When it comes to hot yoga in New York City, there are now a dozen-plus sweaty styles. They range from holding Bikram’s 26 poses in a 105-degree room (it’s still the most practiced hot style) to a fast-paced vinyasa at 100 degrees and an alignment-based flow at a cool 90.
Why tell you this now, when the average outdoor temperatures have been 90? While it sounds counter-intuitive, summer is actually a great time to do hot yoga. After class, the city air feels downright chilly. (Or, surprisingly manageable.)
To help you discover your hot yoga personality, we put on tiny shorts and cleared out our pores all over town. Introducing, your guide to New York’s hot yoga scene. —Lisa Elaine Held
(Note: This is round-up of the 14 major hot yoga players. We couldn’t hit every Bikram joint in all five boroughs without fainting early on.)
Photo Credit: Yoga to the People, Allen Ying Photography
Most Bikram yoga studios tend to be bare bones and thick with the smell of sweat-soaked carpet. But BYHS is like the Four Seasons of Bikram studios: It has a special no-scent floor, spacious showers, amenities like free mats and towels, and it sells their own line of green juice.
And teachers take a non-pedantic tact: “[Bikram yoga] gets a bad rap because of teachers yelling at students, and we’re not about that,” owner Gregory Weglarski says. “It’s your journey. The teacher is here just to guide you.”
139 W. 35th St., Herald Square, $30 per class, www.bikramyogaheraldsquare.com
Bikram Yoga Lower East Side
The LES studio and its crowd ooze gritty, downtown, tattooed cool—including charismatic owner, Tricia Donegan (AKA Lady Gaga’s yoga teacher). Donegan’s not just calling out poses. She’s an inspiring orator who offers questions and coaching that make you turn your gaze inward. And her spirituality is practical, not out there. It extends to actions like giving back, with studio events like Nite Sweats that benefit the Lower East Side Girls Club.
172 Allen St., Lower East Side, $25 per class, www.bikramyogales.com
Bikram Yoga NYC
If Bikram had an official New York headquarters, this would be it. It was the city’s first location, and it now has four—Flatiron, Midtown, Upper East Side, and Upper West Side—all faithfully teaching the set of 26 poses in 90-minute classes. You’ll spot owners Donna Rubin and Jennifer Lobo on stage facilitating Bikram Choudhury-sponsored events like the Yoga Asana Championship. Bonus: They offer select $8 classes to meet “recession needs.”
4 locations, $25 per class, www.bikramyoganyc.com
If you dig a small, community studio feel, this studio near the 59th Street Bridge has it. Classes max out at 25 students, but mine, during non-peak hours, had just six and included tons of personal attention and helpful adjustments, something that’s incredibly hard to find in the hot world.
Class feels like a moderately-paced vinyasa flow, with great music (our playlist included ’90s alt rock and Gotye) to carry you through. And a roster of impressive instructors teach at Earth, like Isauro Fernandez, Halle Becker, and Matt Giordano.
328 E. 61st St., Upper East Side, $29 per class, www.earthyoganyc.com
Canadian import Moksha Yoga has close to 70 locations around the world. It opened its first New York studio in 2012 and has plans for more with its strong eco-focus. (The New York studio has a sustainable cork studio floor and energy-efficient washers and dryers, for example.)
The practice involves 40 postures and three class styles: in Moksha Flow the poses blend together like in a slow vinyasa; in Moksha, each pose is held for several breaths; and in Hot Yin, you hold poses for 3-5 minutes for crazy deep stretching. Expect mat-to-mat contact at this hot, hot studio.
434 Sixth Avenue, West Village, $20 per class, www.nyc.mokshayoga.ca
New York Yoga
This local Upper East Side joint has two locations—one hot, one not. The hot studio, on Lexington, is small and no frills. Classes are a moderately paced vinyasa flow and allow room for attempting more challenging balance poses, like headstand—a characteristic that’s rare in the heated world.
You should know: The locker room is tiny with just one small shower. It’s really a studio best suited to neighborhood dwellers who can walk home looking like they went for a swim.
