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February 2020
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One Breath, One Movement with Dina Smirnova
Y7 Studio
88 North 1st Street, Suite 13
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Sun, 10:00 AM To 11:00 AM

A busy Yoga Sleuth found he could fit no longer than a 60-minute vacation in his schedule. Luckily, he saw that Y7 in Williamsburg was promising exactly that on their website! So I headed over to their studio, just a few blocks away from the East River, for a Sunday morning holiday with Dina Smirnova.

The experience at Y7 is a unique one in the annals of asana: the small room is dark, with only a few candles illuminating the movements of the maximum 10 yogis per class. It's also warmed by space heaters to a cozy 85 to start, growing warmer with each vinyasa. Plus, the music is driving and loud, emanating from a stereo system on a loft at the back of the room (Check out the playlist at http://y7-studio.com/music/). During our free flow segments, San Diego native Dina, also a trained dancer, pumped it even louder, the combined effect of the music, warmth and darkness cocooning each of us, guiding us to focus on our own practice.

“Feel a long line of energy from the top of your head to the tailbone,” said Dina as we inhaled into a Cow position. “Exhale and press the earth away, coming up to the fingertips for an added shoulder stretch.” We lifted into Down Dog. “Keep the lift in your hips and press your heels deeper into the mat. Shoulders are coming away from the ears, navel is kissing the spine. See if you can bring the lower belly away from the thighs and create space between the hips. Feel length in the back of the knees.”

We crept to the top of the mat and folded forward as the beats pulsed around us."Set your intention for your practice today." We stood and took Crescent Moon Pose, leaning right and left, then stepped back into high Plank. "Bring your feet together so your ankles touch, " said Dina, "Now create a lift between your inner thighs."

From there it was a faced-paced flow, as we quickly settled into a pattern of one breath, one movement. Warrior One to Two, Extended Side Angle, reverse Warrior, and down to the ground for a vinyasa flow. "Twice on each side, finding your flow, following your breath," guided Dina. "What are your transitions like? Can you make them a little more fluid? Is your breath audible?"

We took Pyramid Pose and then airplaned our arms in Warrior Three; we took prayer twists, standing twists and lunge twists, wringing out the sins of Saturday night. Dina called to us over the music in a strong voice, urging us to go further to the edge while still maintaining proper form.

At the end of each sequence Dina let us take several flows on our own. With everyone doing their own thing at their own pace, I was reminded of the Peanuts gang dancing in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (in a good way!) "One breath, one movement," Dina repeated until it stuck with us like a mantra.

By the end of the last “flow on your own,” we were all in Child’s Pose, sweaty and ready to wind down. Dina invited us to stay in the pose for 20 breaths, and she came to me to gently ease my back over my heels. After one more surge of power in Lizard Pose, we took a series of Bridges and supine twists, as the music softened in resonance with our gentler movements.

Then Dina invited us to use 10 breaths to choose any pose that called to us to complete the practice. I took Shoulderstand, and lowered slowly into Savasana just as Dina came around to press gently on my shoulders and third eye. Coming to sit, we pressed our prayers to that third eye, and bid our teacher and each other namaste.

Drop-in classes are $20 with a $2 each mat rental and mat towel rental. New students can try two weeks for $45.

-Jim Catapano for Yoga sleuth

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