My journey through Flatiron fitness classes brought me to the Y7 yoga studio on W 23rd Street. Y7, the "Original Hip-Hop Yoga Studio", combines candlelit hot yoga with hip-hop music. A quick read through their website lets you know what kind of experience is in store for you. "The darkness, the sounds, and the heat will take you to a place you’ve never before been. Join us for the best hour of your day. Leave here feeling strong, clear and ready to take on whatever the city has in store for you. Take a class and never look back". To be totally honest I had no idea what to expect, bringing our receptionist Victoria along with me.
It had been while since I'd taken a real yoga class and I had no experience with hot yoga, so I was quite intimidated walking into Y7. The studio is very trendy, with exposed brick and graphic art donning the walls. The class space is definitely warm, and it's dark. Candles line the room, providing the only source of light aside from the glow of the heaters. I asked the girls at the front counter what advice they had and, in unison, they said "bring water" (thank you!).
The class is done in the vinyasa style, which is a method of yoga where movements and poses are done in a flowing, coordinated sequence. The instructor goes though a series of poses that is then repeated several times slowly to learn the movements, again at a quicker pace, and then on your own pace (at which point the hip hop music is turned up). Once that set is completed the instructor starts again with a new series of poses, throughout the hour long class we went through four different sets. This class welcomes all levels, but it is not a beginner class. It moves at a pretty quick pace so having a prior yoga experience and knowledge of different poses and their names is recommended. The instructor did demonstrate pose variations, such as modified beginner versions and more challenging/advanced versions, but the series themselves and the pace that we kept was difficult with my little experience. When we were going through the movements at our own pace there were moments when I forgot what move came next and had to take a look around to room to get back on track. That being said, I had an amazing time. My arms were shaking, sweat was pouring down my face, and my lungs felt like they might burst. When the class was finished, I laid on the mat and felt my whole body shake with each heavy heartbeat.
Regardless of the fatigue, I felt incredibly accomplished and proud of what I had been able to do. The class is an awesome, judgment free space, in part due to the darkness, but also due to the intensity of the class and focus invested in each movement. Because it's so challenging, it's hard to care what anyone else is doing! There are no mirrors in the room so the experience is rooted in what you're personally feeling and experiencing in the moment. The instructor walks you though each movement, as well as acts as a guide in pulling you away from everyday struggles in order to focus entirely on yourself in that moment. The music and energy pairs incredibly well with the class, encouraging you to push harder and go longer then I thought physically possible. This is not an easy, zen yoga class - but it is one that will shake up your soul and push your limits. As I write this I'm looking at the schedule to see when I can go back!
My Skill Level:
What to bring:
- Comfortable yoga clothes that let you move, the class is done barefoot or in socks (bring yoga socks if you have them)
- A yoga mat and towel, both can be rented from the studio and both are an absolute must (I used the towel a lot more than I expected)
- A lot of water! This is HOT yoga, making it incredibly important to stay hydrated throughout the class
- A post workout snack, make sure to replenish with a good dose of protein post class
What to expect:
The room is warm, between 80 and 90 degrees so get ready to sweat. Also prepare to have shaking arms, sore shoulders and abs, and to walk out feeling ready to conquer the world!
Y7 offers several options for their yoga classes, which can be bought in packages, an unlimited membership, as well as a single class ($25). They also offer towel and mat rentals for an additional $5.
From the Chiropractor:
The mindfulness, breathing, balance, strength, and flexibility that you can cultivate through yoga practice (even it's most recent iterations) is a great counterbalance to our generally static life of sitting hunched over, breathing shallowly through our shoulders, hips tight and core completely collapsed.
Now, combine that with some serious beats, candle light, and an infrared heating system set above 80 degrees and what do you get? Well, you get a New York yoga high.
3 Reasons This Class Rocks
- Your heart rate is up (even though you're not doing burpees). The heat in the room keeps your circulatory system pumping to try to cool you down.
- Your muscles feel it. The balance and body strength needed for yoga flow calls upon your muscles to work in unique ways.
- Its addicting. If you're the type who considers fusion fitness fun and loves the edgy aethetics of popular boutique fitness classes, then you'll probably love this = you'll be motivated to keep up your workout routine.
3 Things to keep in mind
- Hydrate BEFORE class: You should always be well hydrated. It's a suuuper easy way to go from feeling 'meh' to feeling awesome. BUT, this goes double if you're going to be doing a hot sweaty workout. Just don't gulp down a liter right before class - a sloshing tummy full of water does not go well with sun salutations.
- RE - Hydrate AFTER class: You were sweating. A lot. Rehydrate with water AND electrolytes. Bonus Points for making your electrolyte cocktail instead of opting for highly processed drinks like Gatorade/Powerade. How? It's as simple as Water + Citrus fruit (sliced) + Sea Salt (1 pinch of the good stuff) + a little raw honey for flavor. Another option? Raw coconut water, from young coconuts (not the heat processed stuff that is sold shelf stable & made from old nutrient-depleted coconuts).
- CROSS TRAIN : Yoga has many benefits, but be wary of too much of a good thing. Cross training will help strengthen different parts of your body in different ways and will not only keep you stronger and keep your metabolism burning longer, but it can prevent repetitive injuries caused by doing the same workout multiple times a week.
Bottom Line: This class is edgy enough to keep fitness addicts intrigued while still giving you some of the great benefits of yoga. Just be sure to limit your yoga to a couple times per week and cross train!
Header photo courtesy of the Flatiron District Partnership