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June 2020
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Internally Aligning with TaraMarie Perri
The Perri Institute For Mind And Body At Gibney Dance Center
280 Broadway (entrance at 53 Chambers)
New York, NY 10007

Thu, 12:30 PM To 2:00 PM

Intrigued by the concept behind Mind Body Dancer, Yoga Sleuth decided to check out TaraMarie Perri’s class just as the doors opened to its new home at Gibney Dance Center. Though the official launch isn’t until September, the Perri Institute for Mind and Body is currently operating with a full roster of open classes, free meditation and workshops.

Before class began, my eyes couldn’t help but fixate on the huge windows which framed a lovely treetop view. Spring had sprung, and the sun was beaming brightly onto my yoga mat.

TaraMarie started us in supported Matsyasana. After showing how to place the blocks underneath the shoulders, she walked around the room making individual adjustments to ensure everyone was properly set up.

While we were in Fish Pose, TaraMarie talked about the transition of the seasons, how one day it’s warm and sunny, while the next day has remnants of winter. “I find teaching transitions is always relevant and necessary work for us, but the seasonal junctures is a particularly great time to introduce it because we can see nature changing all around us,” said TaraMarie.  “Looking at the seasons transition is a shared experience and we can remember in those moments that we too are changing as part of the natural, organic world,” she said.

Once we came to sit, TaraMarie guided our awareness to the horizontal and vertical planes within the body -- our personal grids. She explained how the Y axis travels on the vertical and connects to what is happening now, and the X axis travels on the horizontal and connects us to the past, present and future -- the chronological pathway of time. She then added that the two axes intersect at the present, the NOW.

(After class, I asked TaraMarie to elaborate on this idea. “NOW is a way to locate where we are in the practice, but also a way to locate ourselves when we feel lost, or are pushing too quickly ahead,” she told me. ”The purpose of the NOW moment also was not a static one. Rather, it was dynamic and changing. Throughout practice, we could alternate levels with our grid/intersection in different planes and still find an intersection to represent the NOW…and sometimes a few NOW moments could line up,” she said.)

The inner and outer alignment was a theme for TaraMarie’s class that was often explored. We were encouraged to search for new information in each pose, especially if it was one that felt familiar. “For advanced practitioners, it is particularly important to look at each practice with a beginner’s mind where each time could bring a new adventure,” she said.

One of my adventures came in Side Plank, a posture I’ve practiced at least 100 times. With TaraMarie’s subtle verbal cue, my balance shifted causing me to nearly fall face first onto the floor. “It feels wildly different, right?” she asked when she saw my hands wavering through the air.

The timing of each sequence allowed me to slowly find the postures while TaraMarie provided guidance through explanations and hands-on assists. Props were also incorporated into most poses which added another component to the supportive foundation of class.

In the middle of the studio stood a line of architectural columns which TaraMarie used as a visual reference for elongating poses, like Tree and the transition to Triangle.  

“As a replacement for a detailed anatomical journey to find height, asking a room full of students to ‘imagine you are as tall as those beautiful columns’ will instantly stimulate the iconic brain and each student will find their own way through muscle support and breath to create that image,” she explained.

We went to the wall to workshop Handstand. As I watched TaraMarie demonstrate the “L” shape we were going to try, I saw the calm stability in her body that was reflected in her teaching. With controlled buoyancy, she lifted her legs one at time to the wall while her hands stayed firmly planted on the floor creating the “L” shape. Later she demoed the full balance, and again she did so with an effortless precision. When it was our turn to practice Handstand, she called out adjustments to each of us, helping to move us closer to the pose.

After inversions, we back bended in Ustrasana and Salabhasana. Once down on the floor we took a “long journey” into Half Pigeon, moved progressively into Baddha Konasana (walking the fingertips slightly forward then allowing the rest of the body to slowly follow) and revisited Dandasana which was practiced at the beginning of class.

With about 10 minutes left, we were instructed to “loosen our technique” and relax into Savasana. TaraMarie offered a lavender infused facial massage, the perfect prescription to jumpstart my body’s absorption of her deeply integrative class.

Drop-in classes are $17.

-Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth

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