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Exhale’s yoga program gets a West Coast-style shake-up

Isaac Pena
Isaac Pena returns to Exhale where he started his teaching career

“It’s always been home to me, and I’m so excited to be back,” says Isaac Peña, who returned to the Exhale yoga schedule last week, after launching his teaching career there about six years ago.

While Peña’s return is the final arc in his own circle, it also points to a new direction for Exhale’s yoga program, which has been undergoing lots of recent changes in New York.

Erin Jacques, the brand’s national yoga director, will be leaving soon to start SLT Yoga, and she’ll be replaced by Stefanie Eris. David Romanelli, of Yoga for Foodies fame, added an additional regular class to his schedule at Exhale, and Peña says more changes are brewing.

Why? The demand for yoga classes at Exhale is growing, explains Lis Halfpapp, Exhale’s executive vice president of movement programming.

“I think they’re really rebuilding their yoga program, and I’m hopefully going to be a big part of that,” says Peña, who admittedly is recruiting other yoga-teacher friends to join him, although he remained mum on who they might be.

Peña will be teaching three classes a week, and says he was given free reign to teach his own style. “I just get to walk in and do what I do.”

That’s always been Exhale’s way on the West Coast, where big name yogis like Shiva Rea and Erich Schiffman “do what they do best.”

The brand hasn’t really implemented this strategy in New York, where there are “so many star instructors.” But now Halfpapp sees this growth period as an opportunity for “embracing a variety of styles” and working with “teachers who teach other teachers.”

With these developments and instructor recruits, we could see the yoga program becoming more like the powerhouse one on the West Coast.