The sounds of the sutras emanating from the teacher training class next door were a perfect accompaniment to Yoga Sleuth’s first Sunday afternoon class with Dana Slamp, at Yoga Vida’s Broadway location. Dana asked us shy yogis, crowded behind the 50-yard line, to move our mats up to be nearer to the raised platform she would be demoing from.
Vancouver, WA-native Dana is a ten-year veteran of yoga-teaching, a certified Ayurvedic expert, and is also part of the senior staff at Pure Yoga. She will also help lead the next 300-hour teacher training at Yoga Vida.
We stretched the spine in Cats and Cows, then pulled back to Down Dog. Mine was a little less than assertive after a few days away from the mat, so Dana came by to help me reclaim my edge. We were invited to “walk the dog,” then we came to a forward fold.
“Look around for your block and set it between your thighs,” said Dana. We would be exploring what it was like to squeeze it and pull it energetically back in space, so we would remember the feeling when we set it aside.
The class is called “deep flow,” meaning we were going to explore each posture carefully and really experience them. Dana facilitated this with detailed cueing and hands-on adjustments. We awakened the core by keeping a leg raised in Chaturanga, and played with half binds in Triangle and Half Moon. We got some air-time by jumping forward from Down Dog, and balanced in a choice of Crane or Crow, followed closely by Side Crow.
We Eagle-wrapped our arms and our legs, coming into a full expression of Garudasana. As Dana says on her blog (danaslamp.com), “Pursuing ‘garuda’ energy means developing one’s vision past your current drama, and honing in on just where your truth is meant to take you.” Excellent suggestion!
We came into Warrior 2, Reversed Warrior, and Diver’s Pose. We repeated the unique sequence several times, as Daniel Andrade’s acoustic version of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” chided us good-naturedly. Dana reminded us not to let one hip sag in our lunges, and I noticed mine doing just that and immediately self-corrected.
Next it was time to play with Sirsasana. “When you play chess, all the other pieces sacrifice themselves to protect the king,” said Dana. “In Headstand, the king is your neck.” She had us bring our fingers together as if we were cupping a softball, then we brought our hands down to the mat. Dana had us either place our heads in the basket we made, or, if we had neck issues, we simply let our heads stay in the Dolphin position. We brought our legs into a Down Dog stance, allowing the other parts of the body to be the protective chess pieces to the “King.”
We came down to the mat for seated twists, a choice of Wheel or Bridge (with a trusty block), and then took a restorative inversion in the form of Viparita Karani. A supine Pigeon opened our hips, and then we cupped the flexed foot and cradled the knee like a baby. We played with bringing the 3rd eye to the knee, with the knowledge that our practice would one day take us to the triumphant moment of putting our leg behind our head.
Settling in for seated meditation, Dana suggested we drape a blanket around our shoulders as a symbol of going within. We breathed in our intention and exhaled whatever we didn’t need anymore, then Dana invited us to either remain in meditation or recline into Savasana. Most of us picked the latter, and Dana serenaded us with Lokha Samastha chant, her gorgeous voice accompanied by her harmonium. I thanked Dana for class and helped her put said instrument safely away, and she let me know a harmonium-learning workshop was in the near future. I just might have a new hobby....
—Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes: $18
Mat rental: $2
First-visit package: $20 (Two weeks unlimited.)
Sunday 2pm-3:15pm Intermediate
Yoga Vida 666 Broadway, 3rd Floor New York, NY 212-845-9973