What We Tried: SLT Yoga (Strengthen, Lengthen and Tunes)
Where: 37 West 57th Street New York, NY 10019 The studio has a cool, industrial vibe (with concrete floors and exposed piping) that matches the low-maintenance feel of the actual class.
What We Did: The class began with us stretching down to touch our toes; no "ohm-ing" or chanting was ever introduced. Instead, the music was really the "language" of this high-energy yoga class.
I'd say there were four main components to the class: fast-paced traditional vinyasa yoga poses, rockin', loud music, sweet, motivational encouragement and SWEAT.
Studio owner Erin Jacques called out (at some points, shouted out, as the music was quite booming) basic vinyasa postures -- primarily Utkatasana (chair pose), downward dog and Chaturanga. These postures were alternated in different sequences, along with plenty of push-ups, planks and a focus on breath. Also in the mix was tons of thigh-squeezing: We started with a yoga block between our thighs, and revisited the prop throughout the class.
For How Long: Classes are about an hour long.
How'd It Feel: Fabulous -- and rewarding. For me, the addition of the pop music (not conventional for a yoga class) is what really made the class a winner. And, I was sore the minute I stepped on the subway -- always a plus.
While the flow was challenging, the music prevented me from getting in my head too much (like, "Nooo, I can't do this," or "Oy, this is hard" -- you know). But, there was a certain mental awareness promoted in the class: The instructor told us to not look down when we were asked to make our feet touch. It sounds simple, but it's tough to purposefully move your body without actually looking at it (plus, there aren't any mirrors in the studio). I felt like I was using a part of my brain I hadn't accessed in a while.
The class was completely uncompetitive. We were encouraged to close our eyes during some of the poses to avoid the temptation of looking around or comparing ourselves with the other students. The instructor made it clear this was entirely our own practice.
And really, it was FUN. At some points, I had to hold in my singing (well, fine, I did mouth a few words) and booty-shaking (on this I really did restrain myself). I couldn't believe how much I was sweating which, for me, is always the sign of a good workout.
What Fitness Level Is Required: Anyone can take this class -- newbie or yogi. As the instructor ensured us throughout the hour, the practice is "your own," meaning how much you challenge yourself and how far you go is decided by you. This could be a great introduction to yoga -- the class couldn't be less intimidating, and the music is a blast.
What It Helps With: Balance, breathing, strength and stress-relief. As Erin put it, the class is meant to be physically challenging so you are out of your own head -- if only for an hour -- so you are focused on your body, rather than external stressors like your work, chores or kids.
What It Costs: First-timers can snag a class for $15. After that, individual classes are $24 each, but make sure to check out the special package pricing SLT offers.
What "The Regulars" Said: Before class, I asked a few regulars (I knew because Erin, the instructor, called them by both their first names and "doll face") why they did SLT over a more traditional yoga practice. "Regular yoga is way too boring," one student said. "This class is way more active and feels like a workout. I hate the way my mind wanders in yoga and in SLT I'm focused on the workout."
Would We Go Back: Yes, please! While I love a good, old-fashioned vinyasa class, I really connected with the music and energy of SLT. These elements added a lightness to yoga that I hadn't experienced prior.
Besides the music, this class was different from other vinyasa classes I've taken in the past because it made me feel strong: If I keep up with the practice, I know I'll be much stronger -- particularly in the ab and arm department. Past yoga classes have stretched me out, but this one focused much more on endurance and strengthening. I, admittedly, neglect most ab-work and any push-up routine, but this class made the moves less of a daunting feat (once I did them, I was on to the next move!).
Want to find out more about SLT? Check out some photos of the SLT studio below. And make sure to subscribe to the Spotify playlist here -- there are some awesome gems in Erin's sample SLT soundtrack that I'm certain you'll be adding to your personal workout playlist:
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