Yoga In Manhattan

Learn where to take a yoga class in Manhattan. Knowing about different yoga schools would save you time and money.

Face it, yoga has turned from weird to cool. Fitness enthusiasts are using this century-old Eastern philosophy as a workout soul-mate. Studies continue to reveal yoga's many health benefits - it can make the muscles stronger and is able to keep the mind more focused and clear. Physical exercise with some spiritual elements seems like a good stress-relieving and body-toning option for a lot of New Yorkers. Modern devotees range from hard-working execs, trying to keep their bodies functioning on a healthy mode, to image-conscious actresses, striving for thinner thighs.

There are about a hundred different yoga instruction places in Manhattan, which sprang like mushrooms to accommodate the new trend. How can you choose where to try a class? Here is a description of classes in three popular yoga schools in the city. All three offer lessons that are very different from one another.

JIVAMUKTI

If you are looking for physically challenging and slightly meditative form of yoga, try Jivamukti. You won't be alone. Each week, more than 2000 people visit the Jivamukti yoga center on 404 Lafayette street (new uptown location opening soon). Featured in New York Times, BBC, ABC, New York magazine and Yoga Journal, and frequented by Madonna, Christy Turlington, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sting, Jivamukti features about 10 classes a day, both open and basics.

Center's instructors recommend that beginners take at least three months of basic classes before attempting an open class, and they also advise all students to sign up for in-class private lesson once a month.

In class-private lessons are unique to this place. They give the yoga student the opportunity to get closer supervision and light aromatherapy while perfecting the asanas. Jivamukti offers many other options for self-pampering, ranging from private classes to the full-body massages.

The word "Jivamukti" is derived from Sanskrit for "living liberation". Jivamukti center was found in 1989 by yoga teachers David Life and Sharon Gannon, who stretched the boundaries of tradition by blending a challenging yoga workout with Sanskrit chanting and rock'n'roll.



After your arrival to Jivamukti, the friendly personnel behind the copper desk will collect from you 17 dollars for a class (with 1.50 $ surcharge for a mat). Afterwards, you can check out the Jivamukti store with books, CDs and yoga equipment, or proceed to the locker rooms, which are located behind the 10- foot tall waterfall, that splashes down the terra-cotta wall into a narrow pool. The scent of musky incense hangs in the air.

SIVANANDA

Sivananda yoga is based on the philosophy of Swami Sivananda, who taught disciples to "serve, love, give, purify, mediate, realize". In order to achieve this goal, Sivananda advocated a path that would recognize and synthesize each level of human experience, including the intellect, heart, body and mind. In 1957, his disciple, Swami Vishnu-Devananda, introduced his teachings to the American audience, and as a result, Sivananda yoga centers opened in the US and internationally.

The Sivananda yoga theory is based on five principles: proper exercise (asana), proper breathing (paranayama), proper relaxation (savasana), proper diet (vegetarian), and positive thinking (vedanta) with meditation (dhyana). Sivananda center on 243 West 24th street follows these principles.

Because Sivananda is a non-profit organization, the classes cost only $5, but they always accept donations. Except for the open classes, this center offers yoga courses for beginners and advanced students, teachers training course, satsang and meditation classes. Sivananda also conducts various workshops on subjects ranging from the headstand to the breathing, or Ayurveda. The center also has a yoga retreat located in the Catskill Mountains. Sivananda's boutique features an extensive collection of books on spirituality and yoga, as well as tapes, T-shirts and incense sticks.

The Sivananda center looks like a little wooden house, which seems a bit unusual, considering its location in the middle of Manhattan. The minute you step into this yoga place, vibes of the good energy and relaxation begin to flow through your body. Everything at Sivananda makes you feel at home immediately - a fat orange cat, stretching on the floor, the incense, the sounds of Indian chants and the smell of food (you can purchase a vegetarian meal for 7 bucks.)

Sivananda's classes are small, they contain about 10-12 students, who are usually nice and smiling.

YOGA ZONE

Yoga Zone was established in 1992 by Alan and Greta Fischer, and since then has been featured in publications, such as New York magazine, GQ and Allure, which called it "the best yoga center in New York".

The Yoga Zone's system is ISHTA yoga - an acronym for the Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra and Ayurveda. This system as Alan Fischer's invention, which occurred as a result of his 38-year yoga practice under Sivananda and the tantric hermit Barati. ISHTA is designed to help students of all levels of fitness to integrate their individual sensations with a life-energy force.

Currently there are two Yoga Zone studios in Manhattan, located downtown (138 Fifth avenue) and midtown (160 e. 56 street.) It looks very modern, except for the fact that they don't have showers and actual locker rooms. Instead, there are individual dressing rooms with curtains. The asana practice room is large, with carpeted floor, podium, yoga mats and various props. The staff is very friendly and helpful.

Yoga Zone offers beginners orientations, teachers' training programs, and yoga classes for the beginners as well as for more advanced students. On average, Yoga Zone conducts 8 classes a day, with about 10 students in every class. The center also features a little boutique that sells Yoga Zone's own line of clothing, as well as tapes and props.

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