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June 2020
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Use the Breath to Let Go with Maria Cutrona
Go Yoga
112 N 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Mon, 10:00 AM To 11:30 AM

On a happening strip in North Williamsburg sits the sweet retreat of Go Yoga. Greeted by a natural stone path leading straight to check-in, Yoga Sleuth welcomed the studio’s warm call to leave the Polar Vortex behind.

As I entered the yoga room, two others were fully immersed in their warm-up. Usually it’s a more gentle stretch, such as Goddess Pose or Seated Spinal Twist that I see people doing to limber up before class, but these yogis were experimenting with strength and balance as one kicked up to Handstand while the other held Forearm Plank. I slowly unrolled my mat, and realized there would be no holding back in Maria Cutrona’s 10am class.

Maria, seated up front, instructed us to find ourselves slightly off the coccyx bone. She wanted us to sit back to see how it feels in the spine and the pelvic floor. She continued to offer guidance by asking us to "use the tactile sensation of your seat to bring yourself into this moment." She encouraged a releasing of the fascia which communicates through the body to release tension. Then she added, "just let go."

Maria said that the foundation for her class is to use "the breath to create a living experience." As she brought awareness to our inhalations and exhalations, she invited us to listen to the breath so that it "becomes the constant sound, the mantra, throughout the practice."

The three Oms that brought the group together preceded Maria's call and response chant to Krishna.

We chanted for several minutes then went back into Downward Dog. The core strengthening warm-up that ensued consisted of Downward Dog Split, opposite knee to elbow, and a healthy dose of Planks in between each side. The first vinyasa of class came in the form of knees, chest and chin into Cobra, and then back to Child's Pose before landing in Downward Dog. 

In Prayer Squat with elbows pressing into the knees, Maria asked us to, “Lift mula bandha” as she counted the breath. When she reached four, she said "take a big inhale, lift the hips, scrunch up the face, and exhale with a sound."

There were many moments during class that I heard others letting go with sound.  By the end, I too couldn't help but give an audible release as I exhaled into a pose.

After the warm-up, we did Sun Salutation A in the traditional sequence followed by a couple rounds of Sun Salutation B.  When it was time for variations, Warrior 2 and Reverse Warrior were included in the set. Throughout the entire sequencing of Sun Salutations, Maria began with the left foot forward first. 

She also had us face the back of the room for a few variations such as after Warrior 2 when we pivoted the feet towards the rear of the room, and then went into Triangle.

Maria provided detailed explanations to further our deepening into both the energy and alignment of the pose. 

“Tuck the tailbone to the perineum, the muscle of the pelvic floor, and open the chest further to find the back bend,” she said while we were in Extended Side Angle Twist.

Her assists came frequently and were offered quite generously. She used her adjustments to "enhance and encourage - not only to correct." I found Maria's touch to feel gently on-point. During an Extended Side Angle variation she lightly pressed into my middle finger as it was reaching overhead. This subtle assist allowed me to find more expression both energetically and physically.

Her adjustment in my first Wheel created new space across my chest which made the following two Wheels much easier to engage.  

We played with Handstand in the middle of the room, and then against the wall towards the end of class. The closing poses suggested were Shoulderstand, Headstand and Legs-Up-The-Wall.

In Savasana, Maria came around and pressed my shoulders down evenly. This simple gesture accentuated the clarity felt in my body, and left me with a grounded, centering of balance.

Drop-in classes are $16 wth $2 mat rentals and free towel rentals. New Student Special: $23 for 3 classes (1-month expiration).

-Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth

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