In the heart of the Garment District, Om Factory is home to unique yoga classes that push the boundaries of traditional asana like Aerial Yoga, AcroYoga and Monday evening vinyasa with Anton Brandt.
I find that when you meet a spirit with an exceptionally radiant, guiding light, you feel the desire to surround yourself with their presence. And if you’re fortunate enough to find this light source, it’s a gift. Anton Brandt, one of OM Factory’s gems, and founder ofThe Sacred Fig, has a sparkle that exudes from an authentic place of ease and happiness deep within.
As we settled into the room on this bitter cold Monday night, Anton started by guiding us through a few practice rounds of Uddiyana Bandha – inhaling to rise up and exhaling forcefully – legs wide apart, knees bent – to hold in the belly and then inhaling to release and rise back up.
We all met at the top of our mats and waited for our “step-by-step” instruction. “Ok, everyone,“ he smiled, “today we’ll begin in Handstand.” Everyone looked around the room terrified until we realized he was laughing at his own joke – his sense of humor became contagious throughout the room.
After an intense arm warm-up series including several variations of Surya Namaskar A and B, Plank push ups and Vashistasana, it was no surprise that we quickly moved into more challenging arm balances like Bakasana, Parsva Bakasana, and Sirsasana.
An open class level, Anton showed his ability to read the room and offer modifications for beginners. For the more advanced practitioners, it was all about pushing the boundaries. As a few students struggled to get into Side Crow, he found his way over to their mats to assist the challenge of actually getting into the pose this time, even just for a one-breath hold. “If you’re already there,” he said, “see if you can stay for an extra breath today or try spreading the legs apart.” The enthusiasm in his voice encouraged me to push even harder. As sweat began to drip off my forehead and onto my mat, I held the pose for five full breaths (or what seemed like an hour).
We continued through a few more vinyasas adding on more challenging binds, chest openers, and plenty of Chaturangas.
To cool down, we found our way to Bridge Pose with the option to make our way into one final backbend, yogis choice. As I pushed firmly into my palms and found Wheel Pose, I felt my heart expand with warmth from the reflection off Anton’s radiance, like a prism transforming rays of sunlight into a rainbow.
We sat on a block for a brief reflective meditation before lowering ourselves into Savasana. Sitting still after such a fluid and invigorating class, I felt a strong movement of energy spiral its way through my solar plexus. And with a few moments of ultimate silence, I was able to hear my own voice.
A final mantra: “Bring the thumbs to touch the forehead, ‘May we have clarity of the mind and thought.’ Move the prayer down to the lips, ‘With clarity of thought, may we have clearer communication.’ Both hands meet at heart’s center, ‘With clarity of thought and communication, may we all have more peace and presence.’”