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February 2020
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A Commitment to Clarity with Jacob Kyle
Greenhouse Holistic
783 Driggs Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Thu, 6:30 PM To 8:00 PM

On a blustery winter night, Yoga Sleuth hurried to Jacob Kyle’s vinyasa class at Greenhouse Holistic. It had been a long day, and I'd been looking forward to this class throughout it. I had discovered Jacob’s fun and energizing evening class a few weeks back, and began planning my evenings around it. In the darkness of these winter evenings, it is so tempting to go straight home and veg in front of the television in my PJs, but Jacob’s lively, flowing class is completely worth it.  

After everyone pealed off their layers and set up their mats in the candle-lit studio, we began moving right away. Never early and always supremely bundled, I was still removing a final sock when the class began moving from Downward Dog to Plank in a slow, strengthening flow. Already the stresses of the day and the stiffening from the cold weather were melting away!

Jacob had instructed us to have two blocks at the top of our mats before class, and we made good use of them. Jacob had us place our finger tips on the blocks at their highest points in Ardha Uttanasana. Keeping our hands on the blocks, we bent our elbows and sighed out an exhale as we bowed forward in Uttanasana. We repeated this a few times before moving on with the flow.  

For someone like me who has very tight hamstrings, this was a great way to find some release through the head and neck as well as the legs. Uttanasana can be a very challenging pose if my hamstrings are feeling extra tight. As most teachers use it as a more restorative pose in sequences, this can sometimes be a problem for me. Using the blocks entirely resolved this issue.  

In many of his classes, Jacob will begin with a fun and fairly basic sequence, adding and subtracting from it as it is repeated. I like this technique as it allows me to have some idea of what’s coming, and it allows for deepening and experimenting with different variations of traditional poses. It also allows for warming up of the body to specifically help with certain poses.

For example, in an earlier version of a flow, Jacob had us stretch our arms out to the sides and flex our palms while we held a lunge. As we repeated variations of this flow, we eventually came to Warrior 1 in which we had the choice to hold our hands in Reverse Prayer behind our backs. With more than ten years of serious yoga practice, Reverse Prayer has always eluded me. I sometimes half-heartedly try it only to settle on holding opposite elbows instead. But Jacob showed us a neat trick: begin with the backs of the hands together behind the back, and simply flip them so that the palms are together. This combined with the flexing warm up earlier allowed me to do Reverse Prayer properly for the first time! I sense that breakthroughs like these are not uncommon in Jacob’s class.  

Another thing I love about Jacob’s teaching is that he encourages students to challenge themselves, but to always do it with awareness and an understanding of alignment and physical limitations. He has a clear and easily understandable way of talking about poses.  In Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, he said that the “priority” should be to keep the standing leg straight rather than to straighten the lifted leg. Immediately everyone in the class got a little bit taller.  

I also really like the shape of Jacob’s classes. In many other classes, I find the warm-ups to be a bit boring and just a time filler, but in Jacob’s class, it is building toward something and it always feels good. He also always makes time for a good cool-down and restorative bit at the end, which is always enjoyable. In this class, we ended with a lovely supported Bridge in which we had the option to stretch our legs in a restorative Inclined Plane pose.  

After Savasana, Jacob had us sit for a few moments with our eyes closed. He asked if we noticed any new sensations of calm or clarity that had arrived during our practice, and if so, he offered the idea of making a commitment to maintain that sense for the rest of the evening or maybe even into tomorrow. As I stepped out into the wintery darkness, I committed myself to my new sense of calm for the at least rest of the evening, and perhaps throughout the rest of the season.

Drop-in classes are $18 with a mat rental for $1. New students can purchase 2 weeks of unlimited classes for $25.  

-Abby Payne for Yoga Sleuth

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