Many people, myself included, take the term “group exercise class” very seriously. Meaning, I don’t go unless I have a friend tagging along. Call me crazy, but I need to have that moral support when I’m exercising in front of a group of strangers and the instructor can zero in on me at any second. I know from working at a gym that most instructors don’t judge (unless you show up to spinning class in cutoff jeans and hiking sneakers), but you never know about the other participants.
If you’re like me, then you’ll understand why I dragged my best friend, Liz, to a new yoga class when she came to visit me in NYC. After arriving at 42nd Street at 12:30a.m. on a Friday night, you’d think I’d let her snag some extra shut-eye the next day, right? Wrong. We were up bright and early to head to Tara Stiles’ Strala Yoga in NoHo.
Now, before you start thinking I’m a huge yoga guru, let me make it clear that yoga has never been on the top of my priority list (same goes for Liz). I usually forget to stretch before and after my workouts (I know it’s important; I’m getting better, I promise!), so contorting my body into various positions and holding them peacefully is not one of my strengths. But I’m here to give you the scoop, so I knew it was time to give it a shot. Not to mention I didn’t want to miss a chance to work out with one of the most prominent yoga instructors in the nation.
Although the “Strong” class is normally an hour and 15 minutes long, I was only there for 45 minutes (due to unexpected subway construction) and I still got a sweat-inducing, muscle-blasting workout. Tara took us through a variety of poses that didn’t just stretch the muscles. We did core, leg and butt exercises that really strengthened the muscles as well. By the end, my tank top was drenched with sweat.
Tara was also extremely nice and helpful with each class participant. She corrected my form when necessary, as a good instructor should, but she didn’t point it out to the rest of the class. In the middle of a pose, she quietly walked over and adjusted my body. And to make things less embarrassing, she cracked a joke and always had a bright smile. Her husband, Michael Taylor, was also extremely welcoming. It was jaw-dropping to see him do many advanced yoga poses despite already knowing that he has studied and practiced Eastern movement and healing techniques for over two decades.
Although all these things are great, I haven’t even gotten to the best part: the price. Yoga classes in NYC are typically $20 per class and can be close to $300 a month if you’re a regular goer. But Strala Yoga offers a unique, affordable opportunity: $10 a class.
“I want to make yoga affordable for everyone so that it can be something that’s easily integrated into everyday life,” Stiles told me after class. “We make the classes enjoyable and affordable, so we always have people coming back for more.”
Sounds good to me.
This really could be the best deal around. So if you’re in NYC, pick up your yoga mat (or rent one there for $2) and head over to Strala Yoga. Look for me while you’re there — I’ll probably be the girl near the back trying to accomplish the basic Eagle Pose.