Alyona Mindlin recently added Greenhouse Holistic to the roster of yoga studios (Kula, Yoga Works, Bend & Bloom) graced with her teaching presence. She’s currently only on the schedule for one Vinyasa/Restorative class Mondays at 4:30pm, but after taking it, I can promise it might be worth planning your week around. The class begins with a Vinyasa practice and ends with a restorative session. In this way, Alyona hopes to create a complete class – balancing the Yang of the Vinyasa practice with the feminine and graceful energy of Yin in the restorative segment. As you may have heard before, we spend too much of our time hurrying, worrying, and working our body into tight shapes; Alyona feels that taking the time to slow down is essential and the benefits of this slowing are physical, as well as mental. 20110404_ALYONA_YOGA_03_057The restorative part of the class allows us to “trace a completely different space,” and Alyona hopes students leave the class with “a new knowledge of their physical body and their energetic body.” After leaving Alyona’s class this past Monday, I biked home in such a peaceful state that even the dump trucks blaring horns on Grand St. couldn’t shake me from my reverie.
Eight years ago, when a friend took Alyona to Yoga to the People for her first ever yoga class, it was “love at first sight,” and she soon began practicing every day. Yoga seemed like the perfect alternative to ballet, which she’d done for ten years, and provided the balance that Alyona found ballet lacked, due to its harsh instruction and general strictness. Because of her previous dance practice, Alyona quickly took to yoga and was amazed at the ways her body begin to open, and how simple it was to “feel good because I was sweating and breathing.” After practicing regularly at Yoga for the People for almost two years, the studio sponsored her training and she became certified through their class. It was her training partner, Laurel, who told her about The Kula Yoga Project, and at her first class there Alyona fell in love again.
The class she took was an “exquisite, graceful, well-written essay of a class” and because she felt she advanced “a year in one class,” Alyona began frequenting the studio.
Alyona Mindlin
Later, she was able to spend three months supporting the teacher training project in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. Here, Alyona developed her practice on a deeper level; she worked on a more gentle style and found inner harmony in her practice, learning that yoga can be free from conflict, “as long as you are living what you’re saying.” Two years ago, Alyona completed her advanced teacher training at Kula Yoga Project, an experience that helped her find her “personal authentic teacher’s voice” and become the talented instructor she is today.
The metaphor of a good yoga class being a well-written essay has stayed with Alyona, and more than anything, her advanced training taught her how to compose a “clear, eloquent, creative, coherent class.” This is reflected in her teaching, and Alyona strives to develop a theme, or goal, for the class and make sure all the exercises relate back to that theme. Her advanced training also taught Alyona to be a hands-on instructor and she is conscientious about checking in with students and helping them learn the correct alignment of the poses.  Alyona is interested in the geometry of the body and explained, “I believe that the breath, bandhas and geometry inform each posture.  Each body is intelligently designed to fit itself.” Shamanic tradition has also influenced Alyona’s practice and she strives to have all four elements (earth, wind, fire and water) present in her classes, so that everyone may in harmony with the elements. For Alyona, the goal of yoga is, “To quiet the mind and to walk with harmony, peace, joy, compassion and light.”
 In addition to teaching yoga, Alyona also does Thai body work. This is done with the client in a lying posture and involves manipulating limbs to open energetic channels and make sure blood and energy are flowing freely throughout the body. Acupuncture points, drums and crystals are used to promote energetic balancing and Alyona also helps clients work through blockages by using deep breathing and relaxation techniques. For more information on her work, visit http://www.breathwithalyona.blogspot.com.