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Tara Heal

It was a late-winter evening that felt like summer outside, but Yoga Sleuth decided to turn up the heat even further with a free-style flow class at the new Modo Yoga Williamsburg. The studio is a palatial sanctuary on Metropolitan Avenue, connected to its West Village older sibling by the same chill (so to speak!) vibe and a few stops on the L train. I entered the Wyeth Studio 15 minutes before class to relax and acclimate to the heat. Our teacher Tara Heal suggested we take one block to the mat with us, and then sent around a basket of straps for later use. “It’s starting to feel like maybe spring’s coming,” said Tara. “There’s this idea that we want to detox, cleanse; find clarity and feel light. And the most helpful way to do that is through the breath. Keep that vibrant throughout the practice. The ebb and flow of the breath, its rhythm, brings you into consciousness.” With that in mind we got into intense movement right away. Tara has eight years teaching experience and 700-plus hours of training, all in evidence in her deft instruction and informed guidance this evening. By nature, the Free Style Modo class is a more unpredictable experience than the studio's signature sequence, and Tara’s setlist of poses tested our stamina, strength and balance.

We rose up into a reverse tabletop, then turned over into a down dog which led to a fallen star pose. Before long we were attempting side planks into wild things. We repeated the unique sequences several times, pausing for sips of water or vacations in child’s pose whenever we needed.

We did our warrior twos to the mirrors and then to the back of the room, with stops in prasarita padottonasana and humble warrior in between. We pushed to the edge in three-legged planks and chaturangas. We did twists of every kind throughout class for maximum detox—in standing lunges, kneeling lunges, chair, and finally supine, with legs wrapped in eagle formation. Balance was a frequent challenge, as we played with warrior three, dancer’s pose, crow, and even eka pada koundinyasana. We tried standing split with both hands on the shin. Sweat poured from my face onto the mat as I held my gaze steady in my natarajasana, holding the strap taut around my ears as I yearned my leg to soar behind me. Later we played with binds as well, utilizing our trusty straps in marichyasana three. We wound down with supine gomukhasana, bridge (or wheel if after 65 sweaty minutes we were still feeling feisty), and surrendedred into janu sirsasana. The lights were turned down to bathe us in near darkness as the class let out a satisfied sigh, and finally lowered down to our backs and ourselves across the mat. Tara encouraged us to stay in the room for an extended savasana, and we returned to the lively Williamsburg streets, mojo (and Modo) working. —Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth Drop-in classes are $20 with a $2 rental each for mat, shower towel and practice towel. New students can try an intro month for $40. Thursday 7-8:15pm Intermediate Modo Yoga 109 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249 347-889-7248

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