“We rock bare feet” says the sign at Sweat Yoga, a new hot studio in Tribeca. Walk into the lobby, and you’ll hear David Bowie playing through the speakers, see Rolling Stone magazine sitting on a side table, and receive a welcome from co-owner, Wade Helliwell, who sports a
Black Keys concert tee on his 6’11” frame.
If you haven’t already guessed, Sweat Yoga is a music-driven studio. The original opened in Santa Monica by Tommy Schey. Wade, Tommy’s son in law, partnered up to open the New York location.
“Music brings people together, and it makes you feel something. It connects you to a time and place. When you’re in your flow, and you have a song that’s meaningful and is driving the movement, it creates a peak that may not be there if the music wasn’t present,” said Wade. “The goal of each class is to bring people to this peak, and part of that is guided by the music.”
If music serves as a guide, the foundation for each class was inspired by Jonny Kest, from Center For Yoga. Tommy had been a student of Jonny’s for years before becoming a studio owner, and has incorporated his style of yoga into Sweat.
Wade explains that Jonny’s take on alignment and yoga is progressive - his instruction is to do things that feel good for your body. He will guide you into a shape, but rather than give specific directions on what to do, he believes everybody’s pose will be different, and should be informed by the individual needs of each body.
“There’s a lot of yoga that will teach you exactly what to do, and that’s the beauty of it - you can go to an Iyengar class, and learn how to get into the perfect pose through the alignment. You can also do that here, if you know how to do that, in your own time, and take it at a pace that your body is telling you it wants to do. But Jonny has taken away the fact that something has to be perfect.”
In a Sweat flow, the instructor does not provide constant cueing. Instead, they teach a sequence then give the opportunity for students to flow through it on their own. There are 3 flow sequences per class
“Our classes become an ocean of movement. People are on their own time. They are set free. So they are taught the sequence, then they connect it to the breath in the second round, and then when they’re free, everybody goes where their body is taking them. It becomes an individual practice in a community atmosphere,” Wade explains.
In a recent class with Sarah Strimmel, her instruction to "stay curious, explore and be free" kept coming up. The flow went into a 360-degree experience on the mat - facing all sides of the room. Some students added plank push-ups between the vinyasas while others took long rounds of child’s poses.
The temperature of the room starts around 98 degrees, and then rises with the body heat to
around 104. At the end of class, an ice cold, lavender-scented wash cloth is given to each student which provides a refreshing cool down. There’s also an extraction system to clear out the stale air in between classes.
“We try to create an experience with the style of yoga allowing you to find your own mental space within your flow. And we’re also service driven so that when people come in they feel cared for. They get this hour away from the city that’s hustle and bustle where they can calm down and feel taken care of,” said Wade.
To accommodate students, the changing rooms have 4 showers for women and 2 showers for men. There are natural botanical shower products and lotion along with hair dryers, natural deodorant, and mouthwash. Towels can be rented from the front desk. On a recent weekend, they served complimentary grapefruit juice and Califia Farms Espresso Cold Brewed Coffee with almond milk.
“We’re the sister studio to our Santa Monica location, but with a New York flavor. They’re in a brand new building with polished concrete, it’s modern. And we took the design, and put it in a 100 year old, walk-up loft space with exposed brick and original tin ceilings,” said Wade.
The yoga room holds up to 65 mats with the orientation facing the large windows up front. There are between 5 and 8 classes a day starting at 6:45am weekdays and 9am weekends.
“If a teacher is up there, and they’ve been instructed to play this kind of music and they’re not connected to it, you feel that in a room. Whereas if somebody is playing something that is helping them through a moment, or pushing them to somewhere, or reminding them of something happening in their life, you can feel that too because it’ll be connected to them, connected to the room and it will connect to the students,” said Wade.
Wade sees all the studios opening up in Tribeca as a positive thing. “I don’t look at it as competition. Anybody drawing someone to this practice is amazing. Everybody has their own style, and take on it so it’s great for the area that there is so much choice.”