Upside Down Fun with Laura Sykora 

Today I went to an inversion workshop with Laura Sykora at Pure Yoga. It was fun and I learned a lot, although my left wrist hurts now. But that is to be expected.

Back in December, my friend invited me to join her in an Instagram posture challenge. At the time, I had no idea that yoga was such a big deal on The Gram. Since then I have completed six posture challenges and taken two workshops with Kerry Verna (AKA Beach Yoga Girl). Actually, it was the same workshop twice, but who’s counting?

Kerry did a lot of prep work for the inversions. We worked a lot on our core and practiced handstands on the floor (very difficult) before standing up and doing any inversions. Laura warmed us up and then we went for it. She talked to us about anatomy and showed us some things to make sure we were in the right position. But then we did tripod, forearm and handstands – with different variations on all three. The warm up was difficult – I know I shouldn’t, but it always makes me smile when men have to drop out of a position while the women around them are holding strong. We did these things where we would move from chair in one breath to boat in the next, then stretch out so we were hovering above the ground, then get back into boat and then roll up to chair again. And this was the warm up!

Laura showed us some different ways to use blocks to make sure our bodies were positioned properly. We used them to place our hands with forearm stand, which I have done before. But she also had us hold them in the widest position between our forearms and transition from dolphin to plank to downward facing dog and back again to learn how to keep our arms in position for handstands. She also showed us different ways to use, but not rely on, the wall for handstand. And reminded us that dolphin pose is one of the hardest poses in yoga and if you do it long enough you will actually be thankful to kick up into forearm stand and maybe even find it easy. Maybe.

It’s also just fun to be in a room full of people who want to try something new and are fully willing to fall. She repeated a quote that is a favorite: “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried” – Stephen McCranie We failed a lot today, and it was totally fine.

Completely separate of the workshop, the studio itself was lovely. On the northeast corner of 86th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan, it feels like an oasis in the middle of the busy city. The entrance doors are big and wooden and give you an idea of what is to come, but the interior surpasses expectations. Wood and rocks and lovely smiling faces, if I could afford it – and if it were more convenient – I would certainly make a practice of visiting them more often. As it is, I will be there again in July when I take a series of workshops with Kino MacGregor.

Namaste.

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