“… and some instinct, programmed by all the movies I had ever seen and all the songs I had ever heard sung and all the stories I had ever read about New York, informed me that it would never be quite the same again. In fact it never was.”
Joan Didion, Goodbye to All That
So there’s an excuse for the long-ish silence ~ I was in New York City! The intention, really, was to blog from my iPhone, but seriously, I just didn’t have the patience for two-thumb typing. I tried, I even downloaded the WordPress app and was all gung ho. But whenever I had wi-fi access, it took all my time and energy to just minimally keep up with my email and make the occasional Facebook status update/Tweet. And so… no liveblogging from NYC. I was too busy enjoying everything the city had to offer and just living.
This was my first time in NYC (ever! can you believe it?) and it was an excursion, not a Yoga Trip. Although I did manage to squeeze in a few yoga-related experiences (in addition to the MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Brooklyn Museum, walking around, drinking coffee, hanging in Central Park, watching burlesque shows and enjoying time with mon amour), including an informal yoga blogger dinner in Williamsburg with Joelle of Yoga Nation and the legendary YogaDork. We made plans for world domination, of course, and gossiped about the NYC yoga scene. I only had a chance to make it to two yoga studios:
YogaNerd class at Virayoga – As an aspiring Anusara teacher, I absolutely had to check out Virayoga (founded by Elena Brower) in SoHo and I could not resist a Tuesday morning class called YogaNerd, with the delightful Zhenja La Rosa. The description promised a class “for dedicated students who want to explore the technology of Anusara yoga with a sophisticated approach to alignment and its therapeutic applications.” That’s me! I’m not only a YogaNerd, but a bona fide regular old nerd, so I was excited when Zhenja started off the happiness-themed class by referencing a New Yorker article (which I had, of course, read because I’m also a magazine nerd). The class was focused on the tailbone and its subtleties, and I figured out a little trick to get deeper into parsvakonasana. Zhenja was a pleasant and knowledgeable teacher, with a great presence. I also loved how she called me “Roseanne Canada,” to differentiate me from another student named Roseanne.
Thursday morning class at Yoga to the People (27th St location) – I’ve been fascinated by the donation-based concept of YTTP for a long time, since I’m a believer in making yoga accessible and available to everyone. The mandate of YTTP is based on making it “possible for everyone to do yoga regardless of economic limitations. Yoga is meant to help strengthen and stretch your arms and legs, not cost you one!” Heck yeah! The 27th Street location is one of three studios in Manhattan, and classes range from $8 – $10 each (which is apparently a suggested donation, although that option wasn’t clear at the front desk). It’s a “traditional hot yoga” studio (the other locations offer “power vinyasa” and “hot power vinyasa”), but the location worked for my plans for the day and after three days in the city, I was in need of a little detoxification.
I was surprised to get off the elevator and walk into a brightly lit front desk area with classic rock radio blaring (luckily, they turned it off during the class). The place felt more like a gym than a yoga studio. The class itself featured the Bikram sequence, which surprised me – I thought it was copywritten and strictly prohibited in non-Bikram studios. I asked the teacher how they were able to teach the sequence, and apparently they get around it by offering slight variations and different language (not the “Bikram script”). Interesting.
Even though the teaching style was less aggressive than a typical Bikram class, I still felt agitated by the end. This wasn’t helped by the return of the classic rock radio. While I love me some Led Zep, I just don’t need to hear “Stairway to Heaven” as I’m coming out of savasana. I admire the ethos and vision of YTTP, but I have to admit that the overall feeling was “discount Bikram” rather than the proletariat yoga that I was expecting. Perhaps the other locations offer a better experience (with better lighting and music, too, I hope).
I just got back to Montréal last night and I’m still buzzing from the energy of the city. My favourite thing about NYC are the streets like canyons, which stretch for miles, lined with high buildings. Montréal feels like a village, so small and slow and quiet, the streets at once too narrow and too wide, the traffic too peaceful. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like I have a better understanding of how the world works, like I understand everything that is referenced everywhere in our culture – all the movies and stories and songs – and I do, on some level, feel like nothing in my life will be the same again…