You’re looking to feel like a marshmallow, you say? Perfect, read on!
Emily Millen happens to be one of those people that perplexes me. The first time she wafted into the room I didn’t believe that she was always so soft-spoken and ripple-free. After a year of taking her classes I’ve come to realize that I still have no idea. She could have a penchant to cuss up a storm when away from the studio for all I know. Hey, I know I do.
But I digress. I’ve only ever taken her power and hatha classes and I have to say both are the most consistently mellow practices I’ve experienced. Not that she’s predictable, but you’ll know what to expect unlike, say, Liv Hilde. However, Emily is as equally stable and strong as Liv and floats into inversions as if someone had her on puppet-strings. Seeing her perform these feats you’d be hard-pressed to imagine that she (if I remember correctly) tore her ACL some time ago along with some other knee parts.
Those injuries (fascia-types) can be long-term and extremely debilitating but she told the class one day that mended her injury through sound healing. She proceeded to demonstrate and got all of us to try it; humming the alphabet one letter at a time in different pitches and tones. I admit it was awkward though I can’t deny my back felt oddly loose and limber without actually moving. Oh, and that’s another thing about Emily’s influence; you may feel like you’re not doing much but she’s actually getting you to work every atom in your body. I wouldn’t say it’s effortless (since she’s putting her full effort into the class) but it’s a certain type of minimalism. There’s a cliche that everyone uses that fits here but I don’t feel like typing it.
With that experience in mind, I practiced both sound healing and minimalism after my eye surgery (PRK) and again after tearing my hip flexor. I wonder how I would’ve handled those recovery periods if I hadn’t met her or the likes of Anila and Alex, two other teachers that remind you to just take it easy. The yoga community is very fortunate to have teachers that stretch the spectrum of pure power and complete softness, and the best ones teeter between the two. Emily is one of those teachers that can effortlessly switch from all-out to wind-down at the appropriate moments. I imagine her injury had a part to play in the forgiving nature of her practice and how she can do so much while seemingly doing little.
Her power classes on Wednesday (both regular and upside downs) aren’t too strenuous and she normally doesn’t suggest insane postures if there are more than a few newcomers. She’ll put in a headstand in the upside down class as it’s relatively accessible and adventurous enough already. She’s conscious about how intimidating yoga can get and I’m sure it wouldn’t do to traumatize anyone. Her hatha class on Saturday evening is excellent for those looking to start up or veterans to go shake it out. I try my best to attend since it ends/starts any week on a fine note.
After my tearing my hip flexor the first class I went to was hers since I knew her experience could help. It was difficult to move my leg without using my hands, but she showed me all the variations I could do without compromising the tender integrity of my healing hip. That one class provided me with an enormous amount of flexibility and strength the next day, which is excellent because sitting motionless with an icepack on the hip only got me so far. That and I was getting batty from immobility.
The other nice part about her classes is that her way of speaking, her tone, can put one in a trance. More than once I’ve snapped back to my senses at the end of a savasana to realize that I don’t recall doing anything between the starting “aum” and hearing her ask us to sit up from savasana. That may be why her classes seems like a breeze; you’re not aware you’re doing anything at all. It’s difficult these days to come across people such as Emily; people that make you feel at ease without trying too hard to be funny or wax philosophical.