Last time, Spa Junkie savoured a contemplative, spiritual yoga class – today she limbers up for some high-speed high-kicking…
I head to a high-octane I.Am.You yoga class taken by former 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 in Little 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 into a spacious room with exposed brick walls, abstract art and a wooden DJ booth that 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 or so of us are all settled, Lauren guides us through a meditation during which we’re encouraged to “explore the action of mentally disembowelling your body of its weight, leaving a hollow weightlessness”. Disembowelling is not a word that encourages me to enter a calm, spiritual place, but I do the exercise as best I can. After a pause, we are then guided to “fill the empty space with light”, but I’m filled with gory thoughts and no matter how hard I try, I can’t quite get into a “lighter” space.
We chant Om, as well as some Sanskrit verses, for 10 minutes, then begin a Vinyasa flow sequence. I am a little taken aback that there is no stretching time at the start. Instead, we move straight into the poses, while Lauren – tall, athletic and beautiful – energetically flits around the room tending to each of us and making sure we are in the right positions.
Compared to Derek’s In-Between Spaces class yesterday, Lauren is almost obsessive about form and correcting mistakes. It is a seriously intense and athletic workout that really tests my fitness. 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’ve started to master it, we move on quickly to the next.
This swift pace is maintained throughout and while I am used to the Vinyasa sequence, the speed of the class is unnerving and the room starts to get warm very quickly. I am inadvertently swiped by the arm of a sweaty, buxom blonde to my right – several times.
We cover high lunges (or the horse rider’s pose), yogi push-ups and a “rock star” pose (a flipped downward dog) that involves a high backwards kick and a full body twist, making me look less like a rock star and more like an awkward teenage boy attempting to breakdance. My head is spinning and I can feel my heart rate rising.
The class lasts 90 minutes and by the end I am an exhausted, sweaty mess. My muscles ache.
After this energetic workout, Spa Junkie enters a studio promising a “safe haven for escaping pain”. Check back on Tuesday January 1.