This week we sat down with Sarah Levey, the co-founder of Y7, a New York City hot yoga studio with a truly unique spin. Sarah and her husband have taken yoga to the next level by swapping the spa music with pump up tunes. You won't find chanting or third eyes in their candlelit studios. If you want the benefits of yoga while listening to music that will get you rallied rather than wind you down, Y7 is for you. Believe us, hip-hop Wednesdays will have you hooked.
What inspired you to start Y7?
My husband (and other half of Y7) Mason, used to practice yoga everyday at a studio in our hometown in Michigan. It was similar to Y7 in the sense that it had low lighting, it was heated, and the music was really dope. It was still traditional yoga music but they played remixes and it just had a cool vibe.
I started practicing with him back home and when we moved to NYC we couldn’t find yoga that we liked. There are so many different kinds, it was overwhelming and there was just nothing that compared. I’ve actually walked out of classes before. I found that a lot of instructors were ego driven and talked a lot about their own endeavors. We both got fed up and stopped practicing all together for two or three years.
Mason went home to Michigan for a little bit and got back into yoga. It was then that we decided we wanted to try to create something we love. We hired instructors off of craigslist and rented a small space in Williamsburg - a fourth floor walk up and we had a rolling trunk with mats inside it. We checked people in in the hallway with a rolling desk. When we had our first client buy a monthly unlimited package we had to get a real space. We still only had a 7am, 7pm, and an 8:15pm class that either Mason or I would oversee before or after work.
Eventually we outgrew that small space and moved into a bigger space in April, 2014 and now we are continuing to expand to Flatiron and Soho.
What are some songs we can expect to hear at Y7?
We have Hip hop Wednesdays which is always centered around a specific artist, this week it’s ASAP Rocky. Others are FKA Twigs, the Weeknd, Drake, Florence and the Machine.
A lot of our teachers are really into music so they find underground music that you would never even know about. It’s really cool.
What’s it like working with your husband?
Hardest fucking thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s great but we spend a lot of time together and we work so differently. I can’t go home from the office and complain to my husband about work. I’m not a morning person, he’s up at 7am. I like to write reminders down with a pen, he needs to have an iCal calendar invite. While these little things are funny, the important part is that I know there is a level of trust with everything and we are always on the same page with our vision.
What is your go-to food before and after a workout?
Before I usually go for a banana for the potassium or green juice.
After class it’s kind of a free for all. If I’m in Williamburg I go to Juice Generation and get a bowl or smoothie. We also eat a lot of Sweetgreen.
What are 3 staples always in your fridge
1. Wandering Bear iced coffee. It’s made in NY and they deliver. We have the wackiest schedules so we always need coffee around.
2. Tomatoes and mozzarella, it’s my go to snack.
What’s your favorite meal of the day and why?
I love breakfast but I don’t like eating it when I wake up. I love eggs and breakfast food at lunch or dinner time.
How do you stay hydrated?
I carry a giant water bottle with me all the times and force myself to drink it. I try to drink at least 60 ounces a day
You’re on an island and can only bring 3 things with you. Go.
2. Eyelash curler
3. My dogs. Bye husband!
What would you say to someone who is hesitant to try Y7?
The great thing about us is that our classes are dark and there are no mirrors. It’s designed like that because we found the yoga industry in New York to be very pretentious and everyone is always looking at other people’s bodies and what they're wearing. Yoga isn’t about that, it should be about your personal journey. There are some moves I’ll never be able to do, but I'm okay with that. There’s an arm balance thing my husband can do that I’ll just never be able to do. But I can touch my toes and my husband can’t! Literally you can lie down in the back of the room and nobody will notice.
Biggest takeaway from Y7?
It’s not so serious. It should be fun. Not everyone’s body is going to look the same. It’s not a competition. Y7 should make you feel great about yourself.