Opening to Yoga

Going to the Mat

Krugman explains that the pleasure of dancing freely (but not strenuously) to music is a key part of the system: It helps quiet the mind. Enjoyment and relaxation are closely related. Rippling movements through the spine and rhythmic breathing trigger deeply relaxing physiological changes.

As I interlace my fingers and move them delicately with my breath, I begin to feel as relaxed as during a good massage. I yawn. I lay my hands down for a moment, and then I'm fast asleep. The music laces through my dreams, and my breath feels fresh in my spacious chest.

He teaches daytime exercises that can be done unobtrusively on the subway, in a meeting, or at your desk. Breaking up your day with very brief periods of tiny, relaxing movements and dreamy rest, you'll feel smarter, and more discerning. And you'll sleep better. —Jae Gruenke

For a schedule of Michael Krugman's classes and information about his book and audiotape, go to www.soundersleep.com or call 874-6123. Individual sleep training available by appointment. Gruenke, a recent graduate of Krugman's training program, teaches group classes and offers private appointments: Call 673-1142 or visit www.intelligentexercise.com.


Divine Detritus

Concrete with spiritually restorative powers? Well, yes. In one area of the new, pristine Stuyvesant Cove Park, on the East River at 20th Street, you can listen to waves lapping onto the strange accrual of concrete, sand, wood pieces, old tires, and rusted pipe that emerges from the river, just beyond a fence. This outcropping has evolved from the illegal dumping of cement, but nature has made it its own. You can get lost in the contemplation of the moss and rubbery seaweed covering the hard slabs and wood pilings, which are also favored by seagulls and mourning doves. Corroded metal fittings look like aquatic mushrooms; a group of mottled, curving pipes resembles a speckled sea serpent; and one concrete mound appears to be an erupting giant cauliflower. I thought I saw a leprechaun traversing a bridge-like structure obviously formed by human hands, but perhaps I was under a spell, mesmerized by a piece of broken green glass tossed playfully by demure little waves.

Get your concrete comfort soon. The state intends to remove this sui generis bit of art on the beach, though the neighborhood is fighting to keep it. —Mary Lyn Maiscott


A Good Fit

Late in 2000, writer and former graduate student Sarah Wenk got laid off from a dotcom job she hated. "After the shock wore off, I decided to make the situation into an opportunity rather than a crisis," she says. "I started thinking about what I really cared about, and kept coming back to exercise and nutrition."

She explored the possibilities at several academic nutrition programs, then found her way to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which takes a holistic approach to health that traditional programs don't offer. At the same time, she received a certification in personal training. She's now seeing nutrition clients in private practice, focusing on the whole person, explaining how to "make small, sustainable changes—a new food, a new exercise" and helping people integrate their emotional, physical, and dietary health. Her full program involves six months of biweekly meetings, and includes books, audiotapes, food samples, cooking classes, and health food store tours; it can also include personal training. "It's about making people healthier through better nourishment in every sense of the word." —Elizabeth Zimmer

Sarah Wenk, 917-202-8897, sarah@healthwithsarah.com. By appointment only. Initial consultation is free.


Pilates Paradise

Choreographer Jordana Toback, recently of Fischerspooner and mounting her own show, Poon, this weekend in Williamsburg, underwrites her dance projects by teaching yoga and Pilates mat classes at various locations around town. Perhaps the most elegant is the Away Spa at the W hotel in midtown, a coolly elegant facility where the purchase of any spa service (massage therapy, alternative healing modalities, body treatments, facials) allows you a full day's use of the gym, including, if it's a Tuesday or a Saturday, Toback's hour-long Pilates class (she also offers private sessions on the Pilates "reformer"). My dream day would begin with the class, proceed to the $100 Citrus Firming Body Polish, and conclude with a sit in the eucalyptus steam room, a scrub-down in the four-headed shower stall (you practically need an engineering degree to run it, but it's worth the effort), and a squat on the state-of-the-art bidet. Absolutely everything you need—robes, towels, T-shirts, shorts, socks, flip-flops—is provided, along with tea in china cups at the Anti-Oxidant Tea Bar, fresh fruit, and cool water marinating in citrus slices. Just bring your underwear. Private memberships, day packages, and weekend deals including overnight accommodations are available. The best argument for capitalism I've come across in a long time. —E.Z.

Away Spa and Gym, W New York, 541 Lexington Avenue, fourth floor, 407-2970; Jordana Toback, 917-553-7321.


Losing It

Although I'm not experiencing a physical loss, I am grieving the death of a romantic relationship. Sorrow's Company, edited by DeWitt Henry (Beacon Press, $15 paper), reveals how 15 writers dealt with personal loss. All five accounts in the first section focus on cancer-related deaths; the middle section deals with different types of illness. Jamaica Kincaid's "My Brother" presents a fresh look at her sibling's struggle with AIDS. Gordon Livingston's "Journey" illuminates his pain as he accepts his only son's death from leukemia, demonstrating that humans can heal. Livingston realizes "that my grief, perhaps all grief, is essentially self-pity," and that he may be able to find his way past it.

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