Her demeanour was friendly and she still took the time to chat with her students as they prepared for the class ahead. As Melanie opened the windows, she greeted everyone and instructed them to get a block. I gazed around the room at a total of 14 willing students, ready to give in to to their mats for the next 75 minutes. As they settled in, I could almost hear the sigh of relief as everyone surrendered to the sound of Mel’s voice as she slowly enticed them into her sacred yoga space.
She started the class off by getting her students to lie on their backs with the soles of their feet together focusing on their breath. A minute into her instructions, her music started which was beautifully timed. Melanie’s explanations are quite specific and go much deeper than just skimming the surface of what they should be doing. She uses the breath to bring awareness into all parts of the body, allowing her students to feel the changes in each part. During the warmup, she encouraged her students to bring their focus to any injuries they may be experiencing and to set an intention for their practice.
By consistently focusing on moving through each pose using the breath, her constant verbal chatter keeps her students in an almost trance like state.
Ten minutes into the class as she was detailing a specific pose, she casually mentioned that if anyone thought they were being watched, Yoga Teacher training was in process and that I was at the back of the class observing her, not her students.
While explaining a specific pose, she gave a demonstration at the front of the class and was very precise with her instructions, offering her students the benefit of observing their limits.
With a gentle brush of her fingers, she instructed two students who were in plank position, to round their backs. She also spent some time with a specific student speaking softly to her while offering her an extended stretch by pulling her legs from behind. She pushed her palms into the soles of her student’s feet offering a mini massage.
Her adjustments are done mindfully, ensuring that she does not allow them to distract her and keep her attention away from the rest of the class for too long.
Melanie often offers analogies in her poses which gives her students the opportunity to connect to these asanas in a way that speaks to them. Her instructions are so precise that her students rarely misunderstand her. She constantly flows between her students as she instructs, creating a beautiful and powerful energy space.
The presentation of her sequences are flawless, she never loses track of where she is and is mindfully in her yoga zone at all times. She often refers to asanas in both their Sanskrit and English names allowing her students to familiarize themselves with both terms. Her music is synchronised with her sequences, starting off gently and then slowly building tempo as the class builds momentum.
As she instructs her sequences, she is constantly verbally adjusting the entire class. When she does adjust her students, she is perceptive as to how far she can push them. She offers clear and concise explanations of what muscles they should be using and what to expect to feel from their bodies while in a specific pose. Her instructions allowed for each of her students to feel their individual stretches, almost as if she were doing a one on one session with them.
There were a variety of students in her class with different levels of flexibility and fitness. When moving into wild thing, she offered variations for those who were unable to transition into the pose.
For the more beginner type students, when there was a pose that they were not familiar with or unsure of, they tended to gaze around the room watching the more advanced students move into the asanas.
She included some arm balances in the class which most, if not all, of her students attempted. She also included benefits of certain poses with silent moments long enough for her students to take in the effect of her words.
About an hour into the class, she introduced uddiyana breathing while in a sitting position with soles of the feet together. Her explanation of the breathing exercise was enough for beginners to attempt it comfortably.
By the time svasana came around, the feel of the session was one of accomplishment, calm and a definite readiness to succumb after a strong, challenging class. During svasana, she sat with one of her students, massaging their head and shoulders in the final pose of the class. She remained quiet and her music was the perfect ending to calm and energise her students for the rest of the day.
As the sounds of Namaste echoed through the studio, her students didn’t rush off but rather lingered, enjoying the after effects of a wonderful class.