Thursday, July 09, 2009

Yoga in the 'Hood

I've been a consistent yoga practitioner since 2004, when I started taking advantage of the cheap yoga classes offered to NYU students through their recreation program. It was affordable, convenient, and helped me re-build and re-shape my body after going through a number of surgeries. As time went on, I began to develop, what I like to call "yoga hunger,": wanting to go to class all the time, searching for the"best" teachers and studios, constantly wanting to do more challenging poses, basically pumping up my ego. After a few years of that, and a number of serious injuries, I made my way to the Integral Yoga Institute, where I learned to slow down and let go of some of that ego-enthusiasm.

At some point, I was introduced to Ellen Saltonstall, a certified Anusara teacher, by my bodyworker. Ellen has been my primary teacher for the last two years, and I've done Anusara and a bit of Iyengar, exclusively since 2007. Because they are both alignment-based, I've been able to sharpen my practice and also relax into it and not worry so much about looking "gorgeous," but really learn whatever it is I'm supposed to learn in that practice session.I've also been able to develop a strong home practice, however, in the last moth, I've really struggled with practicing at home. More often than not, I've done a truncated practice, or not practiced at all. And especially since my teacher is traveling to teach a lot this summer, I thought I'd better look around for some classes.

I really didn't want to go to the City. I've been becoming more and more interested in finding as many of the services I need right in my 'hood of Fort Greene (or nearby 'hoods: Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Prospect Heights, Park Slope, or Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens/Brooklyn Heights). Farmer's Market on Saturdays, dog park every morning, my CSA is in the City, :(, local shops and restaurants, but what about a yoga studio? My main focus has been on finding Anusara studios, but there are none in my area and sometimes I don't want to get on a bus, train or walk to another part of Brooklyn. I recently had a conversation with a dog-park friend who alerted me to the incredible sale Move with Grace was having.

When I went in to sign up, Owner Grace Tappin, was friendly, warm, helpful and absolutely welcoming. I gave her my $30 for 30 days unlimited classes(!!!) and returned that night for an Open Vinyasa class. Let me preface by saying, I am not a fan of Vinyasa classes, nor am I a fan of using music in a yoga class. However, the small studio itself was clean, beautiful and very relaxed and relaxing. It was an incredible experience to take a yoga class of all black women (save the teacher, who was white), when usually I am the only one in the class. Moreover, I am supporting the local economy, reducing my carbon footprint, actually doing yoga, and supporting a young, black, female entrepreneur. Wins all around!

I'm looking forward to taking the Iyengar class on Sundays and the new Iyengar classes Grace let me know they will be adding. For me, since I have some injuries, alignment-based yoga is the best, and it fits my style, but it was nice to feel invigorated by last night's class, even if that will not be my regular practice. Move with Grace has a wide variety of classes (if not yoga styles) and other types of movement classes, such as Ballet for Adults and Belly dancing! Fun!

I also think I've been infected by the fallacy that only the City has good studios. This is particularly false when many of the great and good teachers training or being trained live in Brooklyn. As my schedule changes significantly in the fall, it will be good to be able to pop down the street, pay $10 for a class, and walk home and cook dinner. So, if you live in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, or Bed-Stuy, you should check out Move with Grace. They also give discounts to college and university students and money off class packages if you sign up online.

If anyone knows any studios that offer Anusara or Iyengar classes in the FG/CH/BS area, let me know.

Holla! and Namaste.

1 comment:

Xiomara A. Maldonado said...

My pilates instructor combines yoga into our class exercises, and it so relaxing even as we strengthen ourselves. Thumbs up for supporting your local economy!