The essence of yoga and how it can work for you. Plus, a guide to Hamptons yoga studios
Soul Practice | July 11, 2016 | By Laura Berland
Sun Salutations at One Ocean Yoga in Bridgehampton
Accessing the quiet inside, our true center, gets harder all the time. In simpler times, we needed to seek refuge from the chaos of the city and from the internal chatter of our own minds. Today our stressors are magnified by the ongoing assault of our love affair with shiny weapons of mass distraction. When was the last time you went more than a waking hour without checking a screen?
Our brains are in overload – lack of rest, sleep, and repair. And our bodies seek relief from text neck. No doubt you’ve heard that sitting is the new smoking.
Practicing at Mandala Yoga in Amagansett
Thankfully, the antidote is just an Om away. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are all widely accessible practices to help counter our modern challenges and create a more joyful, healthy life. More people are embracing these tools everyday. According to Yoga Journal, over 36 million people are now practicing yoga, a 77% increase from 20 million in 2012. The survey notes that over 80 million people say they are going to try yoga this year. Does that include you?
Developing a practice at home, with a group, with a private teacher, in a studio, gym, or outside are all options to explore. Especially given the magical setting of the Hamptons, we have the great benefit of taking our practice out in nature this time of the year.
If you are new to practice, starting in a studio is a safe, smart, approach. Plus you get the benefit of connecting with a community and having like-minded people support you on your way, which can make all the difference in establishing your new habit.
Yoga on paddle boards with KamaDeva Yoga of East Hampton
Hamptons’ yoga studios are well established and have terrific teachers and communities. Most have classes especially designed for beginners, which is definitely where you should start if you are new to yoga. Never feel intimidated or that you need to keep up. And always let the instructor know before the class starts if you are pregnant, have a physical injury or suffer from trauma or other emotional issue.
How to choose? Well, location is certainly a factor, especially with traffic. And if getting to class is convenient, you are more likely to stick with a regular practice. Check out several classes, teachers, venues, and recommendations. Find a teacher that you resonate with and who pays attention to you. Not everyone likes the same teacher or type of class, just like everyone does not like the same wine, flower, or decorating style.
Perfecting Asanas at Mandala Yoga in Amagansett
Wherever you choose to go, be open to the experience and to taking it one step at a time. Yoga is not a competitive sport, so pay no attention to whatever the person next to you is doing on the mat. Just take care of your own body and mind. That means not doing anything that feels uncomfortable or beyond your capability in the moment. It’s your responsibility to not overdo. Be mindful as you move and find the balance between effort and enjoyment.
One of the primary texts in yoga philosophy, the Yoga Sutra, although compiled around 400 CE, is full of brilliant guidance that perfectly targets our current circumstances. A popular sutra, 2:46, shtira-sukhum asanam is most commonly translated as the posture (asana) should be stable (sthira) and comfortable (sukha.) But it’s more literally translated as “resolutely abiding in good space.”
Finding steadiness and ease in our practice, establishing ‘good space’, is something we do on the mat so that we can bring balance and peace into our life.
We’ll be covering other types of yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and soul practices in future issues.
Laura Berland stepped on the yoga/meditation path almost 20 years ago as an antidote to launching new media ventures. She teaches at Yoga Shanti, works individually with private clients, and serves on faculty for The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute, and the Yoga Shanti Teacher Training Program. Visit TalkingYoga.com to see master teacher interviews and join the conversation. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or lauraberland on Twitter.
A diverse mix of programs with experienced teachers: Beginners, Open, Intermediate Yoga offerings along with Gentle Flow, Vinyasa Flow, Couples Yoga and Meditation. On-site juice bar and health food shop.
Yoga at all levels; most classes are Forrest Yoga classes or Forrest-inspired classes. In Forrest Yoga, you build strength safely, work with injuries and connect more fully to your breath; it is designed to free up physical and emotional blocks in the body.
2415 Main Street, Bridgehampton
649 Montauk Highway, Montauk (aka HOT’auk)
Bikram Yoga and Hot Vinyasa Yoga. Bikram is a series of beginner postures linked as an energetic form of exercise to align your body for optimum health; Vinyasa is a sequence of postures promoting balance, flexibility and lower and upper body strength while coordinating body, breath, movement, and spirit. Heated rooms.
Yoga at all levels: For athletes, beginners and long-time practitioners. Typically small classes. Also available are Ashtanga and Jivamukti sessions as well as massage therapy, Thai Yoga bodywork, Reiki, acupuncture, aroma touch technique.
Variety of classes and levels: Open; Beginner; Restorative; Stand Up Paddleboarding (with and without yoga); Foundation Training; Body Shop/Injury Clinic; Teen Yoga; Doula (labor support); In-class privates.
Love Flow and Cardio Barre classes. Love Flow is a heat-building, well-being practice with teachers from a wide background of yoga influence; Cardio Barre offers a unique, 60-minute, full-body workout to tone the body through a mixture of compound and isolated exercise.
Teachers from a wide variety of lineages. Weekly yoga classes include Beginner, Ashtanga, Restorative, Meditation, Mommy & Me, Kundalini, Vinyasa, Surfer Yoga, Yoga & Dance. Self-care support also available…from warm oil treatments to Thai massage, from meditation to Ayurvedic nutritional guidance.
32 Bridge Street, Sag Harbor
132-6 Main Street, Westhampton
A wide range of classes for all levels, combining alignment, flow and inquiry. Deeply established in the roots of the Iyengar and Ashtanga yoga traditions, the methodology taught in classes, workshops and trainings is inclusive, innovative and responsive to the changing needs of our modern culture and to varied needs of individual practitioners.