Tuesday, October 31, 2006


...when it comes to the cost of a drop-in yoga class in New York City.

On Saturday night I met the ashtanga teacher Vanessa at the home of MisGrace, and on Sunday I checked out her Mysore class at Shiva Shala in Patti Perez's exquisite East Village loft space. It was strange not going to Eddie Stern. But my back is still out and I didn't want to push it and I think V. knew that. It was a lovely practice.

Afterwards I met Cousin Marlene and her husband Alan for Chinese food and schmying in Times Square -- where I was treated to witty conversation, lots of memories and one of the best steamed vegetable plates of my life. Al dente indeed.

On Monday and Tuesday I went to Dharma Mittra's noon yoga class. Can I just say what a treat it is to practice at such a reasonable hour? And even though my last class with Dharma in NYC was in 1999, my name was still in thir computer. Scary.

The class was more packed this time around and sprinkled with good-looking, superbendy young people. Yet there was none of that competitive yogascene BS in the air. In fact I think I was the only one in Lululemon togs -- which is a good thing since I sweated buckets and their products really do seem to wick away moisture.

Dharma's vinyasa sequence is beyond intense; there is so much repitition where you go deeper into the pose each time. Instead of downward dog you can do tons of pinca mayurasanas (forearm balances) and you're allowed to do difficult variations of just about every pose; some of the students could jump effortlessly from handstand-splits right into Hanumanasana (sitting splits). (Yet later on, after we were encouraged to do "whatever poses you want" for ten minutes -- something that I've introduced in a few of my classes and which often causes confusion -- a bendy handsome French gent asked me for tips on getting into dwi pada sirsasana (balancing on your sitting bones while both legs are behind the head). I was floored. But as Dharma said in his Chicago workshop last year, "When you see someone doing a pose, don't think 'That is them.' Instead think, 'That is me.'"

This time he said, "Keep your eyes open. Look around at the other students. You may learn something." Which I did.

I found myself not able to do things I take for granted, and doing poses I'd never tried before. Dharma showed me new ways to do advanced versions of a couple of poses -- including King Pigeon -- that I've only been halfheartedly trying to do. And one of his students showed me how to kick into pinca mayurasana (forearm balance) with my legs together. It was the yogic-mind blow I've been yearning for, and it helped me go from I'm in a rut I'm in a rut I'm in a rut to Anything is possible.

On Tuesday morning I was sore as hell from Monday's practice and headachy from indulging in the migraine cocktail of red wine and dark chocolate with friends the previous night, and did not want to go to class. I was so loath to go that I showed up three minutes late. But they let me in anyway, and I practiced on my thin orange travel mat, and the sequence built off what we'd done the previous day. Soon I had no pain and no headache and no thoughts of the past or future.

Later on I felt cleansed, and spoke Spanish with the Ecuadorian driver on the way to the airport. Somehow I made it onto an earlier flight which was uneventful despite Mercury being in Retrograde. To get home I took the El (subway) to the bus and the ride was so lovely....the driver pulled right up to the curb at each stop so that the passengers could step easily onto the sidewalk without having to leap or step into the gutter. So as I was getting off I told him so and thanked him.

If only this feeling would last.


  1. King Pigeon sounds like something from the Karate Kid movies.

  2. Always with the wise cracks... Enjoyed reading your NYC adventures.. Particulary the virtues of Lululemon.. I find that the fabric, as well as being super-absorbent, does not 'chafe'

  3. ok, i have to know: how does one go from handstand split to split on the floor? is it via lifting one hand off the floor to make way for the coming-down legs, or is there another way to do it?

  4. Megan,
    Their hamstrings are very open (and their arms quite long) so they simply jump through their hands, one leg at a time. Some do it loudly while others make it seem effortless. This of course is Hanumanasana splits, not side-splits.