It was a packed house at Area Yoga’s Carroll Gardens location for Keri Setaro's Monday lunchtime class. As I cozied up between two fellow yogis, Keri told us to share a smile with our neighbors, as we'd be packed in mat to mat for the next 70 minutes. Her vibrant personality full of chutzpah and humor helped to quickly shift my perspective from lack of space to abundance of kindness. Keri opened class with a story about noticing the constant thought patterns that focus on what we lack in our minds, ie. “I’m a good person, so why is this happening to me?” She explained how feeling like a victim paralyzes us in our yoga practice and everyday lives. "When we live life from a place of lacking we make bad decisions,” she shared. “We must move into a place of abundance." We began in adho mukha svanasana for a few deep breaths as Keri directed our awareness to the invigorating tunes of 90s hip-hop jams. We moved through planks to the rhythm of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony before jumping into a few rounds of surya namaskar A. Starting with the left side, we moved through lunge into a deep low lunge stretch, then, mirrored the same sequence on the other side. "Just like in life, you may not be able to do everything this time.” Once we warmed up, Keri performed a demo of a playful hip-opening sequence starting in a wide-standing utkatasana to vrksasana modification to “OMG” (a Laughing Lotus-coined pose that resembled an exaggerated forward curtsy) to eagle, ending in ardha chandrasana.
We moved slowly into each transition with the help of Keri’s detailed cueing and thoughtful adjustments. “Notice what different thoughts wander into the mind when you’re exploring something new,” she said. “Are you moving from a place of lack or abundance?” Hip-openers ended with pigeon where Keri mindfully approached my mat and deepened the stretch in my outer hips with a strong hip adjustment—the tension unlocked and my breath deepened, like opening the floodgates to a blocked dam. We ended with forearm strengtheners including forearm plank and dolphin, with hops. Keri then gave us the option to practice our inversions or option two: invigorating the digestive system by laying the abdomen directly on a foam block and deepening the breath. As my mat neighbors moved into shoulderstand, I plugged a block into my abdominal wall and fully let go to the brief discomfort of digestive relief. By the time we moved into savasana, I felt ultimate relaxation. For a moment, when closing my eyes, I felt like the only body in the room. Keri gracefully moved around the room, tiptoeing between mats, as she offered blankets and blocks for deeper support. After about five minutes of silent observation, Keri softened her voice to gently guide us back to a comfortable seat. She placed her hands to forehead and lowered down towards her heart. “The abundance we recognize in each other reminds us we are not separate, but rather, we are alike.” —Ashley Rose Howard for Yoga Sleuth Drop-in classes are $18. Mat and mat towel rentals available for $2 each. New student special: 5 classes for $50. Monday 12:15-1:25pm Open Area Yoga 389 Court St. Brooklyn, NY 11231 718-797-3699