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September 2019
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Roar Your Gratitude with Leo Rising
Laughing Lotus
636 Sixth Avenue, 3rd Floor
 (entrance is on 19th St)
New York, NY 10011
212-414-2903

Mon, 4:00 PM To 5:00 PM
Beginner

After a Mopey Monday, Yoga Sleuth had a fever, and the only prescription was Laughing Lotus. My mood was instantly lifted by the cheery common area, the animal crackers and the cinnamon tea. I found my asana room thanks to the movie theater-like signs showing the time of each class, and settled in for a soul-reviving afternoon with Leo Rising.

I brought my tea in and set it by my mat as Leo introduced himself to all the new faces and turned off the overhead lighting. “We should really appreciate the sun!” said Leo, waving to it like an old friend as its light streamed into the room.

“Breathe in like you’re greedy for air,” said Leo as we sat up on blankets and blocks. “And exhale in gratitude that it just keeps coming. It’s your birthright as a soul in a human body to breathe. And every moment is a present. Gratitude begins in our hearts and dovetails into our behavior. All the experiences you have shared, the journeys together…the solidarity you have shown one another…without all of that, life would be barren.”

We voiced agreement in the form of three Oms, then poured ourselves down over our shins and stretched forward. “Take a moment to feel long at the tailbone. Can we invite the aspect of heaviness in the body?” asked Leo. “Can we be grateful for the density of our bones, and for the expansive and transformative nature of our skin as we exhale out our fingertips?” We opened the right hand out and up for a side twist, allowing the left ear to roll onto the left bicep and then evening it out on the other side. Leo helped me open up, as he would again later in my three-legged Down Dog and Extended Side Angle.

“Yoga is recess,” said Leo as we came to all fours, “and Laughing Lotus is kindergarten! It’s ok to play!”

And play we did. Leo is a fire on all cylinders teacher with a unique way with words.

“Feel the warmth of the back of your leg channeling itself up,” he said as we came into a high lunge. “Carry the grace of your feet into the center of your heart. Suck in all the air you can, it’s free! Let’s be grateful that our bodies can make all these amazing shapes!”

Leo led us through a flow that got faster and more challenging, but his energy kept us motivated. “Let the Sunshine In” from Hair roared from the iPod just in time for us to commence Surya Namaskar. We came into a wide legged Chair Pose and then folded down over our legs, feet at the edges of our mats. By the end of the standing sequence we were sweaty and happy to be so.

“They say you can’t smile from your sacrum,” said Leo as we lied down on our backs. In rebuttal, he took us through a slow journey through Bridge Pose, culminating in rolling our arms back behind us and then forward to touch our thighs, before relaxing with a block at mid-height at our tailbones. If my sacrum could grin, now was the time!

Savasana began with a progressive relaxation of limbs through squeezing, flexing, lifting and releasing. “Even in your restful emptiness, you create space.”

Afterwards, instead of coming right out to sit, Leo had us awaken each limb one by one. I was blissed out and wishing we could go on for another hour, but Leo bid us Namaste and said he’d see us again soon as we filled the room with a sea of closing Oms.

Drop-in classes are $18 with a $2 mat rental.

-Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth


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