It seems like everyone and their dog is heading to Bushwick lately, even Artichoke pizza has opened its newest location. But Daya Yoga Studio has been in the neighborhood long before all of that. Conveniently located off the Jefferson L stop, Daya is nestled on a quiet corner. On the second floor of a massive loft with unbelievably tall ceilings and crisp white brick walls, the space is adorned with colorful art and mandalas.
A chipper work-study student checks me in, and I head to studio B. As more students enter, Meghan Conway, one of the original mamas and co-owner of Daya studio, gently organizes the space, bringing blocks and blankets around, lighting candles and sage. She introduces Spencer, seated at the front of class, who will be playing live acoustic guitar.
We settle into a seated meditation. The music over the speakers is turned off and Spencer lovingly begins to play. The shift is palpable from the outside world to this beautiful, warm, acoustic cocoon. Meghan has prepared a long and poetic meditation on dharma. She begins, “Bring your breath all the way down to your belly. Use your hands to massage the belly and bring even more release.”
We focus on releasing the stomach muscles, which is a place most of us keep tensed constantly to keep those stomachs flat. Meghan gently reminds us to breathe as she talks about the full moon, mercury in retrograde, harnessing energy, and communication in the outside world. In such a relaxed state, her talk might have lasted 20 minutes, but felt like seconds. She ended by saying, “In this time of transition, just like leaves, we can be green, luscious and full of life. Or we can be dry, cracked, and lifeless.”
And finally, as we brought our hands to prayer pose, Meghan asked us to reflect on all the experiences that occurred and people that brought us to this very moment and place. And to hold all of those experiences in the space between our hands. And to consider if there’s any place we feel lacking in our life right now. And to hold that feeling in the space between our hands as well, helping us dedicate our practice to both the past, present, and future.
With intentions fully set, we were ready to move into the psychical portion of class. After a few seated twists and spinal movements, we made our way to downward dog, and stayed there for a long sweet time. Meghan encouraged breath and lots of movement, bent knees, soft bellies, sighs of relief, whatever we needed to release our bodies even more. I learned that a dimly lit room with live guitar playing is the perfect place to let out a big fat sigh without any self-consciousness.
We move from downdog to plank, back and forth a few times, ending up in cat and cow position. Meghan works us through a nice wrist stretch, getting us ready for sun salutations. Each pose of the flow is held and examined, giving us time to release more and breathe deeper. Eventually we pick up the pace a bit, moving from chair to splits, lunge and twist. Sufficiently warmed up, we get to lizard and warrior 3 on each side, really feeling like we’ve earned it. And it’s time to make our way to our backs for some gentle twists and bridges.
When I lie down to final savasana, I almost feel like I’ve been in a savasana state the entire class. Meghan wakes us up as sweetly as possible, ending with another loving meditation, bringing us back to our intentions, and letting us gently float back to the real world retaining that savasana state for as long as possible.
—Madeleine Kelsey for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $17 with mat rental available for $2. New students can try 4 weeks unlimited for $40.