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I Actually Said ‘Om’ During My Gaia Flow Yoga Class

There was plenty of twisting and stretching during the limb-tangling hot yoga session.
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Gaia Flow Yoga Entrance
Gaia Flow Yoga Entrance Catherine Wendlandt

Gaia Flow Yoga looked exactly like what I expected to see in a studio named after the Greek earth goddess. Everything in the “love-based” studio was a pale, earthy green. It had Hindu statues and a large gong. There were mirrors to watch yourself, and late-afternoon sun was streaming in through the window facing Blackburn Street. 

I’d come to the Uptown yoga studio for its “Desert” class, a slow and twisty vinyasa class recommended to beginners. I checked in at the desk, asked to borrow some blocks, secured my valuables in a teeny lockbox, then headed into the studio to unfurl my mat. 

As I waited for class to begin, the instructor sat down beside me. When I checked in, she’d noticed my neck was stiff (my disability causes me to have tight joints, like in my neck). I was stunned. I’ve never had an instructor approach me about my disability without prompting. But this woman did, and she had come by to explain how class had many twisting movements and how I should twist to stay safe. To be honest, once I got over the shock, I really appreciated her talk. It was nice to have a class where my teacher took the initiative to help me, and not the other way around. And I felt more prepared for the class. 

Then our hot-yoga began. There were only three other students in the studio. We started on our backs and stretched in various positions. Then we sat up and the instructor led us through breath work. She had us chant “om” three times. My eyes widened. In all my YouTube tutorials and studio classes, I’ve never actually said “om” in any of them. Is this real life? I thought. That said, I liked the meditation. In most yoga classes I’ve experienced, meditation feels more like an afterthought. I appreciated how it was built it into the structure of the class here.

The instructor was right, though: there really was a lot of twisting, lunging, stretching, and holding. We’d be in a triangle pose, then somehow twist a leg. The easiest twist involved us standing straight up and turning our upper body to the side then rotating the hips back to the front. But as we got deeper into the class, the positions got harder. The session was a testament to balance, and I almost fell a few times. I wasn’t the only one. The guy next to me did topple over.

As we got into more complicated movements and combinations that required a lot of up and down, I just stayed in downward dog, with the aid of my trusty blocks. But then even downward dog became complicated. We did it one-legged, extending our back leg out and then pulling back into our chest. I am still a relatively new yogi (to the point where I sound silly calling myself a “yogi”), but the instructor led us through moves that made me think, um, what? Toward the end of class, she extended her right leg to her left side, folded the other leg over, and twisted and balanced her whole body on her hands. I couldn’t comprehend what I was watching.

The instructor was good about offering modifications and variations of moves, but there were quite a few poses that I point-blank couldn’t do. At one point, we were seated, with one leg bent toward our bodies, the other extended forward, and she wanted us to lift ourselves off the ground with our arms. I balked. Not only are my arms frustratingly weak because of my disability, they don’t fully straighten, and I can’t flex my wrists.  

We finished class with stretching again. During this, the instructor dinged tiny cymbals. Then she turned on crashing wave sounds for us to have one more quiet, meditative moment before we left. 

While the studio had looked exactly like I thought it would, I didn’t expect the thought and care my instructor put into our practice and our mental health. But she set that standard from the beginning. Early in the class, she stopped the yoga exercises and talked to us for a bit, asked us what exciting things were going on in our lives, what we should try to focus on. It was, admittedly, a little awkward, but I enjoyed it.

From my instructor’s talk about my disability to the limb-tangling positions we practiced, this class surprised me and made me feel welcome. 

Final Thoughts 

Aesthetics 

The place had a hippy vibe, but it fit with the yoga studio. There were Hindu statues, earthy colors, and rose and geranium essential oils wafted through the air. Everything felt intentional and not too commercial. This isn’t the studio encouraging you to post on social media—instead it wants you to focus on restoration, and I deeply appreciated that. 

Difficulty

While this class is recommended for beginners, I wouldn’t call it easy. There were certainly easy moves, but as we got deeper into the class and the twists, there were many positions that we all struggled with. But the instructor did offer variations and modifications for almost every move. 

Accessibility 

Gaia might be one of the more accessible studios I’ve visited so far. It’s wheelchair accessible, which isn’t always the case. It also offers options for pregnant women and other people with mobility issues. And, in my experience, the instructor will take time to understand your limitations. Words can’t describe what it meant that I didn’t have to take the initiative to advocate for myself to protect my body during this class.

The Cost of It All 

A single drop-in class is $29, but if you really like yoga, you should go for the new client offer. For the same amount as a drop-in session, new clients can get a one-week unlimited class. The studio also offers unlimited monthly classes beginning at $145 and class packs beginning at $220 for 10 sessions. These memberships also get you access to Gaia’s live-stream classes and videos, as well as the studio’s other North Texas locations. 

Would I Go Back? 

Absolutely.

Author

Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…

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