Without electricity in downtown New York, wellness businesses thrive by candlelight

A power outage isn't stopping lower Manhattan's wellness-focused businesses from opening their doors to stressed and saddened New Yorkers.
YinOva center candlelight wellness New York City
The YinOva Center’s Mary Sabo administers acupuncture by candlelight.


Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, The YinOva Center in Union Square doesn’t have power. But that isn’t stopping them from seeing a steady stream of patients in need of acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine services. Jill Blakeway, Noah Rubenstein, and their team are administering acupuncture by candlelight. It’s a case of spa convention turned necessity.

“One patient roller-bladed 60 blocks to reach us,” says Jonathan Welch, YinOva’s director of media and development. “We started using candles because we had to, but we’re finding it to be soothing and beneficial for those who walk into our center.”

It turns out that instead of waiting for Con Ed turns the lights back on, many downtown wellness-focused businesses are opening anyway, offering bodywork, yoga, and fitness classes by maximizing sunlight, lighting candles, and even adopting a BYOW (water) philosophy.

Yoga PR maven Ava Taylor is seeing this resiliency in New York’s yoga community, describing downtown studios opening for even a couple of daily classes and instructors trekking across the bridges to teach them. “The past few days I’ve watched a fractured network come together to support yoga and the safe haven it provides for New Yorkers. We may actually be losing money, but we are serving.” And these services are probably just what lower Manhattan residents need.

The first post-hurricane yoga class at Kula Yoga in Tribeca.

In West Chelsea, the city’s newest yoga studio, Yoga 216, succeeded in drying out its flooded ground-floor location. Despite an on-going lack of electricity, owner Nicole Katz and her team are now offering hour-long candlelit classes daily, at 5:00 p.m. Classes are free, although the studio is taking donations for hurricane relief efforts.

“Our community has been hit super hard as most of Chelsea is still pumping water and is without power or cell service,” Katz says. “We’re trying to help out in the best way we know how.”

Om Factory’s 37th Street location has taken in the Laughing Lotus hurricane refugees, and Circuit of Change is hosting one “unplugged” mind-body bootcamp class a day at its West 16th Street studio. Sacred Sounds Yoga in Greenwich Village is hosting daylight classes only.

Across town in Tribeca, Kula Yoga Project‘s dedicated teachers have been biking across the Brooklyn Bridge in order to offer two daily yoga classes (11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.) during the time sunlight streams through the windows. On Facebook, they’re encouraging yogis to bring flashlights for the stairwells, and to “DRESS WARM!!!”

Nearby on Leonard Street, Bari is offering its cardio-toning workout by candlelight and is toting its classes to Union Street Dance in Park Slope for Brooklynites.

All of these efforts are providing New Yorkers with needed stress relief—and a sense of community and connectedness.

“Living without power or light, while inconvenient, takes us all back to basics—community, generosity, inner strength, maintaining peace, nourishing ourselves—and forces us to re-think and re-calibrate everything in our lives,” says celeb life coach and Handel Group president Laurie Gerber (who says she’s been keeping her coaching services going with clients via “Skype or smoke signal”). “We are finding ourselves temporarily more connected (in ways more than technological), more grateful, more resourceful, and more creative.”

That’s one aspect of Sandy we’ll want to hang on to while—and after—we rebuild. —Lisa Elaine Held

Are you getting your wellness by candlelight or would you? Tell us in the Comments, below.

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