First opening their doors early this year, Modo Yoga NYC - Williamsburg has quickly become a destination studio as they have done everything to be a calm, serene, and mindful yoga den amidst this hectic cityscape.
Teaming up with green architecture firm DXA studio, the 5,000-square-foot space was transformed into a cozy lodge that makes for an inviting hangout spot during the cold months, which won’t seem to stop. From the interior constructed out of reclaimed wood from a mushroom farm upstate to a water-filling station that shows how many bottles were saved, sustainability is an essential and integral part of the Modo philosophy.
The hot yoga studio has two practice rooms labeled “B” and “W” (for Wythe and Berry, the cross streets) and a sign saying “Silence is Golden” as there is no talking allowed either before or after class to keep the peace and outside noise to a minimum. Walking in to take the traditional Modo class (which has more diversity in the series then a Bikram class), it became obvious in the busy 4pm class that people are here for the yoga, the actual asana practice, as opposed to the social scene that overwhelms many studios when class is over.
“Hello I’m Sarah Neufeld and I will be your guide,” said the musician for Arcade Fire/yoga
instructor to a group of about 40 of us waiting to start class. Clear, concise, and grounding, Neufeld led the class through a standing pranayama telling us to make our breath more audible on the exhale as we all stared into the mirrors, not as individuals, but a constellation of yogis in the heat of it.
“I love the consistency and peace that a Modo class has even if you are a hand-standing, advanced yogi as it’s therapeutic and grounding as it’s about the class and students,” Neufeld said. “This series is restorative and focuses on elongating the spine and healing.”
After standing poses, Neufeld granted us a mini-savasana to indicate the halfway marker of the class, which was more than welcome. “Now I’m going to play for you a sound clip of waves crashing on in the Atlantic Ocean,” she kiddingly said as she went and fooled with the ventilation which then did sound like the pounding surf. Next Neufeld playfully threw in some ab work that made the back bending portion feel even more delicious. By the time the actual savasana came along, the class was instructed that they would be told when rest was complete as not to invoke panic that the teacher had forgotten. After the allotted time, Neufeld said, “The room is yours for as long as you want,” allowing those needing extra time to do other poses, rather than rushing out of the room for the next group, and allowing them to soak in the after glow of an amazing class.
What co-founders Rebecca Foon and Sarah Neufeld (pictured with teacher
Guillaume Brun) do so seamlessly is that they physically interpret their philosophy into the
living studio space, which adds another level of profound attention to detail. For example, one of the pillars states “Be accessible,” which then is transferred to the $10 donation classes held every day at 2pm and Fridays at 7pm (and donated to a specific charity for that month), but then curates their boutique with different price points so that every budget is welcome.
Monthly, the Friday 7pm class is turned into live-music-karma class by local and musician friends alike—including Neufeld. The classes on the schedule are delineated by which ones incorporate music. “A lot of people get really attached to needing music to support the practice or avoid it entirely,” said Neufeld. “So we diversify the practice in the schedule so that the 6pm-ers aren’t always taking a vinyasa class. I choose songs that keep lyrics minimal in the interior practice space or use slower, ambient, electronic music more in the indie world,” she said.
All of the usual elements that make a yoga studio chaotic are non-existent here as mindfulness resonates from the mat-spray station to the biodegradable bags for sweaty clothing found in the sprawling locker room with multiple showers and eco-friendly shower gel. Being detail-oriented is where Modo thrives and other studios lack, as there is a certain level of Zen neatness and order that appeals to both the type-A personality and blissed-out, free spirit in all of us.
For more information about classes, prices, and teachers at Modo, click here.