Frank Mauro is one of Sleuth’s favorite yoga teachers. He’s been a teacher of many years at the former Om Yoga and is now on faculty at the collective known as Now Yoga with other former Om teachers, hosted at the pink-curtained Shala in Union Square.
Known for his laid back, unpretentious style of teaching, Frank gets to know the names of all the students even though his class is usually packed, and he often calls out students’ names on a note of encouragement. It’s easy to be deceived in his class: In spite of his grounded and mellow personality, Frank delivers some serious challenges with clear direction.
Frank often starts the class with a brief dharma talk. His food for thought in this class was using physical sensation to become present and focused rather than to be distracted by it. Remaining in a seated position, Frank guided us to put our fingertips on the floor in front of us and “cow” the spine, then take a side bend to the right, our fingertips behind our sitting bones and open up our chests and collarbones, then take a side bend to the left. This sequence was followed through a couple more times with the pace progressively speeding up each time.
Frank then walked us slowly through several Sun Salutations working us into a quick sweat as the heat was turned up high at the Shala on the frosty January day. Frank then built on the standing poses adding some twists and turns to his sequencing that became deeper and more interesting. From Vrksasana we took our arms out to the side and externally rotated them to slowly take a prayer behind our backs. With our hands still in reverse prayer position we glided in Virabhadrasana III to a high lunge.
Each vinyasa sequence became more gradually difficult as Frank added in Crescent Lunge, with the variation of taking hold of the back foot with both hands and, perhaps, bringing the back foot all the way to the floor for a super backbend.
He also added in Ardha Chandrasana to Ardha Chandrasana Chapasana to Standing Split. Externally rotating our arms to come into reverse Namaste we folded into a Seated Spinal Twist as Frank praised various students for keeping their focus and composure. From here we came into Navasana to Ardha Navasana several times before collapsing on the floor for a ten second Savasana during which time Frank invited us to notice the physical sensations and to use that to allow us to become more present.
Frank had us well prepared for partner Handstand. He demonstrated with two familiar students how two people could support Adho Mukha Vrksasana by standing in front of the person coming up and locking elbows. Once the person was comfortably up in a Handstand the two people could move in and lock elbows on the other side to make a kind of metronome of the legs of the person upside down.
After working on our handstands with chatty, friendly groups of people, Frank had us work on our backbends, starting comfortably in Bridge pose and then for those who wanted it, Full Wheel or Urdhva Dhanurasana. Knowing there were advanced yogi/nis in his class he also gave the option of dropping back and offered to support those wanting to try it.
We were then given an option of four forward bends: either Baddha Konasana, Tarasana, Upavistha Konasana or Paschimottanasana before cooling off with a Shoulderstand.
Perhaps it’s something to do with Frank’s calming presence but Sleuth has had some of the most relaxed Savasanas in his class and often find it difficult to get up after a deeply quieting ten minutes of relaxation. Frank sealed this class with three Oms then, true to form, stuck around to shoot the breeze with his regulars.