Talking Spirituality: Mind + Body + Spirit

by Natalie Grigson on April 1, 2013

If I were to tell you that I found a wonderful yoga class right here in the heart of San Francisco, you’d probably shrug your shoulders and ask me which one of the hundreds of wonderful yoga classes I was talking about.

And if I were to adamantly declare that you’ve never had a better workout during yoga than in this particular wonderful class, you’d probably come back with five other studios with equally challenging classes.

Because that’s the thing about San Francisco—there are yoga studios dotted along street corners like Starbucks here. There are classes in this city at nearly any time of the day. And while many of them are wonderful, and many of them are certainly challenging; not all of them can claim to be particularly spiritual.

Since the name of the game is spirituality in this column, you probably already know where I’m going with this: I have found the impossible: A spiritual, fun, and challenging yoga class. Oh, and it won’t cost you a ton of money, as these classes are donation based!

The place is called Urban Flow Yoga and it is located on Mission Street. The building itself is rather unassuming. When you walk in and go up the stairs, though, the space is open, sparsely decorated, and yet completely welcoming. There is an area to check in, make your donation, drop off your shoes, and change your clothes. My favorite part about this space? The sign outside of the guy’s changing area: “Boys (And girls, and everyone in between.)” Clearly this is a warm space for anyone.

And I mean this literally. When you walk into the studio itself, or as they call it “the living room,” the first thing you’ll notice is the open feeling. The room is huge and the outside walls are all windows, sunlight pouring in. The second thing you’ll notice, once your body has caught up with your eyes, is the heat. Each class is heated up to 90 degrees and once you get moving you’ll really feel it.

But the class starts out slow—a fifteen minute period for mingling, greeting your neighbors, and getting situated, followed by a beautiful invocation chant. During this chant I remember the voices of everyone in the room harmonizing into one, bouncing off the walls and shaking the windows while a musician kept the beat on a drum. It was hypnotic, meditative, and you really felt the collectiveness in the room. Pure peace.

Of course then the asana practice (a.k.a. the hard stuff) began. It was a tough hour and a half or so of flowing poses (vinyasa) dotted with pushups, crunches, core work, and even some dancing. Throughout the class our instructor Rusty Wells* reminded us to breathe; he reminded us to smile; and he reminded us even through the sweat, the effort, and that last set of pushups, to stay present. This moment, this now, is life. It’s all we have.

Like I said: fun, difficult, and spiritual.

The class was concluded with another group chant, similar to the first one, but a bit sweatier this time around.

So if you’re looking for a nice, light, yoga class to get your day going with a bang—don’t come to one of Rusty’s classes. However, if you are looking for a yoga class that will make you stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually; if you’re looking for a class that will make you sweat, laugh, and maybe even cry; and if you’re looking for a class that will start you day off, not with a bang but a POW! Well, head to Urban Flow on Mission Street. Check out the class schedule here. And don’t forget to bring a towel, a mat, and some water.

*From what I understand, Rusty Wells is a well-known Bhakti Yoga, er, yogi and practices all over the Bay Area. He’s the Head Honcho and the “Main Attraction” of sorts at Urban Flow.

Do you have a favorite yoga class in the Bay Area? Have you been to Urban Flow? As always, I love to hear your feedback, so click the button below and send it in!

Namaste, Yogis.

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