Sports, Fitness & Wellness

Keep Fit: Summer Yoga Memories on the East End

Summer was a blast. Now fall is the time to get re-acquainted with goals, dreams and inner fulfillment. For the uninitiated, it’s time for yoga.

“Yoga is extremely therapeutic,” says Jenna Raynell, who teaches yoga at studios across the East End and will soon be a part of Well Within, a new studio opening in Springs later this year. “It has a way of penetrating all your layers, opening you up, and making you more flexible—in your body and in your mind. It’s a science designed to stop that constant chatter in our brains.”

Now that summer is over and fall has brought a sense of calm, many East End instructors note that the upcoming months are the best time to practice. “There’s nothing like fall in the Hamptons,” says Jimmy Minardi, who will teach at Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor and Mandala Yoga in Amagansett. “You still have the great weather, the beautiful beaches and things are a little more relaxed than in the summer.”

Minardi is a former professional athlete and, in addition to yoga, he teaches cycling, weight training and his year-round beach workouts at Main Beach in East Hampton. He advocates yoga not only as a way to open up the mind, but also as a supplement to other sports in order to prevent injury. “Incorporating yoga into your workout routine is a great way to improve your core, giving you overall body strength in very specific muscle groups. It also increases flexibility, stability and mobility, allowing for greater range of motion. But most importantly, it will keep you out of the injury bin,” says Minardi. Yoga slows your body down, in addition easing your joints through their full range of motion.

“The best part of practicing yoga on the East End is the scenery,” says Erica Velasquez, a yoga instructor and coordinator of Wölffer Estate Vineyard’s Yoga in the Vines, which was held throughout the summer. “Gazing at the sunset or breathing in the ocean air is a unique way to deepen your practice.” Outdoor yoga trended this summer, as Wölffer was one of many places that offered classes in nature.

Among them was the Parrish Art Museum, which hosted a special outdoor yoga event in late August. The class benefited the museum, as well as Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) program at Southampton Hospital. UZIT is an innovative initiative that strives to fill a void in healthcare, incorporating yoga and other wellness techniques to treat the whole patient and not just the disease. Famed yoga instructors Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee, of Yoga Shanti, direct the UZIT program and led the Parrish event.

“If any world is going to solve the problems in the world today, that’s the yoga world,” said Karan, an East Hampton resident, prior to the Parrish event.

“The gift of life is happening right now, and unfortunately in life we’re looking at the past or future,” Rodney noted. “Yoga releases tension in the body and teaches you to meditate with your mind.”

Another benefit of fall yoga on the East End is that traveling to studios to figure out which one is the best fit is much more feasible with the lighter traffic. And, many studios run specials. Hot’tauk Yoga on Montauk Highway in Montauk will host Community Yoga Mondays, where the 10 a.m. Bikram Hot Yoga and 5:30 p.m. Hot Vinyasa class are donation-based. Yoga Shanti will also have by-donation community classes on Tuesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m.

But, with mild fall days, yogis are still able to reap the benefits of practicing outside. “Beaches are empty and serene this time of year,” Raynell says. “Grab a mat or towel and do a couple sun salutations in the sand, practice your handstands, meditate on the crashing waves. It’s amazing!”

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