Restorative Yoga at Iyengar Yoga Center of Boulder, 2299 Pearl St., #6, 303-444-9642, boulderyoga.com
Instructor: After she had major back issues in her teens, Laura Allard-Antelmi worked with Iyengar yoga, studying with the founder in India. She opened Iyengar Yoga Center of Boulder 27 years ago and, for the last eight years, she's taught children with rare genetic disorders.
What is the workout? Iyengar-style yoga for relaxation.
"It's a time to put your outside life aside and take some time for yourself to slow down," said Allard-Antelmi.
Iyengar yoga is known for its use of props and holding long poses. The class develops relaxation skills accessible to everyone through supported postures.
"It's not that relaxed stillness of sleep, it's a restful alertness," said Allard-Antelmi.
We held each pose for a few minutes at a time, long enough to settle in and get comfortable — or go further for a deep stretch. Props are an essential component of this workout. We used bolsters, blocks, chairs, straps and blankets, and sometimes all at the same time.
The props support the body during the pose, often they held the head and neck to relieve tension in the neck muscles. It's not intended to be strenuous, instead it forces you to slow down and let your body unwind.
What's different? I've been to my fair share of yoga classes, and most classes have an exercise mentality, with fitness as the main goal. As yoga has become more popular, instructors have been trying to entice new clients by adding modern music and faster-moving exercises to its itinerary.
But this class differs from the average yoga class. Slowing down the mind through yoga poses is the goal, a hard task when life gets in the way. We didn't move through poses like a flow yoga class. We arranged our props, got into the pose and held it for a time, then we rearranged the props and started again. It was purposeful, not strung together into a choreographed series of movements.
"It's a balance between rest and activity," says Allard-Antelmi.
Cost: A single drop-in class is $15. There is an introductory rate of $24 for two classes or $30 for three classes. Check the website for all the available options.
Level: Anyone off the street can take this class. Students don't need to be able to hold up their body weight or have any prior experience. Allard-Antelmi started everyone in the easiest variation of the move, which wasn't physically strenuous, and then after a minute, gave optional variations that intensified the stretch.
"It's pretty advanced to be able to relax," said Allard-Antelmi. "Sometimes on the outside you're completely relaxed, but it's the Indy 500 on the inside."
When: 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, noon-1:15 p.m. Wednesday and 1:30-2:45 p.m. Friday.
What to prepare: Comfortable clothes and water. You can bring your own mat, but props and mats are provided.
Muscles worked: The poses for this Iyengar yoga class stretch the upper and lower back and chest. We twisted through the spine and hips as well. I felt a mild soreness in my spine the next the day.
What I loved: Fast-paced yoga classes stress me out more than they help me relax. Taking an hour to slow down was refreshing and far more effective. Instead of wondering when the class would be over, I hoped it wouldn't end.
Allard-Antelmi was a great teacher and she's got jokes. She'd casually throw out yoga jokes during class for some unexpected laughs.
What I didn't like: The studio has a wall of ropes that let students do some of the poses while suspended. Our class didn't get to utilize them because there were too many people in the class. But Allard-Antelmi let me test them out afterwards and it made me regret not having that time during class.
Aside from that, the only real downside to this workout was the road noise from Pearl Street, but it was minimal.
How I felt after the class: I considered trussing myself up like a holiday ornament on the rope wall for the rest of the day. In deference to her clients, I eventually abandoned my post.