Bikram yoga studios are not exactly known for their modern design, abundant amenities, or fresh, clean air. But the city’s newest (and literal) fitness hot spot—Bikram Yoga Herald Square—is here to change that.
BYHS opened in mid-December with architect-turned-Ashtangi-turned-Bikram-believer Gregory Weglarski at its helm. At 5,000 square feet, the studio is the largest Bikram facility in New York—and it’s Architectural Digest worthy.
It’s also the most luxe, with creature comforts yogis might find at the city’s most swish studios: “I would describe us as an all-inclusive Bikram studio,” Weglarski explains. “We offer mats and towels with all the packages and filtered water, so you don’t have to lug anything,”he says. (The $30 single class rate reflects that. Other Bikram studios charge $25, but charge fees for water and towels.) “All you have to do is come in in your yoga clothes and practice.”
We stopped by for a debut sweat session. Here’s what you’ll find at this high-brow Bikram studio:
Design. Weglarski used his design and construction background to create a space that flows beautifully. It’s airy and spacious with white-washed and dark wood walls and accents, and the studio holds up to 100 mats comfortably. There’s a wall made of reclaimed barn wood from Kentucky, and the reception has a “grass” carpet (they tested 12 fake grass samples before settling on this one), so that when you shed your shoes it feels like you’re walking in a meadow.
Cleanliness. If cleanliness is next to godliness, then you may find Krishna here. Yes, the studio has the benefit of being new, but it also has everything in place to keep it spotless. Instead of a carpet that inevitably turns funky, Weglarski used a type of vinyl called Flotex that’s popular in hospitals because it doesn’t absorb liquid. It feels like carpet, looks like wood paneling, and is, in fact, neither. “Everything stays on the surface, which makes it easy to clean,” he says. “So, no smell!” (Bikram Yoga NYC uses an older version of the same material.) Also fighting potential odors are the front-and-center mat and towel drops and a dedicated room where mats are hand-washed and hung to dry after every class.
Amenities. A cushy Kulae mat and unlimited towels are included with your class price, as is filtered water (although it takes forever to fill up a bottle). The roomy women’s locker room has five showers, Malin+Goetz products (how did they become the fitness studio brand of choice?), and lockers that come with keys. Ironically, the only thing it could use more of is mirrors. (They used them all in the studio?)
Teachers, not drill instructors. Weglarski also emphasizes that he’s recruited a quality team of teachers (two of whom are World Yoga champions) to teach a “non disciplinarian” brand of Bikram. My instructor, Kara Kerek, balanced on the center line perfectly—she didn’t let students slack, but she also understood if you needed to sit for a few breaths.
“[Bikram yoga] gets a bad rap because of teachers yelling at students, and we’re not about that,” Weglarski explains. “It’s your journey, the teacher is here just to guide you. You choose to do a posture, have a drink of water, leave the room—everything is a choice, nothing is a distraction unless you make it one.” —Lisa Elaine Held
139 35th St., btwn Seventh Ave. and Broadway, Herald Square, $30 for a single class, bikramyogaheraldsquare.com