It was a sweltering midsummer Saturday in busy Bushwick, and Yoga Sleuth was glad to find the spacious Goodyoga studio, right above the Jefferson L, comfortably cool. But Jeanette Keisar promised that with the upcoming core work we'd be back to sweating in no time!
We started lying on our backs, looping a strap around one foot and activating the leg. We straightened it to the skylight (showing a vivid blue afternoon that provided a great drishti) and brought it close to the midline; then stretched it perpendicular before bringing it across the body to get into the IT band.
A quick seated pranayama sequence followed, as Jeanette guided us through nadi shodhana, then we settled into our first table top.
Jeanette studied directly under Sri Dharma Mittra whose influence can be seen in her deft sequencing, precise cueing and calming presence.
"Push away from the ground with your hands," said Jeanette as we were on hands and knees. "Feel your index fingers and the center of your neck grounding you down." We raised one arm straight ahead and raised and flexed the opposite leg and foot. "Soften your jaw, breathe through the center and equalize the energy between both sides." Then we eased back into rabbit pose, crown of the head to the floor, before beginning our heart opening in earnest with cobra pose.
In our first down dog Jeanette suggested we microbend our knees and let our gaze rest at the tip of the nose. "To balance your pineal gland, which comes to bring balance to the thyroid," she explained.
We rebuilt heat with vinyasa flows (at the level of our choice) and detoxified with lunge twists, awkward chair with feet hip width distance, and modified side plank with one knee bent and foot on the floor. We then proceeded to extended side angle and reverse warrior with a twist of clasping hands together behind the back and stretching them to rest on one hip. We flew into a half moon and then squared our hips for a modified warrior three. Jeanette set up blocks for me so I could rest my palms on them as I focused on straightening my back leg and flexing the foot.
"Drop the bones, drop the muscles, drop the jaw," she encouraged as we took a break in tadasana before getting back to movement.
For the floor portion of class we placed a block under the sacrum and stretched the legs to the sky once more for a gentle inversion, then brought the soles of the feet together and cactus'd the arms to recline in goddess pose. Jeanette suggested that for Savasana we prop our legs up on blocks covered by a blanket, and then guided us through a progressive relaxation exercise, focusing on a body part at a time from the toes to the crown.
"Imagine yourself on a beach, drifting away," said Jeanette softly. "The warm sand molding to the shape of your body as you hear seagulls soaring by." We'd gone overtime by a few minutes but I expect no one minded. I was so chill I wanted to stay right there, but we rolled up to a seat once more to chant "Om Shanti" before returning the summer heat a little bit calmer, cooler, and a lot more open.
—Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $20 with mat included. New students can try four weeks for $40.