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June 2020
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Heart Celebration with Emily K Stone
Laughing Lotus
636 Avenue of the Americas, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10011

Wed, 10:00 AM To 11:30 AM

While shops stock up on love-y decor to observe Valentine’s Day, the pink and red glitter-filled entranceway marks no special occasion at Laughing Lotus — it’s how they celebrate the everyday.

It’s a warm studio, from the temperature which feels cozy after coming in from the cold to the cheery “What’s up” asked by the woman at check-in. And it’s bright, with boldly painted walls, and a boutique stocked with colorfully printed apparel. There’s also hot tea, and animal cookies to nibble on.

Class was held in the Light Studio for Lotus Flow with Emily K. Stone. “Breathe” was bopping in the background, and there were a few yogis getting set up, chatting to one another.

Emily came in, and approached me with a friendly introduction. She made her way to the other unfamiliar faces then took a seat behind the harmonium to tell us how honored and happy she was that we had showed up this morning.

To begin her dharma talk, she played a few notes on the harmonium, and then announced we were celebrating Bhakti at the studio this month. In our practice, we would honor ourselves and use the mantra So Hum to help focus our breath around this idea.  

We did a call and response chant before Emily asked us to lie down on our backs for reclined Ankle-to-Knee with our hands threaded behind the knee. We did both sides then took Altar Pose, also known as Tabletop.

At Laughing Lotus there are a few names for poses that are unique to the studio. At one point, Emily called out “OMG Pose” which is similar to a curtsy with arms reaching up to the ceiling. Most everyone seemed to know exactly how to take this posture which revealed a group of regulars.

The warm-up went right into Sun Salutations which incorporated Devotional Warrior before adding in a variation with Warrior 2 (facing the “back of the house”), Extended Side Angle (to the “front of the house”), Triangle, and then lower arm extended in Triangle. Also tucked into the-warm up was Crow and Flying Crow with the option to take a squat instead. For the second round in the arm balance we were offered Tripod Headstand as a variation.

Emily's class was the perfect blend of self-empowerment and playfulness. She walked around the room sharing words of wisdom about carving our own paths, and not letting anyone else define us, and then would have us open up “sunshine toes” while in Navasana.

In Seated Spinal Twist she asked us to gaze at all the possibilities and potential sitting in front of us as we revolved our bodies deeply. Revolved Chair and Revolved Extended Side Angle were also included in the twisting poses.

After several rounds of Sun Salutations along with their variations, we went to the wall with our mats. Emily demonstrated Forearm Stand using a block between her palms. We had several minutes to play with this inversion before Emily said to try any other inversions if we felt called to do so. She also instructed us to take Child’s Pose, palms facing up, in-between attempts, to “offer it up.”

Once back in the middle of the room we took Virasana - either seated on or off a block. From there we went to Supta Virasana for a lengthy recline. Sirsasana was also given as an option.

As she moved through the class assisting everyone, Emily spoke with confidence and clarity while emphasizing the individuality of our practices. Many of the sequences were rounded out with her adding, “move your way through the vinyasa.” She also placed a huge emphasis on the breath, consistently reminding us to let it strengthen our practice by breathing fully into our bodies, and ourselves. She returned to the mantra So Hum many times to encourage us to use it to stay focused on the breath.

Towards the end of class we placed blankets under our knees for Camel. It started with a simple flow of lifting one arm up by the ear while the other took hold of the heel, and then we switched sides - back and forth - fluidly moving with the breath.

Continuing with backbends, we took full Camel which led to Salabhasana and Bow with nice breaks in-between. Bridge and Wheel came next, and Emily asked us to honor the heart opening that was going on. “It’s not easily done,” she said, empathetically.

Seated postures, Ankle-to-Knee and Paschimottanasana, were given with deep holds before Savasana. During rest, Emily went to each of us with sandalwood, and a relaxing facial massage. She pressed lightly on my shoulders for a few breaths so I could fully absorb the heart opening done in class.

Afterwards, Emily approached me one more time to confirm my name (she knew it!), and thanked me again for coming to class.

Drop-in classes are $22. New student special: 30 days for $39.

-Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth

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