Emily Shapiro started her Wednesday morning New Love City class with a short talk as we sat, supported by blocks, on our mats. She shared that she'd recently taught at a retreat that included yoga, flower arranging, and arts and crafts. Though she had never been particularly crafty (“I was always the performer in the family…”), she had been able to draw an interesting parallel between her yoga practice and the other activities involved in the retreat.
She discovered that when crafting or arranging flowers, you are essentially creating a shape that is representative of yourself. In yoga, she said, we create all of these shapes with our asana, and they are all just different arrangements of the self.
I had only attended Emily’s class once before, but had found it quite fun. Her flow is challenging and creative, with fun, loud music that matches her bright energy and encourages students to give the practice their all. This class was a brisk 60 minutes, and Emily was masterful at teaching a well-rounded practice.
Throughout class, she encouraged us to “find ourselves” in the shapes, to not try and look like someone else, but to form our own Downward Dogs, Vasisthasanas, or Bridges. I thought that this was an interesting way to look at the practice, especially coming at it from over 10 years of experience. After all of that time, there are still poses that I see others doing “perfectly” (or I have the mental image of B.K.S. Iyengar demonstrating them in Light on Yoga) as I do some sort of version of the shape that my body is actually capable of doing at that moment in time.
Though it looks very different, I try to remember that it is still full of benefits, many of them exactly the same benefits that I would be receiving if I were executing the pose as flawlessly as Iyengar. Emily’s philosophy of embracing our personal shapes that our own bodies can make was a positive way of going through the practice.
Music is a big part of Emily’s class, with a carefully curated playlist that matches the flow. In fact, music seems to be a big part of every class I’ve attended at this new Greenpoint studio. Teachers here aren’t shy about sharing their musical tastes (many of them upbeat and popular), and, as a musician and yogi, I love it.
In Emily’s class, the upbeat tempo and melody of one song helped push me to take that extra vinyasa. I know some students prefer the more traditional silent class, but, for me, music is another way to keep me present and focused on my practice.
I have to confess that, after a late Tuesday night, it had been a little difficult to drag myself out of bed for Emily’s (admittedly, not too early) 8:30am class, but her fun and creative flow and positive energy helped to wake me up. And as I left class 60 minutes later I felt wonderfully ready to face the rest of my busy day, however it may have shaped up to be.
—Abby Payne for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $32. New students can purchase a drop-in class for $16 or two weeks of unlimited classes for $50. Mats and towels are included.