Two weeks ago a friend and I embarked on a self-inflicted yoga challenge: Attend a yoga class everyday for two weeks. This idea of ours was cosmically timed with a Groupon to YogaWorks for two weeks of unlimited classes for a measly $15. With most yoga classes in NYC running upwards of $20 per session, this was a delightful deal! Having explored many of the yoga studios in NYC over the past couple of years, I was thrilled to discover that YogaWorks is the upper-echelon when it comes to sanitation, instruction and studio space.
I felt moderately prepared for the physical and mental difficulties that would arise with this yoga experiment, but I was most shocked to discover that these two weeks turned into quite a cultural study. The fact that so many yoga studios survive in NYC always amazes me. Here were are living in the City That Doesn’t Sleep with people that don’t sleep, yet all these people paradoxically want to slow their minds and bodies down to rock out some yoga. Due to such interesting dichotomy, I saw and learned some peculiar things in the past two weeks during this period of Speed Up to Slow Down.
Should you decide to embark on yoga adventures in the city, I’d advise the following:
- Mind the gap. I no longer take Bikram (super heated yoga) because I disliked the yoga series and overcrowded classes—mats were less than 2 inches apart while practicing! That’s like trying to get your Zen on while riding the 4/5 at 5 p.m. Not gonna happen for me. Similarly, when in a relatively empty studio, please do not set your mat down 2 inches from mine and look offended when I scoot over. Simple space consideration is appreciated; this is a town of expensive real estate and I’m going to get my session’s worth!
Use your yoga mat as a weapon if need be. I’m usually annoyed by people that carry cumbersome items around town because they inevitably hit people with said objects while navigating around. Though a yoga mat isn’t exactly cumbersome (it’s more welcome on the subway than a stroller or a bike) it is an odd widget to carry in a backpack like contraption for two weeks straight. Sometimes riding crowded subway lines turns into a hockey-style checking match— let’s just say the mat came in handy. Ok, so it was more of a shield than a weapon.
- Learn to om. I enjoy beginner classes every now and then because they emphasize proper alignment and thereby break lazy habits. But when there are 40 people in a class and only two people om the room becomes demoralizing energy-wise and rather awkward. I am guilty of sitting out the om when I first started practicing, but a simple Google can set you right or any instructor would happily give you a quick crash course. So please, go forth and om—it will really rev up your yoga practice. (Your voice won’t be the only one that cracks at a 6:30 a.m. session, so have no fear.)
Don’t have the newspaper or your Crackberry next to your mat. In full NYC fashion some people warm-up with their newspapers while in a forward fold or check their Blackberries while in sputa baddha konasana. Let it go. The world will not collapse in your hour-long absence.
- Go ahead and fall asleep in savasana (corpse pose). I had to take some 6:30 a.m. classes to fit yoga into my schedule which meant I found myself awakened by an instructor once or twice. At first I felt guilty about the sleeping bit, but after speaking to other classmates I concluded that it’s pretty impressive when you can relax so intensely after bustling around the city at 100 mph and flowing for an hour. That’s somewhat of an accomplishment, right?
So here we are, two straight weeks of yoga down, and possibly a quarter-inch taller from all the stretching. I ended up signing up for a full membership after the Groupon with YogaWorks (homie got played) because their SoHo studio is so ridiculously beautiful. Many thanks go to my Zen Friend, located in St. Louis, for the cross-country motivation and cheerful commentary.
Care to join me for a class? Leave the Blackberry, bring the om. Namaste.