Chakra Slow Flow with Marisa Bonfanti at Shambhala Yoga & Dance

Last night I stopped into a cute center I’d heard a lot about Shambhala Yoga & Dance, in Prospect Heights. Friends were telling me that the owner really honestly tries to connect the community through her yoga center; classes are only $13 for a drop in, $6 community classes are offered at peak times, and social events like salsa parties bring neighbors together for some fun.

The studio is small, with room for 12 or 13 students only, so be sure to get there on time. Lilac walls and a low-lit altar give the space a cozy, homey feeling.

The class was “Chakra Yoga Slow Flow”, described as “A slow flow [vinyasa] class that explores the Chakra (Energetic) System. Focus on stimulating & balancing one chakra each class.” Marisa (Bonfanti, there are two Marisas there) signed us all in and started us off with some nice seated stretches. A sequence of spinal twists and side bends, synchronized with the breath, was a nice slow start to the rainy evening. We did each sequence twice, a pattern I’ve always enjoyed in Bikram classes because you immediately see the benefits of practicing yoga. We did extended Cat-Cow, Threading the Needle, and a series of hip openers in Down Dog.

From there it was on to the standing poses. The pace was calm, the instructions peaceful. Marisa has a soothing tone and conscious pacing. Eventually she revealed the chakra we were working on: the throat. The center of communication, and voice, the energy of this chakra includes the neck, shoulders, and arms. It affects how we express ourselves, ask for help, and receive it. Towards the end of class we did a few OMs, using sound to vibrate and balance the area. I always resist chanting, it has too many religious connotations for me, but then I often forget how great it makes you feel.

The ninety minute class, a rare treat these days, ended up feeling brief. More Marisa please.