Looking to expand my yoga practice and wanting to explore possible yoga teacher training programs (YTTP), I’ve spent the last 2 months touring various yoga studios. I am an over organized type-A so I first researched over 20 studios online before determining which 5 to try out based on their YTTP schedule, curriculum and pricing. Read my recap on Yoga to the People, Mang’Oh Yoga Studio, Yoga Works, Joschi Yoga Institute, Laughing Lotus and Integral Yoga Institute.
Yoga to the People (12 Saint Marks Place, 2R; Class – Power Vinyasa Flow)
- Economically friendly -> Donation based class means it was crowded/sweaty but open to all
- Diversity -> I have yet to see more diversity than in this yoga class. The group ranged from the lululemon type to men wearing jeans and all the average workout gear in between. Plus it was a good mix of black, white, Hispanic and Asian yogis all united in Om.
- Ego-free yoga -> The teacher created a lovely ego-free atmosphere by reminding us throughout the practice not to compare ourselves to others and to joyfully challenge ourselves – “The person in front of you doesn’t have your life story. They didn’t eat your breakfast.” …. “Your toes will still be there whether you touch them or not”
- Smart changing room -> They have curtains on the side walls to allow you to quickly change then use the same space for more yoga mats
- Singing bowl -> Loved the focus meditation that was guided by a singing bowl
Mang’Oh Yoga Studio (322 East 39th Street; My favorite teacher – Chintamani Kansas; Class – Vinyasa Level 2)
- Peaceful oasis -> I entered stressed by NYC traffic and within moments of speaking to the co-founder felt at peace and ready to practice. Plus the waiting area smells great.
- Truly balanced -> One of the best classes I’ve taken in terms of creating a balance between challenging poses, yoga theory/principles and meditation. I was able to try out a few new variations like Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying Crow) along with the staple poses.
- Curtain changing rooms in the waiting area
Yoga Works (Soho – 474 Broadway; My favorite teacher – Sherman Morris; Class – Vinyasa Level 3)
- Challenge yourself! -> This was my first time taking a level 3 class and I’m hooked. Even though I can’t do all the variations offered, I enjoyed struggling and progressing into them. Even the poses I can do were put to the test…. Think you can do a headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)? Well, try holding it for 2 minutes with your eyes closed as Sherman requests and see. But luckily Sherman encourages everyone to not be afraid to try/fail/try/succeed.
- Note: If you want more meditation/spiritual aspects this class is not for you. Also NOT for beginners.
- Full scale gym -> Showers, locker rooms, towel service, tea and a boutique are all available at the Soho location
- Costly -> I had a free trial week. But overall this studio is by far the most expensive and only offers a monthly membership. Which I guess makes sense given the amenities available.
Joschi Yoga Institute (163 West 23rd Street)
- Note: I didn’t take a class; I only toured the studio and spoke with one of the instructors. They have two large studio rooms with lots of mirrors and cool mood lighting from the ceilings (various colored lights)
Integral Yoga Institute (227 West 13th Street; Teacher – Barry Hanuman Denny; Class – Integral Level I/II)
- Restorative yoga -> If you are looking to take a yoga class that provides you with more than 20 minutes of combined meditation, chanting and breathing exercises and leaves you relaxed and limber than go here now. Although the class wasn’t the type I personally could take weekly, IYI will forever hold a special place in my heart because I took their class just when I was about to have a nervous breakdown as my personal and professional life was erupting. Barry’s class literally saved me.
- Institute in every sense of the word -> They offer great seminars, trainings and kirtans sessions. Plus they have a great book store on the first floor.
- Community based -> They have 2 dorms in their building. You can do a work exchange program to take classes in exchange for service. IYI also owns a health food store next door to their institute and a wellness spa across the street.
Laughing Lotus Yoga ( 636 Sixth Avenue, 3rd Floor entrance on W 19 street; Teachers, in order of the classes I took: Mary Dana Abbott, Emily Stone, Alison Cramer, Sheri Celentano, Dana Flynn, Essence Walls)
- Invigorating Vinyasa -> Their signature “Lotus Flow” means you gracefully transition from one pose to the next creating a sense of spiritual dancing in most classes
- Diversity -> Great mix of students and yoga teachers – in most classes every race is represented. The studio screams “be yourself” so you can feel free to come as you are.
- Great events and on-going study -> They frequently have Kirtans, 50-hour advance trainings, fundraisers for Africa Yoga Project and Women for Women
- Live music & DJs -> Some of their classes have a live DJ or Kirtan band performing during the practice. If you want a quieter yoga be sure to read the class description (read about one of their New Year’s Eve yoga classes here)
- Some classes get packed!
- Freshly made tea and water available in the seating area
- Tiny 1 person shower and dressing room