Grassroots Yoga & Health
My grip on the steering wheel is whitening my knuckles. I should be unrolling a yoga mat about now and bracing myself for enlightenment at Grassroots Yoga & Health, but in classic ‘you know you’re from Christchurch when …’ style, I’m trapped in gridlock after encountering a second road works pop-up.
The 12-minute drive edges over the 25-minute mark as I pull into The Tannery car park, then dash up the stairs two-at-a-time to the studio.
Inside I can feel my city-stressed shoulders immediately start to drop in the calming and quiet Zen space. I’m literally breathing in the serenity as the natural sedative of incense and therapeutic oils filling the air combines to create the perfect remedy to quiet buzzing minds and slow traffic-jacked heart rates. I kick off my shoes under the ‘tree of gratitude’ mural.
The genius of husband and wife duo Katie and Berin Turner, Grassroots’ crowd-funded beginnings (larger donors names appear in metallic ink on leaves of the tree of gratitude) have grown into an accessible and welcoming yoga studio and on-site therapy clinic/wellness centre with a strong community heart.
While Katie (an ERYT-500 level yoga practitioner and teacher – for yoga novices, that’s as high as it goes!) helms the yoga studio with a unique offering dubbed ‘Align and Flow’, Berin puts 12 years of certified neuromuscular therapy to practice in the clinic with hands-on healing for common – and not so common – complaints, as well as teaching yoga himself alongside a crack team of 11 expert yoga instructors.
Padding across the natural wooden floorboards, I take up a space among the full class. Ages range from early 20s to late 50s in a near 50/50 split of men and women.
Sitting cross-legged, the Beginner’s Foundation Class starts with a three Om chant. With my eyes closed, the chant rings out clear and bell-like with the almost tangible energy of a tuning fork, engulfing the space with its harmony and reverberating through my body.
Based on the tradition of Anusara yoga with elements of Vinyasa flow and therapeutic yoga, Katie’s physical alignment-based practice and flow is aimed at creating awareness in the body. I'm not a total stranger to yoga (I have a couple of classes under my belt, but we’re definitely in single digit territory), but it’s like nothing I’ve experienced before.
Leading us through an exhilarating and clarity-inducing series of warrior and triangle poses and forward folds, Katie gently encourages us to “enjoy each breath” and, when the holds start to burn (and incite tremors), to “relax the muscles in the face” – which seem to tighten of their own accord.
But it’s laying down on the mat during warm-down that the true magic happens, and I achieve a transcendence akin to an out-of-body-like experience where I find myself floating weightless and bathed in the empty vastness of a pure white light.
As Katie expertly guides me back to earth, I look up at the early evening sky through the skylight and enjoy my breath.
Grassroots Yoga & Health
The Tannery, 3 Garlands Road
03 389 8113