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Tracing The Balance With Patricia Pinto

Patricia Pinto is a dynamic and versatile teacher who can kick her students into gear, or help them find peace and relaxation with just a subtle change in voice tone. I had been to her class several times, but had never studied with her at Chalk Gym. I have taken enough gym yoga classes to know that they are a little different from the incense-infused crunchy yoga studios I love so dearly. This particular class was 55 minutes long, as opposed to our usual 90 minutes (I have to assume so that students could make it to a 7pm spin class after). I had been by Chalk Gym countless times, walking or riding the B62 bus. I'm quite sure that it is used as a location in the TV show Broad City. On the show, it is called “Soulstice,” and it is where the character Abi works as a cleaner and aspiring trainer. This info was enough to entice my friend—who is a yogi and also a big fan of the show—to join me for class. As we stepped into the strangely familiar lobby, we were greeted by a friendly and informative receptionist. He told us about the facility, which is rather vast, and confirmed that yes, they do film Broad City there sometimes. He also informed us that new students get a free two-day pass to the gym, which includes all classes. My friend and I have never been members of a gym before, and this seemed like a fantastic deal. Chalk offers about one yoga class per day—sometimes more, and one day has only “yoga cycling,” which I may have to look into further—with several other fitness and cycling classes each day. To access the yoga studio, we walked through most of the workout area, which is tidy and well lit. We spent a moment on the bicycles to do a photo shoot for Instagram (“We joined Soulstice! #broadcity”) before we retired to the more familiar surroundings of the studio. Patricia walked in and enthusiastically greeted each student. She really makes you feel that she is happy and excited to have you in class, which I think in turn makes students want to do their best and listen very carefully to her instruction. In Patricia’s class, there is never a sense that she is teaching a mass of yoga students in front of her. She always seems to see each student individually, even as she keeps an eye on the whole class. For this vinyasa class, we began with a block under the sacrum for a supported Bridge Pose. Patricia introduced Pranayama right away—with our eyes closed, we inhaled to a count of four, and exhaled out for six. She encouraged us to continue this exercise throughout our practice, if it served us well. I tended to come back to it in poses that were held longer, and in forward bends where my mind tends to race. After a relaxing and centering warm up on our backs, we rocked and rolled our ways up into an Uttanasana at the front of the mat. Patricia was unsurprisingly deft at planning an efficient and satisfying 55-minute class. (On her schedule, I noticed that she teaches yoga at three different gyms). We started moving with some basic vinyasa flows that included Crescent Lunge, as well as High Lunge, Half Split, and a modified push-up practice to help build heat. I had promised my friend a challenging and fiery practice, and Patricia did not disappoint. The flow was very natural and felt great, but it was definitely designed to strengthen and build heat in the body. At one point, we sat low in Utkatasana and then crossed one ankle over the knee to add a little more balance-challenge to the pose. Following the breath, we then inhaled to straighten the standing leg, and exhaled to re-bend. This added an interesting challenge to a familiar pose, and the incorporated movement helped me get a bit deeper with the bent knees. Toward the end of class, we took a Seated Spinal Twist, where we also blocked off one nostril as a sort of Nadi Shodhana variation. I found this invigorating, and it also seemed to allowe me to twist deeper. After a choice of Supta Baddha Konasana, Tripod Headstand, or Forearm Stand, we began to cool down with some seated forward bends before Savasana. Patricia thanked everyone graciously for practicing, and the next class walked in with energy and purpose. I had never had a friend along with me for a Sleuth, so it was interesting to ask her what she thought of class. She agreed that Patricia has a vibrant and kind energy that clearly comes through in her teaching. Walking through the impressive gym, we both agreed that we should come back and “work out,” using our free day pass the next day. But I think we both ended up going to yoga class instead. —Abby Payne for Yoga Sleuth Drop-in classes are $20 , which includes a day pass to the gym.

New students receive two days, including all classes, for free.

Mats are available to borrow, for free. Thursday 6pm-6:55pm Open Chalk Gym 193 North 9th St Brooklyn, NY 11211

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