Yoga Sleuth was thrilled that ISHTA Yoga was able to maintain its uptown presence, having recently moved to the pristine Halevy Life studio on E. 57th St. A Sunday brunch-time class with senior instructor Ann Mosca seemed like the perfect way to celebrate.
As students set up their mats, Ann greeted us all one by one asking if we were dealing with anything in our bodies. I was tired from a long week, but soon found that being on that mat under Ann’s prodigious instruction soon alleviated that.
We started on our backs but Ann promised we wouldn’t stay there long. Before taking to our feet, we extended arms overhead and legs up in the air for “a downward dog on your back,” Ann noted. We bent our knees, dropped arms into a cross position, then brought the knees left, then right for an early detoxifying supine twist.
For some core-awakening, we brought arms and legs into eagle formation, and then lifted our torsos up so each set of limbs could meet. After several reps we returned to the twist, bringing knees to the floor but this time extending the top leg straight on each side for an extra stretch and release. Coming into child’s pose, we tented fingers of the right hand, then crawled it to the left for a side stretch, repeating the motion on the flip side.
Ann displayed her expert knowledge with each instruction through clear and precise cueing. Setting up for a lunge, she suggested we place our hands on a block to start. “Roll both shoulders back, so the right side firms and lifts. Try to lift the front of the pelvis up, away from your front leg. Extend both sets of fingertips to the back of the room,” she instructed as we lifted into a lunge. From there we lowered down into lizard pose, left leg bent and pressed against the left arm. “Take a look at your left leg. If it’s forward of your ankle you want to move your knee back,” Ann advised. (It was, and I did.)
As class picked up and we began to flow, Ann kept her keen and unwavering attention on alignment. Sun salutations came next—fitting for the first nice spring Sunday—featuring plank, baby cobra, and down dog, with options for up dog and chaturanga. “Check that your biceps and ears line up,” said Ann as we stretched back in an inverted V. “Because if your head is lifted, then it’s a lot more weight on your neck.” (And, to be honest, who needs that?)
We continued to detox with some side twists, with an added twist of their own. Ann had us clasp the ankle of the right foot with both hands, and then we launched the chest to the side wall and the right arm in the air for a side twist with an extra balance challenge for our bodies and our minds as we gave it a go.
"This is the 'Look ma no hands’ variation!” quipped Ann.
Warriors one and two followed, along with lunge twists, and in between we descended to the mat and spun into another challenge: side plank.
“You’ve worked hard today, so come into sphinx,” said Ann, and the pose became relaxing as well as triumphant. Then we came to a seat, sitting on our blankets. “Put the soles of your feet together, hands around the ankles. Roll your upper arms back and lift your chest, coming into baddha konasana.” We hinged from our hips and exhaled down over our clasped ankles for a quieting pose before final relaxation.
Savasana came and was a welcome lengthy one, with Ann suggesting blankets to put over our resting bodies. Finally we returned to a cross-legged position, and bowed our head over hands clasped in prayer.
“Remember that all the strength, all the focus that you access in class is already inside of you,” said Ann, “in every moment that you’re living.”
—Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $26. New students can try one month for $75.