Spa Junkie at... three New York yoga centres

Our intrepid columnist “mentally disembowels” during a high-octane workout

Last time, Spa Junkie savoured a contemplative,spiritual yoga class – today she limbers up for some high-speed high-kicking…

Sunday

I head to a high-octane I.Am.You yoga class taken byformer banker Lauren Imparato, who has a reputation for her controlled,athletic version of Vinyasa – somewhere between yoga and a workout.

I make my way through the bustle of Mulberry Street inLittle Italy, take the lift up to the sixth floor and enter a loft space – Lauren’s private apartment. I am offered a clean mat and towel and shown intoa spacious room with exposed brick walls, abstract art and a wooden DJ booththat belongs to Lauren’s boyfriend, who often provides a class soundtrack, fusing traditional yoga music with classic rock and hip-hop. Sadly, he will not be joining us today.

More and more people start to pile in. When the 20 orso of us are all settled, Lauren guides us through a meditation during whichwe’re encouraged to “explore the action of mentally disembowellingyour body of its weight, leaving a hollow weightlessness”.  Disembowelling is not a word that encourages me toenter a calm, spiritual place, but I do the exercise as best Ican. After a pause, we are then guided to “fill the empty space withlight”, but I’m filled with gory thoughts and no matter how hard I try, I can’tquite get into a “lighter” space.

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We chant Om, as well as some Sanskrit verses, for 10 minutes, then begin a Vinyasa flow sequence. I am a little taken abackthat there is no stretching time at the start. Instead, we movestraight into the poses, while Lauren – tall, athletic and beautiful –energetically flits around the room tending to each of us and making sure weare in the right positions.

Compared to Derek’s In-Between Spaces class yesterday, Lauren is almost obsessive about form and correcting mistakes. It isa seriously intense and athletic workout that really tests myfitness. I start to feel myself buckling under the pressure as Lauren adjusts my poses several times, particularly during an attempt of the pigeon – a super-challenging, groin-flexing, hip-opening number. Just as I feel I’vestarted to master it, we move on quickly to the next.

This swift pace is maintained throughout and while I amused to the Vinyasa sequence, the speed of the class is unnerving and the roomstarts to get warm very quickly. I am inadvertently swiped by thearm of a sweaty, buxom blonde to my right – several times.

We cover high lunges (or the horse rider’s pose), yogipush-ups and a “rock star” pose (a flipped downward dog) that involves a highbackwards kick and a full body twist, making me look less like a rock star andmore like an awkward teenage boy attempting to breakdance. My head isspinning and I can feel my heart rate rising.

The class lasts 90 minutes and by the end I am anexhausted, sweaty mess. My muscles ache.

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After this energetic workout, SpaJunkie enters a studio promising a “safe haven for escaping pain”. Check backon Tuesday January 1.

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