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June 2020
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Heat Up, Tune In, Peace Out with Kendall Chaffee-Standish
Y7 Studio
88 North 1st St.
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Wed, 10:00 AM To 11:00 AM

With the sub-freezing temperatures landing on NYC, a hot yoga class sounded like the perfect prescription for Yoga Sleuth to get warm. Enticed by the formula of heat, darkness and music at Y7 Studio, I pre-registered online for Kendall Chaffee-Standish’s Wednesday, 10am class.

When I entered the studio, my eyes immediately squinted into adjustment mode. The bright white hallway - where I checked-in to class - stood in strong contrast to the flickering candlelit yoga room, similar to staring straight at the sun before entering a movie theater. The usual unloading of winter accoutrements may have seemed like standard procedure, but it was actually a prerequisite for Kendall’s class.

Music pumped loudly through the nearly full room (classes cap at 10) while the group of yogis stayed silent amongst themselves.  With just the hint of candlelight guiding me into the unfamiliar space, I hooked my coat behind the door, placed my belongings in a cubby, and staked out an empty spot for my mat.  Once my eyes finally adapted to the lack of light it became quite clear – the darkness was an invigorating variation to my yoga practice!

Kendall came into the room, and instructed us to close our eyes for Child’s Pose. She brought awareness to our breath by asking for audible exhalations. “As you physically arrive, also try to arrive mentally and emotionally,” Kendall said insightfully after a few moments.

We continued to warm up the body slowly with neck rolls and other gentle stretches before coming into Plank, a precursor to the set of push-ups that followed. Our first vinyasa came with Chaturanga (Flow Low is how Kendall called it) into Upward Dog and Downward Dog.

Sun Salutations with a Side Angel Twist variation were next. Kendall claimed the empty mat next to me, and practiced the first sequence with the class. After a couple of times on both sides, she asked us to flow through it on our own. “There are no mistakes,” she said about our individual practices while encouraging us to move at our own pace.

For the next round of Sun Salutation variations, we experimented with lunges - starting with Crescent Lunge, building up to High Lunge, and finally arriving into Twisting Lunge. From there we took Warrior 2, Peaceful Warrior, Extended Side Angle and back to Peaceful Warrior.

“Reach your fingers forward, activate your life,” an energized Kendall said. She then joined in the sequence briefly before instructing us to flow solo. We ended in Child’s Pose where Kendall asked us to check-in with our bodies to notice how we felt compared to the first Child’s Pose of class.

To kick off the third flow sequence we practiced Chair Pose Twist. With our arms in Prayer, we balanced  in Warrior 3 then extended the leg back to Crescent Lunge, and into Side Plank.

The music, an indie-pop and hip hop blend, aligned harmoniously with Kendall’s soulful class. Her optimistic guidance synched sweetly with the backtracks which included lyrics like “keep breathing” and “don’t think too hard about it.”

The warmth of the room merged with my inner heat so when Kendall adjusted me in Half Pigeon, my hips were primed to release.

“You’d be surprised at how much stuff we carry here,” she said, and then challenged us to transition to the second side with eyes closed.

Working with eyes closed, or in the darkness proved to be an excellent opportunity to remove external distractions that often cloud perception. I thought back to the beginning of class when getting situated in the darkness really meant trusting myself to find the way to my (yoga!) mat.

“Don't look side to side, stay in your zone!” Kendall insisted as we prepared to backbend. We took Bridge first then Full Wheel, “if that’s in your practice,” she added.

The encouraging comments continued in Seated Forward Bend. “Don’t quit!  Keep reaching your chest to your thighs and your head towards your toes.”

Reclining Spinal Twist came next, and then Savasana.

“Notice any lingering negative thoughts - they don't serve you in Side Plank, and they don't serve you in any other challenging position off the mat.”

As we made our way back up to sit, she asked us to notice how we felt, and then reminded us, “this is what you are capable of.”

I wondered if she was referring to my sweaty body, clear mind, and grounded sense of self.  Because if this is what I’m capable of -- I’ll be back for more!

Drop-in $20, $2 for mat towel rental.

-Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth

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