Unity Yoga to Bring Hot — Not Scorching — Yoga to Harlem


Things will get hot and slippery in Harlem this summer with the arrival of Unity Yoga, a hot yoga studio set to open July 1 at 311 West 127th Street – but not too hot.

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Yoga instructor Sarah Rehman, who lives in the 156-unit residential building, known as The Balton, has signed a 10-year lease for the property’s 2,500-square-foot retail space.  She will offer her specialty, a less scorching version of hot vinyasa yoga, along with a café and an industrial vibe, in a neighborhood that she said suffers from a yoga void.

“Yoga is very much a part of my everyday life and I have to go all the way Downtown or even to Brooklyn to take the kinds of classes that I like,” the yoga aficionado, social worker and graduate student at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work said.  “But there’s nothing like this Uptown.”

Yoga instructor Sarah Rehman
Yoga instructor Sarah Rehman

Hot vinyasa yoga is a rigorous yet disciplined form of yoga, normally practiced under extreme heat, which is thought to intensify workouts and cleanse the body.  Temperatures can range well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but Ms. Rehman said she will offer classes at a comparatively cool 90 degrees.

“It’s safer and you can work harder when it’s not as slippery,” she said.

Floors, ceilings and walls in the space feature exposed concrete and wood floors will be laid down in the studio space.  While Ms. Rehman, 27, is working with a branding strategist to flesh out the details of the aesthetics, she said the space will be left as “industrial as possible.”

“That’s more reflective of the Uptown vibe,” she said, noting that a front entryway will be transformed into a coffee shop and lounge area with an urban feel.

Zak Nathan of Ripco New York represented the landlord, The Richman Group Development Corporation, which owns three buildings between 127th and 128th streets, on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and St. Nicholas Avenue.

The yoga space is the sole retail space in what is known as The Balton North, while The Balton South features a roughly 5,255-square-foot retail space that is still vacant.  Both spaces had asking rents of $40 per square foot, Mr. Nathan said.

“Not only will it be good for the building but it will be great for the neighborhood,” he said, referring to Unity Yoga.  “There are very few specialized fitness users in Upper Manhattan, with a large demand for it.”

A practicing yoga instructor since 2005, Ms. Rehman said one-hour classes will begin at 6 a.m., with the last class offered at 10 p.m., with electronic registration available online.  She is roughly three-quarters of the way through her master’s degree in social work at NYU and upon completion plans to offer a yoga therapy program for people with mood and anxiety disorders.

“It’s been shown to reduce anxiety, stress and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder,” she said.

The Balton, a $68 million project, opened in September 2011 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, a $8.5 billion initiative to finance 165,000 new affordable housing units by 2014.

It is named for the late Charles “Ibo” Balton, an urban planner who was director of HPD’s Manhattan Planning Office and who oversaw the construction and rehabilitation of thousands of Harlem’s affordable housing units.  It is a 75-25 development, meaning that 25 percent of its units are reserved for households making up to 60 percent of the Area Medium Income for New York City.