Looking to keep warm during these winter-like spring days, Sleuth headed over to mang’Oh yoga for vinyasa flow with Chintamani Kansas.
Unfamiliar with the neighborhood by the Midtown tunnel, I followed a group of women toting yoga mats into a residential building where the studio is located on the ground floor.
The entranceway was bustling. The early class was letting out while people for the 10am were filtering in. A pile of shoes was placed just outside the door, and the front desk was amidst a cozy, living room style set-up with two plush chairs holding court in the center of the room.
The woman checking me in told me it was unusually busy this Sunday morning, and all slots for the 10am were taken by the online registration.
As I waited (along with two other yogis) to see if there would be any no-shows, Chintamani came out to let us know she could fit us in. With a collective phew, the three waitlistees were escorted into the yoga room where there were just enough spots to accommodate our mats.
Chintamani had us reach our arms out to the sides to assure we could comfortably spread them wide before beginning with some shoulder rolls, head tilts and seated side stretches to gently wake up the body.
While still seated on our mats, she started to speak about healthy spiritual non-attachment, and had us lift our legs into half boat pose. To illustrate her point, she asked us to extend our legs into full boat, but wanted us to acknowledge if that was too much for our bodies, and if so, we could pull back, or let go of the need to find the full pose with a healthy non-attachment.
This core work early on was indicative of what was to come as there was an ample amount of core strengthening throughout the class. Chintamani also teaches Pilates so it made sense she’d have us work from our centers.
In downward dog split, we brought each leg up to the nose for several rounds which we revisited towards the end of class before going into pigeon. There were also a bunch of boat poses both at the beginning and at the end of class.
Chintamani’s sequencing felt intuitive. My body wanted to move where she guided us next, and from looking around the room I noticed several were finding the next pose before it was officially called out.
Before we took our first full flow, we did half sun salutations, lifting and lowering our arms and bending forward to the floor. Chair pose was introduced right after these half salutes, and continued to be a part of the sequence for much of the class. Other poses in the flow included were warrior one, two, and three. Along with triangle, extended side angle, side plank and pyramid.
Chintamani provided options to accommodate the different levels in the class. In extended side angle, she suggested some could drop their extend arm behind the back for a bind. She also gave the option to extend both arms long by the ears. To help deepen our poses, she not only offered hands on assists, she posed questions which enabled us to think more deeply about our positioning in the postures.
In warrior three, for instance, she asked “What can you do to balance your hips?” After thinking about her question, I realized I could bend my standing leg to help drop the hip down. She aided me even further by placing her hand on the foot of my extended leg, and told me to press that foot into her hand.
For an inversions practice, we went to the wall for handstand. Chintamani demonstrated an L-shaped variation as well as a more traditional supported handstand at the wall.
Backbends came next. In bridge, we placed our hands on our hips to make sure they were even, and then extended each leg long. We practiced this again in full wheel.
Reclining twist was a nice release after backbends, and a great prep for savasana where Chintanami came back to her talk on healthy spiritual non-attachment.
She had us rise to sit then closed class with a loving kindness prayer: may all beings be safe, may all beings be happy, may all beings be free from suffering and may all beings live a life of ease.
As I rolled up my mat, I set the intention to let go of all my efforts from class , and enjoy the rest of the day.
—Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $20 with $2 towel rental. New students can try two weeks for $39.
mang’Oh 322 E 39th St New York, NY 10016 (212) 661-6655