Sunday, June 26, 2011

Yoga Vida NYC

Yoga Vida is where I practice regularly and wanted to share my experiences for anyone seeking a new studio. Anyone who practices yoga knows how expensive it is, so when I first started practicing I began a quest to find a reasonably priced studio in the city (like finding a needle in a haystack) and after weeks of online research I found this absolute gem called Yoga Vida.

Yoga Vida has 2 locations with the first being located at 99 University (Washington Square area) and their newly-opened studio at 666 Broadway (Noho). I can only speak to the 99 University location, as I haven't ventured the few blocks to the Noho location, but I would think the experiences would be similar. When you enter the studio you are always greeted by a friendly instructor who is eager to help and answer any questions you may have, which can be a blessing for those first-timers who are intimidated by the whole process like I was. They offer a variety of packages that may be used at both studios. If you're a student you can get a killer deal here of $80/month for unlimited yoga. If you're not a student you can get unlimited yoga for $100/month and in both cases your monthly comes with free mat storage at the studio. Just looking to drop in? It's $10 which you'll find comparable to most other studios in the city.  Yoga Vida also has a "first visit" package which allows new yogis to pay $10 for an unlimited pass for a week.

The studio is modern and clean with a great little sitting area where you can relax prior to your class. It also has a changing area, but no showers. 

The majority of the classes last 65 minutes (with a few 90 minute classes here and there) and they have a variety of class levels offered at the studio in vinyasa flow. I started with their Basics class which I highly recommend to anyone looking to start their practice right or re-visit the basics. They take you step by step through your basic asanas, correcting your form in a small studio with no more than 20 participants. This was key to learning those moves that so many yogis do wrong, like chaturanga, because they are never taught how to hold the pose properly. Please be prepared, the basics studio is small and can be cramped, but this is an unfortunate part of practicing yoga in the city. No matter where you practice it is usually crowded!

The Flow and Advanced classes are offered in the large studio (seen below) and can fit a class of 60+ participants. Class size does fluctuate, but for the most part, it's rare where I feel like my personal space is being impeded upon. It really depends on what time the class is. Both studios have great class schedules with a variety of options for early morning, mid-day and evening so no matter your work/school schedule you can find a class time that should work for you. Another fun aspect of this studio is all the special classes they offer like candlelit classes, or live music where a harpist plays as you move through your asanas and music themes where they play just one particular type or music or artist.

I find that the best classes are with Jessie and Hilaria. They're both very experienced and give instructions through out the class that truly make you feel the "flow" of the class, as opposed to looking around the studio at your fellow yogis trying to figure out what pose you're supposed to be in and asking yourself "Was I supposed to breath in or out on that last move??" If you're an alternative music lover like myself, then you'll enjoy Jessie's classes. She has a great playlist of Florence and the Machine, Fleet Foxes, Citizen Cope, etc. In Hilaria's classes, she allows the students to chooses a different theme of the week where she will focus on a particular area of the body and builds the practice around that area. Hilaria also does something slightly unconventional in that she adds an ab workout to her class just prior to the inversion portion of class. I love it, but it may not be for those seeking to focus solely on a vinyasa flow practice. Jessie teaches a FREE Flow class on Wednesday mornings by the arch in Washington Square Park for those of you who are looking to try out a class.

Another great aspect about Yoga Vida is all the exciting workshops they hold from arm balancing, creating a headstand practice, etc. This studio also offers teacher's classes for those of you looking to become a yoga instructor.

For more information on Yoga Vida visit which will give you class prices, class schedules and more information on the studios. Should you try Yoga Vida please post your review for others to see in the comments section. I hope to see you all there!


Friday, June 24, 2011

All things Yoga and NYC!

Hello fellow people of the Internet! Welcome to my blog about anything having to do with yoga and NYC. I know, random, so let me explain. I decided to create this blog for a few reasons. I'll start with the most recent reason, which is my new interest in yoga. I started practicing yoga about 6 months ago and I quickly began practicing regularly. I originally decided to try yoga because I was finding that other work-outs (lifting weights, running) were rough on my joints and causing me frequent pain due to previous injuries, as well as the fact that I was just looking to switch-up my work-out.

Honestly, I really didn't expect my foray into the yoga world to last this long. I'm incredibly clumsy and I don't really buy-in to the whole spiritual aspect of the practice, so I expected this to be some new, fun thing to check off the list and say that I tried. But, alas, here I am, still a dedicated yogi. And here's why: I never dread my work-out any more. For example, I like to run, but I don't always look forward to hitting the pavement when it's crazy hot and humid, or it's bitter cold and windy, or maybe it's that one dreaded hill in my neighborhood that I'm don't feel like facing. Don't get me wrong, I still run regularly and enjoy it. But not like I enjoy yoga. It's a great toning and cardio work out, plus all the other benefits like the length and leaness you aquire, improved posture and balance (which god knows I need) and the overall de-stressing that comes with the practice. And lastly, the one benefit I've aquired that I truly appreciate more than anything, is the ability to find peace and clam no matter what situation I find myself in. (CORNY, I know...but hear me out...) Like I said, I don't necessarily find yoga to be this big spiritual adventure, but I appreciate one of the mental aspects of the practice and that's learning the ability to calm youself down through the breath and not allowing the challenges you face in everyday life to overcome you and turn you in to a raving lunatic. Working in NYC and being a bit of a loose cannon as it is, I have a tendency to get angry or worked-up very easily. Through yoga I've learned how to calm myself down by breathing and realizing that any obstacles that pop-up in my day aren't the end of the world. You don't necessarily need yoga to teach yourself this, but when you regularly practice breathing and finding that clam in the studio it's amazing how less overwhelmed you become each day, and when you do, how quickly you can brush it off.

Despite my budding confidence in my practice, I am still very much a beginner yogi. I'm reminded of this every time I try to do Crow pose and fall on my forehead while the cute yogi next to me, in her $78 Lululemon short-shorts and tight work-out top shifts and balances her entire body weight perfectly on her lean upper-arms. She smiles and whispers "Don't worry, next class you'll get it!" Well, I still haven't gotten it, but I'm getting there! I at least fall a little more gracefully now so everyone in the class doesn't turn to look at me.

Anyway, I find that with each class I am able to push myself farther and farther and want to share my successes (and many struggles), as well as what I learn with other yogis. I also want to hear from others (especially beginners!) about their experiences with yoga. I am always trying out new yoga gear or taking a free class at a new studio, and let's be honest, anything yoga is not cheap. That being said, I will post when I come across something worth paying for, as well as those things NOT worth paying for in the yoga world.

The second reason I wanted to start this blog was to share all the amazing things I come across in New York City. I spend 5-6 days/week in the city and almost every day I come across something that I think is awesome. Maybe it's a great happy hour special, a cool street event, or a video of a crazy homeless person licking the bottom of his shoes on the subway. I'm not making that last one up. I just know that I have a way of finding the most random things that make me think "Other people must know about this." I will say now that it's usally food/booze related things that I find, because despite my dedicate yoga practice, I'm a total foodie and the one thing I love more than yoga is a good meal and a martini.

So, that's it. I hope that some of you will find this blog to be helpful, interesting and maybe even inspiring! Please post your comments and suggestions. I look forward to sharing my journey with you all!