What It Is: “Sunrise Yoga” at the top of the Empire State Building
Who Tried It: Grace Gavilanes, PEOPLE.com associate editor
Level of Difficulty: 4/10 … Sure, there was yoga, but this experience was less about perfecting downward dog and more about the ahhh-inducing moments. And there were plenty of them.
Confession: I’m a born and bred New Yorker — and until this class, I’d never visited the Empire State Building. I’d been in its vicinity, though it was most likely because I gave into a burrito craving at the nearby Chipotle.
Since this seems to be a common thread among native New Yorkers, I never felt that bad about it. In a way, it cements our New Yorker status while also feeding into our own inherent procrastination. I guess we all think, “Meh, it’ll always be there.”
I’ve also been met with the inevitable question: “Oh, you’ve never been to the Empire State Building? Where are you from?” I usually smile and respond with “Queens.”
But I had always genuinely wanted to visit — and finally made concrete plans to do so when NYC & Company extended an invite to a “Sunrise Yoga” class at the top of the landmark. I was quick to say yes because a.) I’ve never taken a yoga class on a rooftop before and b.) I’ve never taken a yoga class on the rooftop of the freakin’ Empire State Building (!!) before. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to scratch both things off my list.
On that chilly Thursday morning, I met with more than a handful of eager participants at 6 a.m. in the lobby, where we all gathered before taking the elevator up to the 86th floor. There, we walked to our respective mats, facing yoga instructor Aino Siren, who’s a specialist of ISHTA practice, a combination of vinyasa flow and meditation.
It was cold, cloudy and dark. I kept my hooded sweater on for the majority of the class, while others braved the wind in sports bras. We kicked off the class with a few minutes of meditation before jumping right into stretches and warrior poses.
The class itself wasn’t out-of-this-world difficult. Did I have perfect form? No. Did I lose my balance in tree pose? Absolutely. But the class was less about that and more about focusing on the present, which is what Aino stressed throughout the hour-long session.
Verdict: While we couldn’t exactly see the sunrise because of the fog, I would do it again in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself. I felt energized and excited to take on the rest of my day. (Unfortunately, there aren’t any immediate plans to open the “Sunrise Yoga” experience up to the public.)
Also, I found out the Empire State Building is open until 2 a.m., which blew my mind and gives me an excuse to pretend I’m classy enough to suggest a nightcap on the building’s 86th floor like the fancy-schmancy Forever 21-wearing human I am. Pinky up.