Carly’s Thoughts about Second Series: “Second Series is a lot of fun. In so many ways it’s the counter practice to Primary Series, which is all about inner focus and discipline through forward folds and binds. Second Series, or nadi shodana (‘nerve cleansing’ in Sanskrit), is all about playfully countering that spinal flexion and introspection with spinal extension, twists, hip and heart opening, and lots of animals! Traditionally, Astanga is taught as a progression through poses in a defined order, however that doesn’t necessarily mean those poses are more difficult. Yes, there are some crazy things in Second Series — like foot-behind-the-head, jumping crocodiles, and 7 headstands — but there are also more straightforward poses that we teach even in Basics classes, such as belly-down backbends, parighasana (gate pose), and ardha matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes).
One of the things I love about the O2 style is having the freedom to mesh Primary, Second, and advanced series postures into a balanced flowing sequence, while still keeping some traditional elements like sun salutations, bandhas, and breath. This month, you can expect to see some work towards arm balances and inversions, maybe some animal-themed classes, and the opportunity to let go and laugh a little bit as we jump and roll around.”
Like many of us, Carly sort of fell into a yoga practice. “I was working full time and going to grad school at night and one day, just decided I’d try it. I wasn’t living a very active lifestyle at the time and found it to be a form of exercise that I actually enjoyed and looked forward to,” she said. The studio where she started her practice offered a variety of styles, though Carly was especially drawn to the Anusara and short-form Astanga classes on the schedule because of their careful attention to alignment in postures. “When I moved to Somerville, O2 was recommended to me for its Astanga-based style, so here I am!” she said.
That was eight years ago and in the time since, Carly has become an integral part of our studios’ communities, first and foremost as a student, later going on to be part of the workstudy team, serving as a both desk staff and cleaning staff, even helping out as the cleaning manager in the early days of the Cambridge studio, which opened in 2012. Even more fun than all of that, Carly became a regular Adventure Yogi, journeying with us many times over to our annual retreat to Maya Tulum in Tulum, Mexico. It was on those glorious beach day afternoons that she got to know teachers and fellow students alike and where the early seeds of “When are you going to do Teacher Training?” sprouted.
Carly made the leap to do Mimi’s 200-Hour TT in 2013. “Originally, I didn’t really want to teach, just learn more about yoga. But with encouragement from senior teachers and fellow teachers-in-training, I was convinced to continue on with the Karma program,” she said. And after Karma, Carly moved onto our regular schedule, saving a special spot in her week for the Sunday morning Basics crew in Somerville. This 9am class is a favorite for many and is one of our most popular classes on the schedule. Make sure to arrive early to get a spot — this one’s packed, no matter the season, no matter the weather. Certainly, Carly and the countless regulars who attend have found a great Sunday Funday tradition together.
When she’s not teaching or practicing, she’s working at her Biotech job as an analytical chemist. “It’s intense, focused, and detail oriented,” Carly explained. There is no doubt that having yoga in her life gives her a chance to, as she puts it, “switch to the right side of her brain and be creative.” It’s certainly an outlet that benefits many of us — and we’re so fortunate to have the calm, cool, collected Carly as such a key member of our teaching staff and student body. Join her for class soon!
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Mimi?
“When I first started teaching, I was nervous, everything had to be planned and perfect, and I’d get easily thrown off if I forgot my sequence or someone wasn’t following my cues. Mimi said to me, ‘You’re going to want it to be perfect but you need to let that go. Chances are, no one will even notice.’ From then on, it got easier, I learned to roll with it, and even laugh it off when absurd things come out of my mouth, like ‘ankle’ when really what I meant was ‘elbow.’ And it happens so much!”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from teaching?
“My students are my teachers. As I teach, I’m constantly learning. Which cues work, and which ones don’t. How I can help students modify for what works with their bodies or limitations. When there’s a lot of grunting or sighing, maybe it’s time for child’s pose. And even if everyone has a look of complete misery on their face when they’re working hard, they almost always leave with a smile and a ‘thank you.'”
What’s your favorite pose to teach?
“Half moon and twists. The three most common requests are ‘hips, shoulders, and lower back.’ A combination of half moon variations and bound twists will hit all three.”
What’s your favorite pose to do?
“Forearm stand is always high up on my list. Recently I’ve also been enjoying koundinyasana. It was the first arm balance I was able to do and it’s still fun to find different ways to get into it.”
Do you play music in class? Why or why not?
“It depends. While I’m teaching, I like music in more advanced classes to keep things flowing, but for Basics classes I don’t want music to be a distraction for students. That being said, I almost always have something playing during savasana. I pick my music very carefully because for a lot of people, there’s an emotional attachment to music. I’ve chosen mostly ambient or contemporary classical that isn’t recognizable and doesn’t have lyrics.”
Anything else you’d like to share about your teaching or your practice or yourself?
“My favorite class to teach is Basics — and apparently I have a reputation for teaching ‘sneakily hard’ Basics classes… I like making O2 Yoga accessible to students newer to yoga and explaining alignment and how and why we do things as simply and clearly as I can. My sequencing doesn’t have to be complicated, and I like to have a nice balance of building strength and flexibility, while encouraging modifications or progressions along the way. In all honesty, teaching is not something I ever really saw myself doing, but it’s really amazing to watch students grow and progress in their practice over time.”