132 E. 85th St., Upper East Side, $27 per class, www.newyorkyoga.com
Prana Power Yoga
Boston-based founder Taylor Wells, who has two Master’s degrees, five yoga studios, and five kids, is a force to be reckoned with—and so is the yoga method she created.
It’s the fastest version of a vinyasa flow I’ve ever done in a hot room, so much so that I had to stop a few times to rest in child’s pose. With your heart rate up that high in the humidity, breathing can feel impossible. But rocking loud playlists carry you through, and after, you feel like a million bucks.
Prana is based in Massachusetts but has locations in both Brooklyn and Manhattan.
229 Smith St., Boerum Hill; 862 Broadway, Union Square, $18 per class, www.pranapoweryoga.com
Pure’s swanky uptown studios are sophisticated and spa-like, appealing to those who appreciate marble showers, Zen relaxation lounges, and cool eucalyptus towels after class.
The collection of heated classes are excitingly varied, and the instructors are super intelligent. Loren Bassett and Scott Harig teach Hot Power Yoga, a fast-paced, dynamic vinyasa that’s decidedly not for beginners and includes rockin’ playlists. (There’s a Hot Slow Flow to build endurance.) And Isauro Fernandez’s Ki Power Vinyasa, melds yoga with martial arts. Pure even does a hot version of its barre workout, Figure 4.
203 E. 86th St, Upper East Side; 204 W. 77th St., Upper West Side; Membership rates vary, www.pureyoga.com
The Yoga Room
Queens can get sweaty, too. Proof? The class variety at the Yoga Room’s two locations in Astoria and Long Island City. There’s standard Bikram (a requisite 105 degrees), Hot Vinyasa (90 degrees), and Hot Yoga Flow (100 degrees), a you-can-have-it-all option that combines the static postures of a Bikram class with vinyasa.
And the studios are the best of what the oft-forgotten borough has to offer. They’re pretty, spacious, and feel homey and community-driven.
38-01 35th Ave., Astoria, 10-14 47th Rd., Long Island City, $20 per class, www.the-yoga-room.com
U! Yoga Studios
This new Canal Street studio has an old-school sweetness, and at $10 per class, your hot yoga habit might actually not cause you to go bankrupt. It’s a tiny studio without amenities, and class styles vary with the instructor, although the general approach is gentle and accessible. You’ll get lots of cues about how your practice is yours alone, meaning you don’t need to push through a sequence if you’re overheated (or competitive). The team also offers Hot Mat Pilates.
264 Canal St., Chinatown, $10 per class, www.uyoganyc.com
Williamsburg’s Y7 is so new we haven’t even been to its permanent Brooklyn home yet. (It’s currently offering classes in a temporary space until its August opening.)
The boutique studio is trying to be the SoulCycle of yoga (like Westchester’s YogaSpark, but with less moms, and more hipsters). Think darkness, bumping hip-hop beats, and a fast, strength-building (and heart-rate raising) vinyasa flow.
Temporary location at 143 Roebling St., Williamsburg; Permanent location, opening in August at 88 N. 1st St, Williamsburg, $22 per class, www.y7-studio.com
At the boutique-y Yoga 216 in the West Chelsea gallery district, you store your shoes in a pretty wooden bench and can sip tea or schedule a massage or acupuncture after class. That’s just part of the amenity-laden experience that includes yoga mats, showers, towel service, filtered water in the price, and draws members.
Expect a precise, alignment-based flow in a room with just six people or fewer, which means ample adjustments and intimacy. The “non-heated” classes are set at a toasty 85 degrees.
511 W. 20th St., West Chelsea, $35 per class, www.yoga216.com
Yoga to the People
YTP is a populist city institution known for creating lines of mat-toting students and boho types that stretch down St. Mark’s. It now has six locations in the city, all of which are pretty bare bones, although some have showers while others don’t.
Its popular heated class, 26 Plus 6 Hot Yoga, was recently tweaked so that it differed more from Bikram’s (after a lengthy legal battle). But you can still expect 26 mostly static poses and two breathing exercises. Classes are either 60 or 90 minutes.
Various locations, $8 per class, www.yogatothepeople.com
Photo Credit: Allen Ying Photograpy