Bhakti Yoga Center Offers Peaceful Escape In Downtown State College
The floral aroma of essential oils mixed with the comforting smell of homemade cookies, the playing of soft meditation music, and the trickling of running water instantly warm the senses upon arrival at the newly opened Bhakti Yoga Center, located at 322 E. College Ave.
Bhakti Yoga Center officially opened on Sunday, September 26, and is run by Surapal and Krishnamayi Krysiak, who teach both classes and workshops. In terms of yoga classes, Bhakti offers a Vinyasa and Hatha flow, TriYoga, and Essential Yoga. It also offers workshops that are centered on self-understanding and inner enlightenment, including Inner Explorer, Bhagavad Gita Mysteries, and Lifestyle Engineering.
The Vinyasa and Hatha flow class features an energetic modern-day form of classical Indian yoga focusing on synchronizing breath with movements. It also includes Hatha, which is a much slower-paced practice focusing on correct form and technique.
Additionally, the studio offers TriYoga, a blend of asana, pranayama, and mudra, incorporating rhythmic pacing, wavelike spinal movements, and economy of motion. This class targets natural alignment, strength, flexibility, endurance, and rhythmic breathing.
The studio teaches another popular class labeled Essential Yoga. Professional instructors add essential oils to the yoga flow to foster a relaxing and comforting connections to the body, inner self, and inner freedom. Applied topically and aromatically, the essential oils help soothe sore muscles, open the lungs, and allow for emotional release.
Yoga wisdom classes are also offered by the Krysiak’s, including Inner Explorer, Bhagavad Gita Mysteries, and Lifestyle Engineering. The latter is free, although donations are always welcome.
Inner Explorer classes are a workshops for those who wish to learn more about themselves and delve into the bigger questions in life. This class uses ancient writings of the East, such as the Bhagavad Gita, to explore the soul, karma, reincarnation, and meditation. This class occurs from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays with a complimentary vegan meal served after.
Another wisdom class, Bhagavad Gita Mysteries, studies the applications of the Gita from a Bhakti yoga perspective in everyday life. Workshops are held Mondays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. along with complimentary vegan snacks.
The Lifestyle Engineering class analyzes the ways that Bhakti Yoga posture and exercises help to unleash inner strength, achieve peace of mind, reduce student stress, improve academic or professional performance, enhance self-regulation skills, and achieve sustainable inner happiness. Classes are Fridays from 7 to 8 p.m. with complimentary vegan snacks provided.
Bhakti Yoga Center offers student discounts for their classes. A regular drop-in class is $12, and a student drop-in class is $10. Students can purchase a 1 month unlimited pass for $86 or an eight-visit punchcard for $64, while non-students can purchase a 1 month unlimited pass for $108 or an eight-visit punchcard for $80. Bhakti also offers a three for $15 trial class pass.
For more information on Bhakti Yoga Center, check out its website here.
Although I have done yoga in the past, I am not a regular “yogi” and was curious to see if Bhakti would be my new go-to yoga spot, especially to help de-stress after exams. I decided to purchase the Trial Pass for $15, which let me to go to three different classes.
Last Wednesday evening, I attended the Essential Yoga class, which was a 75-minute yoga flow class involving essential oils. Upon stepping through the doors of the warmly-lit studio, Krishnamayi was eager to welcome me to the class.
The studio was cozy, playing soft music with many different yoga gifts displayed at the front desk. I signed in to the class on the tablet at the front and then found a spot along the cool hardwood floor in the studio.
Although I brought my own mat, the studio provided yoga mats, straps, blocks, pillows, and mini water bottles for classes free of charge. Despite the fact that the studio is small, there was more than enough room to accommodate myself along with three other students. We faced a wall lined with mirrors, which I found particularly helpful for checking and correcting my form during the class.
Krishnamayi began by placing essential oils in two color changing essential oil diffusers at the front of the studio, playing soothing meditation music, and explaining the purpose of essential oils in yoga. She then instructed us to hold out our palms as she placed a drop of frankincense essential oil in each of our hands, instructing us to rub our palms together and bring them to our face, breathing deeply.
Instantly, I felt whatever congestion I had leftover from the campus plague clear. With the aroma’s sharp and clear scent, Krishnamayi elaborated on frankincense’s ability to help one breathe more deeply during yoga practices along with its history of usage in many religions.
After a minute of deep breathing (and some nose-blowing), we began our flow. Krishnamayi stressed the importance of going at your own pace.
“This is your time, this is your practice,” Krishnamayi said before telling us to stop if we ever began to experience discomfort.
Although my hamstrings initially groaned with protest, my mind was grounded instead of racing through the list of things I had to get done for the day. I was centered and provided with an opportunity to check in with myself instead of trying to keep pace with the world around me.
The class built slowly with Krishnamayi providing gentle, hands-off corrections to our postures to enhance our flows. My yoga form was a bit rusty, and I was corrected a handful of times, but I appreciated the supportive tone that Krishnamayi used that never made me feel out of place. Overall, it was a relatively simple beginner’s class, but from the soreness in my hips and shoulders the next morning, I certainly got a good workout in.
We concluded class with my favorite pose: Shavasana. Laying on my back in the cool room with my eyes closed, lights off, music whispering in my ears and essential oils wafting beneath my nose, I wondered, “Is this Nirvana?” I was more at peace in that moment than I have been the past seven weeks here.
A faint chime signaled the end of class, and Krishnamayi passed around a final essential oil, explaining she would have passed it around in the middle of our class but was so enthused by how beautifully the class was going to remember.
Upon the end of class, we were presented with a mouthwatering surprise: a free, home-cooked, entirely vegan meal.
My tastebuds were presented with the most incredible pasta salad I’ve ever had in my life, and the cherry cookies really did taste like they were baked with love (and cherries).
“My wife is the best vegan cook there is,” Surapal proudly said while eagerly offering us seconds.
Surapal, Krishnamayi, and my fellow classmates all ate at picnic tables in the back of the studio as Krishnamayi explained her history growing up in Poland and discovering yoga.
Krishnamayi detailed how at first, she hated yoga, as she was a very energetic 14-year-old, and yoga was, quite frankly, too slow and boring for her. Over time, though, she began to love it, eventually purchasing a book at her local studio that would change her life.
Krishnamayi then encouraged us to come to Bhakti’s Thursday classes as her Surapal, the additional instructors, and the attendees all gather together after the class to have a feast. The Krysiaks then offered for us to stay for their workshop that would be starting next, and although I could not attend, I admired Surapal and Krysiak’s talent as they took out instruments and began to sing for the next class.
After my experience at the Bhakti Yoga Center, I’m already looking forward to returning to future classes and some delectable vegan meals.
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