Kula Yoga Project, known for its ass-kicking classes and seriously intelligent teachers, is opening a second studio. Come September 16th, Nikki Vilella, a long-time teacher at the popular Tribeca studio, will partner with Kula-founder Schuyler Grant in heading up Kula Yoga Project Williamsburg. That’s big news for a tiny studio—and great news for half the Kula faculty, which pretty much resides in the hipster hood.
It’s not a franchise, clarifies Vilella, a Columbia economics grad who’s always wanted to run a studio. “It definitely feels very much like Kula. Teachers are the same. The cramped changing rooms are still the same,” she jokes, before divulging what will set it apart:
Kula Williamsburg has showers (one per change room)—“sometimes you want to go out after your vigorous yoga practice,” says Vilella—as well as a sauna, which evokes that communal yoga retreat feeling.
And while Kula Tribeca has a more of a Moroccan vibe, Kula Williamsburg pulls from a Catskills country house aesthetic. Literally. To add reclaimed wood floors to the bare concrete space, Grant and Vilella bought a farmhouse slated for demolition. They ended up hauling back a giant barn door that now separates one of the two practice studios from the lobby, as well as beautiful banister, carriage lights, and a circular stained glass window.
The new studio will also have a small Hyde Yoga shop, the first for the NYC yoga clothing line, and a vegetarian café and juice bar called the Shanti Shack. “Creating a place to hang out after class was definitely a goal,” says Vilella, which is why the Chelsea-Market-type location in the Old Mill Building at North 3rd Street was chosen. “It’s not just about practicing next to other people. For a lot of yogis, the purple fuzzy couch in Tribeca studio has become a hangout. We wanted to build out the community hangout options here.”
The new studio has come along in just two months and is news to a lot of New York City yogis. Even those practicing at Kula, like Andrea Aguilar. “I only just learned the news. And it came as a very nice surprise,” says Aguilar. “I’m completely hooked on Kula and have happily crossed the river to take classes. Now, to know that I will only have to cross a couple of blocks, makes me very happy.”
Kula’s not been purposefully closed lipped about it, says Vilella, who’s been nose to the management grindstone, trying to create the new studio class schedule with 17 yoga teachers. But Kula’s expansion into Brooklyn isn’t the only news, it seems: Word is that the Wanderlust Festival, co-created by Grant, is also expanding. (And we hope to bring you early intel on that, too. Stay tuned!) —Melisse Gelula
Kula Yoga Project Williamsburg, 85 N. 3rd St., between Berry and Wythe, opens on September 25. Attend free classes all day long and stick around for a party. For more information, visit www.kulayoga.com