Great Yoga Classes in “My Five Blocks” of the Upper West Side: Pure Yoga and Reebok Sports Club/NY

Yoga has certainly become mainstream — not just for hard core yogis anymore.   It seems that more and more studios are opening in Manhattan, and traditional gyms are increasing their yoga class offerings.  In the last two years, I have become an avid yoga fan.  I practice 3 – 5 days a week, and now I understand why it’s called “practice”. It takes much practice to improve…and no matter how much stronger you become, there are new poses and new challenges to undertake.  Plus, some days just flow better than others on the yoga mat.  I am a true convert.   It has reshaped my body and my mind.  But enough about me.   I want to tell you about two great places for yoga in my five blocks (or really 10 blocks to be exact).

Pure Yoga

I tried Pure Yoga for the first time this weekend.   The beautiful facility is located at 204 West 77th st (between Broadway and Amsterdam), and there is another location on East 86th st at 3rd Ave.  This is an amazing place.   I would describe the decor as modern zen, with hard wood floors, calm lighting, sleek design and an uplifting energy.  Once inside, you feel completely removed from the city.

Pure Yoga has 7 yoga studios, including a hot studio and iyengar studio.  I tried “hot” power yoga  for the first time (with Kristi McNeil).  I loved it, but the temperature takes getting used to and be ready for significant sweating.  Pure offers over 100 classes a week across 27 styles of yoga.  There is also a dedicated pilates studio and private pilates and yoga.  Mats are provided and washed after each session.

The newest class is Figure 4, which Pure describes as its exclusive barre class. Those of you familiar with Physique 57  will recognize the style.  I took a class from Heather, who was excellent.  I liked it better than Physique 57, partly because it was a much nicer studio with hard wood floors.  An amazing workout.   The schedule offers about six Figure 4 classes per day, and these classes require advanced sign up.

In between the studios, there are several “rest” areas with comfy couches and pillows, cold towels and magazines.   The large women’s locker room is very clean with neutral coloring.  If you want a locker, you need to bring your own lock but there are many lockers in addition to the usual bathrooms, showers, and amenities such as hair dryers, lotion, cotton balls, etc.

Check out the Pure Yoga website for more details.   This is a relatively newer addition to New York City, and I expect it to grow and prosper.

Reebok Sports Club/ NY

You may not think of Reebok as a top choice for yoga, but you should, especially if you like to combine yoga with many other fitness options.   A few years ago, Reebok renovated to add  “Mind Body Studios”  located within the club, as somewhat of an “oasis” set apart from the rest of the facility.   To quote the website, “the specially designed studios provide a unique combination of serene and expansive light-filled studio rooms, an extensive and diverse class schedule, elite instructors, access to nationally known practitioners, and private studios for one-on-one and duet sessions.”  The main yoga studio is fabulous.  A large room with two sides that are all windows and one side of mirrors (though many teachers close the curtains to hide the mirrors).

There are a range of classes.  Not near as many as Pure Yoga, but a great selection. I highly recommend the Vinyasa classes.   Among my favorite teachers are Hwalan, Iyela, Oceana, Kristen and April.   Hwalan teaches only once a week at Reebok, but she also teaches at Reebok’s sister club Sports Club LA on the upper east side, at Exhale, and privately.  She is incredible.   Her class flows quickly for an intense workout, yet she also has an amazing, deep, positive voice that makes the class a calming, zen experience.   It’s always hard to have one favorite with so many styles offered, but if I had to choose, she would be it.  She has her own website if you want to learn more about her.

My only negative comment about yoga at Reebok is that Management does not enforce the “no entrance after 10 minutes” policy.   Members often come in very late and not in a stealth manner.   For example, just when you are settled and have landed in your first (or second/third) downward dog, someone loudly places a mat in a location that requires you to move yours and re-orient.

I would love to hear your comments on these and other studios in New York City. And, for those of you who want to try yoga outdoors in NYC, check out today’s article in the New York Times  entitled “Sky’s the Limit: Yogis Head Outdoors”.

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