Yoga studios in Manhattan PT 1
Recently, I’ve been exploring different yoga studios in New York, with guest membership passes. So far I’ve been to Pure Yoga (West Side), Exhale (East Side), Bikram Yoga NYC (West Side & East Side), Golden Bridge Yoga (Nolita), Integral Yoga NYC, Jivamukti Yoga School (Union Square), Yoga Works (Lincoln Center), World Yoga Center, Sankalpah Yoga, Go Yoga (Williamsburg) 1-4 times each.
The general trend seems to be vinyasa yoga and sun salutation cycle based yoga classes, circulating around the great Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog pose. I also tried Bikram yoga, which was an interesting experience, but in my opinion doesn’t have so much to do with the yoga tradition (it was anyway invented quite recently, in America). I’m not sure why working out in the heated room (around 100 Fahrenheit) would be that beneficial for the body anyway. They say it adds the cardio aspect to doing the poses, but in my opinion yoga just isn’t about cardio. But I liked it in a way, still.
First, some criticism: most of the yoga classes here seem to be somehow really remotely connected to yoga, the actual tradition and philosophy. It’s very accurately focused on the details of the poses and very little about how to do them, as, what state of mind – in my opinion there should be a sense of ease
and joy and liberation, combined with embracing your limits. But it often looks that people are struggling to make it look better, rather than feel better. Another thing I found funny was the trend to use music for the practice – some places even had hip hop for this. The music is nice sometimes, but generally it just gives the mind something to be occupied with, rather than the actual experience of the poses. And most of all, so many teachers just can’t stop talking… 🙂 But that’s all generalization, it actually doesn’t completely apply to all of those studios at all.
Almost all the studios had their strenghts and weaknesses. Some had really great facilities such steam rooms and so forth, some didn’t even have a shower or a changing/locker room. Some had a more spiritual focus to the class, some were totally about pushing the body for a full workout in an almost gloomy mood. I kind of enjoyed the variety anyway, but if I’d have a membership somewhere then I’d probably pick one of those:
Jivamukti Yoga School (somehow a nice balance of things, and good energetic practice, even though their Union Sq location really had lousy dressing rooms and just one shower…), Golden Bridge Yoga (for Kundalini), Pure Yoga (great facilities), Integral Yoga (has the silence and mindfulness), Sankalpah Yoga (for the most interesting set of exercises and inspiring poses. Also, the owner and founder of the club, Isaac, is really interesting guy, I wasn’t sure if everybody would like that much hands-on guidance as he was giving, but I guess it actually worked for getting into the poses… 🙂 )