U Yoga is the only known studio in NYC to feature the Barkan Method, a form of hot yoga created by Jimmy Barkan (hence the name). Certified in 1981 at Ghosh’s College in India, Barkan was formerly Bikram’s most senior teacher. His sequence incorporates poses from Bikram’s 26, and adds vinyasa flow and variations– Barkan calls it “the evolution of hot yoga and Vinyasa flow.” Curious fellow that he is, Yoga Sleuth had to check it out post-haste.
After relaxing our breathing in Sukhasana, health and wellness coach Megan Grandinetti had us stand for the traditional pranayama opening. With our hands clasped under our chins we inhaled, bringing our elbows out to the sides, and then exhaled our heads back, elbows coming together. We did this several times, and then proceeded into Sun Salutation A.
Several space heaters mounted on the ceiling kept the room at a summery 95 degrees, loosening our muscles while allowing us to stay vigorous for the entirety of the 90-minute class. We came to our first flow, and Megan cued us into two Chaturanga push-ups before having us sail back into Up Dog; we would continue this pattern throughout class, whenever an optional flow was called for. “Whether you go through your vinyasa or stay in your Down Dog,” said Megan, “be sure to do it mindfully.”
To get into the core we brought our right leg into a Down Dog Split, then brought the knee to the nose, then the left tricep, and finally the right, getting it as high above the elbow as we could muster. We repeated it on the other side and then started over–most of our postures in class would be performed twice on each side.
Megan circled the room, cueing us slowly through the poses in a gentle voice and adjusting where needed. She had me widen my stance in Warrior Two and later adjusted my slightly slumping upper body in my Dancer’s Pose so I got the full benefits of the back bend. We did two rounds of Eagle, my shoulders relaxing in the helpful heat.
“Push into that big toe mound for balance,” said Megan as we settled in a high lunge. “Left leg straight, hamstring strong. Belly is tight. Grow tall.” We then placed palms under our feet for Pada Hastasana, and clasped hands over our heads for a juicy side stretch Half Moon variation. “Square your hips and shoulders,” said Megan. “It’s as if someone’s lifting you from the chest. Can you reach your arms further right, your hips further left?” Yes we could! Then we tried another Pada Hastasana to see if we could bend deeper with legs straighter.
When we settled into Utkatasana things got a little different. Megan had us balance on our toes and sink down slowly before rising up again. Triangle Pose was the bent knee version, our arms pressed against the thigh while the other soared to the sky. For a further balance challenge we had the option of Tree Pose, or taking our foot sole up against the thigh, then sinking down with our hands folding in prayer. Head to knee pose challenged us further as we yearned our torsos down while putting our hamstrings through their paces. Warrior Three completed the balancing part of the journey.
Coming down to the mat, we took a quick Savasana break before bringing each knee into the chest. We took a modified supine twist where we brought the foot to the outside the mat and then folded the knee inwards; this felt amazing in my barking (or is it Barkan?) right hip. Bringing our soles to the sky, we lowered our legs six inches at a time before they were suspended a half foot above the mat, then commenced scissor kicks.
Flopping over we came into Cobra, Locust, and Bow, and then sat up on our knees for two tours of duty in Camel. Finally, we folded into Janu Sirsasana and wrung out our organs in a seated spinal twist before a final Savasana. Megan invited us to stay as long as we liked, as she had us breathe in to each part of our bodies from toes to head. Lying there, I noticed that not only was I not exhausted, but I was actually fully energized and ready for more! But as the studio was closing for the day, I was happy to wait until the next week to come back and get my Barkan on.
Barkan Classes at U Yoga are $12 with a $3 mat rental. U Yoga is the first studio to offer the Barkan Method in New York City.
-Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
Your guide to New York’s sizzling hot yoga scene
Temp: 95–100This 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
Where Breath, Art And Community Come Together
When two creative types open a yoga studio, lots of new ideas come into play. Henry Cross, co-owner of U Studios NYC, has been a professional ballroom dancer, a professor, and teaches yoga to children, seniors and everyone in between. He is an advocate for the benefit of movement and the importance of safety and breath in yoga over attaining that perfect looking pose.
“Maya was my ballroom student. We began a dialogue about business last December and the rest is history. I loved her art and she loved dancing. Working together was a result of our mutual respect for our art form. Our core values are the result of Maya’s interpretation of yoga and my interpretation of yoga in New York.”
Maya Malioutina is an artist with gallery space in DUMBO. Some of her work hangs in the studio, and she encourages people to reach up and feel the textured paintings which are made of things like rust, acrylic paint, paper, milkweed, wax and rubber. She is warm and approachable as an artist; her passion and enthusiasm for sharing her work is written all over her face. “I price my paintings cheaply, I want people to take them.”
The variety of experiences and strong philosophies of these partners are evident both in the studio mission and types of classes they plan to teach. Henry says, “We won’t credit a specific lineage, but I can tell you our the concept of a Vinyasa practice with restorative elements had a deep impact on my teaching philosophy and motivation for opening. We trust our teachers will keep classes fun, diverse, and adequate for all levels and all ages.” The class listing currently includes Yoga Basics, Vinyasa, Hot Vinyasa, Intermediate Yoga and Sweat & Restore and, of course Henry gives ballroom privates. The rooster of new teachers includes Julia Monosova,Emily Hyland, Rebecca Merritt, Christina Rufin, Sadia Bruce, Dina Smirnova, Catherine Engh and Dayle Pivetta.
Organized with specific goals in mind, Henry and Maya have a philosophy that will be the foundation of U Studios throughout each class. The first is the importance of breath. “It is the point to the practice,” Henry says, and their teachers will always emphasize breath over form in both their yoga and pilates classes. He adds, ““We remind teachers to keep our core values in mind. Push, hold, and go farther is something we really want to minimize. Yoga as a process for a practice, not a one day bootcamp.”
