Although Yoga is a Sanskrit term for “a state of union with the Divine,” the term has taken on a physical emphasis in the Western world. In a nutshell, there are five yogic schools of spiritual discipline, all of which originated in India: Hatha (divine union through physical purification), Karma (divine union through inspired action), Jnana (divine union through knowledge), Raja (divine union through meditation) and Bhakti (divine union through devotion). Such states are free and available to us at all times. However, for urban dwellers contending with physical overstimulation and spiritual disconnnection, there is a high demand for fellowship among other seekers. High demand drives high prices, and the spiritual underpinnings of yoga tend to get lost in our commodity-driven culture. Many citizens perceive yoga as just another exercise fad to achieve an idealized body, rather than a path to union with the divine.
However, there are some free and low-cost yoga classes sprouting in New York City, the most popular being Yoga to the People, a donation-based institute with studios in NYC and the Bay Area. They specialize in Vinyasa yoga, a style that emphasizes the flow from one posture to another.
You can also find tons of yoga classes through the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. For an annual fee ranging from $50 to $75 (yes, you read that correctly), you have access to the 50+ recreational centers spread across the five boroughs – many of which hold drop-in yoga classes.
Another option is Ta Yoga, a Harlem-based private studio. Starting again in September, they will offer free yoga classes every Monday and Wednesday at different sites in Harlem.
(check back for specific time)
Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change
200 West 135th Street (at 7th Avenue)
Starting September 21st
Cost: By donation/free
4:00pm – 5:15pm and 5:30pm – 6:00pm
Harriet Tubman Learning Center/P.S. 154
250 West 127th Street (between 7th & 8th)
Starting September 16th