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December 2018
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Inventive Play For Backcare with Andreas “Andi” Wirz
Yoga Union Center For Backcare And Scoliosis
37 West 28th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Tue, 4:30 PM To 6:00 PM
Special Needs

Sleuth is always looking for ways to strengthen her back. Over a decade of daily yoga practice I have been dealing with the nagging pain in my left lumbar region and mid-back spasms when I am really stressed.

So, one Tuesday when I found myself with an extra hour and a half, I checked out Andi Wirz’s class at Yoga Union Center for Backcare and Scoliosis.

It seemed that most of the students in class were loyal regulars, and I could see why as Andi started us off in a lovely Supta Baddha Konasana with head and shoulders supported in a triangular block formation. From here we first relaxed and then did some exercises to open tight muscles of the shoulder.

Next we took a very purposeful series of Anantasanas, where you lie on your side and look like Vishnu on his couch. In Andi’s first version, we utilized the breath as we extended the bottom side of our torsos. We kept our arms at our sides to find balance, then we “stood” on our forearms to create even more length before taking the full pose holding onto the top big toe of our extended leg.

In all cases, Andi was very clear about working at a comfortable level without pain. So Sleuth’s Anantasana looked very different from Steven’s who was next to me and Linda’s who was lying next to him.

Next, we worked on a series of Parsvakonasanas: we first held onto wall ropes to help extend the bottom side of our torsos; next, with a rope around our back legs to create traction and find more freedom in the top side of the torso; and then with a long belt around the back foot and the front hip crease to get the most leg action we could.

Andi is an experimental prop user. He clearly sees how they can be configured to find the different aspects of a pose. And, his joy at playing with ropes, blocks, slings and belts makes the class particularly fun.

As a change of pace, we took Vashistasana with no props and then some of us took “Wild Thing” variations.  

Andi, a native of Switzerland, is a very supportive teacher, calling out individual accolades throughout class with his gently accented voice.

Inversions are a big part of Yoga Union Backcare classes. Our first was a Handstand with feet up the wall. This gave confidence to many of the students. Next, we utilized YU’s custom-made slings to hang upside down in a Headstand variation. For our final inversion we took to the slings once more, supporting the pelvis in a very restful Viparita Karani.

After a short Savasana, I noticed that not only did my back feel great, but I was excited about the prospect of trying out Andi’s pose variations again and inventing some of my own.

It’s the sign of a particularly accomplished teacher when the student leaves the class not only feeling better but with more curiosity than she came in with.

Yoga Union Backcare and Scoliosis classes are housed in the Yoga Union studio. Drop-in classes are $23 and all props are included. There are many discount packages available.

-B. Erica Spraos for Yoga Sleuth


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