On the second floor, above a sushi restaurant, on the corner of 33rd St. and Broadway in Astoria, NY, lies Yoga Agora. Agora is Greek for gathering place. In Ancient Greek, the agora was the location of the cultural and political life of the city. Yoga Agora took on its name in hopes of being “the gathering place” where all who wish to practice yoga may come and do so.
Yoga Agora is a soothing sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of New York. Although the open windows let in the street noise from below, the serene nature of the class and the soothing presence of the yoga instructors takes you away to another state. There truly is no ego and no judgment here. Everyone is welcome, no matter what your level of practice is.
Yoga Agora opened a couple years ago, but it quickly became an Astorian staple. They offer several Vinyasa classes (usually 1 hr 15 min) throughout the day for $5. Mat rentals are $1. And if even the $5 is too much for your budget they offer an hour-long class that’s on a donation basis. I love the fact that I can drop in a class whenever I want to and I don’t have to pay an outrageous sum for a class (in NY, classes average from $15-25), nor am I indentured into paying for monthly class passes or for pricey membership fees. Their philosophy is to offer yoga that is accessible and affordable to all. I am free to practice however much I want to practice. Yoga Agora is modeled after Yoga to the People, which also offers low prices for their yoga classes ($10 suggested donation).
I haven’t always loved practicing yoga. My first experience with yoga was in Berkeley (yes, land of the hippies, peace, love, and freedom) where the yoga class was so slow and boring that I fell asleep. After giving it a couple more tries, I decided that yoga was not for me. For years, I watched various friends practice yoga, but I refused to become one of them. This changed after I spoke to a friend who practiced Ashtanga. She recommended it to me and said that its challenging nature would be something I like. I couldn’t find a studio that practiced Ashtanga near me, but I did find Vinyasa at Yoga Agora.
From my first class, I fell in love. I love the challenging nature of flowing into poses. I love spending a bit of my day and time trying to be still and quiet in my mind and being in “the moment.” During the day, I have a million thoughts whirling like a dervish, but while practicing yoga, I train my mind to be calm. I love how my body has become more supple and flexible. My back is no longer as stiff and I don’t experience nearly as much pain as I used to after a long day of sitting in front of a computer.
You can see the current schedule here. They have several instructors and all are pretty wonderful. Although the times for the classes are fixed, the instructors rotate. I’ve taken a class with everyone. Alyssa and Rebecca are my favorite, but I often attend classes offered by the other instructors without any qualm. Each one has their own style and I’ve discovered that I prefer a faster flowing practice. The classes have grown in popularity (especially the 7 pm one). Even the classes during the work day can get full, so be sure to get to the studio at least 10 mins before the class starts in order to get a spot. Once the room is filled, they will turn you away (I speak from experience).
I love spreading out my yoga mat and lying for a few minutes to gather my thoughts before sending them away. Practicing Vinyasa offers me the right balance in life.
Yoga Agora, 33-02 Broadway, 2nd floor, Astoria, NY 11106