Anusara Express with Elizabeth Rossa

In search of a lunchtime pick-me-up, Yoga Sleuth decided to forgo a chocolate cupcake craving for Elizabeth Rossa’s one-hour class.

Elizabeth, director of Shri Yoga, is a pure Anusara teacher. I feel her vibrant compassionate energy immediately as we begin to create an intention for class and our lives, both on and off the mat. She encourages us to be fully present in each moment and see what kind of new curiosity and excitement we can bring to our lives. Getting out of habitual patterns to see what falls away, letting go of extras and keeping only what you need. It is an important reminder, especially in the city that never sleeps. We chant the Anusara invocation, as YS pretends to know the words and chant along “satchidananda something something…”

We start our asana practice in tadasana (mountain pose) and do a round of kapalabhati (shining skull breath) to release our stagnant energy, several rounds of sun salutations with lunge, pausing each time in tadasana for cleansing kapalabhati breath. The body heat is starting to rise and we move into triangle then float into half-moon and bound half-moon. Next a dancing warrior sequence (including warrior 2, reverse warrior and extended side-angle). From high-lunge we shift our weight forward; gliding into warrior 3, half-moon, standing split then up into handstand.

On to some arm balancing, we squat down with our feet together and knees apart. Placing our hands on the ground we start to rock our weight forward gliding up into bakasana (crane). The class is challenging, yet Elizabeth encourages us to find the ease in each pose and transition by staying fully in the moment and not anticipating what is to come. We slowly lower the crown of our head to the mat and float up into tripod headstand. Staying present in the transition we bring our legs back down to our arms, and with a sense of accomplishment, lift our head back into crane. We finish up with a seated spinal twist and savasana.

Elizabeth ends class by reading us a poem and I am so relaxed that I can only remember her lovely voice. What a perfect way to spend a lunch hour. Much better than a cupcake. And the studio isn’t bad either — spacious and open with high ceilings, wood floors, soothing lavender, white walls and plenty of sunlight. A velvet-curtained area in the back for changing, as well as small private rooms for reflexology and massage treatments.

Kristen Auble for Yoga Sleuth