After a spell out of town and off the mat, Yoga Sleuth was craving the tranquillity of Yo Yoga, which greets all returning New Yorkers right aside the 59th street bridge. I was just in time for the open class with Erin Kluska, who got us going with this thought: “We don't do yoga to get better at yoga, we do yoga to get better at life.”
Lying on our backs, we brought one knee to the chest while stretching the other straight and making circles with the ankle. "Work out all the little crackles that are in there," said Erin.
We then brought both legs up straight in the air, pressed our palms to the earth, and lowered and lifted several times for some early ab work. We added on by lifting head, neck and shoulders to meet our knees.
Coming to a tabletop, we did a few rounds of cat cow with optional tucked toes. "Really link the breath with the movement," said Erin, who beckoned us to take a little rest in wide knees child's pose. "Feel that stretch all the way from the hips to the fingertips," she encouraged.
Returning to active table top, we lifted and stretched the right arm and the left leg, switched and repeated, faster each time. "Reach everything in opposition, engaging the core."
We found adho mukha svanasana and then inhaled for our first plank. "Keep lifting your hips, hands in line with the shoulders, pressing into the mat," cued Erin. We stepped up to a forward fold, lengthening out the back, and started to flow. Coming to three-legged dog, we rounded to bring knee to nose, then planted the foot in a lunge with the back knee down coming to a twist.
"Stay on your own mat," said Erin. "Don't worry about what anyone else is doing."
She reminded us we had options. "You can take chaturanga, or come all the way down to the mat and come up to low cobra or go right up and back to down dog. It's choose your own adventure!"
After experimenting with blocks under the hands as we bent and straightened the forward leg, we opened into warrior 2, triangle, and prasarita padattonasana with optional inversion, then found ourselves facing the back of the room to repeat the sequence. "Notice if you're holding any tension in your face, your jaw," said Erin. "Is there anywhere you can soften?"
Returning to face front we sat for paschimottanasana and navasana, and then folded into cobbler's pose. Coming to lie on our backs once more, we did a series of three bridges, lowering down on our pressed palms in between each turn; then we placed a block under the sacrum and raised our legs for a gentle inversion. We removed the block to place an ankle against the opposite thigh and pulled the hamstring close, took a supine twist, and then stretched out generously into savasana.
"Check in one last time with the intention that brought you," said Erin as we closed our eyes. "And that feeling that keeps you coming here."
—Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $22 with a $2 mat rental. New students can try 30 days for $65.
Monday 5:30-6:30pm Open
Yo Yoga 344 E 59th St., 3rd Fl New York, NY 10022 (646) 490-7790