Last week, on a gallery-dotted block in West Chelsea, Yoga 216 opened its doors, welcoming New Yorkers into its chic, carefully-designed space—and to experience its vision of what a yoga studio should be.
“We wanted it to be a holistic sanctuary, a sort of wellness home,” says owner Nicole Katz, who taught private yoga sessions before opening the studio.
So instead of packing students in mat-to-mat, classes are capped at six, allowing for personal attention and freedom from flying elbows.
And rather than buying individual classes ($35), yogis are encouraged to purchase monthly memberships ($475 per month), which grants you full access to the studio’s amenities and services.
Which, by the way, extend beyond yoga. Katz is certified in Structural Yoga Therapy (SYT) and the three full-time yoga teachers she hired all have secondary superpowers—like massage and acupuncture training—so you won’t have to go elsewhere for bodywork.
The yoga classes are what Katz calls “alignment-based flow” and come in three formats—Burner, Learner, and Fast—all 50-minutes long, and offered in both hot and non-hot rooms. (They also offer daily donation-based classes.)
Our instructor, Kate Baldwin, kept the sequencing clear, simple, and focused on two elements throughout class, asking us to practice “yoga now” (inner yoga) and note what our spines were up to in poses (physical alignment yoga).
In such a tiny class, we were surprised to get few hands-on adjustments from Baldwin, but Katz says that won’t always be so, although her approach does caution against a strong touch. “As a general rule, SYT teaches that assists be done with a touch or light palm to guide the student to find alignment from the inside, instead of from outside force,” she explains.
The studio is full of special touches like reclaimed barn-wood benches in the lobby with cubbies that hide your shoes, post-class Ayurvedic tea, private changing rooms, and a divine Moroccan-tiled shower.
Of course, this might not be enough to lure yogis from the far corners of the city, but it might make a huge difference for those used to “studios that typically hold 50 yogis in a room,” says Katz, and those living in West Chelsea.
“This neighborhood is really developing residentially, but there’s no yoga studio west of Eighth Avenue,” says Katz, whose gallery district location is just a few blocks from the BBS, the neighborhood’s lone boutique fitness studio.
But if our class was any indication, the studio is not going to have an attendance problem. On the mat next to ours was an Emmy-winning TV star, proudly donning his Yoga 216 T-shirt, and clearly already wooed by the intimate studio’s charms. —Lisa Elaine Held
Yoga 216, 511 W. 20th Street, btwn 10th and 11th Aves., West Chelsea, yoga216.com