Drake Taught Me To Love Yoga

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The stairs leading up to Y7's Flatiron studio

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The stairs leading up to Y7's Flatiron studio

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This the shit I want to go out to—and the shit I want to do yoga to, as well.

If I'm being completely honest with you and the rest of the internet, I only went to my first Y7 yoga class for the story (I already write everything for this site while listening to “Tuscan Leather' on repeat anyway. Smelling like a brick, clearly). Quite literally, it was for this story because I loved the idea of calling it “Drake Taught Me To Love Yoga,” when the reality is that I hate yoga with a concerning level of fervency. It's just so slow. And I tend to think, of all the other exercise techniques, yoga's got the biggest honesty problem. I distinctly remember reading back when I was 12 and still a loyal subscriber of People that Jennifer Aniston maintained her lithe, sculpted figure on a steady stream of yoga practice. And yet, I have never left a yoga class sore. Stretching is nice and all, and stretching while thinking about your core is nicer still—but that doesn't stop it from just being a stretch. At the same time, I've never found anything about yoga relaxing either (with the exception of child's pose—and even then, I have a feeling my arms aren't being 'active' enough). Triangle pose is hard! Sun salutations are also hard! So what's the deal here? It's not really a workout or a meditation. It's just...yoga.

But the same sort of thing could be said of Drake, I guess. Sometimes (oftentimes) I want to ask him the same question he poses in the new, very excellent single, “ Can I?'—'Before I turn the lights out, tell me who the fuck you want to be,” Drake, who exactly do you want to be? Are you a sad sap? Are you on your worst behavior? Are you back with you-know-who again? Of course, this dichotomy bothers me less than it does with yoga. Drake, I can admit, contains multitudes. And those multitudes are equal parts chill and aggressive—my perfect combination.

Anyway, I was having all these feelings and keeping them to myself until a friend asked me if I'd tried yoga at Y7 yet.

'No, I hate yoga,” I told her. It's what I tell everyone.

'Me too, hear me out—this place plays Drake though. It's just an hour of stretching in a hot room, listening to If You're Reading This It's Too Late,” she told me. Personally, I've always preferred Take Care over Drake's other albums, but I conceded to a class. At $22, you could find a more expensive way to spend an hour.

If it's not already obvious, the premise of Y7 is simple: You'll probably forget you hate yoga if you really, really like the music you're doing it to. Sarah Levey, a former fit model, and her husband say they opened the studio (first as a pop-up in Williamsburg) out of necessity. After years of searching, there wasn't another relaxing workout they'd tried that they liked—Bikram had too many rules “They won't let you leave,” Sarah told me after my first Y7 class), regular Vinyasa isn't empowering enough...As for why blaring hip-hop music in a really dark, candlelit room works for them? Her answer is simply, “Why not? It's such a prevalent genre of music for our generation, and its influences are everywhere,” she told me. “Plus it doesn't make me have to pee like the waterfall sounds you usually find in yoga classes,” Valid. “Then, we keep it dark without any mirrors so you can't go comparing you body to anybody else's. Yoga is meant to be an internal practice,”

The break-the-mold nature here is key—the room is warm, but not too hot; the instructors are challenging, but not too rigorous; the music is loud, but not deafening. The Y7 version of a Vinyasa class features a novel (at least to me) “flow on your own' section, which is equal parts terrifying and freeing. Once you get past the fact that you can't remember the order of the moves, it feels nice to languidly glide through the air without an overbearing instructor noticing how wrong your posture is. The Slow Burn class, on the other hand, is less of a flow and more of a moving deep stretch that lasts for an entire hour. Sounds superfluous until you try it and twist the winter out of you (the instructor's words, not mine). So, by the end of class, I was asking myself, “Why have I not Warrior 1'd to ' Own It' before,” If you hate yoga, figure out a way to make yoga work for you. Because really, who's practice is this, anyway? It's yours.

—Emily Ferber

Photo courtesy of Ashleigh Hults. Still not convinced by yoga? Try Pilates.

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