I just came back from yoga brunch. Best. idea. ever. We had a fabulous class with Aarona Pichinson, then a delicious brunch afterwards. I looked up and it was 1:15 — I’d been there since 10am. Om Factory is such a cozy place I could stay there all day. (Full disclosure: I used to teach there and absolutely love the owner and staff.)
I’ve seen Aarona’s name around town forever; she used to teach at my old hangout Atmananda, and she runs a site called Yoga of Nourishment that I’ve seen featured in a lot of the holistic newsletters. But I’d never tried her class. Her bio listed Elena Brower, Schuyler Grant, and Ana Forrest as influences, so I got really excited to see what she’d teach. (Elena taught the wonderful class at MoMA this weekend, a slow Anusara exploration of the breath into the back ribs. Schuyler seems to teach all my current favorite teachers, she teaches Freestyle Vinyasa down at Kula Yoga. Ana teaches the eponymous Forrest yoga, an excruciatingly slow but transformative practice.)
The theme of the class was “Soften into Fire” and it was well executed. We started off soft, in a long supported Fish pose. Next, we lay face down on blankets rolled up into balls, pressing below the navel, then below the ribs. It was fairly intense; like a Shiatsu massage you had to relax into the discomfort. Then, we started the flow. Her pacing was more like an Anusara class: we held poses for 3 or 5, but sometimes 9 breaths — definitely enough time to really feel and explore each one. It also gave us time to practice softening and relaxing into our burning muscles. She reminded us not to be tense, but gave all sorts of interesting muscular actions like drawing the shoulder blades together while extending the forearms in Lunge with Cactus Arms, or pulling the knees towards each other to square and lift the hips in Pigeon. She also inserted uddhiyana bandha practice into creative places like Revolved Awkward Chair, or Forward Angle Pose. (Another Kula teacher, Ariel Karass, does this — maybe Schuyler teaches it? Or it’s in the water supply.) But we kept up a steady Vinyasa flow of movement, with nicely paced breathing instructions, so all the muscular energy did get stretched out well.
We ran out of time to do inversions (class had started a little late), but I had a blissful come-down as the class closed. She had this nice image of letting your outer body relax, and lifting your inner body, and in our last standing Mountain Pose I really felt it. All my insides felt connected, as if I were one gooey mess from my heels to my head, yet light. My outsides were just hanging on top like a coat. I walked out ready to leap tall buildings.
Instead, I went into Om Factory’s beautiful kitchen for brunch. It’s prepared each week by a chef from The Natural Gourmet Institute, and for only $10 they served zucchini quiche, roasted veggies, quinoa with sweet potatoes, fruit, cheese, coffee, tea, bread, jam, and hard-boiled eggs. I ran into a teacher I’d met at a Sivananda retreat, and talked shop with a bunch of random yoga students. Totally lovely and relaxed.
There’s a different guest teacher each week, so the Yoga Brunch is a great way to sample different yoga styles happening in New York right now (or to actually meet the people you sweat with each week). In the past they’ve had Isaac Pena, Paula Tursi, Sara Tomlinson, Holly Coles… I’m looking forward to the next one.