Making yoga accessible in Manhasset

An empty storefront at 580 Plandome Road would stare out at Marc Altheim of Great Neck whenever he ran by. The former Manhasset Sporting Goods had been vacant for years.

Altheim, a retired real estate developer, was attending yoga classes in Port Washington and had recently been certified as an instructor.

“I just started imagining a putting a studio in there,” Altheim said. “Manhasset had not had any yoga that I knew of for quite some time, and I felt that Manhasset was ready for it.”

The image became reality when Altheim opened Know Yoga, Know Bliss in the space in September of 2018. Now a little over a year old, the studio offers classes for beginners, with a focus on making the practice of yoga accessible to beginners.

Altheim himself began yoga at his wife’s suggestion, after years as a frequent skier, biker and basketball player.

“When I was 45, I couldn’t even reach down to buckle my boots to ski,” Altheim said. “I wanted to be able to ski when I’m 90, and I knew I couldn’t keep going down this path.”

While he says he was hesitant to try yoga at first, Altheim began going to classes and realized that it was helping him. The accessibility he felt is something he’s trying to impart to newcomers at his own studio.

“Yoga is no longer so space-age to people anymore,” Altheim said. “It’s more common now, more mainstream than it was even 10 years ago. If you were doing yoga then, people would look at you like you were nuts.”

Inspired by Japanese yoga studios Altheim saw online, the space, which Altheim describes as “purposefully zen,” eschews typical tropes of Americanized yoga in favor of a simple layout, with the main studio being cordoned off with curtains to assist in participants’ focus during classes.

Altheim and five other instructors lead classes to focus on alignment and meditation, and more classes are designed specifically for teens, for restorative purposes, or to rejuvenate in the morning, among other things.

The studio is also relatively cashless, with most class participants registering through their website or through the app MindBody. Still, customers are welcome to drop in for a class with a $20 bill, Altheim says.

Additionally, Altheim is specifically looking to cater to  “those less likely to come” to a yoga class.

“The more inflexible you are, the more you need yoga, the more you need to explore that, see where you’re at and use it as a measuring rod,” Altheim said. “Over time, with the yoga, you’ll become flexible in your own way, and it’s more than just the physical.”

The studio, quickly becoming a fixture on Plandome Road, is also opening its doors to fellow businesses.

Altheim, a frequent patron of Louie’s Restaurant down the street, has invited the staff of the restaurant to a free private yoga session and plans to do the same with other businesses on the road.

Altheim also says that if a need arose for expansion, he would definitely do it.

“I feel that this could be a valuable community resource,” Altheim said. “Hopefully, we give the tools to people to do this stuff at home.”

Know Yoga, Know Bliss is located at 580 Plandome Road in Manhasset. Class schedules and enrollment are available at Single classes are $20, while blocks of 10 are $180. Participants who are looking to take even more can take unlimited classes for 30 days for $130.

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Rose Weldon

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