What happens when two vinyasa teachers heavily influenced by Katonah Yoga and Taoist principles open up a studio in Chinatown with a giraffe as their spirit animal? The answer, Sky Ting Yoga.
Sitting high above the clamor in a neighborhood most famous for fish markets, the simply designed studio serves as an oasis from the grind below.
Founders, Krissy Jones and Chloe Kernaghan were looking to build a community around the idea that yoga goes beyond the hour and fifteen minutes on the mat.
“It’s a conversation you have with someone. Or coming together as a group of like-minded individuals and having a nourishing meal together. Or having a space you can go to for solace and retreat in the middle of the city madness,” said Kernaghan.
The studio entrance is on the lower level of a duplex. Yogis check-in and can shop the little boutique of apparel from Live The Process , Nike (Jones is a sponsored trainer) and Calvin Klein. Natural beauty products by Ben Shen are also for sale behind the front desk.
Within a few steps is the lounge area of daybeds surrounded by plants, art (which will rotate) and two stuffed giraffes. “We want people to feel they can come here early before class, and hang out and bring their computer, or have a chat with friends,” Kernaghan said.
Sky Ting means the room of the sky. To reach this one, you must ascend the enclosed, outdoor stairwell. The 1000 square-foot studio above - complete with sky light - has an open airiness that Kernaghan said encourages the practice, hopefully inspiring a connection to higher things. Plants are placed along the sides adding a more grounding element. And then there’s the giraffe sitting in the corner.
“The giraffe has a lofty vision. It’s able to see everything,” said Kernaghan, “but it also has its feet planted firmly on the floor.”
The schedule (which serves the before and after work crowd with 7:30 am, 6pm and 7:30 pm slots, along with the freelancers and artists who prefer a mid-morning 10am, noon or 4pm class) is compiled of SkyTing Yoga, a blend of styles that seamlessly mixes into one practice.
Or as Kernaghan explains it, “Sky Ting is the medley. It’s the place where the esoteric dialogue can exist with the physical primal, earthy practice of moving your body in space and breathing and moving stuff around and clearing it out.”
The teachers will each offer their own choice of opening dialogue. "Some teachers will
give a dharma talk. Some might chant. Some will Om. Some won’t. Some teachers will talk you through the whole class, and give you insight with every pose you do about how a wrist joint will effect your lung space, or how a kidney needs to be opened so you can have a clear sense of hearing. Organ work is one way to help your body heal itself, and that’s a spiritual and transcendental experience," says Kernaghan.
“The main draw was to have people we know are still studying, and are looking to better understand the craft of teaching yoga. So everyone has their own style, and material that they are interested in, and material they relay to students. But we trust each of the teachers have done the work of understanding their practice so they can thoughtfully share it with others.”
Furthering their own studies, Jones and Kernaghan embarked on an advanced training with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman on sequencing last winter. And they continue their primary practice with Katonah teacher, Nevine Michaan who custom designed the Manduka yoga mats provided at the studio.
As for making the jump from yoga teacher to studio owner, Kernaghan said, “It’s giving us a challenge that’s so out of our comfort zone. We’re both artsy dancers, on that right side of the brain spectrum. So to buckle down and use the mind in a different way, and to figure out how to structure ourselves better has been very refreshing, and has made me feel more alive. The fire has been lit under me! Right now, that’s a lot of what I’ve been teaching in my classes. How do you give yourself more space, more dimension? And then how do you start to incorporate the other tools that the practice has to give you? So you start to take your imagination, step forward into the world, and do something with it.”