The scent of peppermint aromatherapy hit my nostrils the moment upon walking into Sky Ting Yoga, a trendy and friendly studio in Chinatown. Opened just over a year ago, already, the studio has a loyal following. After signing in and changing, there was another flight of stairs to climb to enter the studio with a short burst of cold from the upper rooftop deck. In the studio itself, it was warm with mats already cleaned and laid out for us bumper-to-bumper in this busy class with studio co-owner, Chloe Kernaghan.
Sky Ting Yoga has a mix of teachers who are trained and influenced by studios around the city, with Chloe Kernaghan primarily trained through Katonah Yoga and Yoga Shanti. She was wandering the sky top room, chatting with each one of her students, when I entered. The sky top room has an incredible view of the Manhattan Bridge and at the front is a giant giraffe mascot munching on fake leaves.
I selected one of the available mats and, before class began, Chloe introduced her assistant who would also be offering adjustments in the packed room. Chloe asked us to start in true sukhasana with our legs crossed at the shins. A forward fold and a side stretch were added to the sukhasana to start is moving. Adding a nod to the Katonah style of yoga in our downward dog, Chloe had us take one hand to the back and then the other.
We also worked on a lunge twist and then twisted the lunge to the other side, challenging our balance. In the lunge, we would also straighten and re-bend, straighten and re-bend our legs. In plank, we moved all the way on the floor, and were instructed to hold our arms out like goal posts. After messing up the words "goal posts" a couple of times, Chloe joked, “You can tell I’ve said goal posts many times in my life!” After the laughter had died down, we added a backbend to the goal posts, bending one leg and stepping it behind us. We would come back to this pose later on.
Working on more standing poses, with lunges and lunge twists, we added prasarita padottanasana to the mix. Chloe gave various options such as twisting in prasarita or taking hold of the big toes. We also worked several skandasanas into the sequence.
Building further onto the flow, Chloe added in triangle to ardha chandrasana with the block. On the next round, Chloe encouraged us to take hold of the back foot and open up into a back bend in half moon. We also practiced some rock stars but in this variation our feet would be crossed in downward dog and would be uncrossed into the rockstar.
Back on the floor, we tried backbend variations of that goal post maneuver from earlier. Lying on our sides, we took hold of the back of the top foot and kicked the foot back for a backbend. Advising us to make sure the sides of our mats were clear, Chloe led us through the next backbend challenge. In this next variation, we held bow pose and then rocked the bow pose onto one side, up to center, then rocked the bow pose to the other side. Much laughter ensued as we tried to stay coordinated with our neighbors.
Instructing us into gomukhasana, Chloe made another nod to Katonah, saying that gomukhasana pose was a little like cleaning out the rooms of our house. “That said, I only have one room in my house,” Chloe joked—a reference many of us New Yorkers could relate to. “But I have drawers in my house and closets. Gomukhasana is like that. You’re cleaning out the areas of your apartments you haven’t been to in a long time, often areas you don’t like to look at.”
Bringing the class towards a close, Chloe asked us to our bring mats to wall. At the wall, we relaxed in legs up wall, and then were given the option to hold plow if it was in our practice. We were then allowed to sink into savasana.
Savasana was complimented by a short meditation in which Chloe made reference to Martin Luther King Day and the recent political protests. “A lot of you might be getting called on to make a stand this week, but see if, through your meditation, you come back to the essence of yourself by removing all the labels you attach to yourself like ‘daughter,’ ‘New Yorker,’ ‘employer,’ ‘employee,’ and so forth.” Referring to MLK, she said, “Today, we’re celebrating a man who worked so hard for the right to be himself.”
At the end of the meditation, we mobilized quietly and slowly to leave the class something closer to feeling like ourselves.
—Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $22 with free mat rental. New students can try three classes for $30 or three weeks for $60.
Monday 7:30-8:45pm Advanced
Sky Ting Yoga 55 Chrystie St., 4th Fl New York, NY 10002 (212) 203-5786