This branch of Area Yoga is situated in the lovely tree-lined neighborhood of Carroll Gardens (other branches extend to Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope). It was mid-October as seen in the trees that were starting to change color, and the neighborhood’s plethora of coffee shops were advertising pumpkin spice lattes. It was also the same weekend as the Gowanus Open Studios and artists had opened their studio doors for art aficionados and collectors. Practicing yoginis can observe this bright and beautiful neighborhood from the second floor of Area Yoga as they practice.
Our instructor was Briana Aguilar-Austin, a grounded and calm teacher. She began our class with a short dharma talk about going for a run in Prospect Park. She shared that during her runs, she often sees a guy who seems to be having a sublime, hallelujah, “praise be” moment when he is out for his jogs. While Briana admitted she did not get that kind of ecstasy from jogging, she encouraged us to try and aim for that feeling of connectedness and presence during our practice.
We began class with a lengthy warm-up, holding gate pose, a lunge twist, lizard, squat (with a twist on each side), and wide-kneed child’s pose to light, instrumental music. Briana is a very hands-on style of instructor, and offered many adjustments to each of us throughout the class.
After some good hip opening warm-ups, Briana walked us through several rounds of sun salutations and then several rounds of standing poses that included lunge twist, warrior two, extended side angle, triangle, ardha chandrasana, peaceful warrior, twisted lunge, and utkatasana. Bringing more of a balancing component to the class, we then practiced a half chair pose that evolved into tree.
Taking the energy of the room down a bit, Briana walked us through a series of hip openers on the floor, including pigeon and ankle-to-knee. “Maybe this is your praise be pose,” Briana quipped. For those who were not having a hallelujah moment in pigeon, Briana brought some props for added support. From there, we worked on janu sirsasana and tarasana, followed by a gentle backbend of restorative fish with two blocks, with one on medium height and the other on its highest height.
To finish, Briana gave us yogi’s choice of happy baby, supine twist, headstand, or shoulderstand. “Just make sure it’s a pose that makes you feel as though you’re concluding your practice,” Briana suggested.
For savasana, Briana mentioned that since it’s fall and the weather is a getting colder, we might want to cover ourselves in a blanket to make for a cozier corpse pose. After a relaxing savasana, Briana invited us to meditate for a couple of minutes in a seated position to conclude practice. I ended class feeling more grounded—a good feeling to be gained during vata season that can make us all a little over-excitable.
—Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $18 with $2 mat rental. New students can try five classes for $50.