UPPER EAST SIDE
980 Madison Ave., 212-561-6400
At this beautiful studio, the doors are made from imported Indonesian wood, and natural light streams in. Instructors Jude English and Isaac Pena call their vinyasa program “heart flow,” because it focuses on linking every movement with the breath and positive intention. Los Angeles yoga legend Shiva Rea flies in monthly for workshops.
UPPER WEST SIDE
- Bikram Yoga NYC
208 W. 72nd St., 212-724-7303
It’s true there’s not a lot of competition up here. But that doesn’t make Bikram any less worthy. It has a true affiliation with the Bikram Yoga College of India, and two smaller studios rather than one giant sweat factory.
- Laughing Lotus
59 W. 19th St., 212-414-2903
The friendliest yoga in town. The walls here are pink, and owners Dana Flynn and Jasmine Tarkeshi refer to themselves as mystics. No surprise, then, that the vinyasa vibe is New Agey, exuberant, and community-building, with lots of social events.
- Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York
150 W. 22nd St., 212-691-9642
Classical Iyengar yoga focuses on proper alignment and posture using props like ropes, chairs, and blocks—making it a perfect practice for beginners (sign up for Bobby Clennell’s class; she’s very patient) and athletes rehabbing injuries.
- Jivamukti Yoga Studio (vinyasa)
707 Washington St., 212-675-9642
Many popular instructors have struck out on their own, and a lot fewer A-list celebrities come, but some of the best teachers in the world still go through the training program here. Skip the overcrowded Noho flagship; it’s much easier to get into this gorgeous new satellite studio (a giant Union Square space will open in May).
- The Shala
815 Broadway, 212-979-9988
OM across the street is better known, but you’ll have a more intimate experience here. The draw here is the two directors, Barbara Verrochi and Kristin Leigh, and instructor Kelly Morris, all former Jivamukti stars who’ve retained a devoted following. Like their alma mater, they practice vinyasa flow, but the atmosphere is more casual.
LOWER EAST SIDE
- Bikram Yoga Lower East Side
172 Allen St., 212-353-8859
Thanks to the heat that’s integral to Bikram, most studios that follow the discipline are humid, smelly, and overly serious. Tricia Donegan’s is peppy and bright, with big windows, exposed brick, and hot-pink walls. The schedule is packed with classes, and the crowd is hip—it’s yoga for the tattoo-and-piercings set.
- Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute
430 Broome St., ayri.org/new-york.html
This slightly secretive second-floor studio run by Eddie Stern, a direct disciple of guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois from Mysore, is for hard-core yogis only—don’t bother trying to join unless you’re willing to attend three times a week. The practice is ashtanga—a set series of fast-paced poses that are muscle-building and aerobic.
- Kula Yoga Project
28 Warren St., 212-945-4460
Crowds flock here for instructor Schuyler Grant, whose “freestyle vinyasa” practice is known for its creative sequencing—she mixes up the usual order of poses.
- HipJoint Yoga Studio
281 N. 7th St., Ste. 7, 917-497-1066
Lara Warren follows the classical philosophy taught by B.K.S. Iyengar (slow standing poses done with strict alignment, the use of props)—and she’s been through five rigorous levels of training. She teaches at the Iyengar Yoga Institute in Chelsea, but her Brooklyn classes are smaller—four to sixteen students—with lots of neighborhood regulars.
- Area Emporium and Spa
281 Smith St., 718-522-1906
This mellow, friendly vinyasa-flow studio matches its neighborhood perfectly. Several teachers are Jivamukti-trained: Lesley Desaulniers and April Martucci are the most in demand for open classes; Stephanie Creaturo is great for basics.
Om Near Home
The best yoga studios by neighborhood.
From the 2006 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).