I am the Goldilocks of yoga. For decades, my yoga-obsessed friends have tried to convince me to commit to a practice. Kundalini yoga? Too woo. Power yoga? Not woo enough! But Wakefield’s Bottega Yoga’s flow class with instructor Kristen Killilea? That was just right.
Stepping into Bottega’s Kingstown Road studio, you know straight away that this isn’t your typical yoga experience. Bespoke tees line the wall, featuring the studio’s whimsical elephant emblem with sayings like “Zen AF.”
I stashed my stuff in the art-filled lounge, entered the studio, and rolled out my mat. The lights were low, and two candles glowed at the front of the room. Calming music filled the space, which was heated to toasty using infrared heat lamps. (Most of Bottega’s yoga classes are heated.)
I’ve done heated yoga before in other studios, but those rooms were more lukewarm than hot. Bottega’s temp is set to a balmy 90 degrees. The heat from the lamps was penetrative but not oppressive, and it took away the winter chill that cut into my bones.
Instructor Killilea had us begin with a grounding exercise, placing our feet on the floor to feel the earth underneath. She then asked us to pick a mantra for the class. (Mine was “find the beauty.”) So far, so woo.
There was a music change and the woo went out the window. Gone was the spa-like synth music; it was replaced by a decidedly funky soundtrack that featured artists like The Neville Brothers, Thundercat, Trey Anastasio, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
Killilea led us through opening poses, including stretches that opened up my sides. I leaned into the movement, feeling the gentle pull at my tight hips, the occupational hazard of being a writer. We moved into a few gentle cat-cows to warm up the chest and back. Downward facing dog and sun salutations followed, which brought us directly into a ladder flow.
In a ladder flow, poses are added on to each other at each round and repeated in a loop. I’d never experienced ladder flow before, surprisingly, and loved that I could work though poses that were a little sticky the first time and land them on the repeat.
Periodically through the class, Killilea reminded us that this was our practice, and if we wanted to move a different way, to feel free. She also offered minimal corrections, which I appreciated. There’s nothing an introvert yogi (me) hates more than being called out in a class full of strangers when I’m just trying to get my yoga on. But she still kept a watchful eye on our form, occasionally calling out “I love the shapes” to keep us motivated.
On the final pose of the ladder flow, Killilea invited us to take a bind (linking the hands around the body, while rotating the shoulders and torso in a complicated twist). I hadn’t done yoga in eight months, and even when I was somewhat regular with my practice, I struggled with them. But between the ladder flow and the toasty studio, my body was primed and I slid right into it. (Holding it was another matter.)
By the time we arrived at Savasana (the resting pose that marks the end of the class), I felt like Bottega’s T-shirt, Zen AF.
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