I’m not a yoga pro by any means, but I’m pretty pro-yoga. I also like to eat. So I was both nervous and excited for the inaugural Yoga Supper Club in New York City’s West Village. What could be better than getting back into yoga with an intimate, hands-on, 90-minute class taught by a consummate pro in a comfortable home studio, followed by a delish, multi-course dinner made from seasonal fruits and vegetables, and local meats? I’ll tell you what: All that plus booze, which, happily, was provided. (And for just $100 per person.)
Alex Auder has been teaching yoga around the U.S. for more than 15 years, and I’d heard that her classes were tough. But a killer challenge yields great rewards (in this case, physical and gastronomic). Alex runs West Village Yoga out of her gorgeous townhouse – her studio is a beautiful, light-filled space on the third floor. In fact, you’ll remember her from the series of sick yoga poses she demonstrated specifically for Blisstree, in which you can glimpse her studio.
Speaking of glimpsing, as soon as I saw my fellow classmates, sheer panic set in. Clearly, these 10 women and men were all frighteningly advanced yoga practitioners. But soon I felt completely comfortable. Alex believes in paying close attention to everyone, and always gives an easier option for the – shall we say – less advanced students. And she’s not shy about physically adjusting, manipulating, and stretching your body so that you can reap the full benefits of each pose. (Lots of instructors never bother to do that.) While I never felt like the 90-minute class was going too fast for me, I quickly became thoroughly drenched in sweat. I was sweating from places I didn’t know I could sweat from. I honestly didn’t know that after a yoga class, a person could feel like they had just run ten miles – which that clued me into Alex’s teaching skills as opposed to previous instructors I’ve had.
After our final namaste, we changed back into our normal (in my case, not-totally-soaked-with-sweat) clothes, and headed down to Alex’s cozy kitchen, where, as was promised, a delicious blackberry sake cocktail awaited each of us. Lya Mojica, the talented woman behind Lya Foods, had planned our entire meal around the Fire (or summer) element, according to the Chinese philosophy of the five elements.
Fire is the most yang element, which means it’s the most active, masculine, and creative of all of the elements. And, in terms of food, fire doesn’t necessarily mean spicy. In fact, flavors that balance the fire element are bitter, bland, cool, and refreshing. Lya grew up in Mexico cooking with her grandmother, and told us that she really learned how to be creative with her food when she followed a raw food diet for two years. Now she runs her own catering/consultation service, but still finds time to practice yoga.
Lya stressed that it’s very important to her to buy what’s fresh and local; she found that evening’s produce from the nearby Union Square greenmarket. And the results were nothing short of phenomenal. Around Alex’s farmhouse dining table, we feasted on scallops in a cool avocado sauce, followed by a buffet-style dinner. I really like buffets, because they mean I can eat a lot. And I sure as hell did. We dined on mini-mushroom and walnut burgers; egg salad wrapped in squash; a kale salad; a beet and kidney bean salad, and corn muffins with a chipotle goat butter. Dessert was a rich chocolate mousse, thickened with avocado and topped with raspberries, alongside a blueberry tart. I remember each of these dishes distinctly, and I want them all. Now.
Alex and Lya provided an incredibly welcoming environment with both the yoga class and the evening meal. (I tend to be stiff and silent around strangers, and even I had warmed up by the time I left.) It was impossible not to, with all the good energy flowing through that room. Oh, damn — that was a little yoga-y, wasn’t it? Well, then it’s official — I’m getting back into yoga, in a big way. I just need to invest in more absorbent yoga clothes.
All photos: Briana Rognlin