NotSoZen YogaJen

Archive for October 2012

Om Sweet Om

Last week I wrote about finding my new yoga home at Yoga Vida. Inspired by a comment on that post that everyone should have a yoga home, I decided to compile a list of potential yoga homes for those yogis and yoginis still on the lookout for one. Here are the yoga studios in New York City and Brooklyn that I’ve called home through the years:

Jivamukti
Om (now closed)
Laughing Lotus
The Shala
Park Slope Yoga Center
Area Yoga
Bend & Bloom
Lucky Lotus Yoga
Yoga to the People

Last week I was flirting with the idea that Yoga Vida was my new yoga home, but this week I solidified my commitment and got a monthly unlimited class pack, with the goal of going at least three to four times a week.

There are many benefits of having a yoga home. First of all, it’s reinvigorated my enthusiasm for my practice. And it gives me a sense of community — there are lots of different classes I want to try and workshops offered frequently, and it’s a place I want to go and be a part of things. Especially living in a city where it’s easy to feel isolated and disconnected from others, I’m often searching for community to connect with. For me, a yoga home also provides consistency, stability, and a nurturing routine.

What about you — where’s your yoga home? And what do you love about it, what makes you call it home? Please add your yoga home to this list (include links and location if you’d like) in the comments!

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Yoga Vida lounge

Don’t you want to curl up on these couches?

I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to yoga. Since I started practicing, my pattern has generally been that I will find a studio I like and I will make a commitment. I will buy 10-class packs, and mostly, go only there, for months and months or years and years. And then I will tire of that place for whatever reason, and go somewhere else to mix it up. Then that studio will become my new yoga home. I’ll have my favorite weekly classes I go to without fail, the people at the front desk and teachers will get to know me. And so it goes. Until I move on to the next place.

But for the past several years, I’ve been yoga-homeless. I’ve flitted around. I’ve paid on a per class basis, never committing to a class pack. The front desk people ask me for my name when I check-in, the teachers don’t recognize me. I find a class I like here and a class I like there, but no one place that fulfills all my yoga needs.

Also, over the past few years, the expense of yoga has become an issue. I used to go anywhere, regardless of the price of the classes. The mental, physical, and spiritual benefit I received from yoga was worth it, I rationalized. This is also why a considerable amount of my credit card debt in the early 2000’s was from yoga classes. I don’t want to go into yoga debt anymore, and I cringe paying the now customary $18-$22 for a class other than as an occasional treat.

When I started this blog, being on a tight budget, I was on a mission to seek out the most affordable yoga studios. At that time, I prided myself on being able to spend $25 for five classes in one week through a combination of donation-based, community, discounted, and free classes. Lately though, I’ve lost momentum with this mission. I have my go-to donation-based place, and a low-priced studio I sometimes frequent, but I was no longer on the lookout for great yoga deals.

Then one day my friend who’s a yoga teacher was raving about Yoga Vida. I’d heard about it awhile ago, and vaguely recalled that the class prices were supposed to be pretty cheap. So when my friend mentioned it, I decided to look it up, and saw that they offered an intro week special for new students: $10 for one week of unlimited yoga.

Yoga Vida has two studios–a location near Union Square and one near Houston Street. I figured that there would be restrictions on the unlimited class pack and that I’d have to pick one studio or the other to use it at, so I called to find out so I could decide which one I wanted to commit to. Just for the week.

A friendly woman answered the phone, and told me that I could use the unlimited classes at both studios. Between the two schedules, they offer classes at any time you could possibly want to practice yoga. She also told me that included in the $10 week of yoga was one free mat and towel rental.

“This is the BEST YOGA DEAL EVER!” I exclaimed. “I’ll definitely be coming in soon. You’ll recognize me because I’ll be the super-enthusiastic person.”

“Great!” she responded warmly. “We can’t wait to see you!”

At that low price point (regular class prices are still really affordable–$12 for a single class, $90 for a 10-class pack, and $110 for monthly unlimited), I was not expecting the huge, clean, beautiful studio when I went to my first class at their Union Square location. And on top of the gorgeous, window-lined, light-filled practice rooms, there is a cozy lounge area with comfy couches and a nice changing area.

The class was great, and reminded me of what I loved about yoga early on, when I practiced at places like Jivamukti during what I consider my yoga heyday about 10 years ago. Those vigorous, sweaty, stretchy classes. That post-class, clear-headed, sore-bodied yoga bliss. The big, beautiful space that feels like a community center. Familiar and nostalgic, going to Yoga Vida renewed my enthusiasm for yoga. I went to three classes my first week, bringing the per-class price to a mere $3.33 (not even factoring in the free rental mat and towel!) and proving to be the BEST YOGA DEAL EVER.

Since doing their intro special two weeks ago, I’ve gone to a few more classes and continue to feel at home there. I’ve curled up on the couch in the lounge before class and read. Last night in class, I sat in the front row. The teacher was looking around the room, paused, and said to me, “I know you! From years ago.” I used to take her class a lot at one of my previous yoga homes.

After so many years of being a yogic free agent, I’m wary of making a commitment. But also, over the past few years and especially lately, I’ve been searching for my new yoga home. Given my budgetary restrictions, there are cheaper places I can go to practice yoga, but with donation-based and the more inexpensive classes, I don’t get the full beautiful, expansive, serene yoga studio experience. So Yoga Vida provides the best of all worlds–great classes and teachers, a beautiful space, and front desk friendliness, on the cheap. All the qualities I’m looking for in a yoga home. I’m almost even ready to take my commitment to the next level and buy a class pack. And maybe one day it will become that place, like my yoga homes of years past, where I don’t need to give my name when I check-in anymore because I’m just like, home.