“Where have you been all my yoga life?” wondered Yoga Sleuth as he entered the beautiful Stanton Street Yoga for the inexplicably first time. I was greeted by my new teacher, Bud Tansey, and joined the full house in the freshly pumpkin-color painted Asana room. Bud, an Ayurvedic and Marma therapy specialist, planted himself at the harmonium and grinned a good morning to us.
“So many happy people!” he said. “When I say the word ‘happiness,’ close your eyes and think about what that means to you. Let’s go around the room.” I got to speak first. “Friendship!” I announced. “Family,” “People I love,” “Community,” “Music,” and “My dog!” were other right answers. “I would also say relationships, and serving, which is an act of love,” said Bud.
“So that’s where we can focus our energy on. Happiness is something that happens within, and it’s meant to be exported, shared. So let’s make a pact. We’ll spend 30 seconds a day really thoughtful about the people we love and the ways we can love them and share with them and support them!”
With everyone on board, we chanted “Hare Krishna, Hare Rama,” to the accompaniment of the harmonium. “Let’s get moving!” said Bud, and move we did, preceding the asana with a warm-up of free-style movement.
We stood at the front of the mat and simply rotated our arms in their sockets. “Your whole body is alive and waking up!” said Bud. “See if you can extend your breath a little deeper. But stagger on your mats so you don’t whack each other!” We steepled our fingers together and exhaled deeply as we brought our arms over the head and then down our torsos, and took a juicy side body twist.
“Let your lips relax, let your jaw hang,” said Bud, and we made noises to loosen the mouth and throat as our hands slapped gently at our opposite sides, waking up the organs. We took Bhastrika breath to bring the fire into our practice, then did a series of vigorous jumping jacks. We raised one arm and the opposite leg, and flexed and scrunched fingers and toes as we continued our rapid-fire breathing, then brought bent legs to the side to open the hips.
Invigorated and smiling, we proceeded into flow, low lunging and staying long and strong in Plank Pose, holding Chaturanga for a few breaths before emerging into Cobra. “Sweep your arms up and hold that person you love in your mind,” he said as we came to stand and returned to Bhastrika Pranayama.
“Who are you practicing for, why are you here?” We pondered that crucial question as we exhaled into Down Dog. “Hug your shoulder blades around your body, hands pushing into the earth,” said Bud. “Engage your body as much as possible. If the breath is ever too much, slow it down, and remember child pose is always an option.”
After taking that option as a group, we challenged ourselves in Side Plank with top leg in tree position, and took too deep prayer twists in Chair Pose. “Your whole body is alive right now, your whole body is working!” encouraged Bud. “Say yes to purification, to opening all of your channels - your feet are strong, your legs are active and burning!”
We came into a Frog squat and then Bud invited us to play in Crow Pose. I found that the energetic prep work and breathing exercises had fired me up enough to hold the balance for several breaths.
“My lips are so relaxed right now, my jaw is NOT clenching,” announced Bud as the class mm’ed in agreement. We kept challenging ourselves, pulsing our back knee bent and straight in a low lunge, doing rapid-fire breathing in blank and Chaturanga. We brought a leg into a figure 4 position and breathed deeply before coming to the mat to thread the needle and open the shoulders. Our reward for our work was Pigeon, and Bud helped me fold and surrender by placing his hands on either side of my spine to encourage the muscles to relax and melt.
Our inversion was a Shoulderstand, and Bud again helped me by easing my legs up straighter. Then we were invited to take any pose we needed to prepare for Savasana - I completed my practice with fish pose and supine twists.
After a nice nidra on the mat we chanted an Om’d to the echoes of the harmonium once more. Bud surprised us with an after-class treat of fresh pears with almond butter, and we all “namastayed” to enjoy it!
-Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
Single drop-in classes at Stanton Street Yoga are $16 including free mat rental.