Bored by Everyday Yoga? Exotic Options Abound in City

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The many options available under the umbrella of yoga include not only widely accepted forms, but more avant-garde ones: nude yoga and yoga for canines, among others detailed below. While some practitioners find certain of the newest varieties to be too far-fetched — “A ploy to commercialize yoga,” one veteran yogi said — others contend that they preserve a millennia-old tradition of innovation among yogis.

“The practice was creative since its inception,” a yoga instructor at Equinox, Adam David, said. “Do I find some variations odd or silly? Yes, but who am I to say what’s going to get someone where they’re going?”

Nude Yoga

For the most unabashed yogis, Naked Yoga NYC, as its name suggests, offers classes in which practitioners wear nothing but a birthday suit. According to Isis Phoenix, who earlier this year founded a Midtown center devoted to in-the-buff yoga, nude practice — unlike other forms of yoga — is not about transcending the body, but about examining and celebrating it. “The nudity adds another layer of svadyaya,” the yogic principle of self-study, Ms. Phoenix said.

In the 60- to 90-minute hatha-vinyasa classes, disrobing is a ritualized event; students are expected to enter the studio clothed, undressing en masse only after the instructor gives them the go-ahead. It’s advisable to bring your own mat.

Naked Yoga NYC, group classes held four times a week, $25 a person, $40 a couple; private lessons, from $170 an hour. For studio address, etiquette, or to register for a class, call 646-460-9397 or visit


In one of Kari Harendorf’s signature yoga classes, canines are more than inspiration for poses such as “downward dog” and “upward dog” — they’re the students. The founder of East Yoga, a four-year-old studio on Avenue B, Ms. Harendorf developed doga, or dog yoga, as a way to bring the benefits of yoga practice to man’s best friend. Each 45-minute class provides a gentle hatha workout for dogs of all breeds and sizes and their human companions — and a body massage for the canine. Predictably, the ambiance is less than Zen, and not just on account of the occasional bark, according to Ms. Harendorf: “We won’t want the room to be quiet; we want people to be talking to their dogs and encouraging their dogs the whole time.”

Doga, at Bideawee, 410 E. 38th St., between First Avenue and the FDR Drive, $18 a class. For registration materials, call Bideawee at 212-532-4986; for more information, visit

Antigravity Yoga

Forget the sticky mat: Antigravity yoga is performed while sitting, lying, and swinging on a suspended hammock, which doubles as a fabric trapeze. This form of yoga — an hour-long variation of which, called Wings, is offered exclusively at Crunch — is reputed to improve joint alignment, and facilitate inverted poses with minimal strain on the back and neck.

Various Crunch locations, for members only. For more information, call Crunch at 888-2-CRUNCH, or visit

Laughter Yoga

Developed in 1995 by Indian physician Dr. Madan Kataria, laughter yoga uses yogic breathing exercises and chants, combined with a variety of playful activities — some of which resemble children’s clapping games such as “Pat-a-Cake” — to induce deep belly laughter. Even the most ardent skeptics often find themselves giggling uncontrollably throughout a half-hour, according to a New York laughter yoga instructor who trained with Dr. Kataria, Vishwa Prakash: “Within five minutes, they’re rolling on the floor laughing. They don’t know what hit them.”

Mr. Prakash, the founder of Yogalaff — one of several thousand laughter yoga clubs worldwide — teaches free classes from his garment district studio, and regularly leads laughter yoga workshops at corporations, schools, retirement homes, and prisons. Devotees say the benefits of laughter yoga include stress relief, increased lung capacity, and improved circulation and digestion.

Yogalaff, 1430 Broadway at 40th Street, Suite 1107. For more information, call 212-594-7982 or visit

Music Yoga Flow

For New Yorkers not awakened by yogic chants and a lullaby-like sound tracks there’s Music Yoga Flow at Exhale. Background music in this highly choreographed class might include chart toppers by the pop-rock band One Republic and the hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas, among other contemporary favorites. Thanks to the relatively fast-paced tunes, “it definitely flows more than your typical vinyasa class,” an instructor at Exhale, Anna Carbonell, said.

Exhale, 980 Madison Ave., between 76th and 77th streets, and 150 Central Park South, between Sixth and Seventh avenues, 212-249-3000, $21 a class, discounts on multi-session packages.

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