Nestled among bustling coffee shops, vibrant music venues and restored warehouses in the heart of Williamsburg, is a new heated yoga oasis offering a sweet escape from city life, and plenty of Sunday morning awakenings. Modo Yoga, known for its popular studio in the West Village, opened its newest location on Metropolitan Avenue to spread yoga love the Brooklyn way. On Sunday mornings at 10am, Robyn Girson leads a traditional “Modo style” 90-minute class integrating a routine asana sequence with revitalizing breathwork. Upon first entering an intimate lobby area, I was drawn to the beauty of a living plant wall, a recent trend popping up in new fitness spaces. As I explored the rest of the studio, the industrial wood wall paneling, sleek cork flooring and pristine locker rooms, was nothing short of flawless. I entered one of their two studio rooms marked “b for berry ” and sipped in the aromas of eucalyptus wafting through the thick layers of controlled heat. Several yogis remained still in savasana, enjoying a few moments of personal meditation offered before each class. I rolled out my mat, in front of a floor to ceiling mirror wall to join them, already breaking a sweat. Robyn entered the room, a petite yogi with grounded presence that expanded well beyond the walls of our 6,000 square-foot confinements. She guided those who were not on their backs already to find savasana for opening class. Taking time to connect to our breath, she told us to sip up one last deep inhale, “easy like a Sunday morning.” With a warm welcome to all those new to the Williamsburg location, she had us turn to face the mirror wall and begin with a breath-inspired standing sequence interlacing the fingers at heart-center, pressing the arms down, and then lifting the arms overhead, with the gaze, in utthita hastasana. Once we found a deeper connection to our bodies, we moved through a sequence of standing poses challenging my body, and breath, to go deeper. While the heat increased, Robyn’s encouragement remained steady. I lowered my hips into a few variations of utkatasana, holding for longer breath cycles (five-six breaths) before moving into each modification. “Stay with it,” Robyn said to the room, as my quads started to tremble in unison with the yogis on either side of me.
A delicious adho mukha svanasana was granted, before making our way into virabhadrasana one and two, followed by utthita parsvakonasana on both sides. By the time the standing poses came to an end, any remnants of Sunday morning sleepiness was replaced with full-body awakening. A mid-way savasana brought us back to Earth, where I could clearly recognize my busy mind of self-judgments controlling my practice. “Yoga helps us cultivate awareness on our mats,” Robyn shared, “so we can have more awareness in our lives.” I found my way out of the vrittis of the mind and back to the observations of breath. The next half of class involved an energizing sequence of heart-openers including bhujangasana, salabhasana and ustrasana. Taking a moment to pause, we closed our eyes to feel the effects of awakening in the heart. “Take a moment to see what floats up,” she said, “and then let it float away.” We practiced a few balancing poses including virabhadrasana three and vrksasana. “We’re working to find balance in the body,” Robyn paused, “and in the mind.” We came into pigeon for a few minutes on each side, eventually finishing with kapalabhati breathing to create more space for deeper relaxation in savasana. Softly bookending class in savasana, I melted into my mat, soaked with the satisfying sweat of my body’s release. And as I filled back up with breath, I truly awakened, on this inspiring Sunday morning, to the awareness of presence within my practice. —Ashley Rose Howard for Yoga Sleuth Drop-in classes are $18. Mat and mat towel rentals available for $2 each. Sunday 10:00-11:30am Open Modo Yoga 109 Metropolitan Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11249 347-889-7248