found: in alexandria, virginia
posted: January 22, 2014
Found: in Alexandria, Virginia (Del Ray neighbourhood)
Studio found: Mind The Mat Pilates & Yoga
Class found: Flow I/II
Instructor found: Debora Jackson, E-RYT 500
The neighbourhood: Mind The Mat is in the heart of Del Ray, a vibrant neighbourhood with a small-town feel in the city of Alexandria, Virginia. Its main street, Mount Vernon Avenue, is a foodie’s dream with its eclectic restaurants, cafés and specialty food shops with fresh healthy eats. Holistic healing centers seem to be on every corner, and the quaint shops and boutiques welcome you and your pets with a smile. The studio is sandwiched between a popular pizzeria and a physical therapy center, on the block between East Del Ray Avenue and East Custis Avenue.
The studio: The tri-level brick building has three rooms for classes, each on a different floor and each with a unique vibe. Before class, students can pick up water, juice or locally-made raw, organic tonics by Goûter. I was welcomed by Becky at the front desk and given a rundown of the studio layout before I took a solo-tour. The first floor studio is brightly painted with lots of natural light, walled with mirrors, and stacked with props for Pilates and yoga. The mood of the second floor is peaceful, with dark walls and dim lighting—though the ballet barre hints to me that students work their butts off here. Heading to the third floor, it gets hot, real hot. Red walls in this heated studio set the tone for sweaty hot yoga and rocket classes.
What I took with me from the practise: I laid down my mat for a flow class on the first floor studio. Debora was soft-spoken with a sweet accent, but carried a strong presence in the room. She allowed lots of space for play, and when the poses were tough she encouraged us to laugh at ourselves, telling us that sometimes we just need to shake it out to get it right. (And we did, literally). I also loved her keen attention to the breath; we practiced three-part breath and kapalabati even while in plank, which took crazy core strength.
Post-class pick-me-up: Not two blocks away is Seva Café, a gift in the world of eateries. There are no prices on the menu, only the ask of a donation to pay-it-forward, contributing to the meal of the person who comes to dine after you (say what?!). Not only is the food delicious and made with love, 100 per cent of the profits are used to support social service projects. I walked out with a yummy chocolate chip cookie, handmade by Out of the Box Bakery, a local grain-free/dairy-free baker supported by Seva Café.
The welcome centre at Mind The Mat
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Our key leader Emily loves to connect with the community, and you’ll find her smiling all throughout northern Virginia and Washington DC. When she’s not educating guests, she’s teaching yoga, working hard on her handstand and swinging kettlebells. Her heart sings for homemade green juice and cuddling with her puppy.