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Tiny Yoga Studio in Union Square Squeezes Students into 250 Square Feet

UNION SQUARE — When it comes to yoga studios, bigger isn't always better.

The tiny Atelier Yoga, which recently opened a 250-square-foot studio at 41 Union Square West, makes up for its small size with a floor-to-ceiling rope wall and a focus on personalized attention.

The goal is to challenge advanced learners and also use props such as ropes, chairs and bricks to correct problems that might have been overlooked in a large group class, said Carolyn Christie-Irvin, the owner.

“It’s about learning yoga, not just doing it,” said Christie-Irvin, 51. “When you see larger group classes, there are a lot of students making up whatever they can to be in the pose. If they can’t do [it], they fudge it.”

While many large studios can hold dozens of students, Atelier can only comfortably fit six students in one class, said Christie-Irvin, a Crown Heights resident and a yoga instructor for 18 years.

Students who attend Atelier Yoga are either looking for one-on-one attention, or they are really focused on learning yoga as a therapeutic practice rather than just an exercise, Christie-Irvin said.

Some students, for instance, come to Atelier with specific physical conditions, ranging from Parkinson's disease to joint pain, said Christie-Irvin, who called herself "a healer."

“I can see when there are problems," she said. “If a person isn’t holding one of their arms back far enough, then that might mean that the shoulder is tight or maybe the person has scoliosis.”

Though the studio is small, it has large, slanted windows that offer a sweeping view of the Empire State Building.

"It's a great location," Christie-Irvin said. "It's near the subway and our classes fill more quickly on the days the [Union Square] Greenmarket is open."

Although Christie-Irvin uses the space for private lessons, she also shares the studio with eight other instructors.

"Teachers are always looking for places to teach, but they might not want to commit to a yoga studio," said Christie-Irvin. "Here, they can be independent. It's like a cooperative in that way."

Atelier Yoga offers yoga classes for all skill levels, including beginner and advanced classes. Prices vary depending on class length and level, but range between $17 and $25. First-time students can take any level class for a discounted price of $10.