Yoga Sleuth's lunchtime activity of choice is, of course, a stint on the mat. So a walk down Bleecker Street meant a trip to my go-to yoga studio Sacred Sounds, and an hour with dancer and Alaska native Hunt Parr.
To start, we faced our mats to the alcove that's home to an encouraging Buddha and got right to business, "Om"ing-in our asana sequence. Beginning lying down, we raised the right leg to the ceiling, grasped at the hamstring, flexed and pointed the foot and then rolled the ankle.
"Notice if you feel a snap, crackle and pop," said Hunt, and despite it being lunchtime I had an odd craving for Rice Crispies. "Go ahead and bend your knee and cross it over the left thigh." We did, bringing the whole thing in towards the chest. We lowered into an early supine twist and then unfolded into happy baby. He invited us to rock side to side, encouraging the hamstring towards the ground. "Cyndi Lee calls this 'dead bug from natural causes' pose!"
We moved into a modified side plank, with one leg bent and the foot planted, before coming down for three "thread the needles." We transitioned into standard plank. "Start to think about your legs drawing back and slightly upwards so you feel it in the region of the belly," said Hunt in gentle, lyrical tones. "That will help you open your chest so there's a broadness there."
We tucked our toes and reared back into our first down dog. "Root down into the fingertips and knuckles, and start to feel the thigh bones draw back." We walked to the top of our mats and hung over our legs. "See if you can encourage breath and expansion in the whole spinal column, from the top of the head all the way to the tailbone" said Hunt. We felt the weight of our head as we slowly rolled up to stand. From there we took three rounds of midday sun salutations.
"Take a moment to really feel your back muscles begin to fire," said Hunt as we lifted into cobra. "Press your toes down and see if that helps you lift up." We moved back through bent knees into a down dog split with the right leg raised. "Can you sink your left heel a little more precisely? Press into the hands and feel all the energy go all the way into that right heel." We rose into high lunge as Hunt guided us into alignment. "Try wrapping the left ribs a little more forward. Lift up out of the back muscles, back knee slightly bent. Tailbone down, you should be aware of your left hip flexors beginning to wake up."
We advanced through pyramid to the standing poses of utkatasana, triangle, tree and warriors one and two, then released our hands inside the right foot. We took our right hand and brought it behind and around the foot, then peeled the left arm to the ceiling."Pull your right hip point back and you should feel a nice hip opening manifest—to use a yoga teacher word!"
This prepared us nicely for our peak asanas of elephant's trunk pose and compass pose, which we all felt juicy enough to attempt with vigor.
After playing on one side in compass we tried the other, Hunt acknowledging that it might be a completely different experience. "I hope it is!" he grinned.
We cooled down in supine cobbler's pose before grabbing blankets to settle in for savasana. "Almost all of the asanas we did today are pretty simple shapes," observed Hunt. "And making simple shapes can be such a profound experience." And not a bad way to spend a lunch hour.
—Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $20 with a $2 mat rental. New students can try 3 classes for $40 or 1 month of unlimited classes for $60.