If you’re looking to do yoga with a cause, Urban Yoga Foundation (UYF) is a non-profit organization that educates and empowers communities through yoga and mindfulness approaches. As if doing yoga alone doesn’t make you feel good enough, your monetary contribution to the class sponsors yoga and mindfulness community-based programs.
Even better, the yoga takes place in a relaxing and home-like setting. Bursting into class from the blustery wind and rain, Sleuth was welcomed by the scent of candles, a warm heat dish, and relaxation/massage music. Class takes place on the ground floor living room of a Harlem townhouse. Our instructor for the evening was Lucile Parrado, a model and dancer with a lovely French accent. Our props and mats were already laid out for us—another example of how this organization takes great care of its students.
Lucile began class chanting a single and simple “om.” She then directed us onto all fours for tabletop and a few rounds of cat and cow followed by swaying our hips side to side. Lucile asked us to flip one palm and stir our hips around in a circular direction. “We’re preparing the wrists for downward dog,” she said. Coming to an easy pose, we then took a side bend to each side followed by a seated twist. Our next treat in this gentle hatha class was a restorative child’s pose, spreading our torsos over a bolster.
Coming up to standing and with our “feet making a number 11,” we swayed our hips side to side and then in a full circle. Building up the energy of the room, Lucile walked us through some slow flowing sun salutations, starting out with ease in crescent moon and knees, chest, chin to baby cobra.
We moved into an extended side angle with forearm to the thigh, then bent and straightened the leg in warrior 2. From here, we took a side bend in peaceful warrior. Bringing it back to crescent moon, Lucile had us heel-toe our feet out to lizard. If we had the ability, we could bring our forearms to the floor. We cycled through this sequence a couple of times, taking a rest in a wide-kneed child’s pose in between.
Coming down to the floor to sit, we took a seated spinal twist to each side. We then lay down and extended one leg in the air with the opposite leg flat on the floor. Lucile came around to each of us to offer gentle adjustments. Bringing the class to a close, our final two poses were supta baddha konasana and supine spinal twist to each side.
For savasana, Lucile advised us we could put a bolster under our knees and a blanket under our head. We rested to the sounds of rain pelting down outside with a soft glow emanating from the heat dish.
Feeling rested, we gathered our props and mats, and Lucile helped us put everything away in the closet. It felt good knowing that not only had we done ourselves good with this soothing yoga class, but also that our contributions were doing something good for the greater community.
—Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $15 with no charge for mat rental.