With the streets of Brooklyn painted in layers of white snow, Sleuth ventured out to the brownstone-lined neighborhood of Carroll Gardens for some Sunday evening Prema Yogazen. At the top of the stairs of a quaint brownstone, a chalkboard sign read "7:30pm Stretch & Restore with Bobbie Marchand"—reassurance that I wasn’t accidentally entering a neighbor’s townhouse.
I made my way down a long, narrow hall to the kitchen, where I introduced myself to the receptionist. She welcomed me to the studio and directed me towards the front entrance to a semi-private studio, just a curtain hanging in the doorway.
With high ceilings, candlelight, and whimsical wood-window shutters, I felt farther away from city life than a mid-western farmer. Props for our class included a bolster, two blankets, two blocks, a sandbag, and eye mask—quite the pile of support!
Bobbie gently stepped through the curtain and made genuine eye contact with everyone in room. It took a few minutes to organize the mats, with the class at full capacity. As everyone made more space, Bobbie came over to my mat and introduced herself, knowing we’d never met. Her voice was soft and demeanor gentle. As she floated away, it was if she had placed a relaxation spell on me.
We began class laying in savasana, with sandbags on the abdomen, for added grounding. “Feel the sandbag rise and fall with the breath,” she spoke softly. As I began to drift deeper inwards, the soothing sounds of a harmonium danced across the room. Once the music stopped, Bobbie guided us back to the breath, as she talked about how important it is to slow down and attend restorative classes for our well-being. “Living in Brooklyn is awesome,” she said, “but also a lot.”
We carefully came up to sit and moved into baddha konasana for a 10-minute deep stretch. She directed us to let go of the usual instruction of elongating the spine in a vinyasa class, allowing the shoulders to round as we found support with the forehead on a block. Staying here for such a long period challenged my body and mind to remain still. “In restorative yoga we practice a different kind of stretching,” Bobbie shared, “it’s slower and deeper.”
From here, we moved into hip-openers on both sides including happy baby and twists. As we held in half happy baby on the right side, she empathized with us how these poses often feel very vulnerable, which leads to wandering of the mind.
“The mind often translates deeper depth to equal more enlightenment—definitely not always the case.”
The next few poses were more restorative, including my favorite: child’s pose supported on a bolster, with a sandbag placed on the lower back. The lights were fully tuned off with only calming acoustic music in the background, remaining a focal point for presence. The entire room began to soften, along with my stress.
We were given a choice for savasana: either lying on our backs with a bolster under the knees and eye pillow over the eyes, or for stomach sleepers, placing a bolster underneath the abdomen, with the forehead resting on a blanket. As I lay long onto my belly, Bobbie covered my feet with a blanket, as if she could read my mind. “The joy of my job is to put yogis to bed.”
As the snow continued to fall outside, the room fell so silent you could almost hear each snowflake land. And, for a brief moment, I felt the magical power of restoration.
—Ashley Rose Howard for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $18 with $2 mat rental. New student special: Three classes for $30.