Here is the final place on my list of New Haven Faves, and the one most dear to my heart:
Breathing Room Yoga Center
817 Chapel St. (between Church and Orange)
New Haven, CT 06511
What It Is: My home away from home. The place that kept me sane for 2.5 years. My community. It also moonlights as a kick-ass yoga studio that was voted New Haven’s Best last year.
How I Found It: I came to New Haven in January, 2011 for an interview at Yale. Part of the interview process, for me, was to check out the local yoga scene to see if it was tolerable. I Googled several studios in the area, but Breathing Room looked like it might be the best fit. Plus, it had the added benefit of being within walking distance, so I dragged my friend, whom I was staying with, through the slushy, snowy streets of downtown to take class at a studio that didn’t even have wood floors (instead, it had this weird, spongy foam that was designed to look like a wood floor) and was situated behind an antique shop and separated from the antique shop’s offices by only a curtain (so we could hear any phone conversations that occurred behind that curtain). Despite these shortcomings, there was something about the place that felt right, which leads me to the next part of the story:
How I Ended Up Teaching There: Each incoming student at Yale gets paired up with a “big sib,” someone to whom you can ask all your questions and from whom you can seek advice. I asked my big sib if she had any yoga recommendations in New Haven and she said that while she wasn’t a fan of yoga, her friend, Lillian, was. She also said that Lillian taught at Breathing Room and that if I was looking for a teaching gig, I should chat with Lillian. I got in touch with Lillian (who was to become one of my best friends), who put me in touch with Margot, the founder and owner of Breathing Room and we set up an audition. A few weeks later, I was a regular teacher on the schedule, teaching vinyasa flow and, later, prenatal yoga. I have been blessed to watch our community grow and see us move into a new space (with real wood floors!) and I find Margot, my fellow teachers and our “karmie” (work-exchange) staff to be a constant source of comfort and inspiration.
Taking Class There: A wide range of classes are offered, so there’s something for everyone! Beginner and Level 2/3 classes, Iyengar- and Ashtanga-inspired, Kundalini, good ole fashioned vinayasa flow, evening Candlelit classes, Prenatal Yoga and Lotus Flow. Check the schedule for class times. When you arrive, call up from the call-box on the street or punch in the code. Walk up the stairs and turn left. The main studio is clearly marked on the left side at the end of the hall. Bathrooms are directly across the hall to the right and the Forest Room (second studio) is the last door on the right. Regardless of where you are taking class, check in with the person at the front desk and leave your shoes and belongings in the cubbies in the back room/changing area. Shower facilities also available.
Cost: Breathing Room boasts the best prices for yoga in town. All prices shown are for students/non-students. Drop-in – $14/$16; 5-Class Card – $60$75; 10-Class Card – $115/$135; Monthly Unlimited (no student rate)(1 mo/3 mo/6 mo) – $130/$340/$600. Tax not included. Breathing Room frequently offers special rates and promotions, so check in with the person at the front desk!
Why I Love It: I read this quote at my last class at Breathing Room. Amazingly, it comes from Sons of Anarchy:
“There’s an old saying – that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I don’t believe that. I think the things that try to kill you make you angry and sad. Strength comes from the good things, your family, your friends, the satisfaction of hard work. Those are the things that will keep you whole, those are the things to hold onto when you’re broken.”
I often felt very broken in New Haven. My program is a demanding one and I was far away from my partner, family and closest friends. The culture of the East Coast is very different from that of the West and my classmates (and many of the people surrounding us) were under the same demands and stresses and crazy schedules as I was, thereby making it difficult for us to really be present for one another. There were days when the last thing I wanted to do was to go and teach yoga, to “give up” even MORE of myself to other people. And then I would get to Breathing Room and sit with my students and suddenly everything would be okay. From the monthly potlucks, to yoga in the park, to Sunday morning classes and friendships with like-minded people, being at Breathing Room was a place that allowed me to be me, to feel at home and at peace with myself. I will be forever grateful to each and every person who makes the Breathing Room community so unique, special and vibrant. Om shanti. Namaste.