Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MYoga NY- Sheepshead Bay Yoga Studio

New York City has a vast array of fitness resources, several of which are very affordable- prices are driven down due to competition. These tend to be concentrated in Manhattan, however, and the neighborhoods in the outer boroughs with a large population of young adults (Williamsburg, Park Slope, Astoria, etc.). Commuting is a part of life for many of us outer-outer-borough dwellers, but convenience is key in incorporating daily or weekly health habits. Think about it- how often would you work out if you had to commute 1.5 hours door-to-door each way to get there? 

Holistic body work such as Pilates or yoga are such accessible practices and assets to anyone's fitness regimen, but pickings are slim in southern Brooklyn. The handful of studios I found online charged up to $40 for a group class which is prohibitive for most, and I excitedly contacted a Sheepshead Bay yoga studio (that shall remain nameless) only to be told that I could only take class if I could speak Russian (true story). 

For these reasons, I was ecstatic when I heard that MYoga, a donation-based studio, had opened at 1002 Quentin Road (at Coney Island Ave).  

I immediately contacted studio owners Maksim Khasin and Yuliyan Pukhovich to arrange to take a class and learn a bit more about the studio. I dropped by the studio for a 6p class on a Tuesday evening, and spoke with Max briefly before class began. I asked what had prompted the opening of the studio. He, too, had grown frustrated about the lack of yoga studios in our area, and decided to do something about it. 

MYoga's donation-based class fee allows you to pay-what-you-can. The recommended donation of $10 is extremely fair considering the beautiful studio and excellent instruction.

Mats are available to rent for $2 and water is sold for $1. 

The main studio, located on the building's third floor, features expansive skylights that stretch the length of the studio, illuminating the space with natural light.

At the far end of the studio are two more windows flanking a gorgeous tree mural. 

The decor pays attention to detail without overwhelming- the studio feels warm, clean and inviting. 

I was joined by three other women, two of whom had never practiced before, and another who had been to the studio previously. Studio owner Max also participated in the class. The five of us fit comfortably in two rows- I can imagine the studio holding around fifteen (maybe a few more) at maximum capacity. Classes are first-come, first-served and the doors close when a class reaches capacity. 

Our experience and fitness levels were varied, but in the true spirit of an open-level class (which ALL MYoga classes are), instructor Maire (who began her practice in 1998 and received her certification from Laughing Lotus in 2010) provided a solid workout with modifications to help each individual maximize their benefit from the session. 

We began with breathing, and then introduced several vinyasa yoga poses, moving slowly through each to begin and then flowing more quickly while adding variations, repeating some poses to allow for progressively deeper stretching. Toward the end of class, we spent a few moments experimenting with the steps of a headstand (sirsana), only going as far as we felt comfortable. Class ended with a few moments in savasana. 

I spoke briefly with instructor Maire after the class about her thoughts on the class; specifically I was interested in what I could relay from her to those interested in visiting the studio but intimidated or unsure of their fitness level or if yoga was right for them. She expressed that the open-level classes were truly fit for anyone, and that practicing yoga was about learning to work with your own body from where it is now and basing your progress on that, rather than where you fit into a group. She herself had started practicing yoga to rehabilitate an ankle injury, and has continued as a way to build strength and flexibility.  

To those naysayers who don't think you can get a good workout from yoga, I opted for the challenging modifications on most poses, and I woke up feeling like I had lifted heavy the night before. Yoga provides excellent cross-training for runners, dancers, bodybuilders, recreational athletes, and pretty much anyone else who wants to feel strong and flexible. I'm sore in the best way possible, and you can be, too. 

Classes run an hour long and are offered Monday-Thursday at 6p and 8p and Saturday-Sunday at 10a and 12p. Additional class times are possible in the future as the studio grows. For quality yoga classes without the pretense at an unbeatable price (whatever you can afford), MYoga is a valuable resource to be treasured.  You have nothing to lose by attending a class, and everything to gain! I happily can attest to MYoga's decidedly inviting and un-snobby environment. Go to stretch, get strong, and get connected with your body. I'll see you there.