On the corner of 59th and 1st, the streets are noisy and bustling with Queensboro Bridge traffic, but just off around the corner is a cozy 2nd floor yoga studio far removed from the ground-floor hustle. Yo Yoga!, known for its non-pretentious vibe and tight-knit community, offers a late-afternoon Monday stretch and restore class led by studio owner, Rebecca Weible that is sure to help you feel the flow, yo. As I slipped into the back of a packed class, Rebecca stood at the front of the room with a friendly smile, assuring us that the next 60 minutes would be all about deep stretching and calming the nervous system—sleuth’s delight. We started on our backs, knees bent, taking a few minutes to slow down from the NYC hustle and tap deeper into a natural flow of breath. “Fill up the front of the body with breath,” Rebecca softly whispered, “feel the breath expand into the back body.” Once the room felt more grounded, we used our straps for a version of supta padangusthasana with the strap under the shoulder blades and clasped around one leg lengthening towards the ceiling. With the support of the strap, my arms were able to relax down as I shifted the lifted leg out to the side, feeling an intense IT band stretch. The other side felt much more challenging as Rebecca reminded us it’s very common for both sides to feel different depending on our level of flexibility. Next, we transitioned into a few forward folds targeting the hamstrings, including baddha konasana and paschimottanasana. “Let the breath take you deeper into the stretch. Let go of the intensity of the stretch, as well as the intensity of your day,” Rebecca encouraged. On each inhale my lungs expanded and with each exhale I folded a little deeper. We came onto our backs moving into more calming, restorative poses. Supported bridge pose was our first restorative pose, resting the sacrum on a block and tightening a strap around both bent knees for added support. Rebecca remained silent, holding plenty of space for quiet self-reflection as my body landed in what felt like an eternity of stillness and peacefulness. Mystical hums of music played softly in the background, allowing the rhythmic sounds of breath to flow into focus.
We found a supported twist with plenty of blankets and a bolster between the knees for the next 10 minutes or so. Aromas of lavender and palo santo wafted through my nostrils in a soothing cycle of sensory awareness. “Use your senses to guide yourself away from the mind chatter,” Rebecca shared. “Flow your way inward.” We practiced a few more restorative poses on our backs until the room turned completely dark and silent. For a few moments, I felt transported away from one of the busiest intersections in Manhattan into a sanctuary of inaudible depth. Rebecca’s friendly smile once again filled the room to close practice offering us several options for savasana using blankets and bolsters. As I surrendered into the relaxing space of muscular release, a surge of energy ran through my fingertips and toes returning my body back to its natural flow. —Ashley Rose Howard for Yoga Sleuth Drop-in classes are $22, with $2 mat rentals available. New students can try one-month unlimited for $65. Monday 4:30pm-5:30pm Open Yo Yoga! 344 E. 59th St. New York, NY 10022 646-490-7790