By Charmagne Eckert

Yoga. The word might evoke images of tranquil figures, moving gently through graceful sequences. Or, by contrast, visions of sinewy bodies pretzeled into positions so contorted that just looking at them triggers a sympathetic ache. Yet, literally translated from the Sanskrit root “yuj,” “to unite” – the word Yoga means simply, “union.” Hence, in the physical ­––­(hatha) yoga disciplines, the body is placed into a sequence of poses, (“asanas” in Sanskrit), through which a fuller experience of balance and of the natural harmony of life might be achieved. Add the concept of Vinyasa – transition between poses – and the result is a continuous, unified flow of motion leading from one asana to another. When the asanas are done in quick succession, linked by motion, heat is generated in the body resulting in a practice that is both illuminating and physically challenging – hot Vinyasa.
“You will sweat. More than you imagine. And it will probably be more physically demanding than you think. But the feeling you get from a hot yoga class is like nothing else you’ll experience. It is just absolutely incredible,” says Kathleen Maroney, yoga teacher and owner of Luna Vinyasa Hot Yoga Studio in Middletown, Connecticut. It is that integration of mind, body, and spirit concentrated through rigorous physical activity that makes hot Vinyasa unique and utterly compelling to its practitioners.

owner, Kathleen Maroney

owner, Kathleen Maroney

It was a love of physical engagement that first drew Maroney to Vinyasa yoga. And so it followed that in the fall of 2016 she opened the Luna Vinyasa studio specifically to provide a venue for practitioners of Vinyasa style hot yoga and to support her own passion for the discipline. “After my first class of Vinyasa hot I was completely hooked. I had practiced other types of yoga; and truthfully, they were a little boring to me. I was an athlete growing up, so I needed the physical part. With Vinyasa you get a complete workout, you’re completely detoxed, and there is an amazing mind-body connection that happens.”

A big part of achieving synchronicity is through breath, which Maroney explains, while important to the practice of any form of yoga, is absolutely critical in performing hot Vinyasa. “The reason that the hot is so awesome, is because you have the hot room, the sweat, and it [forces] you to breathe. If you don’t breathe, you are going to suffer. I always tell my students, ‘suffering is optional.’ You have the choice to suffer or not; and becoming present in the moment and breathing will eliminate the suffering.”

It is also important for people to realize that the capabilities of students at Luna Vinyasa range from first timers to life long devotees. The hot classes offered at Maroney’s studio are accessible to everyone, notwithstanding the physical rigor of the technique. Although there are a number of professional athletes who frequent the studio, Maroney emphasizes that truly anyone can practice; and she encourages people to put aside preconceptions about what is necessary to engage in yoga. “Most people’s biggest fear is that they are not bendy enough to do yoga, but the reality is that everyone is exactly where they need to be. There’s a modification for every pose, so even a beginner can be in a class with advanced students. Our classes are geared to be available to all levels.”

It might seem counter intuitive when engaging in such an intensive activity, but the atmosphere at Luna Vinyasa discourages competitiveness – with others or with one’s self. “It doesn’t matter where someone is relative to anyone else – we have students of all levels. In fact it is often the most experienced practitioners, teachers, who will be the ones who spend the most time in “balasana,” – child’s pose.  You learn that you have to let go of expectations and just surrender to the reality of the moment. And that translates to life as well.” The result is a rigorous, but tranquil environment where students are encouraged to feel comfortable with finding their own pace within the form.

Maroney has been practicing Vinyasa style yoga for over sixteen years; and once her teacher training was completed under Baron Baptiste, she began to actively consider opening her own yoga facility. After a long search for the right situation, a space in the lower level of the old Woolworth’s Building on Middletown’s Main Street became available. To transform the area into what she required for a work space, Maroney renovated what was probably the employee lunchroom of the original five-and-dime into a cork floored, reclaimed wood accented, steam-heat controlled studio. The effect is simultaneously enchanting and technically ideal for the work of hot yoga. Because Maroney is particular about the temperature and humidity levels, she had custom-made radiant heat panels installed along with a steam valve to maintain proper moisture.  She was able to salvage the vintage bathroom stalls and 1930’s sinks in the changing area and a series of paintings of Ganesh (done by Maroney) add color and grace.

At the Luna Vinyasa studio in Middletown, classes are offered seven days a week throughout the day. There are over sixteen teachers who facilitate, all contributing a wealth of personal experience to their particular teaching methods. “Our instructors are remarkable. We have attracted a great diversity of teachers, and people are raving about what a wonderful variety of talent we have,” Maroney says.  As with any yoga form, students at Luna Vinyasa have the opportunity to explore different instructors to find compatibility, as well as to add variety and challenge to their practice.

Though students are delighted with the intimate setting, Maroney recognized from the beginning that she would soon outgrow the modest parameters.  Hence, she waited to open her business until the architectural plans for expansion onto the roof were approved by the City of Middletown.  Maroney is already beginning to conceptualize the anticipated structure that will be erected on top of the building. “The [new] studio will be able to hold fifty [participants], the changing area will accommodate three showers; there will be two elevators leading up, and a more generous lounge/reception area. And there are plans for a restaurant that will overlook the Connecticut River,” Maroney explains. While the restaurant will be a separate enterprise, there will undoubtedly be synergy, perhaps with the offering of a healthy yoga menu; and Maroney hopes to be able to do outdoor yoga on the deck. She envisions a holistic venue where she will have the opportunity to share her love of art and yoga with others.  The giant sculpture of the moon (from which the Luna Vinyasa logo is inspired) will receive a prominent position in the new rooftop setting where it can fulfill her intentions that people actively engage with it.

The planned expansion will offer greater opportunity for yoga related experiences, but in the meantime, those ready to sample the experience of Hot Vinyasa yoga are welcomed to visit Maroney’s studio. Aside from the very real cardio, balance, and flexibility that are the results of hot Vinyasa, the greatest appeal is, “You simply feel so cleansed and amazing after a class, that you just keep coming back. People are really happy. Students walk out with this amazing glow. And that is so tremendously rewarding for me. ”

For further information visit: http://www.lunavinyasa.com   (917) 543-6389
e-mail: lunavinyasa@gmail.com,
9 Melilli Plaza, Middletown

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