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November 2019
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Start the Day with Susan Breslaoukhov
Yoga High
98 Forsyth St, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10002
646-678-3116

Wed, 7:30 AM To 8:30 AM
Intermediate

Though the clock read almost half past seven, the atmosphere on this particular block of the Lower East Side said up and at ‘em! A pick-up soccer game was in full force while the Tai Chi ladies were cohesively moving through their morning ritual. Yoga Sleuth was amongst the early bird set, making the way into Yoga High.

Susan Breslaoukhov’s gentle warm up called my (somewhat sleepy) awareness to the breath. In Child’s Pose, with arms outstretched by the ears, we walked our finger tips over towards each side for a soft hip opener. Susan asked us to take deep breaths into the low belly which prepared us to lift into Table Top for Cat/Cow.

“Start to pay more attention to the quality of the breath,” she said, “and as you start to link your movements with the breath, notice if there are any places that feel particularly hard this morning, not as soft as usual.” Susan informed us a big emphasis for today was not to use any muscles that are unneeded for the shape. “That means any muscles in the face that you’re tensing, or the shoulders,” she  noted, while inviting us to soften.

We came to Tadasana. Susan asked us to close our eyes which facilitated a deeper connection to the energy generated from the grounding posture. The time spent situating into Mountain Pose truly set us up with a strong foundation that carried through the entire practice.

Susan had us feel the weight pressing down evenly on all four corners of our feet, and then give a little lift, “like a suction cup with each foot,” to the inner arch so it lifted away from the floor. She asked us to feel the energy as it moved up through each leg, then through the belly, which helps lift the shoulders, and draw them back and down.

Sun Salutation variations were next. Within each modification, Susan gave thorough, yet subtle explanations. In Low Lunge she instructed us to lift through the front of the belly, and “use that engagement of the core to draw the center of the heart forward.” And in Cobra she encouraged us to press into the palms to bring the chest forward, and up a little higher off the floor while maintaining the integrity of the spine by keeping the low back long and strong.

Most of the one-hour class was spent building onto the standing vinyasa which included Downward Dog Split, Twisting Lunge, Chair Pose Twist and Warrior III.

While in Extended Side Angle, Susan asked us to think about Triangle Pose, and how it relates. She then explained how it’s the root of the pose. “Just the front leg needs to straighten. The torso is going to stay nice and long.”

The pleasant vibe of the room was enhanced by the soft rock playlist that featured tunes by John Lennon and The Shins.

About halfway through class, Susan had us check back in with our body, especially the spots where we were still holding tension, to try and add softness by directing the breath there.

On the way to Warrior I (for the right side) Susan said, “Before you lift the arms off the floor, check out your feet --  make sure the back heel is grounded. Maybe you need to step the foot in, or over to the left to make room for the hips,” and with that direction she walked over, and asked me to bring my back foot closer to the left side of the mat.

While guiding my foot towards the left side she explained that I’d find it’s much easier for my hips to try and square towards the front. “They’re not going to be totally square,” she said, “but you want that sensation of the left hip rolling forward as you straighten the back leg.”

For Half Moon, the last addition to the vinyasa, Susan told us to find our drishti, or gazing point for stabilization, then gave the option to grab hold of the lifted foot.

Tucked within the sequence were back bending poses Locust and Bow where Susan suggested we “bring the breath down into the belly, and feel how that plays with the buoyancy of the pose.”

Once down on the floor we did Bridge with the option for Full Wheel on the second round. The final pose was Yogi’s choice which led nicely into Savasana.

After a class Om, I left the studio feeling refreshed, and ready to join the lively streets outside.

Drop-in classes are $22. Mat rental and towel rental are $2 each. New Student Special: 2 Months Unlimited. Includes FREE mat storage.

-Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth


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