Boundary-pushing yoga

Fusion classes and offbeat techniques add a challenging dimension to traditional practice.



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Vesica Practice at
Kula Yoga Project
This studio is tough to spot, but inside you'll find a sanctuary of hushed voices and warm colors, although the soothing environment lasts only until you unfurl your yoga mat. This vigorous, advanced blend of different yoga schools (including vinyasa and kundalini) will spike your heart rate and melt your winter-sore muscles. Plus, after enduring a yoga flow that pummels every major muscle, your entire body will ache for days. You're in good hands, though, because as you side-plank and headstand, you're sure to pull from the motivating energy of your fellow classmates, who match the intensity of flow bind for burning bind. 28 Warren St between Broadway and Church St (212-945-4460). Tue 4:30--6:05pm, Thu 6:30--8:05pm, Sun 11am--12:35pm * 85 North 3rd St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-463-9886). Mon 7--8:35pm, Sat 3--4:35pm * Drop-in $18, monthly unlimited membership $185.

Inner Warrior at
Apparently, finding your inner yogic warrior means stretching your calves out for down dog one second, then springing upright and firing off a throaty "hi-yah!" punch the next. The silent first half of this class follows a traditional but fast-paced vinyasa flow. Midway, when the music kicks in, you'll begin to incorporate martial arts into your movements: Soon you're roundhouse-kicking, leg-swiping and uppercutting. Trained in a range of martial-arts methods including kung fu, capoeira and hapkido, instructor Nadia Zaki, who has worked with Ralph Lauren, Nike and Fischerspooner, will guide you through a bare-knuckled yoga class. 97 Greenwich Ave between Bank and 12th Sts (212-620-0103, Tue 5:30--6:30pm, Sat 11:30am--1pm; day pass (only available when accompanied by a member) $30, monthly all-gyms pass $179, plus initiation fee that varies.

Forrest Yoga at Bend and Bloom
You'll be well on your way to a set of Ryan Reynolds--esque abs (see page TK for more) after you complete this core-intensive practice. Hatha yoga influences coalesce in the focused intensity of Forrest Yoga's deep stretches and muscle-smoldering binds, designed to challenge your mental stamina. And a focus on matching motion and breath will help to distract you from the unrelenting boat-pose-induced abdominal torture, consisting of a series of bicycle kicks, sit-ups and leg lifts. 708 Sackett St between Fourth and Fifth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn (347-987-3162, Sun 5--6:30pm, Tue 6:30--8pm; monthly unlimited pass $150, drop-in $18.

Punk Rock Yoga at Reflections
Punk Rock Yoga channels a spirit of rebellion minus the coke binges. The directive here is to break rules—the yogic kind—so you might be working out to Arcade Fire one week and a live drummer the next. Expect to be asked to fist-pump when you dip for a deep lunge and display your "ninja hands" when you dangle your digits during warrior two. The result is a taxing yet lively variation on a vinyasa flow. 250 W 49th St between Broadway and Eighth Ave (212-974-2288, Fri 6:45--8pm; drop-in class $20, one-month unlimited pass $125.

Power Yoga at
Prana Power Yoga
This hot-yoga course, led by Kristin Caforio (formerly of the Boston Ballet), is blistering, with the thermostat jacked up to about 100 F. You'll slip through balance-challenging positions in this hybrid of vinyasa yoga and ballet—moving from a standing split all the way down to lizard (a hip-yawning stretch made deeper by the heat) and spinning up to triangle pose. And while similarly athletic practices at gyms come off more like Jazzercise than yoga, this meditative session will wring out your emotional baggage, along with the sweat and toxins. 862 Broadway between 17th and 18th Sts, second floor (212-460-9642, Mon 6:45--8pm, 8:15--9:15pm; Tue 5:15--6:30pm, 6:45--8pm; drop-in $18, monthly unlimited membership $200.

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