Yesterday, Stacey and I got the hell out of Long Island and headed to the East Village to get our first dose of New York City Yoga- Yoga to the People. When we got to the subway just outside of Penn Station a woman came up to us and asked where we were going. I guess yoga mats get you a little extra attention in NYC. Once we were on the subway, however, other yoga mats started to appear. First one, then two, then three. Then we’re all getting off at the same stop. Since this was our first time at the this yoga studio, we just started following the mats. As we turned on to St. Marks street the yoga mats were flowing down the sidewalk- a class had probably just let out. I turned to Stacey and said, “I’m home.” We both smiled and laughed.
The entrance to the yoga studio was right next to a restaurant facade. The street was bustling with pedestrians and the sounds of clinking dishes from nearby patios filled the air. We followed the train of people through a large door and down a long hallway. At the end of the hallway a woman was standing outside the door of the studio on the first floor, but directed us upstairs. On the next floor was another studio that I couldn’t get a real glimpse of since we were again directed up the stairs. The room on the third floor was full as well so up and up we went. When we reached the fourth and final floor we were finally able to go inside. We threw our shoes on a rack, popped our $20 donation into a tissue box that the teacher was holding and joined the other forty or so people flooding into the room.
My mat found its home in the back of the room right by the door and snuggled up next to one of the studio’s big brick walls. The place was already packed but they managed to squeeze even more people in the room- there were at least sixty of us at this point. We were mat-to-mat (or mat-to-brick). I could feel the temperature of the room rising from the heat of our many bodies- bodies of different shapes, colors and sizes.
When we were all settled, the door was closed, containing the room’s vibrant energy. Our teacher, a young woman in a loose plaid shirt, short shorts and a wrist full of bracelets grabbed her ipod remote, turned on the first song of the class and then said, “Let’s get started, Childs Pose…”
For the next hour she embodied the mantra of the studio:
There will be no correct clothes
There will be no proper payment
There will be no right answers
No glorified teachers
No ego no script no pedestals
No you’re not good enough or rich enough
This is yoga for everyone
This sweating and breathing and becoming
This knowing glowing feeling
Is for the big and small weak and strong
Able and crazy
Brothers sisters grandmothers
The mighty and meek
Bones that creek
Those who seek
This power is for everyone
Yoga to the People
All bodies rise
There weren’t many alignment cues. No “inner spiral,” just a couple “shoulders on the back.” Mostly she just showed us how to move and then we did it on our own. She would talk us through a short series, then give us the reigns. “Find your flow,” she said.
There was a lot of emphasis on breathing and letting go. I have never heard such uninhibited, “Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh’s,” and “Mmmmmmmhhhhhhhh’s” as people let their breaths be audible. No one seemed to be looking around, just moving. Half the students had pretty scary alignment but then I realized that this class wasn’t about alignment. It was just about us, in this space, moving together…