NotSoZen YogaJen

Posts Tagged ‘yoga studios

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.

Park Slope street sign

I just found out that Park Slope Yoga Center moved. Or consolidated. But I kind of feel like it closed. They used to have two related spaces across the street from each other on Union Street, Park Slope Yoga Center on the south side and Devi on the north, but this week they shut down the Park Slope Yoga space and consolidated everything into Devi.

Seven years ago this June, I took the Metro North train from Westchester to the 6 to the F on a bright, warm Sunday afternoon to look at an apartment in Park Slope. Afterwards, I strolled around the neighborhood. Although it was my dream to live there, I was doing some research, seeking out coffee shops, bookstores, and yoga studios in walking distance to see if I could really call this place home. There was a Starbucks on 7th Avenue, and Ozzie’s on 5th, with ratty old couches I could picture myself curling up on, sipping coffee and reading classics. There was a Barnes & Noble, and also a Community Bookstore on 7th. This was all good.

And then, I stumbled upon Park Slope Yoga. I peeked in the door and walked up the stairs. It smelled musty and homey. Like old books, like Brooklyn. I said hi to the person behind the front desk, told her that I wanted to move here and was looking for my neighborhood yoga studio. On the way out, I saw a hand-written poem taped to the wall. This is what it was:

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I wanted to spend mine in Park Slope!

The next week I signed the lease on an apartment in that building I’d looked at, and at the beginning of July I moved in, ready to start my new Brooklyn life.

Park Slope Yoga was the first place I practiced yoga in my neighborhood, and for a while, it was the only place I practiced. There was a skylight with a tangle of plants hanging from it front and center, and I’d set up my mat underneath it, my fingertips grazing the leaves in Sun Salutations. Or I’d claim a space right next to the window. I liked to be in the front row, near the teacher, and close to a window to the outside world.

During twists and Warrior Two pose, I’d look out the window, as the seasons passed and the weather changed, and see snow drifting, the sun shining, buds blooming, or leaves falling. Every class I’d sneak a peak at the clock at least once, usually more, because I’m Type A like that. Even though I loved being in yoga, I always wanted to know where things stood, time-wise, and estimate how much longer until standing poses would be done, until we’d start inversions, until Savasana, until class would be over and I’d feel that delicious post-yoga bliss, and be able to continue on with my day, checking things off my To Do list.

I went to Park Slope Yoga when I was giddy or heartbroken over a guy, when I was bursting with excitement about a new relationship, had to get out of my head about one that was going south, or had to get out of my apartment so I stopped staring at my phone waiting for that guy to call. I took class there after a long day at work when I was totally dissatisfied with my job and discouraged that I’d never have/do/be more, and on days that I felt hopeful and alive working on a creative project.

I found out that Park Slope Yoga moved/consolidated/closed after it was too late to take one final class there and say goodbye, after the mats and the plants had been transported to the other studio across the street and the deed was already done. I hadn’t been there at all in a while until recently when I took a few classes earlier this year, smelled that familiar musty smell, twisted to look out that same window as the sun set on a Saturday late afternoon class. And I haven’t been there in about six weeks since then so I missed the announcements, the warnings, the fond farewells. I was out of the loop, I guess, one of the dangers of not consistently frequenting your favorite places.

I read about the change after the fact, in an email newsletter and this great blog post by one of my great teachers, Robin Pickering, whose class I first took at Devi over six years ago, and then later at Park Slope Yoga. In it, she writes about of the nature of change, the sameness at the core of everything, and the freedom that comes from releasing attachment to externals. These are all true, good reminders. What’s also true is I miss that studio and I’m sad I didn’t get to say goodbye. What’s also true is that even though the physical space is gone, I can still hold my memories of it in my mind, and cherish my time there–my days and months and years of classes–in my heart.