Second, they believe in accessibility. Absolutely everybody can benefit from yoga and the other movement classes available, so they’ve set the price at $10 for regular yogis to drop in with bulk discounts available. Students and seniors pay $5 for a drop in, mat included. There are also daily Community Classes open to all for $6.
The third and most elusive philosophy is the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, which has fueled and inspired Maya first in her art and now in her yoga. “I used to find yoga so boring!” she says, but then explains how embracing the wabi-sabi way of life has led her to change her entire worldview, yoga included. “It is finding beauty in things that are imperfect. Looking at this dirty concrete floor and seeing the completeness and perfection exactly as it is.”
It can be a hard idea to wrap your head around, but yogis are no stranger to committing to intangible ideals. Western thought generally promotes consumerism, wanting things to be brand new. Maya explains, “That isn’t a bad thing, I like new things! But in this mindset, an old cracked vase would hold more value than a brand new vase. That crack is part of the experience, it is perfect in it’s imperfection. Older things carry a different, more perfect energy. It is a deliberate and meditative way to slow down and experience everything that happens to you more fully, exploring the feelings that come up and finding the balance inside of yourself.”
Their final idea is thinking of their studio as a community center. To start, all teachers will open their class by asking each student to quickly introduce him or herself. The idea is not to come and stay squarely on your mat and in your space, it is to look the person on the mat next to you, in the eye, and begin to build a relationship within this blooming community The large, airy studio with lots of natural light studio has a long hallway with changing rooms, cubbies and a kitchenette.
Who knows you may find yourself having tea with the person next to you after class. U Studios NYC has plans to open a DUMBO location later this summer. With their ambitious goals and genuine intentions, not to mention the reasonable rates, it is hard to argue against trying out U Studios NYC located at 264 Canal St 5th Floor (Between Broadway & Lafayette).
Class Action: U Flow at U Studios
Who’s it for: Yoga newbies, yogis who are sick of mat-to-mat Lululemon battles
$10, 264 Canal St. (between Broadway and Lafayette), 5th Floor, Chinatown,www.ustudiosnyc.com
Where: U Studios Soho, 264 Canal St 5th Floor, New York, NY
New Studio, Vet Instructor
I LOVE when I find a new rockstar instructor and I love it even more when I realize that they are basically undiscovered. First of all, I feel like I got into this cool club that no one else knows about (this is the closest I am getting to VIP status ever, I am normally in bed by 1 am, kids). And secondly it is GRAND because barely anyone else is there and I get loads of attention even though I am bad at the yogas. Well, cat’s out of the bag – Dayle is awesome folks, check her class out.
- Brave. OK I have not seen this movie (although I have googled it and now feel that I must). However, she totally reminds me of that Pixar mini badass who is always popping up in my hulu commercials. A little but powerful woman with a smattering of freckles, a friendly smile, and a mass of red curls contained in a big braid.
- Kid-friendly. She also teaches children’s yoga classes and this is SO appropriate since her voice reminded me of every Nick Jr. show I was forced to watch in my babysitting days. Like cheery and bright slash the opposite of my man croaks.
- Accessible. Introduced herself to the class in the hallway, and then came around to everyone individually to check in on them in the beginning of class. She asked for names, injuries, yoga experience and asked everyone to introduce themselves to each other since we were having a community experience. So very friendly folks.
- Real. She was very open with her own limitations, confessing that her downward dog still involves bent knees. She also wasn’t afraid to take her own modification at times. There were a bunch of beginners in this class, so it was really refreshing to see.
- All-levels. As I mentioned, we had a few newbies and Dayle was able to make the class accessible to them while offering more advanced poses to others in the class. Nearly everything she did had both a modification and a progression. All instructions were laid out clearly on each, even for someone who had never done yoga before.
- The moves. We did a lot of vinyasa and sun salutations. Lots of hip openers (lizard with leg grab I LOVE YOU), pigeon, some warrior / triangle sequences, plank and side plank work. Everything was well-paced – not too fast, not too slow. Dayle included a lot of optional vinyasas for those who wanted a little bit more burn.
- Arm balances. Although admitting that it was challenging, Dayle said she likes to include arm balances (crow and the awkward backwards one through your legs) because it can be empowering for newbies. Very thoughtful.
- Back-bends. We did a progression of bridge / wheels (in which I think my abs broke). Although these were all great, I would have liked for her to incorporate a few more counter poses to help the body re-adjust.
- Adjustments. So I would have liked a few more of these, but I think Dayle was a bit more focused on the intro set. However, she came over and worked me deeper into pigeon towards the end of the class, and even remembered to come back a few moments later to do the same on the other side.
- Tunes. Good alternative playlist filled with hipster folk-rock such as Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers, etc.
The class had fewer than 10 people in it, and I found it to be a highly enjoyable experience. Dayle is a the rare kind of kind, supportive instructor who is able to modify her practice for multiple experience levels while still maintaining a pace and paying attention to all. I hearted this experience and Dayle is flirting with favorite status here.
From the Green Pig Yoga official website: I earned my vinyasa teaching certification at Sonic Yoga’s Center for Yoga Studies in NYC, where I continue to develop my personal practice, and I am grateful to the fun family of Rainbow Kids Yoga for my certification to teach kids and families. My teaching style incorporates fluid vinyasa yoga movement with humor and vivid imagery, all while encouraging a challenging physical and spiritual practice for every student. I like to ask questions so that I can continue to cater the practice to what it is you need and give informed physical adjustments and “feel good” assists to bring your practice to new heights!
Find out more about U Studios Soho at www.ustudiosnyc.com.
Please Contact Owner – Maya Malioutina
call us at 917.515.86.74