Stop one on my yoga studio challenge was Prana Power Yoga in Cambridge. Located on Mass Ave between Essex and Pearl Streets, the studio is on the 2nd floor (press 2R on the elevator). I attended an unheated 75-minute Vinyasa flow on a Monday night with Kate. They have a great New Member deal which I promptly signed up for: $25 for unlimited yoga for 1 week. With a drop in priced at $20, it was a deal. The best part: the package can be used at any of their 3 locations in the Boston area. The studio itself was cozy with two large rooms for yoga practice, a massage room, and several bathrooms. If you forget a mat or towel, no problem: they rent them out at a small fee. They also have water for sale as well as a small bookshelf of yoga related products.
After registering at the front desk, I set up my mat towards front of the practice room. The wall of windows in front of me looked out over Mass Ave which was a nice touch (and a great reprieve later in class when holding that third-and-longest chair pose). The other students around me quietly stretched and meditated. There were about 14 people present with two other men in class besides me, which was a pleasant sight to see.
Class began with Kate introducing herself and asking if anyone had a request for poses or body areas they wanted to work on. She got a request for the back (all of it) and we began. She opened with some puttering in cat/cow and some warming up of the shoulders. She had us hold plank a few times as well to really wake those muscles up (feel the burn!).
After puttering we found our way to the fronts of our mats, joined each other in a collective om, and began to flow. Throughout class we did a lot of low and high lunging, with twists and without, giving us an excellent chance to strengthen and stretch our hips. While in lunge, she had us place a fist on the low belly, drawing it in towards center, so that we could feel our core firm up and our tailbone point more towards the floor. It was an instruction I had never heard before but really appreciated. Kate skillfully worked in all the standard poses in our open and closed pose sequences, including warriors 1 and 2, triangle, utkatasana, side angle, side plank. All poses included cues for modifications to make the pose more difficult which was appreciated.
Standing balancing poses included a fantastic sequence of lifting one knee, twisting the torso to the side of the room, and then transitioning into ardha chandrasana. This was also a new one for me, made sense anatomically, and had the bonus of being fun to do. One other creative sequence Kate put together for us was a transition from high lunge with eagle arms straight into eagle pose. It was a bit awkward my first time but pleasantly challenging.
Class ended with a floor series of backbends (salambasana and bow pose) and shoulder opening (while on our stomachs, we bent our arm to the side in cactus shape and rolled onto our side. It was intense and felt excellent.) We then rolled onto our backs for assisted bridge pose with a block, then were encouraged to do regular bridge and, finally, wheel pose, if we were up for the challenge.
The entire class was taught with no music, which is the sign of a skillful teacher to me. Kate provided firm and helpful adjustments throughout class. Her pace was challenging and her delivery smooth, firm, and nurturing. My first experience at Prana Power Yoga was a very pleasant one!