In Sync with Sasha Nelson
Yoga Sleuth had spent several hours on South 2nd and Bedford Ave over the years waiting for that sporadic B62 bus to take me home. Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that just a half block away from the bus stop is the lovely SYNCSTUDIO. Sync offers “synchronized cycling” as well as yoga, and so is a perfect spot for those who want a marriage of cardio and relaxation.
I studied the website before I attended my first class there Tuesday night, and I was gleefully reminded of the gym that Abbi works at in one of my favorite shows, Broad City. Upon my visit, I found that while Sync certainly has a strong feeling of community and commitment to fitness and well-being, it is not at all over the top like Abbi’s “Soulstice.” I was greeted at the front desk by two very friendly and cheerful receptionists who told me that our class would be held at the first room on the left. SYNCSTUDIO definitely has the feel of a gym more than a yoga studio, but it is well appointed, with plenty of cubbies and benches - one of my pet peeves of the yoga world is studios that have no place to facilitate the necessarily mandatory shoe removal.
I placed my mat in the corner, and one other student and I waited for our teacher to arrive (for once I was early!). Just before 8:15, several students joined us from what I assume is the cycling studio downstairs. There is a 7:15-8pm cycling class, and it appeared that several of my classmates were enjoying the best of both worlds. I introduced myself to our teacher, Sasha Nelson, and informed her of a silly injury I procured while running (...in the future, perhaps cycling is safer?). She was very friendly and said that she would help me find any modifications I might need. She then asked us all to take a strap as well as two blocks. We began our asana with excellent lower back/hamstring stretches. Lying on our backs, we placed the ball of the foot in the strap, which we held on to with both hands. Keeping the shoulders relaxed onto the floor, we straightened our leg into the strap for a good hamstring stretch. Sasha had us place a block on its lowest level to the outside of the hip. As we took the strap in one hand to let the leg open up to the side, the block supported the hip. This took much of the work out of the pose and allowed me to focus more on the delicious stretch. We then crossed the leg over the body, but only so far as the hips stayed grounded. I am more accustomed to taking this stretch into a full twist, and I found that this variation became more of an IT band stretch (something that is always a little painful and is definitely good for me). This class is called “Just the Basics,” and on the website they recommend it for anyone who is new to yoga or who is looking for a “refresher of the fundamentals.” And Sasha did a skillful job of breaking down the poses as we continued through our asana. The class did not appear to contain any beginners, but her precise instruction and easy way of giving less advanced modification options made it accessible and enjoyable for all levels. Her cheerful, enthusiastic, and friendly manner could certainly put new students at ease. Toward the end of class, Sasha had us move our mats to the wall. After demonstrating for us, she led us through Warrior 3 using blocks and the wall. First measuring out the proper distance using our legs, we placed blocks under our shoulders and stepped one foot up the wall. Sasha encouraged us to look underneath the body and peak at our toes to make sure the hips were square and the toes were facing downward. This was pretty challenging for me, and it was also a good reminder of what a full Warrior 3 really feels like. I realized that I often rush through it, using it almost just as a transitional pose. This variation using the wall reminded me that it is a pose in its own right, and that I really need to work on it! My vanity was appeased a bit when she had us open up the hip and turn it into Half Moon at the wall (a much easier pose for me!). After some brief forward bending and Happy Baby, it was time for Savasana. In the darkened room, I felt the stresses of the day melting away after Sasha’s class. I walked out into the beautiful spring night, better prepared to wait for the B62. - Abby Payne for Yoga Sleuth Drop-in classes are $18. New students can purchase two weeks of unlimited classes for $45. Tuesday 8:15-9:15pm Open SYNCSTUDIO 133 S. 2nd St Brooklyn, NY 11249