Wednesday, February 26

Dunedin Health & Wellness Center | Dunedin, FL

LOCATION: The location was easy to get to, but by following directions the parking isn't completely obvious on the first round. I drove pass the location, knowing it was it from pictures online, but unsure where to park. Once I turned back around I pulled into what seemed to be an alley, which took me to the other side of the building and there was free parking on that side (much more obvious if you're coming from the East, I'm guessing).  
$15 drop-in, cash or cards 
STUDIO: Although the website will tell you the studio is located upstairs (which may imply a different entrance), you walk in through the main entrance and check-in before you go upstairs. Kick off your shoes at the elevator which takes you to the second level and opens up into the practice space. The practice space is crisp with bright curtains over windows and a doorway that opens up onto a little balcony. It's a smaller space, with six of us and the instructor we filled it out comfortably (although we didn't stagger our mats at all). Props, mats, and even space for two on an Iyengar rope wall are available.   
CLASS DESCRIPTION: Hatha Level 1 is for beginner's and those who want to practice the foundations of Hatha Yoga to develop awareness.
INSTRUCTOR: Wade, I believe, has just started teaching classes but has been with the Dunedin Health & Wellness Center as a massage therapist for some time. I've included links to Wade's massage history and the Center's yoga page here, but I can't provide more info on Wade and yoga specifically, sorry.
CONTACT: Ani Yoga Studio (though this is the name, I didn't see it anywhere, which is why it's titled as Dunedin Health & Wellness Center in the title)

Walking into the Center was relaxing from the get go because our instructor, Wade, was at check-in answering questions. My mom laughed at me when I said, "This is the first time I realized Morgan Freeman would make an excellent yoga instructor voice." Though Wade's voice didn't sound like Morgan Freeman, it has that same soothing rhythm to it. He was humble and kind and in his approach to answering questions, and I immediately felt welcomed (in a nurturing way, some yoga studios welcome you in a more physically energizing way—this was more mentally energizing).

I turned around to find an elevator decorated with prayer flags and a stand with shoes already in place, so off went my flip flops + barefoot into the elevator I went. Which felt weird. The elevator opened up directly into the studio where a few students chatted and I quietly sat up my space in the furthest back corner. One of the students played with the rope wall, which I didn't realize I was in a Iyengar-based studio, so I was curious how this class would unfold. Once Wade entered in it was immediately meditative as he went directly into practice with no opening chit-chat. He gave us three requirements for the class:
  1. Relax the body for the entire class
  2. Allow the mind to let go 
  3. Let the breath move through your body like wind through a hollow bamboo reed
To focus in on our breathing he asked to silently repeat so hum to ourselves. So on the inhale. Hum on the exhale. He quoted Iyengar with his translation of, "I am that." I found myself returning to it regularly during this practice, it reminded me of the same sensation out of doing this with sat nam, I learned in my first class here in the Tampa area.

We started by warming up the body on our back. His instruction was very detailed, like I often find in Iyengar-based classes. Some people don't like this, it works well my mind-body connection. We did possibly a million hip opening positions from our back (ok, not a million, but Wade was thorough). We alternated bending one knee into the chest, eventually that led to straightening the leg, a reclined pigeon pose, to a straight-leg hip opener (reclined pigeon with a straight leg).

reclined pigeon via
The next sequence was a first for me, where we would go into reclined crow pose (bakasana), to reclined side angle pose (parsva bakasana) on both sides. This was an interesting way to activate the core and maybe rethink how you hold the arm balance when upright.Which went into a happy baby (ananda balasana) sequence including new version of reclined baddha konasana.
reclined (sleepy) crow via
baddha konasana via
We eventually stood up and went into a couple lunge sequences (after a week of my yoga classes focusing deeply on hips, I didn't even need blocks—which felt really encouraging for sticking with this many classes regularly). A warrior one (virabhadrasana 1) sequence. And then back to the mat, this time on our bellies for a low cobra (bhujangasana) sequence that included bent knee rotations (I can't find a picture for this one, so bear with me... You are on your belly, head resting on your crossed arms so the spine is straight. Kick your feet up in the air so you legs are now at a 90° angle. Make circles with your feet, so both legs are rotating together).

Then came some seated twists that eventually worked our way to savasana. What a nurturing experience, and a beautiful way to end my yoga practice in Florida. Though I did build up some heat in some of the standing poses and holding downward dog longer than usual, I would say overall this was a gentle class and an excellent introduction to hatha yoga for beginners. I'm not sure how long the class was suppose to go, but we were in there for just over an hour and a half. Wade did comment that he always goes over time, and if the students would let him he wouldn't stop. With that kind of class, I'd question what student would stop you Wade!

Thank you for such a kind class.

studio is above where you see the flags, but you enter between the plants on the main level
check in
elevator to the studio upstairs
the statue wishing you well on the way out

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