One of the outcomes of my recent trip to Dunebuggy came from looking at their awesome community board outside the cafe. I saw a sign for something called "Loose Change Yoga" and was thrilled to see it was right next door, at the preschool next door.
I loved Loose Change. Loved. I seek out gratitude based yoga studios as a rule because, well, I think they work just as well at raising the funds required, while leaving doors open to those who can't afford to give much and otherwise would be unable to go regularly to class. I used to go to Yoga To The People because of my appreciation for this kind of payment system. However, YTTP was crowded and felt a lot like a city street- people packed like sardines into a small space, not speaking to each other or making eye contact outside of their social circles. It wasn't exactly the best yoga atmosphere, even if they had great instructors, vinyasa-flow style instruction, and mood lighting. Too many people, not enough personal attention to each student.
So, when I showed up at Loose Change, I was shocked to see that class would be composed of three students. It's because the program is new, of course, but until it gains in popularity, it's a Brooklyn jewel: inexpensive vinyasa-flow yoga with nearly one-on-one instruction. But I'll still want to go if the studio gets more popular for a number of reasons. Our instructor was so kindhearted, really illuminated the way you would expect a seasoned yogi to be, and added so many compassionate touches to the routine, from asking us where we're from and getting to know us by name, to making us hot green tea during the meditation portion. While it lacked the singing bowl that I loved at YTTP, we got to create the zone ourselves, with a recitation of OM. And she ended with namaste, which I think is essentially the most beautiful way to end a session. Namaste is a phrase traditionally shared between yogis, which basically means, "The divine in me honors the divine in you."
What a great thing to say to one another. When do we express our respect for each other that deeply in the outside world? Not nearly enough.
As much as I'm soaking up the personal attention from this blossoming little studio, I would love to see it grow. Here is the philosophy they share on their website:
Loose Change Yoga is a donation-based yoga studio located in Brooklyn, New York. The studio was created in response to the current economic downturn and its negative effects on people’s bodies, minds and spirits. The primary goal of Loose Change Yoga is to make yoga as accessible and affordable as possible so that money, or the lack thereof, does not hold people back from connecting to their inner selves. The studio offers Vinyasa–based flow classes with an emphasis on mindful breathing, muscle strengthening, and increasing flexibility and balance. Sharing its space with a pre-school, Loose Change Yoga classes are inspired by the innocent and truthful world of children. Through thoughtful sequencing implemented in an open, judgment-free environment, our teachers encourage people to reconnect with their inner child and release irrational fears and psychological walls.
This description couldn't be more true. We were encouraged to have fun with the practice, play around with our bodies and challenge ourselves in a lighthearted manner, breaking the tensions in our muscles with just as much laughter as deep breathing. It was a beautiful change from what I'm used to, and I definitely think I'll be heading back for more very soon.
Loose Change is on 21 Lincoln Road, right off the Q-B stop on Prospect, next door to K-Dog and Dunebuggy in the Maple Street Preschool. Classes Tuesday at 7pm, Saturday at 11am, Sunday at 5pm.