Bread and Yoga is set in the charming neighborhood of Inwood, all the way at the north end of Manhattan and the last stop on the A line. It's just a little north of the Cloisters and next to hilly Ishman Park. (Note to new students: to get to Bread and Yoga you have to enter on 212th Street.)
Entering the studio, the scent of incense wafted in the air. The reception area is set up to sells some colorful yoga t-shirts. Bread and Yoga is a thriving community studio and I noticed that students and teachers tend to recognize each other. Amy Soucy greeted each one of us individually with a smile and knew everyone's name, except for just a couple.
She began class with a seated meditation noting that rather than thinking of New York as the city that never sleeps, it's more the city that never sits still. With that she encouraged us to sit still and make some quiet in our day. After a silent meditation of about five minutes, Amy then took us through some gentle Sun Salutations, focusing on taking the neck out of our backbends.
Lyric-less violin music played soothingly in the background as we saluted the sun and tried to stay conscious of our curves. In one of our Sun Salutations we added the variation of a lunge twist and here Amy once again encouraged us to tuck the chin in slightly and keep our gaze at the wall in front of us.
We moved through standing poses at a slow pace transitioning from Warrior 2 to Peaceful Warrior to Triangle to Extended Side Angle while Amy attentively made hands-on adjustments to students.
From Plank we then made our way all the way down to the floor and into Salabhasana. Turning onto our backs, we came into Bridge Pose and then Amy walked us through some Rolling Bridges, moving our arms by our sides as we lifted our hips and then bringing our arms up above us as we rolled our spines down vertebrae by vertebrae.
To release the lower back, we took a Twist on each side. Amy had us circle our arm around on the floor a couple of times while in the Twist to open up our sides even more.
Class ended with two restful restorative poses. First we took a Restorative Bridge putting a block underneath our sacrum. Amy told us we could put a blanket over the block to soften the feel of the block, which is a super helpful tip for anyone with sensitivity or boney backs.
After five minutes of resting in this pose, Amy had us smoothly transition to Supta Baddha Konasana, taking the block out from underneath the sacrum and this time having a block placed underneath each knee. Amy was kind enough to go around the room and make sure each student's second block was handy. This was our Savasana for the night. Before gently taking us out of the pose, Amy beautifully sang the Gayatri Mantra to us.
At the end of class Amy announced an upcoming Kirtan at the studio and we exited to a packed hallway of students eagerly awaiting the next Hatha/Vinyasa class.
-Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Single drop-in classes are $19.
New student specials: one week unlimited for $25, one month unlimited for $80.