Sleepy Carnegie Hill might not be the first place you’d think of to unroll your mat and get your dharma on. That’s because this family-oriented nabe has been making a secret of Five Pillars, a sun-filled gem of a yoga studio that will woo you for classes with some of the city’s top instructors—or even make the trek for them—once you learn of it.
Yes, you will flow and sweat, explains co-owner Karen Mehiel, a former business exec and self-described yoga devotee, who created the studio last year with Olga Palladino, an accomplished instructor and student of Rodney Yee’s. But you’ll also walk out with a deeper understanding of the five pillars, a prescription inspired by the Sivananda school of yoga that includes the right movement, right nutrition, right breathing, right intention, and right relaxation.
“We wanted to make a place where it was a 360-degree experience in relation to the five pillars: The more you practice these five tenets, the more you give off that energy to the next person. It’s about self-love and self-care so when we go outside we can pay it forward,” explains Mehiel.
A class size limit of 26 helps ensure you get the instructor corrections you need from the seasoned yoga stars—hand-picked by co-founder and managing teacher Palladino—like Isaac Pena and Lauren Harris, as well as downtown gurus like David Regelin, making his uptown debut.
“The places up here are more of the workout yoga places, which is fine,” she says. “But I like to bring some of that peaceful energy into play, whether it’s a reading or talking or chanting.” This is where the dharma comes in, says Palladino, who encourages teachers to include a spiritual aspect in class.
“We’re trying to encourage that feeling of being a family,” adds Mehiel, whom you might spot in downward dog on a nearby yoga mat during class. “We want to create the idea that you’ve been taken care of.”
“It’s like doing yoga at home, but better,” Palladino says. Though in person, it actually seems less like home (no piles of mail and dishes in the sink) and more like a luxe boutique hotel: cushy, inch-thick yoga mats, sumptuous hand towels, free water, and Jo Malone bathroom products, which are all included in the $28 class fee.
Word-of mouth is spreading quickly about specialty offerings like Yoga Therapeutics, which is offered in a class setting instead of one-on-one (Five Pillars says they’re the only studio in the city to do so). And there are currently plans for meditation workshops and lectures later this year.
Add to this a curated boutique—thoughtfully assembled by Mehiel, with made-in-America-only brands like Nesh and Row 22, and artisanal snacks and elixirs—and Five Pillars might not stay under the radar for long. —Amanda Benchley
Five Pillars, 1298 Madison Ave., 2nd Floor, New York, NY, 10128, 212-426-6111, www.fivepillarsyoga.com
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