The Manhattan branch of hot yoga studio YogaSpark opened just in time for the New Year. With a studio open for four years in Westchester, YogaSpark is now bringing its brand to the neighborhood of TriBeCa. As a hot studio, YogaSpark keeps their yoga rooms heated between 95 and 99 degrees. They have a yoga boutique by the front desk with unique, hand-designed hot yoga clothing for sale. They also sell alkaline water. The new studio is super friendly, sparkling clean, and when I arrived, our teacher and YogaSpark founder, Lauren Porat, greeted me personally at the front desk and offered to show me around. The changing rooms are well-stocked with lockers, showers, hair dryers, and even plastic bags to put your sweaty clothes in. “Don’t feel pressured to do everything I say in class,” Lauren said, reassuringly, “and take rests when you need it.” Lauren’s class had a deceptively simple beginning. Holding a spot at the front of the mat with feet hips width distance apart, we raised and circled our arms up and down about ten times. Lauren kept asking us to build on the movement, closing our eyes, then adding more of a backbend at the top. Then we followed with a sun breath, or half sun salutation. After several minutes of this, Lauren started to build on the pace. From chair to supported warrior 3, we took a low lunge, followed by low lunge twist, then twisted in the opposite direction, then ardha hanumanasana or half spits to crescent lunge. In downward dog, we lifted a leg in the air, brought it to the chest, and lifted it back into three-legged dog. Later in the sequence, Lauren gave us the option to bring the leg all the way to the chest and try the arm balance eka pada koundinyasana, and then even later that would evolve into fallen triangle. With each vinyasa, Lauren would build in more and more difficult standing poses from high lunge to (unsupported) warrior 3, warrior 1 and 2, peaceful triangle, extended side angle (later with a bind), half moon pose (later also with the option to bind), prasarita padottanasana with various options from twists to taking hold of the big toes. We moved at a fast clip. The grippy towels and shower towels included in the price of class are essential for taking care of sweat and preventing turning the mat into a slip-n-slide. Lauren also worked some half chairs into the sequence which would later evolve into the option of trying out a flying crow. Interestingly, in the midst of this, Lauren had us work on some backbends: salabhasana, half wheel, and full wheel, if it was in our practice, and then we went back to standing poses. Winding down, we held virasana with gomukhasana arms. There was also a pigeon prep in the offering and Lauren challenged us to come up in the pigeon, bend the back leg, and try to bind the arms with the crease of the elbow hooked around the foot as a version of king pigeon. This was followed by a revolved janu sirsasana and a happy baby. Sparkly with sweat, we relaxed in savasana, and Lauren rewarded us for our hard work with a delicious treat. She came around with a cold tea tree-infused towel and placed it over our eyes (though she did give us the option of placing our hands on our bellies if we didn’t want the cold towel). The effect was refreshingly cooling. Lauren ended class with an inspirational yoga quote, giving us a spark to keep us motivated for the rest of our day. —Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $34 with mats, mat towels and shower towel rentals included. New students can try one week unlimited for $45.
Saturday 12:30-1:30pm Advanced
YogaSpark 158 Duane St. New York, NY 10013 (212) 602-9961