Outdoor yoga classes on Long Island
As the days coast into a long stretch of summer, yoga fans across Long Island can emerge from the four walls of the studio and take their practice outside. Scenic gardens, beaches, vineyards, and farms have become the summer setting for outdoor exercise, welcoming veteran yogis and beginners alike.
This summer, Long Islanders who like yoga -- or those who want to give it their first shot -- can take their mats virtually anywhere:
. . . ON THE FARM
WHEN | WHERE 8 a.m. Thursdays and 9 a.m. Saturdays at Sang Lee Farms, 25180 County Rd. 48, Peconic
INFO 631-734-7001, sangleefarms.com
CLASS LENGTH 90 minutes (includes herb walk and/or juicing)
COST $15 per session ($108 for nine classes). Reservations preferred.
In the early hours on a Thursday or Saturday morning, Carolyn Poncato meets her yoga students at the farm stand. They walk through the fields to a grassy area between the growing asparagus and lettuces for an hourlong class, emphasis on breathing and relaxation.
After yoga, Poncato leads the class on an herb walk, choosing one herb to pick, smell and discuss at every session, along with a related recipe to make at home. "We gear everything toward what's coming onto the stands," says Poncato, who's shared recipes for blueberries with peaches and mint, cilantro lime salsa and ratatouille with zucchini. Same goes for the fresh veggie juices yogis drink as they congregate back at the farm stand discussing recipes: a glass of green vitality, a ruby brew, or a carrot cooler.
. . . IN THE GARDENS
WHEN | WHERE 11:15 a.m. Thursdays and Saturdays at Old Westbury Gardens, 71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury
INFO 516-333-0048, oldwestburygardens.org
CLASS LENGTH 75 minutes
COST $15 (includes admission to grounds and house)
Rob Koudelka, 51, from Westbury had been a New York City firefighter for more than two decades when he retired and took up yoga. This is his fourth year taking class at the Gardens. Most days, he walks the mile and a half from home to the picturesque mansion and grounds, which have served as filming locations for movies such as "North by Northwest" and "American Gangster," as well as the television series "Gossip Girl."
On a recent Thursday, Koudelka is one of the first to unroll a mat in the grassy enclave rimmed with trees beyond the house's back lawn. He'd set his bag on the exposed roots of a giant tree that casts shade over those who prefer it.
"Smile at the sun as it warms the earth," the instructor, Lorili Henry, calls out as Koudelka and those around him followed her through stretches and poses. "Look up and away at the beauty," she says, her voice mingling with the sound of birds chirping nearby. Class ended with 10 minutes of Shavasana, students lying in the final relaxation pose and breathing deeply, their faces pointed toward a blue sky.
. . . ON THE TERRACE
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m. Sundays at Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill
INFO 631-283-7006, parrishart.org
CLASS LENGTH 60 minutes
COST $10 (includes museum admission). Reservations encouraged.
The Parrish Art Museum's 6,000-square-foot covered terrace -- open on two sides and facing west over a meadow of tall grasses and wildflowers and a vineyard in the distance -- hosts a new weekly yoga class.
"We'll be outside on the deck in the air helping people to stretch and get stress out of their bodies," says Mary Angela Buffo, the owner/director of Ananda Wellness & Yoga Center and teacher of the new class. An hour of yoga, she says, will help visitors "release their creativity and appreciate the creativity" that's on display at the museum.
. . . IN THE VINEYARD
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. Aug. 23, Sept. 20, Oct. 18 at Clovis Point Wines, 1935 Main Rd., Jamesport
INFO 631-722-4222, clovispointwines.com
CLASS LENGTH 75 minutes
COST $22 (includes wine tasting)
Cheryl Oleksak and Brian Bradley started off as wine club members, says Clovis Point general manager Kelly Bruer. Now, once a month, the pair of yoga instructors teaches an hourlong class on the lawn, which is tucked between the renovated potato barn that serves as tasting room and eight sprawling acres of vineyard.
Students get to sample some grapes after they pack up their mats. The wine tasting -- included with the price of a class -- usually features a chardonnay (unoaked), a rose, and two of Clovis Point's award-winning signature reds: a cabernet franc and a merlot.
. . . ON THE BEACH
WHEN | WHERE 7 a.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. Saturdays-Sundays with Yoga Long Beach, on the sand where Long Beach Blvd. hits Shore Rd.
INFO 516-889-0808, yogalongbeach.com
CLASS LENGTH 75 minutes
COST $19.50 (multi-class packages and monthly unlimited deals available)
"A beautiful sky, open views, and your mat, that's all you have," says Hana Anat Hershko, owner of Yoga Long Beach. Seven mornings a week through July and August, the studio holds an open-level class by the water. Students place their mats over a woodlike vinyl floor surface that gets rolled out on the beach, says Hershko, for stable, sand-free yoga.
They can pack up and head home after class, or spend the rest of the day at the beach. For those who feel adventurous and want to hit the waves, Yoga Long Beach has partnered up with Skudin Surf to offer a back to back yoga class and surf lesson package.
ALSO TRY Further east, Peaceful Warrior Yoga Center in Rocky Point hosts morning and evening classes on Friendship Beach ($20, 631-228-4319, peacefulwarrioryogacenter.com).
. . . YOGA PADDLE
WHEN | WHERE 8:30 a.m. Aug. 10, Sept. 7 and Oct. 12 at Empire Kayaks, 4 Empire Blvd., Island Park
INFO 516-889-8300, empirekayaks.com
CLASS LENGTH 3.5 hours (includes paddling, yoga, and breakfast). Reservations encouraged.
Once a month, kayaks launch into Middle Bay for a half-hour paddle through marshes and bird life. They dock at a park -- Baldwin Park or Marine Nature Study in Oceanside -- for 45 minutes of yoga, before paddling back for breakfast on the deck.
"I find the paddling relaxing, sort of like a warm-up," says Mike Fehling, owner of Empire Kayaks. "Being on the water is a calming experience, so it prepares you for the yoga," he says, and "it's nice to feel sun on you, makes it easier to get into poses."
His wife, Gabrielle, often bakes gluten-free banana muffins for breakfast, which might also include oranges, watermelon, bagels, and cold beverages, says Fehling. "It's a beautiful way to start the day."
. . . EARTH YOGA
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Wednesdays at Quogue Wildlife Refuge, 3 Old Country Rd., Quogue
INFO 631-653-4771, quoguewildliferefuge.org
CLASS LENGTH 60 minutes
Here's a spot just shy of outdoors to do yoga year round. The main room of the nature center has giant windows that look out on a 10-acre pond. Inside, Amy Hess says her students will find yoga companions in fish, swimming turtles and tortoises in tanks, along with taxidermied birds and owls hanging overhead, as if frozen in flight.
"It's almost like you're outside," says Hess, with the advantage that class can go on even through thunder, lightning, and the rare mix of elements that produces a rainbow. "You can see all the seasons." During the summer months, classes takes place in the evening, just as the sun begins to set.