“This is what we dreamed about back in the day, when people made fun of us and called us pretzels,” Irini Res says about the massive growth in yoga.
The Ashtanga Yoga teacher at the Upper West Side's Ailey Extension took up the practice after battling breast cancer in 1996, which took her out of the high-powered career in banking she never stopped to realize wasn’t making her happy. Yoga gave her not just balance but empowerment to fight the disease.
“The only thing that gave me hope was to know that I could do something about it, [and that] was get home, relax, stretch, open up my heart, open up my body, align myself back and maybe in my own way drive this sucker out,” she recalls.
There are dozens of styles, but “yoga is yoga in that we all do the same poses,” says Res. It comes down to increasing balance, flexibility and strength, which are valuable at any stage of life. “Yoga takes your skeleton and puts it back in its proper alignment.”
But not all yoga is the slow, meditative movements you first think of. Res walked us through the most popular classes — with one piece of advice for anyone looking to start their practice: “Come in with an open mind and know that you’re going on a journey. You’re going to feel a difference from the very first class.”