With many people returning to office work this month, that means a lot of sitting and stiffness.
One thing that can help with this is yoga, an ancient Indian practice whose asanas, or poses — often linked in a vinyasa flow — are designed to prepare the body to sit in meditation, which quiets the mind. (The word “yoga” means “union,” as in the union of mind and body.)
Shannon McGee discussed this as she led an intermediate-advanced vinyasa flow class recently at Yoga Love NY, the studio she owns with Nancy Puleo, another instructor. (The team also includes instructor Jaimie Lawson.)
After subletting other spaces for three years and going online during the height of the pandemic, Yoga Love NY has a new studio in the former Lord & Burnham factory in Irvington, which uses an antimicrobial ultraviolet-C light and a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter to purify indoor air quality. Built in 1872 to manufacture greenhouses, the structure is perfect for housing a yoga studio, with exposed, original brick walls and a 14-foot-high ceiling of restored beams offering minimal distraction. Meanwhile, massive windows flood the space with light — casting the shadow of the “Yoga Love” signage onto the wood floor — and offer a glimpse of the sleekly majestic Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in the distance.
Yoga Love has 75-minute beginning-intermediate and intermediate-advanced classes as well as a 75-minute flow class that concentrates on the body’s core and an introductory class. All classes take place in a room heated to 85 degrees. This is not the 105 degrees and 40-percent humidity of Bikram yoga, an extreme challenge. Still, it takes some getting used to. Along with a yoga mat and any blocks you may use to help improve your form, make sure you bring towels as the perspiration may make certain poses like downward dog — in which the body is in an inverted V as the practitioner places her hands and feet on the mat — slippery. (The studio makes mats, towels and props available for a nominal fee. Their use is free to members.)
The advantage of doing yoga in a heated room is that it makes it easier for the body to move fluidly from one pose to the next, as if you were gliding through water. And as with swimming, you’ll definitely feel the effects of the workout afterward. But you’ll also feel a loosening of the body and a lightening of the spirit.
“Set your intention for the class,” McGee asked attendees at the beginning. My intention was to get a story and move on with my Saturday. But as class wore on, I found my knees unstiffening, along with my will, and my intention shifting to reveling in the moment and going with the vinyasa flow.
In their website bios, McGee and Puleo talk about the yin-yang mind-body benefits of yoga. Puleo, a Sleepy Hollow resident, came to it as a classical trained actress-dancer who had done Pilates for more than 15 years. She discovered that yoga’s emphasis on a kind of echoing, diaphragmatic breathing called ujjayi breathing gave her a strong body and clear mind.
McGee, a Valhalla resident, also came to yoga for the exercise, more than 25 years ago and stayed for the mental awareness it unleashed. Growing up in Southern California, she told WAG before class, she was a competitive gymnast who was “always on my hands.” She went to San Diego State University and became a certified public accountant, working for Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers). But her engagement and marriage to a TV newsman would take her to Arizona, where she was the comptroller for a home builder, and Kentucky. (McGee is the wife of Scott McGee, now news anchor and managing editor of News 12.) Practicing yoga privately as she raised their two boys, she soon discovered, “there was basically no yoga in Kentucky.”
So McGee got her certification and started a yoga studio in a church basement. She’s been teaching yoga for about 13 years. Along the way, she began incorporating At One Essential Oils into her practice and teaching. (At the end of the class, she placed a welcomed lavender-infused, cool compress on the foreheads of those students who wished to have it during relaxation pose.)
For McGee, yoga has become a necessary way to de-stress and reach that calm center. Or as she puts it, “I can tell when I don’t do it.”
Yoga Love NY classes, 1 Bridge St. in Irvington, range from $27 for a single session to $220 for a package of 10. For more, call 516-709-2496, visit yogaloveny.com or email email@example.com.