Broadway Dance Center is an arts institution that’s been part of NYC landscape since 1984. The studio trains many Broadway dancers and actors in jazz, tap, hip hop, and modern, to name just a few, but some may not know they also offer yoga, bringing a balance of calm and relaxation in a training ground that can be otherwise taxing on the body.
Inside BDC, there are many windowed studios to watch dance classes. Yoga class is open to anyone, but the huge room is mainly packed with about 50 of these dancers-in-training. (New student tip: Sleuth recommends getting to class at least 15 minutes early as the signup process can take some time.)
“How are you doing today?” our instructor Amber Paul called to us upon entering the room. The universal answer from the group seemed to be “Sore!”Amber, who has a sweet and lively sense of humor, is an actress and founder of Yoga for Actors, which applies well to this roomful of performers.
“Well, my lovelies, do you want a restorative or active class?” Amber asked. The instantaneous and universal answer from a group of tired dancers was, of course, “restorative.” The class wasn’t a typical restorative class, though. Our only props were two blocks, and there were many active moments during class, which was aimed at a young audience who is used to exerting their bodies.
Amber pointed out her three assistants who were there largely to demonstrate in case anyone got lost, and away we went. Amber began class with three “Om”s and then instructed to lie on our backs with a block under each knee. She was playing a mix of reggae, pop, and hip hop music that day. A song began to replay and there was laughter in the room when Amber said, “Oh, no! The poltergeist is back. Just relax while I have a conversation with my iPod.”
Once that was all fixed (and demons exorcised!), Amber moved us through a series of gentle poses on our backs including happy baby, half happy baby, and an IT band stretch taking the leg across the body, as well as some supine twists. Even though the room was packed, Amber seemed to get to most of her students, and was familiar with a majority of the faces, and bodies, in the room.
After about 15 minutes of floor poses, Amber had us standing. Here, we worked on a series of poses that included low lunge twist, lizard, warrior one, devotional warrior, and triangle. We would later add in a squat, twisted extended side angle, and prasarita padottanasana. While transitioning through vinyasas, Amber gave us the option of coming up into king cobra, touching our head with our feet. In case anyone took the pose too seriously, Amber joked that if you could touch your head with your feet you could groom your hair at the same time. To stretch out our psoas muscles, Amber also had us cross our feet in standing and lean to each side with hands overhead.
Our challenging pose for the day was firefly, “since it’s summer in November,” Amber joked (it was humid and 70 degrees outside). Amber demonstrated the pose first. “Make sure you grab your butt and no one else’s,” she quipped before walking us through it. About ten people in the class readily came into this advanced pose.
Amber then demonstrated headstand and emphasized no hopping before allowing the room to come up into the pose. Afterwards, we countered the pose with fish, taking the legs and hands off the floor. Amber then guided us into what she said was “the most important pose of all,”...savasana. She closed the class with one “om.” Many dancers filed out of the class, momentarily refreshed and restored before heading off to take another demanding dance class.
—Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes $20, with free mat rental included. Class packages are available.