The South Bronx has been described as a "yoga desert," but at Sweet Water Dance and Yoga the neighborhood has finally found a yoga oasis located just a home run’s distance from Yankee Stadium. Besides a full schedule of yoga, Sweet Water also offers lots of other fun sounding classes such as Samba & Brazilian Fusion, Pilates, Zumba, Yoga en Español, Flamenco, Belly Dance, Kids Salsa and Adult Jazz Fusion to boot.
The yoga studio itself has the feeling of an airy apartment with high ceilings, paintings and photographs on the walls, and a carpeted floor. Tonight’s vinyasa class was a mixed level of beginners and advanced students so our teacher Blake Jung, who also goes by his spirit name True, set up the sequence to deliver something suitable for all.
We began on all fours first taking one leg out to the side and a side stretch in this modified Parighasana or Gate Pose shape, and then coming back to center for a Child’s Pose. Coming up to stand we took a deeper side stretch on each side then swooped the arms down and back into a forward fold.
Moving through a series of flowing standing poses we built up each sequence from low lunge to high lunge then Warrior 1 to Warrior 2. We interlaced our fingers behind our backs for a slight backbend to Triangle. This built into a Devotional Warrior with Eagle arms to Extended Side Angle, Pyramid Pose, and Standing Split. All the while, Blake quietly played wordless music or yoga chants and occasionally offered gentle assistance where it was needed.
We also held a Tree Pose followed by Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, or Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose. For students not quite ready for the full expression of the pose, Blake offered the option to just hold onto their knee.
A yogi who has practiced all over the world, Blake's approach to teaching is to make it available and accessible to everyone. This is evident in his friendly demeanor and attention to each of his students who come from various backgrounds and abilities.
Coming down to the floor we held Boat Pose for five breaths then slowly lowered to the floor and came up into a Restorative Bridge Pose. Blake told us to keep the block on the lowest high so we could take our legs to ninety degrees. This was followed by a delicious hip opener. With the sacrum still on the block, we then brought the soles of our feet together and towards the floor for an intense Supta Baddha Konasana.
After holding for several breaths, we took the block away and came into a series of finishing poses taking Shoulderstand for several breaths, followed by Plow ("But don't worry if your feet don't touch the floor," Blake told us) to Fish Pose. After some easy supine twists we were ready for Savasana. Several minutes of sweet relaxation was followed by a long Om before we filed out of the class feeling closer to our truth.
We exited the yoga studio meeting up in the changing room with other Sweet Water attendees returning from a hip hop class taught by Jazzy J who was once Michael and Janet Jackson's dance choreographer and teacher.
-Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes $15 for one hour class. New student introductory specials available.