New Fangled, Old Fashioned
with Sarah Capua
The Body Actualized Center
143 Troutman Avenue
Wed 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Yoga Sleuth ventured up Troutman Street from the elevated Myrtle Avenue stop on the M train. As she walked she was trying to figure out how a yoga studio could survive much less thrive there. She looked up at electrical wires with pairs of running shoes hanging off wondering if she had wandered into some gang turf. Empty lots poked up between boarded up houses.
Soon enough she saw people sitting on their front stoops and neighbors greeting each other. It was after work and the body shop guys were sitting in the back chatting and listening to the radio. Street sculpture started to pop up across the way.
By the time she strolled up to The Body Actualized Center she understood how the center might both survive and thrive in a slowly gentrifying part of Brooklyn.
The Body Actualized Center itself is unassuming. There is a chalkboard outside listing the day’s classes. You sign yourself in. A volunteer takes your donation and thanks you. The space itself resembles an open carriage house. Lovely wood floors, a skylight, barn doors, a simple alter, a bar with refreshments.
It is a simple place and after visiting so many sanitized studios in Manhattan it was a relief to take one of the free beat up rental mats and blankets (a regular blanket, not a “yoga” blanket) for practice.
Sarah Capua’s class is a perfect fit for the space.
She teaches in the tradition of T. Krishnamacharya as taught by Desikachar. All movement is linked to breath. The actual asana are slightly different than an Ashtanga, Iyengar or standard Vinyasa class; they are gentler and great for beginners
Sarah started class by focusing on the breath, especially taking time to explain the long exhale all the way to the bottom of the abdomen. We would be twisting and twists would begin from that low belly on the exhale.
Throughout class Sarah suggests that we keep our eyes closed so that we relieve ourselves of feelings of achievement in a pose. She simply wants us to breathe and move on the breath. A feat easier said than done.
We begin standing forward bends, lifting our arms with our palms facing forward on an inhale and folding at the waist on an exhale. Sarah tells us to bend our knees if there is any strain in the back so that we can keep our spines long and supple. We raise our body and hands on the inhale and then lower our arms on the exhale. Like all the asana we take, we repeat the movement patterns several times working towards longer breath holdings in the poses.
All the while Sarah is playing lovely soft music and her choreography of the breath, movement with the music is beautifully timed.
She demonstrates the movements before we do them and then circulates around the room whispering modifications or technique alterations to each student individually.
We move through triangle twists, a child’s pose/cow combination, a breathing exercise on our backs and mid-class rest in Savasana and seated forward bends. Always linking the breath to the movement, keeping eyes closed, never straining. The lights are low at the end of class, candles are lit and the 10 students in the room are glowing.
Sarah clearly loves teaching in the lineage of Krishnamachayra and her belief in its benefits come through strongly. She’s on a road less traveled on the NYC yoga scene. Kind of like Sleuth’s journey up Troutman Avenue…a journey from darkness to light.
The Body Actualized Center’s yoga classes are donation based. Props are free of charge.
-B. Erica Spraos for Yoga Sleuth