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February 2020
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Reaching for the Possible with Emily Stone
Laughing Lotus
636 6th Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10011

Fri, 10:00 AM To 11:35 AM

As summer stubbornly, but welcomingly, held on to New York City, Yoga Sleuth found himself craving the sunny fun and vigorous asana that Laughing Lotus never fails to deliver. A free Friday brought him to the morning class of Emily Stone, who provided a 95-minute session of flow, laughter, and wisdom.

Emily bade us namaste and took a cross-legged seat at the harmonium.

"Last night I saw Jersey Boys," said New Orleans-born Emily. "The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons." Frankie was a street kid who grew up to be a legend." So many good songs. I'm not going to play any in class today, though I really wanted to! But I really love a good underdog story. When you think something good is never going to happen, and it happens. My best friend from college, who used to dispense wisdom from a Barcalounger, said to me, 'Emily, it takes ten years to be an overnight success.' And our yoga can be the space of the impossible becoming possible. And from the mat we can bring that feeling out into the world."

Emily told us to embrace the practice and forget about the perfect in our asana and in our lives. "The yearning is the shape," she explained. "And the yearning for love is love. And the yearning for god is god." We chanted Om as the tones of the harmonium filled the room.

We came right into Down Dog, yearning the shape of it. "And remember it's not a crazy obsessive yearning!" noted Emily. We walked the heels of our hands out beyond our toes and brought our forearms down for an early lizard. "Some of you might bend your back knee and reach for the back foot." And some of us did, then opened up into gate pose, getting a juicy side stretch. We came into Plank and held it. "Your tushy should not be in the air!" reminded Emily, and I laughed and made the necessary adjustment.

The go-to pose this morning was Ardha Chandrasana, and we played in the straight-legged version and also challenged ourselves by taking hold of the back foot. We took Tree Pose and Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, then progressed to trying them both out in variations of Side Plank. In between we did our standing poses to the front of the room and then pivoted to the back, getting the most out of Warrior II and Extended Side Angle. "So nice everyone!" smiled Emily, who then cued us into Dancer's Pose as "Everything in Its Right Place," the Radiohead classic, reminded us that it's all good.

We did an upright Pigeon and Emily took us through the steps to do the Eka Pada Rajakapotasana version, reminding us we could stop anywhere on the way to that crowning pose. Then we folded in reverence and gratitude as Led Zeppelin's "Thank You" appropriately began to play.

Rock Star turned into Wheel at Emily's encouragement. "The thumb chases the finger!" she said. "And now, do your thing!" - Emily's way of saying it was time for a vinyasa flow!

We finished up with some supine twists and Janu Sirsasana, then Savasana was as lengthy and luxurious as it was well earned. We took a Sukhasana once more and Om’d as Emily's harmonium played us out, then we returned to our days to live and yearn.

Drop-in classes at Laughing Lotus are $22 with a $2 mat rental.

-Jim Catapano for Yoga sleuth

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