With the powerful go-go-go yang energy of the New York hustle, dropping into a yin class with Alana Kessler at Sangha Yoga Shala is the ultimate zen for a true New Yorker. Yin’s slow paced style of yoga was the perfect start to an incredibly hot and humid Tuesday morning in the heart of Brooklyn’s trendy (and yoga friendly) Williamsburg neighborhood.
An intimate studio room, just off the main lobby, was the perfect urban sanctuary for 75-minutes of deep stretching and release. Alana, teacher and Sangha Yoga Shala owner, began class asking if anyone was new to the yin yoga practice. A few hands raised in the air, while everyone else in the room remained on a first name basis with this compassionate yogi-preneur.
We began in a forward fold butterfly pose, lengthening the spine while focusing on our breath as we dropped into our first intense stretch. “I’ll be keeping track of time,” Alana assured us, “so you can remain present with whatever may arise.”
After a few minutes in stillness, my jaw started to lock and my mind began to wander, like an engine preparing to race. Before I was able to move full speed ahead into resistance, Alana reminded us to check in and breathe. “Notice what else gets triggered when the body feels sensation,” she added.
Our transitions between each yin pose were both gentle and thoughtful, as calming music played in the background clearing the thickness of release floating in the air. We spent quality time in poses like sphinx, wide-leg child’s pose and forward folds. Each posture allowed me to drop deeper into the irritability and impatience that often arises when you land somewhere outside of your comfort zone. “The longer we stay here,” Alana said, “the larger container we create for being present with ourselves and others.”
During intense times of emotion and fear building up inside, I tuned into the sounds of deep breathing circling my mat and allowed the support of sangha to carry me.
We found a twist on our backs, releasing ingrained tension and toxins from the go-go-go lifestyle, like ringing out a wet towel. Alana came over to my mat and adjusted my body into proper alignment with confident hands-on assists and a comforting smile -- a minor adjustment that created big change.
Finally, dropping into savasana was as magical as an empty subway car on a summer Friday in Manhattan. Alana went around the room adjusting everyone into full relaxation physically, mentally and emotionally.
Layers of silence laced the room, as I took the deepest inhale I experienced in weeks. And on the exhale, I dropped into the summer sounds of creaking wood floor boards and outside construction — the ultimate zen for a true New Yorker.
—Ashley Rose Howard for Yoga Sleuth
One-time drop-in classes are $23 (includes mat rental). New student special $40 for two weeks unlimited.