class: Open Vinyasa
sweat score: 5 out of 10
where: 1298 Madison Ave. 2nd Floor | New York, NY
wear: comfortable yoga clothes
bring: water bottle
instructor: Olga Palladino
perks: small class size, mat, towel, props provided
cost: $28 drop-in, also on FitReserve and Classpass
These are the five foundational principles behind the Upper East Side’s newest yoga studio. Five Pillars Yoga opened just a few months ago and is already creating buzz within the fitness community for being a destination of calm in this crazy city of ours. It was recommended to me by a friend who said that she had heard rave reviews about the teachers, the beautiful space, and the overall experience. Truth be told, I’ve been having a tough time finding a yoga “home” in my part of town – of the few spots I’ve tried on the Upper East Side, nothing has felt just right yet. So the fact that (a) there was a new spot to try and (b) it was already getting people talking, I knew I had to check it out.
Studio: I booked a Sunday evening class with Olga, who is the lead instructor and one of the studio founders. The studio is on the second floor above a Juice Press and a beautiful women’s boutique, so it can be a little tricky to find at first. But once I found the right door, I buzzed in and followed a flight of wooden stairs up to the studio.
There is no “hang out” space inside, so the landing is where students gather before or after class. I left my shoes under a bench in the hall and stepped inside. The check-in area is toward the back of the studio, where students can also buy a FRED water, Goldthread tonic, or shop in the boutique (fun fact: everything sold is made in the USA).
The thing that struck me first about the space was the abundance of natural light. There are windows at either end of the studio that look out on trees, creating an airy feeling of being taken out of the rush of the city and dropped into an airy haven.
The second thing that struck me about the space was how clean, tidy, and beautiful it was. Mats, blocks, and props had a blue and white motif and were stored neatly in a bookshelf by the back wall. Fluffy towels were carefully piled in the back. And the cubby area to store bags and coats was no different – like something out of an interior design magazine. While there is no shower in the studio, the bathroom is full of delicious (malin + goetz) products and a gorgeous spot to freshen up in after class.
Class: I unfurled one of the Jade yoga mats in the back of the studio and settled in for class. The 10 or so other students were a mix of men and women of all ages and experience levels. One gentlemen in shorts and a tee shirt looked like he was just coming in from a warm-up run around Central Park – which is a great idea, I will have to try that combo next time.
Class started with a series of ohms followed by stretches – neck, back, side. We really took ample time to get warmed up before launching into any sequences. This was a pleasant surprise and felt a bit luxurious. I feel like classes often take a fast pace right out of the gate, leaving little time to really settle and be in the room.
Olga came around to each student and massaged our backs and neck with some eucalyptus lotion, which created a tingly cooling sensation and immediately opened my breathing. It was as if, after a full day of breathing in and out, I was just then realizing how amazing it felt.
We flowed at a moderate pace through sun salutations, with Olga stopping to demonstrate the different variations students could take depending on their experience level. Stop looking at what the person next to you is doing, she insisted. You are not them. Create your own experience. Wise words and, man, did I need to hear that. Such an important reminder both in class and in life. Funny how that works, right?
There were no crazy poses or tricky balances, although we were encouraged to play around with crow toward the end of the class. Every pose was intentional. We took our time. We put in the work. It was wonderful.
Savasana came and Olga again came around to each student to give them a little head and neck massage with some aromatherapy oils. I have no idea what the scent was but it was gorgeous. At this point, sixty minutes after I arrived, I was floating on cloud nine. I felt calm. Invigorated. Relaxed. And totally at peace with the past hour. What a gift.
Instructor: I can’t recommend Olga’s class enough! She has a beautiful, unassuming style of teaching that is at the same time challenging and comforting. I was also very thankful for the assists and adjustments I received to help get me deeper into my poses. It’s funny, no matter how many times I do down dog or warrior one, there’s always something new to try or discover about it. I think that’s what I enjoyed so much about her class – none of the moves were crazy and we took our time. But there was a lot of intention and concentration in them, which gave me time to really be present with each one.
I have heard glowing reviews of the other teachers at Five Pillars Yoga as well, and have my sights set on taking David Regelin’s Align & Flow class next. Will I see you there?