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February 2020
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Zen Flow with Catherine Kapphahn
The Giving Tree Yoga Studio
256 31st Street
Queens, NY 11105

Thu, 6:30 PM To 7:45 PM

Yoga Sleuth was curious about the description of The Giving Tree’s Zen Flow: "Blend the mindfulness of zen with anatomical awareness through meditative movement addressing the five elements and meridian pathways." Having a fascination with the meridians and five elements, I was excited to see what this class was all about.

Located in Astoria, The Giving Tree has a whole host of curious-sounding classes and workshops. There's the "Move, Groove & Mantra" class, the "Yoga in Greek" class, the "Totally VinyAwsome" class, and workshops with Reiki, aromatherapy, full moon groups, and all kinds of spa services and astrological readings. On top of that they sell copies of their namesake children's book, The Giving Tree - a sweet gesture and nod to their playful side.

Despite being located on the last stop on the N train, this Thursday evening class was packed. We began by bowing to each other, to the teacher and to the people outside exiting the subway. Taking a seat we then took a ten minute seated meditation allowing the sounds of the room and the muffled sounds from the subway to be acknowledged but not affect our attention to our breath. We then stood up and lifted our arms above our heads, circled out our wrists and took a few side bends.

Catherine then took us through a round of Sun Salutations, only these were Sun Salutations that had a rhythmic and repetitive movement component to them. For example, several times we would bend our knees, fold forward and swing our arms behind our backs. In a standing position we would bend our knees, lengthen our legs, dorsiflex and plantar flex our feet, then come into a Warrior III position with our arms floating back behind us. Also while standing we twisted our torsos swinging our arms to the back of us while touching our inner arms with the other hand. "This is the meridian that deals with the element of fire," Catherine told us.

As we built up our standing poses, Warrior I, Warrior II, Extended Side Angle and Triangle were built into the mix. In our Planks, we had to lift one leg up, put it down then lift the other, repeating five times. This was just one way the class would be deceptively challenging.

Coming onto our backs we added some abdominal work. This include abdominal crunches, bicycle legs with abdominal twists, three rocks on our backs into Navasana with straight or bent legs, and then to add a little extra challenge, Navasana to Ardha Navasana. The class collapsed onto the floor, but we were not to relax for too long. Catherine had us go over to the wall to do a little shoulder work, first putting one arm up against the wall at 11 o'clock then twisting our torsos slightly out to the center of the room for a shoulder stretch. Then we took another shoulder stretch bringing our hands into Headstand position and then walked our feet away from the wall to come into a dolphin-like position. Catherine walked around the room giving micro but essential adjustments to each person's alignment.

Our final pose of the night was a restorative Supta Baddha Konasana. For this pose we took two blocks and used them to prop up our bolsters at an angle. Lying down on the bolster, we then put our legs into a Supta Baddha Konasana position and propped our knees up with a block on each side. It was a delicious way to relax after exerting ourselves in class. Catherine ended with a brief and silent meditation. We put our props away efficiently as the other class was pouring in for an interesting sounding "Sweat and Surrender" class.

Drop-in classes are $17, with $1 mat rental.

-Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth

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