Yoga Tribes

STUDIOS ON THE EAST END RUN THE GAMUT FROM BOHEMIAN BEACH SHACKS TO HARDCORE TRAINING CENTERS, AND IT CAN BE HARD TO KNOW WHICH IS THE ONE FOR YOU. HERE IS THE LOWDOWN ON FIVE OF THE REGION’S BEST-LOVED YOGA SPOTS
 
Yoga Shanti
32 Bridge Street, Sag Harbor

This charming, warm studio has been a leader of the East End yoga community for almost two decades. Probably the most established year-round studio in the area, Yoga Shanti has cultivated not just a strong following but a successful global brand with its Iyengar-based technique and its headlining instructors: the  “First Lady of Yoga,” Colleen Sandman Yee, and her partner, Rodney Yee. Although its popularity in summer — and the bold-faced names of some of the people sweating beside you on the mat — might sound intimidating, it’s actually a comfortable place for devotees and beginners alike. The saffron-and-marigold-hued studio, with an atmosphere somewhere between a gym and a church, is friendly and light, with an undercurrent of seriousness and spirituality. The vinyasa classes, especially those taught by Colleen and Rodney, are generally packed on busy weekends, but clients clearly feel it’s worth it to get face time with the masters. Insider tip: Get there early to put your mat down and check out the boutique.

 

High Crescent Lunge (Ashva Sanchalanasana): Dominique Garstin of Yoga Lila
Yoga Lila
12 South Etna Avenue, Montauk

Montauk’s neighborhood studio is conveniently tucked between the buzzing business district and the downtown beach, making it the perfect spot to stop in for an afternoon class before jumping in the ocean. Open year round, this little zen-den offers studio classes in a variety of styles from Pilates to vinyasa to restorative — plus special group classes on stand-up paddleboards on the water. With large gestural Buddha and Ganesh murals on the walls, Yoga Lila’s vibe definitely leans toward bohemian; the down-to-earth instructors and diverse crowd of regulars keep it friendly. In classic Montauk fashion, Yoga Lila manages to be surfy and spiritual without being hokey. Insider tip: Breeze in for an energizing morning class then grab a juice at Montauk Juice Factory next door.

 

Eagle Headstand (Garudasana): Jolie Parcher of Mandala
Mandala
At the back of Amagansett Square, Main Street, Amagansett

Big white walls and the sweet smell of essential oils greet you at the door of Mandala’ s new and improved space at the back of Amagansett’s appealing shopping compound. From the first moment, visitors will notice that there is a gentleness to the approach at Mandala that sets it apart. Classes routinely include people of all ages and skill levels, and the careful teachers make even first-time yogis feel at home. With many levels and styles to choose from, the class selection has something for everyone, including programs tailored for kids. An added specialty, many classes at Mandala involve chanting, and if you’re lucky you may even have a live sitar player serenade you. Off the mat, the studio offers massage and healing aromatherapy informed by the Ayurvedic tradition. Despite the usual bustle of activity in the square, Mandala has an air of peace and stillness, somehow separated from the outside world. This quiet, paired with the clean, minimalist décor, makes Mandala the perfect place to zone out and completely relax for an hour or two. Insider tip: Hop over to Hampton Chutney next door after class for a great Indian dosa.

 

Bharadvaja’s Twist (Bharadvajasana): Sylvia Channing of One Ocean

One Ocean
1927 Scuttlehole Road, Bridgehampton 

An open-air studio with experienced instructors overlooking a vineyard. Enough said, right? One Ocean, run by a veteran yogi named John Seelye has been a Hamptons favorite for nearly 12 years, offering Anusara-style classes in all seasons and in a truly memorable setting. Over the years, the studio has built a loyal following. It is not uncommon to hear the phrase “I only go to John’s classes.”  Tucked away from the hubbub in the lush vineyards of the Channing Daughters winery, One Ocean specializes in classes that typically offer fresh interpretations on traditional sequences. One day, the entire class might be focused on hip-openers, the next on backbends, but always with a respect for balance. The tented space is open to breezes that keep even the most crowded times of the day from feeling claustrophobic (none of the mid-July stickiness that can ruin a packed indoor studio). The average class includes chanting, partnered stretches, and some kind of spiritual dedication. Insider tip: Opt for an evening class during “magic hour” and watch the sun set over the vines. 

 

Camel Pose (Ustrasana): Lienette Crafoord of Hamptons Hot Yoga
Hamptons Hot Yoga
Main Street, Bridgehampton

Those looking to turn their workout up a notch, and a few degrees, should look no further than Hamptons Hot Yoga, a bright studio set back from the south side of Main Street offering both traditional Bikram and vinyasa classes. (Bikram, specifically — not to be confused with typical hot yoga — consists of a set series of 26 postures and breathing exercise.) An infrared heating system keeps the room at a balmy temperature between 95 and 105 degrees, depending on the style of class; the humidity is controlled by an air-exchange system. The heat is said to promote detoxification, flexibility, and, of course, sweat. What the studio website refers to as “healing heat” may feel uncomfortable to some, but sessions at Hamptons Hot Yoga are a good choice if a butt-kicking workout is your goal. A general rule of thumb, as with any kind of vigorous exercise, is to take it slow, drink a lot of water, and avoid overexertion. Insider tip: They offer cool slices of watermelon on garden benches afterward. Happy sweating!

 

Eight Angle Pose (Astavakrasana): Stacy Haessler of Yoga Shanti. At top: Alejandro Loure of Hamptons Hot Yoga in Heron Pose (Parivritta Kraunchasana)

 

 

Nina Channing

Our associate editor at EAST, Nina has written this year about yoga studios, Grey Gardens, and Trump helicopters. Born and raised in Bridgehampton, she is a high-school dropout, a Wesleyan graduate, and now an MFA candidate at Stony Brook Southampton. When she’s not working, she can almost always be found with a book and a stack of blueberry pancakes in the back booth at Candy Kitchen.