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South Bronx 'Yoga Desert' Gets New Studio With Dance Classes

By Eddie Small | September 17, 2014 7:32am
 Owner Yosara Trujillo and manager Nyota Nayo (L-R) offer classes including Zumba and pilates at their new Sweet Water Dance & Yoga studio in the South Bronx.
Owner Yosara Trujillo and manager Nyota Nayo (L-R) offer classes including Zumba and pilates at their new Sweet Water Dance & Yoga studio in the South Bronx.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

CONCOURSE — About 25 years ago, Yosara Trujillo attended a yoga class with her aunt in Manhattan, sparking a longtime interest in the discipline.

After graduating from Ohio State Law School in 2011, Trujillo, who was pregnant at the time, decided to turn this passion into a career that would give her more free time as a new mom, opening up a yoga studio in the South Bronx.

"When I thought about the type of business that I would want to do, I wanted it to be a business that I was happy doing, that I would enjoy doing and that I would be passionate about," she said. "And this is the business that I chose."

Sweet Water Dance & Yoga, located on the spacious, sun-drenched second floor of 876 Gerard Ave., by Yankee Stadium, had its first full day on Monday, joining the nearby South Bronx Yoga, a small organization with no full-time staff, in an area that is otherwise largely bereft of yoga studios.

"This neighborhood has nothing anywhere near like that," Trujillo, 43, said. "In fact, The Bronx is pretty much a yoga desert."

Sweet Water offers classes including hot yoga, Pilates, Egyptian belly dancing, tango, flamenco and meditation.

The studio offers children's classes as well.

"We're hoping that the minute that things get up and running really well, that I can subsidize neighborhood kids and do scholarships and things like that," she said.

Nyota Nayo, who manages the studio and teaches dance and yoga classes, said she hoped to create a very warm and homey atmosphere for Sweet Water clients.

"I want them to come here and just feel comfortable, feel like this is their second home," she said.

People can sign up for classes at the studio's website or walk in. Hourlong sessions cost $15 and 90-minute sessions are $20.

The center is also offering specials of one 90-minute class and two 60-minute classes for $35, as well as one week of unlimited hot yoga and three 60-minute classes for $50.

Jessy Lugo, a yoga instructor at the studio, said she has never worked in the Bronx before but was excited to start.

"I'm thrilled because there's really no yoga up here," she said. "And the space is so beautiful and upscale."

Trujillo, who grew up in Kingsbridge and lives in Concourse, acknowledged that for some Bronxites, the challenges of poverty meant that they did not have time to worry about staying healthy.

"These are tertiary concerns, thinking about fitness and wellness," she said. "And that's part of the problem."

She hoped to help get people more interested in yoga by exposing them to the practice.

"What we want to do is take advantage of something that we believe is going to be lucrative so that we can then do things like offer mediation workshops for at-risk youth, work with single parents in really high-stress situations to help them manage their stress and cope a little bit better," she said. "We hope to affect people's lives very, very deeply."

Eleve Zelenak, who teaches at the nearby New Explorers High School and stopped by Sweet Water on Monday for a class, said she appreciated how close and convenient the yoga studio was to where she lived and worked, as well as what it brought to the community.

"I think it's something our neighborhood desperately needs," she said.