"Health and Wellness as a right of life rather than a luxury." These words are painted on the door of Hosh Yoga, the non-profit by-donation studio in Greenpoint across from McCarren Park. Yoga Sleuth agreed, and signed right up for the lunchtime flow class with Claire Bourgeois.
Claire had us sit on a folded blanket with two blocks and a bolster at the ready. "This is a conscious flow class...I like to encourage everyone to stay rooted to your breath no matter what you're doing. If you notice you're more frustrated than aware, take a Child's Pose and reconnect. That's more important than anything."
We closed our eyes and got right to work on cultivating that attention.
"Simply vibrate awareness to the physicalities of your breath,” said Claire. "Begin to tune inwards. Let your inhales allow your chest to rise and expand, and your exhales to help you sink deeper into this place, into this time we have in the studio together. Notice where the tension is in your body, and rather than trying to get rid of it immediately, just compassionately direct your breath to that area." We exhaled out our mouths 3 times, tuned in to our intention to be with the breath, and sounded one Om.
We came to a Table Top position, knees lined up under hip points, spreading our fingers wide and lengthening our necks. "Really get into syncing your breath with the movement," said Claire. "Make circles, fold back into Child's Pose. Notice where tension remains and use your breath to release it."
We lifted our knees two inches above the mat to engage the core, then raised into our first down dog of the day. We took mindful steps to the front of the mat and folded. "Let everything feel like it's hanging, even your jaw," said Claire. We rolled up, keeping that heaviness, then engaged in Sun Salutations.
Our standing poses included Warrior 2, Reverse Warrior, Extended Side Angle and Triangle, the right side performed to the front of the room; then we swiveled to face the back wall to do the left. Claire encouraged us to use our blocks to bring the floor to us and to modify with bent knees whenever our spines told us that they needed more length.
We did two versions of Prasarita Padottanasana, first with palms on the floor or blocks, then with hands clasped behind us and yearning to the sky. "Come to Child's Pose whenever you feel like you've lost the breath," reminded Claire. We came to Pyramid Pose with hands (or in my case, elbows) clasped behind us.
Coming to stand at the top of the mat, Claire had us lift our right legs. "Point the toes Barbie style!" she said. "This will work the psoas muscle."
We brought the foot to our thigh for Tree Pose, finding a point of focus and either drawing palms to heart center or letting our arms extend like branches.
Our climactic backbend was Camel, which we took for six breaths with hands at our backs. Then Claire encouraged us to try again but, this time, reaching for our heels. "This can be pretty intense, so listen to your body."
Coming to the mat, we grabbed blankets and blocks. At Claire's encouragement, we placed the blanket under our hips and the block supporting our head for a modified Pigeon. "Let this pose be your own, using the breath to encourage the gentle release of your back and neck."
A supine twist detoxed our organs in time for weekend shenanigans, than it was time to make use of our bolsters. Claire had us lie back on it, with legs in Cobbler's Pose and blocks under our knees for a restorative Savasana.
After a heartfelt "thank you," Claire sent us back into the world...or in Yoga Sleuth's case, off to McCarren park, for some green, sunshine, and meditation!
—Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are by donation, suggested $10 ; mat rental is $1. A tax deductible $49 sustaining monthly memberships are available.
Fridays 12:15-1:30pm Beginner
Hosh Yoga 55 Nassau Ave Suite 1C (Entrance on Guernsy Street) Brooklyn, New York, NY 11222 (718) 599-9642