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February 2020
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An Economical Open Hour with Shevy Katan
The Shala
815 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

Tue, 7:45 PM To 8:45 PM

For the best atmosphere in town, you need not look any further than The Shala. The rickety staircase, high ceilings, and creaky wooden floors provide New York yogis with a singular practice space that is rarely found in today’s corporate yoga industry. It’s a gift and a luxury and no time spent here is ever wasted.

After Cyndi Lee’s fabled OM yoga Center closed its doors in 2012, many dedicated OMies relocated across Broadway to The Shala to continue the OM-based lineage of intelligent, contemporary vinyasa yoga. The result was a fresh collective called Now:Yoga, and while the Now classes carry echoes of the recent past, they are completely of the present moment. Shevy Katan was once a member of the OM teaching faculty, and on a recent Tuesday evening, Yoga Sleuth decided to grab Shevy’s current 7:45pm Now:Open Hour.

Before class started, the petite-framed Shevy caught up with her regular students. Late night classes at The Shala are usually smaller (a plus), which ensures a level of student/teacher intimacy that is generally lacking in the city’s packed “rush hour” classes. Shevy knew everyone’s name and was familiar with individual practices, injuries, limitations, etc. She asked for requests, and her laissez-faire persona encouraged inhibited personalities to spill forth.          

We found comfortable seats and Shevy guided us through a meditation/breath awareness exercise. “Let your breath move freely…don’t keep it tethered,” she stated and we proceeded to direct breath into our usual “tense zones.” We opened with the sound of one Om which encouraged our breath “to stay free and to continue moving.” We then transitioned into a round of Cat/Cow dances where Shevy asked us to “move from a place of desire, not from your usual habits.” It was both a helpful reminder that repetition need not equal stagnancy and a universal theme that appeared throughout class.

We held our first Down Dog for a while and by the time we walked forward into Uttanasana, our joints were lubricated and our heart rates had quickened. We welcomed a vigorous flow of Sun Salutations followed by a remarkably clever sequencing of standing poses. Shevy’s recent foray into traditional Ashtanga is apparent, however, the influence never stifled class; it complimented its momentum and she effortlessly fused the old with the new. We held each pose for a solid amount of time, which was refreshing, as many vinyasa classes move too quickly. 

Shevy occasionally had us exhale a sigh to sink deeper into each posture and to remind our breath to keep circulating. She repeatedly offered props and presented variations for the array of abilities in the room. We finished with an inversion of choice (this Sleuth chose a cooling Salamba Sarvangasana after a long day), followed by Savasana. Shevy was wise to not offer any deep backbends at such a late hour…we would’ve been up ‘til dawn!

All OM-trained teachers are consistently sophisticated, mindful, and efficient and Shevy is no exception. She is comfortable standing in front of a room and her language effortlessly cascades from her lips (no doubt a result of her training as a professional actor). She conducts the room confidently, and she has a good time doing it.

“What can be the most economical placement of your feet?” she asked us after we folded into a Prasarita Padottanasana variation. Good question, and an especially necessary one for a short class where time is precious. Maybe Shevy was referring to something more than just our feet. It’s difficult to find practice time in our cramped city lifestyles, so when we do, it’s imperative to use that time as efficiently as possible. Shevy also teaches corporate yoga, so she is familiar with juicing a short time frame. She impressively fit a large amount of material into a short class and provided a well rounded, satisfying practice in just sixty minutes...how economical! And how perfect for city dwellers with limited time.    

Resumes September 9th.
Single hour-long class is $12; mat/towel rental is $2. Various class packages available.      

-Michael Laskaris for Yoga Sleuth

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