These days, yoga studios are as ubiquitous as Starbucks in New York: they’re in every neighborhood, practically on every other block. We New Yorkers love our yoga as much as we love our coffee, and there are a lot of similarities: a daily, personally sacred ritual that leaves us feeling rejuvenated and most like ourselves. It’s easy to think about eating and practicing yoga with comparable philosophies: slowly, open-mindedly, consciously and with a sort of respect for the food or the practice.
Joyce Englander Levy is a teacher at and a co-owner of Yoga Shanti’s New York studio (its first studio is out in Sag Harbor in Edible East End territory), and she believes in “the idea that we have a food body — we are what we eat, what we put in.” It’s something I believe, too; I am the pre-class tea I drank, pouring myself into a downward dog and then, with Joyce’s prompts, through chaturanga.
Where food and yoga meet, there’s a food culture focused on that food body idea. I asked Joyce for some recommendations of what the teachers and students at Yoga Shanti New York love to eat and drink. “I think the food culture is heavily vegetarian, and there’s certainly a consciousness of what’s being put into the body,” said Joyce. But more than a certain cuisine, Joyce said that the culture promotes “actually savoring your food, and smelling it, and tasting it, and looking at it, and actually enjoying it. At Yoga Shanti, that’s definitely what we encourage. Whatever your food choices are, you’re choosing to eat mindfully — and that’s how you’ll digest the best.”
Check out the interactive map, above, and Joyce’s recommendations, below.
“I basically live on juice,” said Joyce. “There’s one that just opened up on 22nd and I’m there, like, every day. I need to eat things that [make me feel] both satiated and like I can still really move.” Fresh-pressed juice is what Joyce sees students carrying into the studio the most. It’s also a restorative post-yoga go-to. The raw oatmeal with berry jam and Doctor Earth Green Juice are her staples.
Café El Presidente
“El Presidente is our new favorite spot. I walked out of class and saw some friends in in the window and went right in and had the most amazing dinner… Students hang out a lot at El Presidente — that’s starting to be a trend.” Joyce recommends the lobster tacos.
“That’s our favorite pizza place!” said Joyce. “The Popeye Pizza (with spinach, black pepper, gruyère and lots of black pepper) is mouth watering. I think I have to go order it now!”
“County is amazing and the bartender is really fun and brilliant. I’ve been on, like, two dates since my baby was born and they’ve both been there.” Their menu changes seasonally, but Joyce says that “every version of their kale salad is amazing and I don’t even like shrimp, but I love the way they serve it.”
“Sweetgreen is great, even though there’s always a line around the corner. And Sweetgreen you can order ahead of time if you download their app.”
“Num Pang is a great sandwich shop,” Joyce said. She usually orders the yam or cauliflower sandwiches.
Le Pain Quotidien
“Le Pain Quotidien is basically our office in the neighborhood. They have reliable wifi and really delicious organic food.”
“Cookshop on 10th and 20th St. They also have great wifi and delicious organic food.” For breakfast or brunch, Joyce loves their scramble, with roasted broccoli rabe, provolone, caramelized onions and crème fraîche.
Toby’s Estate Coffee
“We all run on Toby’s coffee, on 5th Ave. and 21st St.,” said Joyce. “If you want a treat, order their dirty chai. Their Flatiron Blend americano also has a special place in my heart.”
Feature photo courtesy of Joyce Englander Levy/Yoga Shanti NYC.