It's hard to miss New York Yoga as there's a large sign on 85th St. as soon as you get off the 4/5/6 subway. Even before going to the studio, I knew exactly where it was. Buzz the grey buzzer and go up a flight of stairs and you're in the hot yoga department of New York Yoga (there's another not-hot studio on York Ave.). Newcomers tip: Bring a lock if you want to lock up your valuables in the changing room.
At the start of class, New York Yoga-trained Dana Miller began class by advising us that this was our practice, we were welcome to take breaks, and we did not have to do any poses that didn't feel right. Noticing an air of sadness in the room, she gave a nod to the disturbing news reports that week, including the San Bernardino shootings. Dana proceeded to give a brief dharma talk, advising us that we can utilize our yoga practice to transform the sadness.
Dana has a laid-back, down-to-earth vibe as a teacher and her language used for instruction is simple and easy to follow. Starting the class out with a downward dog, we warmed up with a series of raising a leg and bringing knee to nose several times before planting the foot for a low lunge and then beginning a round of sun salutations.
Moving into a variety of standing poses, including warrior one, warrior two, peaceful warrior, triangle, extended side angle, and devotional warrior, the class developed into a hip-opening focus with lizard and crescent moon. With the heat, in the room and building in our bodies, we were reaching for our towels in no time. Helping to keep the energy level up as we worked through the series, Dana played an eclectic mix of pop music on her iPod including classes hits from the Bee Gees.
Soon we made our way into pyramid pose and then a cross-legged pyramid pose that helped stretch our hips and IT bands. Standing split evolved into seated spinal twist, and, after another vinyasa, we took a squat at the back of our mats, followed by a crow pose, for those who wanted the challenge. "To do a crow or not to do a crow," Dana joked, reprising her suggestion to take it at our own pace.
Before moving onto floor poses, Dana instructed us to raise the right leg, bring the knee to nose, raise the leg again and bring knee to elbow, then raise the leg one more time and bring the leg across the body to hold a fallen warrior. This time, that heat was targeted in our abs!
Then, we finally settled into a well-earned pigeon-prep. After taking it on both sides, we worked on some forward bends, starting with janu sirsasana, then a revolved head-to-knee pose on both sides, before exploring tarasana.
Lying down on the floor, we were instructed into a bridge pose followed by some gentle twists and a happy baby. After a solid five minute savasana, Dana gently woke us out of our slumber, inviting us to “sparkle” our fingers and toes, and then rolling to the right, coming back up to sit. Class ended with a series of “om”s and a final “namaste.” It was hard to believe it was a cold December day outside when we'd created so much warmth inside.
—Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $28 with $4 mat and towel rentals. New student special: $99 for one-month unlimited.