As someone who hates going to the gym and really any form of exercise that involves breaking a sweat (so exercise), I thought the Free Yoga on Pier A, offered every Tuesday from 7-8 p.m. by Devotion Yoga, might be a good way to ease my lazy self into a summer workout routine. I was also really enticed by that four little word “free”- as a poor college student and intern, all you have to say is “free” and I’m there.
Let me start by saying I really like the idea of yoga. You bend your body into weird positions and get super-toned- Gwyneth Paltrow-looking-muscles. She’s an avid yoga enthusiast and beautiful to boot. Who doesn’t want to look like her? And as I’m cash strapped, a free yoga class is a pretty sweet deal in my book.
What I didn’t take into consideration is that bending your body into downward facing dog might be a lot more intense and difficult than it looks.
Now, my previous experience with yoga starts and ends with a free class at a local gym (free when you have a gym membership). All I really remember from this class is not being able to balance very well, and by not very well I mean I was falling over every other minute because it’s extremely challenging to stand on one foot when you lack any kind of natural balance.
I was a little nervous going into the class because I wasn’t sure if everyone else would be able to bend their legs behind their head, but luckily I had my friend and fellow hMAG intern Kim with me, so I knew I wouldn’t be the only one way out of my element.
When we got to the Pier, I was surprised to see there were already about 30 people gathering with their yoga gear. This being my first class, I had no idea how many people to expect, but I was thinking there would be maybe 15 people at the most. I could not have been more wrong. There were so many people there, about 50 by my count. This is quite the popular event in Hoboken. People here really love yoga.
The class got off to a fairly easy, unintimidating start, with the instructor showing us a few stretches and telling us to close our eyes and breathe in and out. He then led us into child’s pose, the one yoga position I know I can do because all it involves is tucking your knees under your chest, stretching out your arms in front of you, and placing your face on the ground.
But once we had stretched out and loosened up, the workout really began, along with my inability to correctly move my arms and legs into the right position. I can’t recall exactly what moves and positions we did from here on out, but I can tell you they were pretty difficult.
The instructor definitely knew his stuff and while walking around he helped people point their feet in the right direction and move their torsos in the correct positions.
Near the end of the class we were doing a plank to downward dog flow and back again. Then we switched things up…into the even more difficult chair pose. Yes, the chair pose is exactly what it sounds like- bend your legs while keeping your back straight and lifting your arms over your head. Not only is this position hard to hold but it really tests your legs’ ability to not give out in about 5 seconds. As the workout difficulty increased, my stamina was flagging, which had Kim and I laughing at our lack of yoga skills.
Eight o’clock finally came and the class wrapped up with a few stretches and some yoga words (Namaste, I believe is what we said, but at that point my body was too tired to pay attention).
So yoga might not be for me, but what I did like about the class is all levels were welcomed, and all levels showed up. Kim and I weren’t the only novices attempting yoga, while there were people with years of experience bending their bodies in ways I don’t even want to think about. I also appreciated how helpful the instructor was, doing his best to make sure everyone was in the proper positions.
I woke up the next day, and my legs and behind were so sore I could barely walk. Turns out I got a better workout than I thought – that chair pose really did a number on me! I can only imagine what great shape I would be in if I did yoga a few days every week.
But for those avid yogis, or anyone looking to test out a yoga class, Free Yoga on Pier A is definitely the way to go. You get a great instructor, you’re outside in the fresh Hoboken air surrounded by the waterfront, and I’m sure I don’t need to point this out again but, it’s free!
For more information about Devotion Yoga studios, visit: www.devotionyoga.com. The studio offers a variety of packages and classes at every level. Free trial classes will be held at Pier A throughout the summer. Check website for details.