Sprinting from Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria to East 59th Street in a record 15 minutes, Yoga Sleuth was ready to usher in the New Year with a class at Yo Yoga with Delaney Kriegshauser.
Delaney, an Exhale alum who has studied with David Magone, has a dance background and a ring in her voice that contribute to a playful, but invigorating class. We started out with some lunge twists, knee on the ground, raising one arm in the air while planting the other hand firmly. "I like to keep a little bend in the supporting arm so I'm not completely locked up," Delaney suggested. "Keep on stretching with the other hand, yearning with the fingertips." She helped me open up a more in the side body, encouraging me overcome my body's natural winter inclination to take it easy. "Incorporate the breath," she reminded us. "In fact, the breath should be leading the movement."
We came into Table Top and lifted into Cow. Before we could say moo, we were in our first down dogs. "You want space in between your shoulders, keep a little bend in the knees, press one heel down and raise the other. And keep space between the fingers."
After a stay in Chair Pose, we took a series of undulating lunges, then paused for several breaths in a "fold" position over the bent knee. "Clasp your hands behind you but pull your wrists away from each other," said Delaney. "It's what I like to call an open clasp. So you get that nice wrist stretch."
Folding in Uttanasana, we came to a flat back and began setting up for Crow Pose. "Let's try to make a very smooth transition and not maneuver too much,” said Delaney. "So where you come down is where you come down - rather than this big grand setup, just come right down.” This method was so simple and yet so effective, as I glided into Bakasana elegantly and stayed for several breaths. "Way to go, girl!" grinned Delaney to the yogini next to me, who was soaring.
The class met up in a squat. "It's all about the core work," said Delaney. "It's really intense, I know! We're going to focus on pulling up the pelvic floor lock.”
"I know it's excruciating!" she smiled as she saw us getting it. We laughed and dipped back into Crow, the transitions getting easier with repetition.
We were rewarded for our metamorphosis with Child's Pose, but added a little Thread- the-Needle to get some extra shoulder work in. Emerging from our mini-vacay, we pendulumed into Warrior 3, balanced more in Vrksasana, then floated back to a high lunge with a subtle backbend. We brought our hands to the floor and pushed back into a Three-Legged Dog. "You have the choice of a three-legged vinyasa," said Delaney, and I exercised that option.
We took another three-legged vinyasa and returned to our undulating lunges. "This is an opportunity to connect back to the breath," said Delaney. "You bring energy up and you bring it down."
Next was a tour of duty in Warrior 2, where Delaney had us make "bow and arrow" motions with our arms. "Open that back palm up and watch it come across, pulling it back towards the back shoulder, and 'shoot' it, then grab another arrow." When we were out of ammo we balanced in Half Moon. "We're putting more emphasis in the back body, rather than just tipping over," said Delaney.
Coming down to the mat we opened our hearts in Camel Pose, a block between our thighs to keep us nicely aligned. We did one arm at a time, then both together. "The stretch is in the chest cavity, spreading that ribcage open," said Delaney. "Keep pressing those hips forward."
To finish up we had our choice of Happy Baby, Plow or Reclined Spinal Twist. I took the latter, and then we settled in for Savasana.
"You all did wonderfully!" said Delaney, praising us for keeping up the practice during the typically gluttonous and sloth-filled holidays.
-Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes at Yo Yoga are $20 with a $2 mat rental.