A yoga retreat is oneof those items at the top of my bucket list. I fantasize about spending a week on a beach with yoga throughout the day and nourishing meals at night. When I noticed a flyer at Exhale Spa on the Upper East Side, for a one day yoga retreat without having to leave NYC, I immediately signed up.
The morning started with a guided meditation led by Nixa Debellis. I am somewhat new to meditation and found that the way she set us up lying on our backs with bolsters, made it so much easier to clear the mind.
After meditation, we had a beautiful Power Flow class with Stefanie Eris. Stefanie is the National Yoga Director at Exhale (doesn’t that sound like the coolest job ever?) and as a Lululemon ambassador, I have walked by her photo in the window at Lululemonon Madison Ave many times.
Needless to say, I was very excited to try her class and she lived up to her reputation! Despite her yogi celebrity status, I found her class and personality extremely accessible. I loved how she stayed with the “detox” theme incorporating lots of twists. She didn’t lead us through a traditional flow and broke the class up to explain moves. It was a nice change of pace from my usual vinyasa class and I left feeling refreshed.
Following Flow, we had a brief handstand workshop with Lauren Harris. Lauren is the Upper East Side’s handstand sage. This is the second time I’ve been to one of her handstand workshops. I attended one last year at New York Yoga. I love Lauren’s humorous and straightforward approach.Her enthusiasm for handstands is contagious! My one grumble (you have to have one right?) is that she only teaches handstands, BUT the studios market her class as inversion classes. Personally, I really want to take a headstand clinic and have always been excited for these inversions workshops, only to find that they focus on handstand without any other inversions. Her theory is to teach handstands away from the wall because if you learn it against a wall, you end of over kicking and never learn how to do a handstand away from the wall. I can see how this theory is accurate, but I think I am so far away from being able to do a handstand that it wouldn’t matter if I was against a wall or not.
After inversions with Lauren (luckily not before), we enjoyed a catered lunch from Whole Foods (my fave!). During lunch, one of the spa’s acupuncturists administered Auricular Acupuncture on us by taping tiny gold balls inside our ears. She said that this treatment helps to complement our detox yoga practice.
Our afternoon sessions were Power Flow with Diana Rilov and Restorative Yoga with Elitza Datcheva. In researching Diana for this post, I found this description: I liked her. She has a very “mother knows best” persona – and she’s definitely the class mama. She struck me immediately as competent and knowledgeable. This description fits Diana to a tee. She isn’t your typical yoga teacher, but more like your inspiring yogi grandmother. Her class wasn’t typical either, as it wasn’t much flow, but more instructing us through unique poses like Firefly and a variation on birds of paradise with our leg against the wall.
The best part of these events for me is always the opportunity to meet like minded people and inspiring yogis like Sam Emrich. Big thanks to Sam for inspiring me to start this blogging journey!
Overall, I think Exhale Spa really is the gold standard in spa, yoga, barre, etc around the country. I would love to do these kinds of urban escapes multiple times a year and encourage you to find a way to take a retreat without leaving town.
Bottomline: For $145 for non-members and $96 for full members, this was well worth the price for 6 1/2 hours of yoga including lunch and 5 yoga classes, not to mention the peace of mind from spending your Friday in the tranquility of Exhale Spa.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post and all thoughts are my own.