It's Leaf Peep Season
For urban yogis with neither the time nor the resources to head to the Hamptons or Upstate, Westchester offers a great alternative for fall-friendly day-trips. Chock full of things to do like checking out the changing leaves and shopping the kind of outdoor fleas that stand up to any stalls in the city, Westchester also provides a number of trip-worthy places to practice yoga. Here are three locations that are ideal to build your day around, and all just a short Metro-North train ride away. Start with a little morning vinyasa, and then see where the afternoon takes you.
COME FOR THE KALE, STAY FOR THE KARMA
Last February, The New York Times called Hastings-on-Hudson a mecca for “cosmopolitan bohemia,” coining the term, “Hipsterbia” to describe this once sleepy suburb. Hastings Yoga, located on Main Street, is right in the thick of things and offers a range of yoga classes that even the most discriminating would approve of. Hastings Yoga is owned and operated by Mary-Ann Mastreani, who began her yoga studies more than two decades ago with Ashtangi-master Tim Miller. (For those who aren’t familiar with Miller, he’s known for his expert guidance and for being the first American certified to teach Ashtanga by Pattabhi Jois himself).
Hastings Yoga feels like your favorite loft space deep in the heart of Brooklyn. Furnishings are spare and the aura is definitely authentic. “People in Hastings are open to the many different limbs of yoga,” says Mary-Ann, and her schedule clearly reflects that with classes ranging from Prenatal and Teen Yoga to Meditation and Restorative options.
On weekends in town, in addition to a fantastic farmer’s market at the public library parking lot that runs Saturdays from 8:30am to 1:30pm in June through November. There’s also the infamous Hastings Flea, operating from 10am-4pm on the 2nd Sunday of each month is conveniently located in the train station parking lot and features antique and vintage furniture, jewelry and collectibles, food trucks and more. Find your center with a 10 am class and continue on for a day of discovering Hastings.
Almost everyone who has practiced yoga in Lower Westchester has taken at least one class with Susan Malcolm. Literally the first yoga teacher hired by Equinox, Susan began her yoga training with Alan Bateman in 1985 as a transplanted New Yorker. In addition to her teaching at Equinox and at Katonah Yoga’s Chelsea location, you can find Susan on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:30 am in Larchmont’s St. John’s Episcopal Church at 4 Fountain Square).
To Susan, everything is personal - especially yoga. Enter her class and the first thing you will notice is her noticing you. Malcolm makes it her business to introduce herself and become familiar with each person in the class. She does this by taking a good long look at the students around her and observing the way they occupy themselves in the room. This ‘mapping of the body’ is the ideal vehicle for her to help straighten out the kinks in your practice or just bring you to a higher level of awareness. The fact remains: seeing oneself accurately is hard enough as it is, but on a yoga mat without mirrors, it’s nearly impossible. Names and details are important to Susan, and if she can’t seem to remember yours, (which is exceedingly rare) she often comes up with a pet name. This one-on-one relationship transfers into her skills as a teacher where she speaks often about ‘getting obsessed with the details’ of your yoga alignment. Classes could be described as vigorous vinyasa or restorative flow, depending on the day you attend. Regardless, you’re guaranteed an experience that is unlike any you have had before.
After class, make sure you take time to wander the few blocks down toward Manor Park, which is amazing anytime but boasts a special beauty now with the contrast of the changing leaves against the Long Island Coast. The park spans roughly 12 ½ acres in area and extends approximately 5,000 feet along the shoreline. Paths are available for strolling and there are plenty of benches for taking in the sites, which include spectacular natural sculptures and glacial rock formations.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF SCARSDALE GREEN
Swanky Scarsdale is more often associated with golf greens and dollar signs than organic pursuits. But, thanks to Be True yoga studio, that has changed somewhat. Owned and operated by yogini Iris Cohen, Be True is the first green studio in Westchester, born out of her vision to create a tranquil space for members of the community to gather, experience and practice together. Of particular interest at Be True are the workshops and special events that are offered; a rare opportunity given that most of the existing Westchester studios are unable to draw the kind of powerhouse yoga teachers that Iris routinely brings in. Names like Nicki Costello and Ellen Saltonstall have all guest-taught or conducted workshops here and Iris’ long-standing connection to Sag Harbor and the East End brings in favorites like Jessica Bellafato, who will be coming on Sunday, November 9th to teach a breath-based yoga flow workshop. Integrative medicine’s famed doctor-to-the-stars, Frank Lipman, is also a regular at Be True, and kicks off a New Year’s cleanse there each January complete with a comprehensive presentation and Q&A.
After a visit to the studio, stroll around Scarsdale for some casual shopping or have lunch at The Parkway, the town’s ultra retro coffee shop across from the train station. If you’ve visited by car, you can take advantage of nearby Saxon Woods Park, just off the Hutch on the way back to NYC. Vast and varied, its 700 acres features an extensive trail system ideal for hiking at any level. Go now and you’ll be just in time for peak leaf sightings!
-- Susie Rubin, the writer, is a dyed-in-the-wool Suburbanite whose favorite pet project is a downward dog.
--Sally Mara Sturman, who did the homepage illustration, is a full time artist and part time fishmonger at the NYC Greenmarket. Follow her whimsical exploits in art, travel, fish and food at sallymaraArt.blogspot.com