"Is this your first time hearing Tasha Blank spin?" Danielle Tafeen asked the full house at Deep House Yoga. "Or Trevor Exter playing cello? You're in for a treat. Tonight is going to be delicious and very special. I am overjoyed to share this space with you."
Since its debut in June, Willkomen/Deep House Yoga at Verboten has become the thing to do in Williamsburg on Monday and Tuesday nights. Half vinyasa flow and half dance party, the class will get your endorphins soaring. A doth-intrigued Yoga Sleuth planted his mat right in front of the DJ booth upon entering and soaked in the vibes of the club space with its all black walls, psychedelic lighting and projections of images and patterns on the side walls.
"I would like to take requests from you about what you feel you need tonight," said DanielleTafeen, our teacher for the evening*, and the yogis answered back with a wide range of postures and themes.
Among the requests for hip opening, headstands and back work, someone called out, "Joy!"
"Letting go!" I added.
"I think we can provide that!" grinned Danielle. "Let's take a moment to get on the same page, by sitting together, breathing together, living together and opening together. Lets make a connection to our physical bodies, so we can then deepen our connection to our minds, to ourselves, and to others. Feel a softness in your hips and your belly, an opening of your heart. Allow your face to be honest and vulnerable, and let go of any expectation. Feel what it's like to just be with what is."
We felt for the mobility of the spine through Cat and Cow warm ups. "Make sure you feel that the head is connected to the spine, not an afterthought," guided Danielle as the sounds of Trevor's cello began to wash through Verboten. Tasha joined him with a perfect complement of beats and rhythms as we landed in Down Dog.
"Play around with diagonals of energy in your body," said Danielle as we began to pulse to the music. "Do whatever you need to do to let go," she added, harkening back to my request. And our solution was free and fluid movement, as we reached our arms forward and up then opened up down and back. Tasha's beats put us in a welcome trance-like state; my mind was clear and my body felt free to explore any movement.
"Yoga is the practice of embracing what is," reminded Danielle, and embrace the moment, in all its joy and truth, we did. We grooved through Sun Salutations A and B, then pulsed to the standing postures and moved juicily through vinyasa after vinyasa. "Lack of joy comes from wanting things to be different from what they are," said Danielle as we went into Extended Side Angle. "When we open up our side bodies, it enables us to let go of desire."
And let go we did. When the class transmogrified into a full-on dance party, all inhibitions eradicated. Danielle literally flew around the room, giving us her energy and the courage to really let loose as we shook, flailed and even moshed with each other! The vibe on the floor hit new heights of ecstatic joy. "Let yourself be moved!" called Danielle. "By the music. By the moment. By others! Shake shake shake!" The yogis began to whoop with glee as Tasha and Trevor's accompaniment reached a crescendo.
Feeling euphoric, we slowed down to finish with some poses of surrender, like Paschimottanasana. Then we collapsed, spent, but filled with joy, into Savasana. The music changed to fit the mood, Tasha playing some quiet piano sounds as Trevor's cello hummed a low, healing drone. Danielle gave us all gentle adjustments to our neck and shoulders as we placed a hand each on our hearts and bellies, honoring the gifts of life, breath and the practice.
"This was all Verboten's idea!" Tasha explained after class. "I'd been doing Yoga Meets Nightlife events forever, and it was always just me trying to make it happen. Verboten just called and said, ‘Hey, wanna do this? And I thought it was the coolest thing I ever heard!"