My First Time: Park Slope Yoga Center

Fully bracing for the eye rolls and “yeah rights,” I enjoy working out on vacation. It balances out the excess of eating and drinking that I perform on vacay (sort of), there is way more time to fit in a good workout, and it feels like a field trip when you work out at a studio in a new town. It’s  also the best time to try a new class that will potentially make you look like an idiot, because you have way less of a chance of running into these people again.

YogaWorks in Los Angeles had reinvigorated my long-dormant yoga phase, so I decided to continue this that during a trip to New York.  Whereas I generally hit up a class I’m terrified to try on my home turf, the Zumba class was offered at 7PM, and that’s prime food and alcohol consumption time in my world.

I enter the studio pre-blissed due to being on vacation, which was only enhanced by the two hours I just spent at the tea shop downstairs writing and sipping on herbal. Yeah - it was a Brooklyn sort of morning. I’m only mildly hungover from the dirty martinis that marked a mini-college reunion the night before, so all in all, I’m as ready to work out as I will ever be on vacation.

I select a Vinyasa Flow class, because if it isn’t already clear, I don’t have the attention span to hold long poses during Hatha. Deal finder that I am, I find a “try a class for $5” promotion. Listen, I generally feel bad about taking a discount class that is supposed to be a marketing play for locals, but A.) Make that a condition of the discount and B.) I’m sure I’ll move to New York at some point soon/be back visiting and come to a class. Or so I tell myself to sleep at night.

The studio is small, and there are mirrors that help immensely with form. From all angles, you can see the instructor’s demonstrations.

The women in this class are ser-i-ous. We’re talking Lulu Lemon wearing, water bottle toting, organic diaper using, in better shape at 40 than I was at 20 moms who yoga. My Target yoga gear and mild martini hangover feel incredibly out of place, so I find a place closest to the fan in the back.

Nope. No hiding here in the mid-day class of 8. While this is not the class to take for just some relaxing stretching and strengthening, it is the perfect class to take for a boot-camp on form. Often times with the flow, it’s easy to cheat the moves a bit, or inadvertently get out of form because bodies aren’t built to twist like that. Sasha was on her feet correcting poses throughout the whole class, and offering modifications when needed. She even paused the class briefly between flows to point out a mild overall form problem that was common in the room, and that little tweak made all the difference.

An interesting fact about me is that I once dislocated my shoulder running.  More accurately, I dislocated my shoulder when I tripped over a dog while I was running, and it required an emergency room visit, surgery, and physical therapy.  As I didn’t quite place ample importance on physical therapy at the age of 17, the shoulder never really healed, and it has limited rotation and pops out every now and then.  Damn dog.

Anyway, I bring this story up not just for your amusement, but also because I think it’s what differentiates good fitness instructors from great fitness instructors. Generally when I bring this up in a new class, I’m told to go easy or just not try certain exercises.  That’s fine - way better than an arm popping out and ruining everyone’s class.  But when I tell Sasha this, she not only remembers during the full 90 minute class, but she offers me comparable poses that keep my shoulder in socket while accomplishing the same results. Congrats, lady: you’ve moved on to greatness on my scale.

The music selection has a rhythm that keeps the class going, with increased volumes during the flow sessions between instructions.  It helps distract from the intense burning and fatiguing arms and legs, and from the fact that I am easily the least flexible person with the highest percentage of body fat in class.

Park Slope Yoga certainly incentivizes snap purchase decisions, as class packages are discounted 10% if you commit right after your first class. I get it, but the last thing anyone wants to deal with after Yoga is rushed decisions, so they are losing a point there. I have not, however, received any e-mail spam since taking the class, despite signing in with my e-mail address, so I’ll award a bonus point for respecting my inbox.

The class is challenging, but doable, and I leave profusely sweating (despite positioning myself next to the fan). It certainly justifies the large Italian meal/bottles of wine/craft beer I will consume later that evening, which is the definition of a perfect vacation workout.

The Deets:

Park Slope Yoga Center at Devi

837 Union Street, 2nd Floor - Brooklyn


The Instructor: Sasha

Takeaways: $5 first class with coupon (on website)/$10 without, better for intermediate to advanced students, small classes ideal for form improvement, tea shop downstairs has free WiFi, be prepared to commit to purchase after class for discount.