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Posts Tagged ‘Studio Review’

For all of you yogis that are fans of New York’s Prana Power Yoga in our own Union Square, I highly recommend getting yourselves to the Newton studio if you’re ever traveling in the Boston area. With big windows and bright studio colors this space lends itself to bigger classes that are consistently filled and consistently hot. If you are in the area, drop in on Alex Amorosi’s power hour or a full class led by Heather Rems, or Jacqui Bonwell.

-Eliza

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Every time I go to YogaWorks I end up at the studio a bit early and find myself browsing through their store. They carry everything from towels, bags, blocks, jewelry, books, dvds and clothes: Hardtail, Beyond Yoga, Be Present, Om Girl, Splendid, and Prana . And if that wasn’t enough they’ve recently launched their own line of YogaWorks yoga gear (much of it 100% organic). Generally, as all yoga clothes go, the line is not cheap. Now, I wonder what this means for the studio’s appeal/karma.

YogaWorks has become more sleek and dare I say “corporate” over the past few years with new branding and store expansion. This lands them far from the friendly neighborhood studio – you know the one that lets you slide for a free water bottle now and again.

In fact, it all hit home for me when I was told that despite the fact that I’ve enrolled in their 6 month teacher training program (also not cheap), it will cost me $35 to store my mat for 6 months or $60 for the year. Room saving, or money making? I’m on the fence about this business.

-Eliza

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Located on the noisy and congested 9th Avenue (at 51st) is Sonic Yoga. I attended a few of Sonic’s classes last year and recently revisited to remind myself of what this place was all about. Sonic is known most for the community its built. In fact it dubs itself “Yoga for the people.” I would have to agree with this statement- they’ve succeeded in creating a sense of home within their studio walls. While you wait for the studio to empty and the next class to begin you have the option of sitting on an inviting day bed or cross legged on the floor where you’ll find the majority of the people. Like most New York studios the space is small. However their are windows in the actual studio itself which I’ve always been a big fan of. All classes feature great music a tough sell with some but in this space it seems to work.

OK on to the real stuff. As for the yoga, the classes are called either Flow 1 or Flow 2. The “Flow” is quite accurate. Classes generally have a very smooth and graceful sequence to them. At some points you almost feel as if you’re dancing. However, in my opinion you cannot distinguish between a level 1 and 2. At Sonic, like most studios, the instructors are more concerned with modifying poses to fit the needs of the less advanced and ignoring those who are willing to push forward.

While it may seem like a tough location it is conveniently within walking distance from the CE, the NRWQ and the 1. And they do have a great special going on – Become a new monthly-member anytime this month and lock in your first 90-days of yoga for $180! Not to mention year round 10% discount for anyone in the Actor’s Union. Oh yes, and back to the community factor- they offer community classes at least a couple times a week at 1/2 price.

-Eliza

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Tonight in the Yoga Works Downtown Vinyasa Flow 2 class, in true yogi form, the instructor tried to convince the class that furniture is a scam- after all, any of us who sits all day knows that furniture is not conducive to healthy joints and muscles. Hm, so very true! This is really how the class went. Dana Strong is light-hearted. Very much what you would expect from a yoga instructor (- a wonderful stereotype). The class is not a true level 2- she caters more to the lowest common denominator. But the class was taught in a way that stripped yoga down to its most basic fundamentals- in a good way! No pretense, no illusions, just yoga. It actually felt like a “practice” rather than an aerobics class on steroids. There was instruction and demonstrations, questions were asked openly, and we moved about the room freely. All in all it was just a very nice, pleasant class. It was certainly no workout but I broke a bit of a sweat and felt well stretched- and hungry for dinner. Not bad for a Tuesday night!

-Eliza

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Shiva Shakti Yoga in Northampton, MA

Shiva Shakti is one of my new favorite hot power vinyasa studios. It is a much needed, happy addition to downtown, Northampton, Massachusetts. It used to be that when I went home to visit my parents I suffered from the yoga void. I tried a few studios but never found anything close to what was being offered in New York. Shiva Shakti, recently opened on Strong Avenue, certainly fills this void. Brandon is the primary instructor. He comes from Boston (accent and all) and has extensive training under Baron Baptiste. Brandon brings charm and attitude to all of his classes. When you think you can’t hold a pose any longer he tells you to breathe deeper, and keep it up- and you just can’t help but do what he says. Finally, a place where you feel empowered to leave that stodgy old comfort zone you’ve been clinging to for so long!

-Eliza

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I came to New York City at 18 to attend NYU. At the time I had absolutely no experience with yoga. This quickly changed when I met my freshmen roommate Britt. Not only did Britt practice yoga at 18 but she had been practicing since childhood. Our Freshmen year she practiced daily at Jivamukti while I was stuck on an elliptical at NYU’s Cole’s Sports Center, a depressing windowless gym with old and limited exercise machines. It wasn’t long until my curiosity piqued and off I went with her. I have to admit I didn’t even know what down dog was and I remember being very nervous- I felt uncomfortable and I looked at the clock throughout the entirety of the practice. And to tell the truth, I didn’t like it. At the time an hour and a half felt too long, the poses seemed too difficult- I felt frustrated that I was not yet strong enough to chaturanga, and I couldn’t seem to stay focused. I thought I had given it a try and it wasn’t for me.

It wasn’t until stress of school caught up to me that I tried again. At the time I was living in the West Village- I began attending Jivamukti West (since closed) and occasionally hopping on the 1 train to go to Yoga Works Westside studio uptown. I was so in need of something in my life that could refresh me and de-stress me. It was only then at the height of this need that I was able to give in to yoga. I quieted my mind and stopped thinking about it – I started doing it instead. The second time around I was able to be less judgmental about yoga and about my own abilities. I became more relaxed, at ease and open with my practice. I realized how this was the most and perhaps only place in the world that I felt an absence of competition. Competition for my time, my attention, competitive with myself or with the people around me. This was bliss! Since this time (2005) I’ve developed a stronger practice, Jivamukti West closed, and my favorite instructor at the Yoga Works Westside changed studios.

And now, I’m on a continuous quest to find the best New York City studios that challenge both physically and mentally so I can strengthen and grow my practice and share with you all. My evaluations will be based on studio location, atmosphere, schedule, teacher and community vibe. I also take my fitness quite seriously and I am a strong believer that a rigorous yoga practice solves both problems with the mind and body so I will also focus on the level of intensity and rigor at the various studios. I encourage all readers to actively contribute your own point of views if you agree, disagree or have any questions.

Namaste!

Eliza

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