If this comes off like a love letter, I apologize. But Bikram Yoga East Harlem consistently provides me with an opportunity to both challenge and rejuvenate myself. It is truly a chance for moving meditation and they come through with flying colors every weekend (I go Saturday and Sunday at 9AM or 11AM). Today I took the 9AM with Cheryl.
She is a wonderful combination of tough, understanding and motivating. She sticks to the script – adding her own flair but always keeping in consistent. The studio itself is on 116th between Fifth and Madison Avenues. It isn’t a flashy, slick space but rather feels like you are practicing with friends and family from your first day. Checking in requires hand writing your name on a clipboard – the instructor often being the one sitting at the front desk. The changing rooms have lockers for your use (I never remember a lock and it has never been a problem) as well as three showers (thankfully!). The hot room itself is upstairs and is lovely with a wall of mirrors and a wall of windows that combine to keep the space feeling as airy and light as possible – considering it is heated to 104 degrees with 40% humidity.
Stephanie Pope (the owner and teacher) has helped me reach full expression on standing head to knee – something I didn’t think would ever happen. And Cheryl has talked me through too many poses to list – giving me the confidence I needed to take them to the next level, or hold them for those last ten seconds.
At the end of class, during final Savasana, they offer cool cloths with almond and lavender oil. It is the most lovely, refreshing little touch and I miss it when I visit other studios. If you are in the neighborhood and are looking for a place to practice, please come by. They are encouraging to new practitioners and motivating for those of us who have been struggling through this for the better part of five years.
BYEH is on ClassPass but I also have a package of 30 classes for $300. With that package, they store my mat for me which is a great bonus. They offer spray bottles with tea tree oil in them to clean off and hang up your mat after class – if you have a package such as mine. They then roll up the mat when it is dry and put it back in my cubby for my next visit. Who could ask for anything more?!
P.S. My husband made the trek to Dough Loco this morning after his run so we were successful in our goal of yoga and doughnuts. Will write up something about them tomorrow, though as he bought us four – two for today, two for tomorrow. YUM!!