Acclimating with Leah: Up against a wall at Rakta Hot Yoga

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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Coming off a week of bronchitis, I was looking for a class that was more therapeutic, rather than a rigorous workout.

So, I walked into Sandy Fallon’s non-heated, wall yoga class at Rakta Hot Yoga on Wednesday, warning her that I could cause a disturbance with my never-ending chest cough. She assured me that this class would help.

We started by anchoring our bottoms in a strap swing about an inch off the ground and hoisting our legs up against the wall for a hamstring stretch. Then, we’d move into a series of movements typical to any yoga class, like downward dog, only we had our torsos anchored in the straps.

A few seconds into the downward dog pose, Fallon tells us to let go of the ground and just hang our upper bodies from the strap, with our feet still planted on the ground.

“In anyone’s downward dog they may have shoulder issues, or they’re stronger on this side than that side, so their downward dog is off,” Fallon said. “So, the fact you can anchor the hips, you can truly allow the entire spine to relax. You get all the benefits of spinal traction without any need to use hands, arms, head or your neck.”

That’s the whole idea behind wall yoga: if you have a limitation, the strap accommodates that and allows you to do movements properly.

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“There’s a lot of people who are new to yoga, and it’s great for people who have never done yoga before,” Fallon said. “You’re not moving fast, so there’s less risk of injury. We talk about the alignment, and you can really find with the straps how posture should feel.”

Fallon provides a reason for every movement throughout the class, but her language is unique. As a former physician’s assistant, Fallon has a deep understanding of anatomy and wellness, so hearing her specific anatomical terms and expertise is comforting.

She also notes that wall yoga is still advantageous to the advanced yogi, because it opens them up to new ideas and keeps them aware of the correct way to execute different poses.

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