Quoted in Washington Post article about struggles of DC studios (May 8, 12)
Quoted in Washington Express article profiling Yoga District’s business model (May 8, 12)
Yoga Journal, October 2011, page 85 as part of the Those who can, teach article written by the amazing Peg Mulqeen
Express DC article in February, 2008 profiling the Acro Yoga class we started at Flow Yoga Center, the first Acro class in DC.
‘Round Midnight, Out Come the Yoga Mats
By Rachel Zavala
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, July 27, 2007; Page WE49
How’s this for an unconventional twist on the Friday night routine of dinner and a movie? Headstands at midnight with a roomful of yoga enthusiasts.
The rigorous Midnight Yoga class at Flow Yoga Center in Northwest Washington offers that and much more on the first Friday of each month from 10 to midnight. Since the class began almost a year ago, it has continued to grow in popularity and is full most of the time.
The class is taught by Mike Graglia of Washington, a management consultant who has been practicing yoga for five years and teaching for about one year. Graglia, 32, trained under famed yogi Dharma Mittra in New York and adopted the idea of midnight yoga from a studio there, thinking that Washington would be a great place to offer a late-night class for busy professionals who can’t always fit exercise into their day.
“We first did it as a special thing. Then people kept asking me, ‘When is the next one and the next one?’ There is a high demand for the class, and people really seem to want it and enjoy it,” says Graglia, who has no plans to offer the class more frequently but has been considering the idea.
The class of about 30 students is the only midnight session in Washington, and although there is a range of skill levels, Graglia says, it is a challenging class that attracts yoga instructors drawn to its intensity and length, as well as students who have been practicing for years.
“Honestly, this is the best advanced class in D.C. We do some crazy poses here,” says Dan Kapner, 29, of Washington, who has been practicing yoga for 10 years.
But yoga newbies like me need not be deterred.
“A yoga class where you can do everything is no fun,” Graglia says. “I want students to see that the advanced moves are possible. It is one thing to see these poses in a book, but when you have three or four teachers next to you actually doing it, it’s amazing and inspirational.”
Graglia establishes a friendly tone at the start of class by asking everyone to introduce themselves and to talk about what they want from the class, whether it’s extra headstands or a long savasana, the relaxing end to yoga practice in which participants lie on their mats in silence with their eyes closed.
“You do have a long savasana. It’s called sleep,” Graglia says jokingly.
The first hour of class is taught in classic Dharma Mittra style — a rigorous series of poses designed to open up the hips and front of the body. The class quickly transitions through planks, chaturangas, cobras, downward dogs, crescent moons and all three warrior poses.
In each, Graglia begins with the basic position and then offers three to five advanced options.
“A lot of people tell themselves before they even try that they can’t do it. I just give instructions, and then they find themselves in advanced positions before they tell themselves they can’t do it,” he says.
One hour into the class, the once fresh mats have been transformed into sweaty Slip ‘n Slides. I feel as exhausted as I do after a seven-mile run.
“Sometimes I think to myself, ‘Oh, God, why did I sign up for this?’ ” says Cristina Seckman, 30, of Bowie, who has been practicing yoga for several years and is a part-time instructor. “But there is such a great vibe in the room, and you feel so good after class.”
In the second hour, the class transitions into more advanced poses, signaling my rest time. Graglia energetically leads the class through inversions, in which students balance on their forearms and extend their legs vertically. He calls out instructions for six different headstands. A memorable one is aptly named “drunken yogi,” in which students balance on their heads, extend their legs out and twist them side to side.
I watch, exchanging wide-eyed glances with other students who are equally amazed.
“Every single time I take his class I do something that I have never done before,” Kapner says.
In the last part of class, Graglia talks participants through a series of calming poses — music to my ears — that aim to strengthen the abs and stretch the major muscles that had been engaged agonizingly in tricky poses.
“I have never sweated so much before in my life,” says Erin Myers, who has been practicing yoga for three years. “His classes have such great energy, and he is good at letting you know it doesn’t matter if you can’t do everything in class.”
After class, some students stay and mingle; others make plans to go out for a drink. As for me, I can’t wait to call it a night and collapse in bed.
MIDNIGHT YOGA First Friday of the month from 10 to midnight. (Doors open at 9:30.) Flow Yoga Center, 1450 P St. NW. 202-462-3569.http://www.flowyogacenter.com. $17 a class; discounted class cards available. Reservations recommended.