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Sunday Stretch: A Blissful Way to Start a New Week

Relax, restore and completely reboot with yoga at Ace Hotel.




photo by john altdorfer

 

Somewhere along the way, my creative juices had learned to flow most freely when I'm hunched over my keyboard like some squinty-eyed Quasimodo. In response, my easily agitated joints were rioting. After a particularly hectic week spent basking in the blue glow of my laptop under an avalanche of deadlines, it was time to stage a self-inflicted intervention.

Chalk it up to hormonal disturbances — or a “Bah Humbug” response to a holiday that has become more stressful and expensive with every passing year of adulthood — but what I desperately needed was to uncoil: mentally, physically and emotionally.

Out of the blue, an email arrived promoting physical activities hosted by Ace Hotel in East Liberty. While getting pelted in the head with rapid-fire dodge balls was a pass, six words in bold, capital letters mesmerized me.

RELAX + RESTORE. SUNDAY YOGA STRETCH.

I set off that week but had a demoralizing revelation en route: the class started at 10 a.m., not 10:30, which meant I was going to be 15 minutes late.

A very quiet second-floor ballroom and Felicia Lane Savage, our radiantly warm instructor, greeted me without judgment.

“Find a relaxing position,” she said, as the sound of Native American bamboo flutes gently massaged our eardrums. “This class is all about you. It’s meant to be restorative, not stressful.”

Slow inhales … slow exhales … rolling our knees to the left … then the right. Back to center. Gently breathing, eyes closed, jaw unclenched, hands open. No pretzel-like positions, no death-defying shoulder stands. Surrounding me were retirees, hipsters and a pregnant woman about to pop. Everyone seemed to be entranced.

“Would you like an eye pillow filled with joy?” Felicia asked, approaching softly with an organic satchel of geranium, coriander, jasmine and rose. Yes, eye pillow filled with joy, please.

“It’s to relax your eyelids and muscles, to help you switch off and surrender to the Earth. Taking sight away forces you to become aware of your body,” she explained before tiptoeing away.

My soul feels as if it’s getting a Swedish massage. Gentle, fluid movement. Easy breathing. Tranquil meditation. Body, mind, heart simply still.

“People need to be restored, not over-stimulated,” Felicia said as class came to an end. “This is a time they can switch off, surrender and submit to the earth. And most importantly, heal.”

Verdict: Bliss.
Details: Sunday mornings from 10-11 a.m. Free to the public, although a $5 donation is suggested. No reservations needed. Mats are provided.  

Ace Hotel, 120 S. Whitfield St., East Liberty; 412/361-3300, acehotel.com/pittsburgh
 

Eat This Month

Plant-Based Proteins
“Protein doesn’t have to be meat. There are many benefits to [eating] beans, nuts or legumes. Not only are they low in fat but they provide fiber and other vitamins and minerals,” says registered dietitian Nick Fischer of Fischer Nutrition LLC. Cut your weight in half to determine the number of grams of protein you need daily. Fischer also suggests tofu as it is a quality source of protein, contains fiber and easily is marinated, baked or grilled. “Mash it with nutritional yeast, and it tastes like scrambled eggs,” he says.
 

 

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