Living in a city full of powerful yang energy, I’ve recently been on a sleuth mission to find a yoga class that balances calming yin energy. It’s not often we yogis allow ourselves to embrace the restorative and passive practices of yoga, but every now and again, it’s a must. Luckily, I discovered Evelyn Abruzzo’s Yin class at ISHTA Yoga on the Upper East Side.
Entering this charming one-room studio located directly off bustling 3rd Avenue felt like walking into your parents’ house after your first semester away. The narrow staircase leading upstairs draped my spirit with a welcoming hug and the receptionist assured me everything was taken care of already: blankets, mats and water. Just like home. Mats were already lining the studio when I entered and the lights were dim, complimented by a subtle relaxing soundtrack.
Evelyn immediately came up to me and introduced herself with a smile that made me feel safe and seen as a newer student to Yin Yoga. She told me to grab a variety of props including bolsters, blocks and two over-sized cotton blankets. She helped fold the first blanket to cover my yoga mat as an extra layer of cushion and then went around the room helping other students get set up.
Her attentiveness remained high as she made her way to the front of the room and introduced herself. “This is a yin yoga class,” she explained, “a compliment to the more muscular (yang) styles of yoga that emphasize internal heat, this style targets our fascia, releasing stored stress or tension in the muscles.”
We started lying on our backs for a gentle twist supported by more props than usual. Evelyn began to make her way to each student’s mat making helpful adjustments around our knees and hips, so we could find full relaxation before holding for about 5 minutes on each side. She explained how supporting the spine and joints for longer breath counts helps to calm the nervous system, which is commonly fixed on fight-or-flight mode from chaotically navigating around Manhattan.
Movements during class were very minimal as we arranged different placements of the props coming into energizing, yet restorative poses like Supta Baddha Konasana and gentle hip openers. Evelyn’s voice carried throughout the room like a soothing whisper as she weaved in philosophical metaphors for each pose. Every few minutes a sound of chimes would go off, reminding us to come back to the present moment after she left just enough space to find the silence to go within.
As we moved into more grounding poses like Pigeon and Savasana, my breath began to naturally deepen and the usual rapid waves of thoughts found a steady flow. Evelyn returned to my mat making sure I found absolute comfort in our final resting pose, bringing with her the scents of lavender and the touch of kindness. She sat behind me and brought her hands to my collarbones using a light pressure to root my shoulder blades even deeper into the mat. She then drew her attention to my forehead gently massaging my third eye with her thumbs - any tension I was holding in my jaw, back and glutes instantly softened.
As I began to feel more balanced in Yin energy, I entered a pretty special moment of stillness. For about one minute, I felt non-attachment to my thoughts and physical body and felt perfectly peaceful and weightless in space. I could feel Evelyn’s energy nearby, but the city’s sensory overload seemed much further away than my gentle journey home inwards.
-Ashley Rose Howard for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $24. Complimentary mats and blankets provided.
Mon, 4-5:00pm Open
ISHTA Yoga 1026 3rd Avenue New York, NY 10065 212-888-9642