Although Makara Studio seems new, Hannah Harpole (owner and founder) is clearly an old soul. If I had to describe Hannah in three words, they would be chill, intuitive, and smart (as hell). And Hannah is synonymous with Makara. Her studio has been in Brooklyn, on the border of Williamsburg and Bushwick, for just about 3 years, and the sense of community is growing; they offer fun potlucks with dinner and yoga, and many classes at affordable prices.
I entered the one-room studio of Makara, which is beautifully designed, worthy of bohemian Pinterest-board envy. The blue-green walls, mini goddess statues, and Moroccan pillows transport you immediately. And Hannah’s energy helps the journey. An extremely intuitive teacher, Hannah sat calmly and got to know us.
We began in a Child’s Pose supported by lots of props. This came from her Iyengar training, but she has studied most types of yoga, as well as Ayurveda, and is a practicing doula. She seems to do it all.
Next, we moved to Downward Dog, using a smartly placed strap to miraculously help me push weight into the center of my palms, in a way I’ve never been able to do before. I was impressed. Hannah led us through Sun Salutations and Moon Salutations, staying for long luxurious breaths in each pose, especially crescent lunges. “Inhale one, open your chest, exhale, deepen the hip. Inhale two…” We settle in, listening to her calming counts.
After salutations, Hannah split up the class and moved our mats to the wall for Handstands, though she strongly advised that any women on their time of the month should not invert—which today, included myself. Instead, Hannah put me into a relaxing, restorative Child’s Pose, with massages, and I definitely didn't complain about her “no Handstands” rule.
But I shouldn’t have relaxed so quickly. We moved into an intense lunge and Warrior series, to the point where my legs shaked. In a conscious way, Hannah had a way of pushing us to the edge. She led us back to our mats into some risky arm balances that verged on contortion, but, thanks to her trustworthy instructions, I actually got into Eight-Angle Pose (Astavakrasana) for the first time, and sighed out a huge belly laugh. What a release!
After sweating through the tough standing series and testing our circus skills in arm balances, Hannah gently put us on our backs and opened our hips with some beautiful stretches. The mood of the room changed quickly, as if we were transported to a meditative women’s circle.
Again, there were options for Shoulderstands, with props and magical adjustments. And with the "no inversion" rule for me, I gladly let Hannah put me into a different restorative position—lying on my back with my feet flexed against the wall, pillows and blocks arranged under my back, neck, head, and shoulders—so I could melt into the floor, and watch everyone else lift their legs above their shoulders.
She dimmed the lights and turned on some flowing jazz instrumentals. I realized this was the first music in the whole class, and I hadn’t missed it at all. I moved to join everyone else in Savasana, where Hannah gave massages so lush I felt as if I should have tipped her. Drifting off into an almost sleep state, I could tell that we held Savasana for a very, very long time. Long enough to truly stop fidgeting and let the mind quiet, which can be hard to find in a N.Y.C. yoga class. But then again, we’re in Brooklyn.
As Hannah woke us up, and gently sat, Om-ed, and start to chat, the type of community Hannah was trying to create became even clearer. She seemed almost uncomfortable asking for payments, wanting to prolong conversation and the mood of the practice. We continued talking out the door, as she locked up, and finally said goodnight, walking to the street corner.
Hannah’s beauty lies in her obvious dedicated study of many different practices. But also her ability to let that knowledge fall away, and just be with her students. I walked away thinking to myself that I could totally be her best friend, and that I learned some valuable deep lessons in my personal practice.
—Madeleine Kelsey for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $15. New student special is available for $25 (7 days unlimited).