberships.

Equinox yoga classes are membership only and include all props. Contact an advisor to try a class 212-496-2374.

- B. Erica Spraos

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