With a late-season Snowmageddon hours away, Yoga Sleuth decided to take refuge in the gloriously hot studio of New York Yoga. Kansas native, dancer and Sonic Yoga alum Amanda Reichert was to be our guide as we laid out our mats, closed our eyes, and pretended it was July. Angela read us a John Green quote from Waiting for Alaska: “You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” Words to practice by! We pressed the soles of our feet together and extended our arms over them, lowering and rounding through the spine, then rose back up for a seated twist followed by a gentle navasana. "See if you can focus on the length of the spine," said Amanda as we twisted in the boat pose, taking advantage of the heat to detox our abdominal organs. "Be inside the process," she encouraged. Coming to a tabletop. we bent our fingertips, tucked our toes and lifted our knees to hover a few inches above the mat, observing the extra engagement provided by the adjustment. "There's almost space where you can slip a piece of paper under the heels of the hands," noted Amanda. We stood and forward folded, shifting weight to the balls of our feet and then bending the right knee and yearning the torso the left, then mirroring on the opposite side. "Feel like your head is a bag of sand and the sand is pouring out," said Amanda as we rose to tadasana. From there we commenced a sun salutation (or more of a "farewell for now" in light of the oncoming storm). Amanda invited us to float back to chaturanga if we were feisty. "But don't skip the hard part!" she said. "Stay there for a moment before you move forward. And be mindful with whatever variation you're taking, that it's something you consciously chose. Do what your body says first." After a few flows we brought right knee to right elbow, windshield-wipered to the left, then planted our feet in warrior one. Amanda helped us align with laser-precise cues. "See if you can anchor that right hip back; draw your belly up and bring it closer to the spine. Inhale through your fingertips. Really scizzor those inner thighs together." Exhaling, we twisted towards the mirrors, lowered down for a twisted lunge, and then continued the theme with prayer twists. Straightening the right leg, we played with ardha hanuman for the first of several tours in the hamstring challenger. "Toes pointing to the sky and spread, feel the belly relax onto the thigh," Amanda cued. We kept the energy moving and the practice challenging as we came into side crow, which Amanda helped me through by reminding me to call upon the chaturanga arms we had been playing with earlier to properly provide the shelf to stack my thighs on. Cooling down, we lowered into pigeon. "Pull the other leg back and integrate it into the hip socket," said Amanda, suggesting a block for the hip of the bent knee. "Listen to whatever you're feeling," she encouraged as we surrendered to the pose, and then echoed the John Green quote: "Let go of expectation, and focus on what you can allow yourself to experience." We rolled up for paschimottanasana, then Amanda suggested we close our eyes for the remainder of class for a more internal experience. We followed with a bridge and shoulderstand, with an option to use a block for both, and then one more juicy twist on our backs. "Hug your knees tight to your chest, and start to open towards your savasana,' said Amanda, who left us with one more crucial observation: "People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved, and people are being used."
–Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth Drop-in classes are $30 with a $4 mat rental, including towel.
Monday 2:30-3:30 pm
Intermediate New York Yoga Hot Studio 132 East 85th St. New York, NY 10028 (212) 439-9642