Yoga Sleuth does not usually expect to be greeted by the sight of giant stuffed giraffes, but he’s open to it. So I really enjoyed my tour of the new Sky Ting Yoga in Chinatown, with its pristine white walls, light brown floors, and ceiling windows dreaming in the early afternoon sun. A version of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”, by what sounded like a children’s choir, added to the pleasantly quirky atmosphere.
“Sit in Virasana, on a block, shoelace side of the foot down, or you can sit cross-legged,” invited Jenn Tardif. “Make sure your hips are higher than your knees, and close your eyes. Let your expression soften.” We shifted our weight front and back, side to side, shrugged our shoulders, and elongated our necks. “Whatever final adjustments you need to make to your own body to sit still. Ease into your seat.” Jenn suggested we flip our palms up if we were tired and needed energy and optimism, or down to feel more grounded. “Be receptive to whatever you need today.” I chose the former, and we were on our way.
We rotated our palms back towards our knees in Tabletop, then back into the usual position. “Undoing all that crunching from texting and typing all day!” noted Jenn. “Stick with your breath as we begin to move. Allow it to be audible, a barometer to check in with.”
We squared off the hips and toggled between Three-Legged Dog and bringing the right knee to the nose, to the right elbow, and then across the body to the left elbow. We came to an early Malasana, and if our heels were lifting (as mine were), Jenn suggested we sit on one of the sturdy wooden blocks. “See if you can imagine a string at the crown of your head pulling you straight up.”
We came to a standing forward fold, clasped hands behind the nape of the neck, and used our legs to roll up to stand as the music signaled a pick up in pace. We jumped back into Chaturanga and proceeded to flow at a brisk pace, so much that Jenn offered to flip on the AC. (We voted to stick with the fans.)
“Find a drishti, hug your knee to the chest and then bring it to the side,” said Jenn. We grabbed hold of the waist and then grabbed for the big toe, opening it out to the side and looking over the opposite shoulder. We sank into invisible chairs, then brought our hands to prayer and twisted over each knee.
We progressed through Warrior 2, Reversed Warrior, low and high lunge, and, as “Edge of 17” by Stevie Nicks asserted its presence, we blossomed into Tree Pose. We folded into Padangusthasana. “Know that this is helping release any tension in the wrist joints,” said Jenn. “Crown of the head drops straight down. We’re headed to Bakasana, Crow practice!”
We played in the balance for a few breaths, then washed it away with a jump back to Chaturanga. “If you can’t do Crow, it doesn’t matter,” reassured Jenn. “That’s why we call it a practice!” We returned to Malasana and tried for a bind as “Underneath It All” by No Doubt faded in. “No need to go for the bind if it compromises the pose,” reminded Jenn.
We released down into Lizard Pose, with the options of back knee up or down, and forearms on the mat or on blocks. “Choose your own adventure!” said Jenn, “And commit to it!” And she reminded us to keep our breathing consistent. “If someone was listening to the breathing track of this class, they shouldn’t be able to tell whether we’re in Down Dog, or Child’s Pose, or Forearm Stand. We want to be breathing consistently and evenly in whatever posture we’re taking.”
Forearm Stand happened, as foreshadowed, preceded by Dolphin prep. “Work on engaging the abdomen, and take some gentle hops into your Forearm Stand. If you come up, think about drawing the floating ribs toward one another so the abdomen can be nicely engaged. Due it with integrity, with intention.”
Having duly ventured, we vacationed in Child’s Pose, followed by Pigeon and Savasana.
“It takes work to get to that place where we feel totally grounded, and at home in your own body, your own skin,” said Jenn. “And that’s one of the greatest benefits of yoga. We don’t just arrive at the studio in the midst of our hectic New York life and meditate for four hours. There’s a reason for the asanas we do. They are so we can transform and affect change in the mind.”
—Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
“Droplet” classes (drop ins) are $20, including a free Manduka mat rental. “Sky Virgins” (new students) can try two weeks for $20.
Sunday 1pm-2:15pm Intermediate
Sky Ting Yoga 55 Chrystie St. 4th floor New York, NY 10002 (212) 203-5786