Fitness Friday: The Yoga Garden

Fitness Friday: The Yoga Garden

Fitness Friday: The Yoga Garden

The Yoga Garden is a yoga studio in the heart of downtown Narberth.  It is right next to the iconic Narberth movie theater, on the 2nd floor.  One step into the studio, and you are greeted by an incredibly fresh and woody aroma.  In addition to the expected yoga classes (Vinyasa, Gentle, Prenatal), The Yoga Garden also offers Ashtanga, Power Yoga, a class called Barefoot Bootcamp, Qi Gong, massage and many other offerings.  The Yoga Garden is also incrediblyfamily friendly. They even host kids’ yoga birthday parties at the studio.

My Introduction to The Yoga Garden

Many people over the years have gushed about The Yoga Garden to me.  Of course, I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about.  I was too busy listening to Kanye West on the elliptical to understand anything about yoga.  It did occur to me, however, that The Yoga Garden must be doing something right if their reputation reached the back corner of a traditional gym.

Mark Nelson, the owner of The Yoga Garden, has an incredible reputation as a yoga teacher.  People rave about Mark’s ability to teach and they also rave about his personality and his warmth.  Talking to various yoga friends of mine, I gathered that Mark has cultivated quite the cult following over the years.

I’m consistently curious to see how each of these studios distinguishes itself from the competition and how they cultivate the kind of client loyalty that sustains a business.  Based on what I had heard, I couldn’t wait to check out The Yoga Garden and I just had to meet Mark Nelson.

I took 3 classes at The Yoga Garden.  I will give a brief description of my experience in each class.

Class 1: Vinyasa Fundamentals with Rachael Hunter

This was my first foray into vinyasa.  I have taken ‘Stationary’ or ‘Hatha’ classes before.  The idea of ‘flow’ intrigued me but also made me feel like I was going to look like a fool.  This class happened to coincide with the Narberth Halloween parade so as Rachael was guiding us to ‘clear our minds’ the song ‘Monster Mash’ was being pumped into the studio.  Rachael was very good-natured about it and made a well-timed joked that addressed the comedy of trying to be still in the midst of a parade.  Her class was great.  She inspired the class to practice vinyasa and also helped participants enormously with their alignment.

Class 2:  All-Levels Hatha Yoga with Colleen Schoenhard

I was nervous about this class for two reasons: because it was termed ‘All-Levels’ and because it was 90 minutes in duration.  I’m consistently nervous that ‘All-Levels’ will involve the other participants laughing at the fact that I don’t know the difference between Warrior I and Warrior II pose.

Colleen’s love for yoga was contagious.  She was kind and helpful as I strained to watch what other people in the class were doing.  She gently moved my knee out, moved my foot in.  With each pose, she gave great verbal direction.  I felt comfortable in the class and I learned a lotunder her direction.

Class 3: All-Levels Vinyasa with Mark Nelson

I had been urged, no, mandated by a yoga teacher friend to take this class. I told my friend that I wasn’t ready for an ‘All-Levels Vinyasa’ Class and she said that I had to take this class with Mark Nelson.

This class was PACKED on a Sunday morning.  I couldn’t help but think that this was akin to people cramming into temple or church to hear a sermon from their favorite religious leader.  As the room filled to capacity, Mark happily rearranged yoga mats to help each person feel welcome.  He hugged participants, he asked about their families.     He struck me as incredibly charismatic, utterly sincere and earnest.   It was very apparent that the participants in the room weren’t there for a vinyasa class, but for a vinyasa class with Mark Nelson.

Mark demonstrated an incredible ability to nimbly move through the room while giving verbal cues and helping each person with their alignment.  Again, I was the one who was straining her neck trying to figure out ‘what is Happy Baby?’  ‘Oh no.  What is Tree Pose?’

Again, it was Mark’s incredible warmth and genuine likeabiity that buoyed the class.  He was enthusiastic about the endeavors of both seasoned yoga students and clumsy newbies like myself.  I can totally understand why people clamor to take his classes.  He made me feel proud of my efforts and feel encouraged to return for more yoga practice.

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