Asali means sweet honey in Somali. Erica Robinson, the founder of Asali Yoga, had a friend create her logo of a bee resting on a lotus leaf before she knew she had a space to open her new yoga studio on 135th Street and Frederick Douglas Boulevard.
“This yoga studio is a good example of speaking something into being,” she said. “I had a client who was a realtor and I said to him, ‘One day I’m going to open a yoga studio in Harlem.’ He showed me several spaces and offered me this one at a very affordable rate.”
“After this experience,” Erica said, “I believe that the universe sees that you’re trying so then it gives you something.”
The Asali studio is in the process of being renovated but already has an aura of tranquility. The open stone walls are alternately lacquered and painted gold. There is a soft wood floor and the window frames are a cool blue. Outside the frosted front windows, cheerful yellow flowers peek through.
“The thing about Erica,” said a client who found her through a Living Social deal, “is that she says hello to everyone. She’s involved in the community.” Another client told me she loves Erica’s “good energy.”
Because of Erica’s relaxed nature during our conversation, I imagined that her yoga class would be on the easy side. During her Saturday noon class, I discovered that her style of Vinyasa yoga keeps things moving for the full hour and a half.
Erica’s Saturday class had an equal mix of men and women and she gave individualized attention to each person at their level. Although, certain poses felt difficult, I remembered Erica’s advice to breathe through the movements. By the time she turned the lights down at the end, I felt a sense of accomplishment and even peace.
Asali Yoga also houses an acupuncture clinic on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Erica has a variety of ideas for the future of Asali Yoga including Friday night yoga with live acoustic accompaniment, thai yoga massage classes, and a yoga/culinary retreat in Jamaica. She plans to renovate her back room to use as a private massage area. And the backyard will become a tea garden.
This August, Asali is studio of the month at Lululemon Lincoln Center. On August 14th at 10am Erica will be teaching a free yoga class at Lululemon Bryant Park. Asali Yoga’s schedule is available online at asaliyoga.com.
Here’s the video:
Photos by Alexis Percival