When making the scenic drive to Little Compton, I love mellowing out to the smooth sounds of James Taylor. Is there a more fitting song than “Country Road” when driving through the farmcoast area? During one particularly perfect summer day, I headed to the Little Compton Wellness Center to mellow out even further by taking a gentle outdoor yoga class among the shady trees in their beautifully manicured garden. Under the guidance of our teacher Nicole Lebreux, the class would explore breathing techniques, movement and meditation through slow-paced hatha yoga. Though it was geared towards beginning yogis, seasoned participants could also enjoy a mindful and intuitive practice.
I was in definite need of some spiritual TLC during my first experience taking the class. I had just gone through a teeny tiny third-life crisis and not even James Taylor’s most uplifting party favorites could pull me out of my funk. Some gentle yoga sounded like just the ticket to help me nama-stay positive and avoid being stuck in crying-recently-single-thirty-something-pose for the remainder of the summer.
Upon arrival to the LCWC, each member of the class received a warm greeting from Nicole, a mat, foam exercise blocks, yoga straps and a rug to catch the morning dew as we took our places under the shady tree. Our session began with Sukhasana: pleasant or easy pose. While slowly relaxing into the pose, surrounded by hydrangeas on that beautiful summer day, I couldn’t help but hear Ina Garten’s voice in my head saying, “Who wouldn’t love this?” and “How bad can this be?” I hope that means that Ina Garten is my spirit animal.
We then delved into “sensation exploration” by practicing a yogic breathing technique called Pranayama, which is designed to connect the mind and body through deepening the breath. Following that was a set of soothing neck and arm stretches, as well as seated forward folds, side bends and gentle spinal twists. Nicole then led us through a series of sun salutations, followed by a soft, slow progression of yogic poses to stretch and warm our bodies. We practiced table pose, cat to cow, downward dog, tree pose, boat pose, reclined cobbler’s pose and my all-time favorite way to almost fall asleep in public: child’s pose. Each new position felt more and more like a little yogi was hugging my soul.
Though I’m a wildly underseasoned yogi, I thoroughly enjoyed Nicole’s style of teaching. Before our session began she spoke with the group, getting to know us a little better and the types of teaching methods we
preferred. At various points during the session, she encouraged us to try out our own intuitive free movement positions.
The slightly more challenging positions took place at the end of the session, when we incorporated the exercise blocks and yoga straps into our squats, hip stretches and bridge poses. For this set of exercises I opted to go with the modified versions that Nicole had offered, since the bright summer sun was starting to change our hatha yoga into hot-ha yoga. We did another series of stretches and ended the session with my second most favorite pose, Savasana. There are so few opportunities where you’re afforded the luxury to just lie on the ground and be there. How much nicer would the DMV be if they encouraged this type of thing?
As I lay there for a little while longer I began to feel at ease, almost ready to step-touch dance to James Taylor again while my inner voice whispered, “Yoga-na be alright.”
Little Compton Wellness Center
15 East Main Road, Little Compton