January 01 2013
The high lunges and push-ups of Spa Junkie’s last class have put her in the mood for something soothing…
I arrive at Yoga 216’s clean white-brick studio, which prides itself on “blending the benefits of private yoga instruction with the accessibility of the group structure and the restorative properties of a spa”.
I am told that the studio bases its classes around “alignment flow”, which is offered in two levels – Learner and Burner. The classes last between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes; there’s also a fast lunchtime class of 50 minutes. I opt for a non-heated Burner class.
Written on a chalkboard, I read: “Pain that has not yet come is avoidable.” Elsewhere, the studio claims to be a “safe haven for escaping unnecessary mental and physical pain at every level”.
I enter a non-heated room with a temperature of 29.5 degrees celsius and a humidity of 30 per cent. The white space is long and narrow with a decorative gold-leaf pattern dotted across the middle. I take a spot on one of the blue mats with head rests and blocks, and begin a warm-up stretching routine.
We are guided through an Asana sequence, which is clear and easy to follow, with an emphasis on breathing and the positioning of the spine. This month’s pose is Uttanasana, a standing forward fold, and this week’s alignment is “rounded spine”. The class is taught with this as the focus – extra attention is given to poses that strengthen the spine, such as forward bends, child’s pose and sphinx pose.
As the class is open to all levels, the instructor gives variations for each routine and provides individual attention. While I don’t use this as an opportunity to take a back seat, I find it a relief after the challenges of the last two classes. It is a slow, soulful experience.
The class may not have been particularly groundbreaking, but when it is over I head to the luxurious changing rooms and enjoy an Ayurvedic tea and freshly pressed juice from nearby organic eatery Blossom. This aftercare is the pièce de résistance. I leave feeling serene, rejuvenated and, thanks to the spa environment, a little pampered.
The bottom line:
Derek Beres’s spiritual practice taught me a new skill – to listen to the inner workings of my body during the transitional spaces, which definitely helped me improve my form and confidence.
Lauren Imperato’s class was a little too strenuous, sweaty and fast paced for my taste, but I can see that this is precisely why it’s a hot ticket among the high-achieving locals who want to combine yoga with a workout.
It’s fitting that my final lesson, at Yoga 216, hit the right spots for my mind, body and soul. Thanks to this final instalment, I left Manhattan feeling calm and focused. I was sad not to have had time for a repeat visit before I returned to London, but I vow to come back on my next New York trip.