"What story did you bring to the mat today that you need to let go of?" Laughing Lotus alum Stephanie Landouer asked Yoga Sleuth and his fellow hot vinyasa devotees. We were lying on our backs in the vast, dimly lit asana room at Sweat Yoga, downtown Manhattan's new 105-degree workout spot.
"Don't get too excited, we're not staying here!" said Stephanie of our opening mini-yoga nidra. Sure enough we were up on our knees in moments, threading the needle with one arm and placing the other behind our backs. Then we flipped around for a balance in boat pose.
“Give your feet a high-five!" said Stephanie as we rose from ardha navasana into the full expression. We did this ten times and then went right into a flow, adding on with each sequence. We stood in virabhadrasana 2, then lifted arms and pointed our feet to the side wall, and reprised the warrior pose to the back of the room. Rearing back into peaceful warrior, we reversed direction and did that pose again facing front.
Already soaked, we progressed to chair pose and came into warrior 1 with eagle arms, folded to our knees, then rose again to wrap our knees in eagle as well. Opening up we placed foot against thigh for tree pose (or pointed a leg to the side wall and grabbed the foot if we were feeling feisty), then placed the foot behind the opposite angle and bowed in a graceful curtsey.
Adding on further challenges to this sequence after a few turns, we opened into triangle, extended side angle and half moon before flipping over into rock stars. "Because you all are!" said Stephanie. After each of these sequences Stephanie had us repeat them on our own, one breath-one movement style.
"We're always waiting for someone to tell us what to do," observed Stephanie as she pumped up the volume of the disco soundtrack. "Listen to yourselves."
After some enthusiastic handstand practice at the wall, we tested our flexibility in bird of paradise prep, binding but not lifting. We then came to a lunge, hugging a bent front left leg against a planted straight arm. With the right shin parallel on the mat behind us, we stretched the left arm to the sky. "And that's plenty of work," said Stephanie. "Or you can bring your hand to the right foot and try to pick it up!" That's asana: no matter how many times you do it there's always something new!
After that mega challenge we cooled down (slightly!) We stretched on our stomachs in locust, reached for our ankles in bow, then flipped over into bridges and wheels.
When we emerged from savasana there was a hand towel soaked in cold water sitting by our heads. I wasn't sure if it was for mopping our brows or cleaning our mats—I decided on the former!
"I saw a 2-day old baby boy on the train this week," said Stephanie. "48 hours in and already riding the subway!" She smiled at the sight of a peaceful newborn, devoid of judgement and fear, in the midst of the usual frantic chaos. "It made me realize we are all born the same. We are born in purity, then life happens and we accumulate knowledge. And then, we try to let go of the knowledge to return to that sense of purity."
—Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $28 with a $3 rental each for mat, mat towel and shower towel. New students can try two weeks unlimited for $49.
Saturday 4:15-5:15pm Intermediate
Sweat Yoga 406 Broadway, 3rd Fl New York, NY 10013 (917) 470-9599