Six hot yogis

We asked how regular practice changed six New Yorkers' bodies---and their lives.



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  • Photograph: Zenith Richards


  • Photograph: Zenith Richards


  • Photograph: Zenith Richards


  • Photograph: Zenith Richards


  • Photograph: Zenith Richards


Photograph: Zenith Richards


Desiree Pais

21, freelance writer, East Village

How did you become a yogi?
I discovered Bikram yoga about a year ago for egotistical reasons. I was looking for a way to shed the 15 pounds I'd gained since coming to New York City. At the time, I was really depressed, smoking a pack a day, drinking every night. I lost all the weight, and I started to feel these emotional changes. I just got obsessed with it. I decided to do teacher's training this summer, and it changed my entire life.

What's your current practice like?
I practice every day, usually alternating between classes at Jivamukti Yoga Center (841 Broadway between 13th and 14th Sts, second floor; 212-353-0214, and the Vinyasa Flow classes at Yoga Vida NYC (99 University Pl at E 12th St, sixth floor; 212-995-5553, If I get worn out or my muscles start to hurt, I try to remember what one of my teachers told me: The days that you don't feel like doing yoga are the days that you need it the most.

How has yoga affected your diet?
I used to be predominantly vegetarian, but now I'm totally raw vegan. I got really into live-food nutrition and superfoods.

What's the biggest payoff?
I used to have horrible posture; I was always slouching. My Russian relatives were always smacking me on the back and telling me to stand up straight. Through practicing so much, my body became realigned and my posture has changed. I'm also not on any medications and have stopped smoking and drinking.

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