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Seeking Ease with Marco Rojas
Ishta Yoga
56 East 11th St
New York, NY 10011
212-598-4800

Wed, 6:45 PM To 8:15 PM
Advanced

With the mercury rising and temperatures pushing triple digits, slipping inside the sanctuary of Ishta Yoga downtown for an afternoon class with Marco Rojas was a breath of fresh air. The studio has been in existence for a few years (with a newer satellite location uptown) but the space manages to promote a cozy feeling, like a home away from home that's always been there, while remaining fresh and light at the same time.

Likewise, Marco brings a fresh take on the wisdom of yoga while sticking to its roots and foundations, with nods to the Krishnamacharya lineage of Ashtanga, Iyengar and Viniyoga. In fact, it's the fundamental poses, he tells us, that are where we need to not only start, but return to again and again.

Marco has built a reputation for teaching a strong and powerful yet, somewhat simple class, asana-wise. Finding ease was our mission today, but by no means would our journey be easy.

We began our practice in Sukhasana, closing our eyes and tuning out the world outside to move our attention inward. Focusing on our Ujjayi breath and setting an intention for our class today - "Why are you here? What do you wish to accomplish?" - we were on our way.

But not so fast. Our first pose? Plank. Which sounds simple enough until you try and hold the position for over 10 breaths or what seems like an entire episode of True Blood, which Marco promptly reminds us is exactly where our minds should not be wandering to right now. He encourages us to come back to the moment while our arms shake and sweat beads already form across my forehead...and finally, Downward Facing Dog.

This would set the tone for a class that lends itself to the trappings of a yoga-style boot camp, introducing you to your very core, your attitude and your inner dialogue with a Venezuelan motivational coach preparing you on to overcome your biggest obstacle, yourself.

Long holds and riffs on Sun Salutations are staples in the Rojas repertoire. Moving through Sun Salutations A and B, Marco called out alignment cues intertwined with reminders to "feel what it feels like to be in the now" and encouragement to stick with it because "anything you pay attention to will change in quality."

Coming from an Ashtanga background, Marco is also known for providing firm hands on adjustments, though a simple wave or sign to opt out for the day is always an option. He makes his way through the class offering adjustments, sometimes verbal, sometimes hands-on, to where it is needed.

By the time we made it the floor for seated postures, a healthy sweat soaked us all and a haze hovered in the room. This was not technically a heated class, but the heat built up from our own bodies flowing together in practice stirred the air into a palpable energy. "Tapas!" Marco rejoiced.

Bowing down for some forward folds began the cooling process before setting up for a lengthy Sirsasana. Marco moved around the room assisting some and simply providing words of encouragement to others who needed that little extra boost. "You can make it happen," he boomed.

When we finally settled into Savasana after a powerful and sweaty master class, the dark and shadowy walls of Ishta were the perfect backdrop to our final relaxation. It's been noted that Marco tends to have a devoted band of students who will follow him to any mat. The sense of self-empowerment and accomplishment visibly and energetically present amongst the students at the end of class was enough to keep anyone coming back for more. Just maybe after that initial soreness wears off!

Single drop in classes are $22. Discounts available via class cards and monthly unlimited membership.

--Holly C.


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