This year is already off to a blazing start, and if anyone knows how to help you find your zen in 2021, it’s Sky Ting founders Krissy Jones and Chloe Kernaghan. Sky Ting, a New York-based yoga studio which has quickly found a cult following among the fashion set, lends its success to an emphasis on community and a more lighthearted approach to yoga.
“Sky Ting is really about community, and if you’ve ever been to one of our spaces you know that’s what we prioritize the most,” Jones tells L’OFFICIEL. “We never wanted a studio that felt corporate or like you were in and out and no one knows your name.”
At their three locations in Chinatown, Tribeca, and Williamsburg, Jones and Kernaghan merge their dance backgrounds with various yoga traditions to create Sky Ting’s signature playful methodology. In November 2019, the duo introduced themselves to a global audience with the launch of Sky Ting TV, a subscription-based streaming platform where members can access a variety of yoga flows, meditations, and breathing practices. The launch could not have been more aptly timed, as the global pandemic forced the world into lockdown a few months later. Access to at-home workouts became an invaluable and often essential escape from the stresses of daily life.
“Yoga will meet you wherever you are, whether you’re doing it in a chair, you’re in a studio with a group, or you’re alone in your apartment,” Kernaghan tells L’OFFICIEL. “There are always techniques to help you get more comfortable, quiet down your mind, and find your sense of self again.”
Here, the duo chats with L’OFFICIEL on navigating the pandemic, how they de-stress, and the best yoga poses for tackling anxiety.
L’OFFICIEL: You both started Sky Ting TV before the pandemic hit, how did the subsequent lockdown affect the sort of content you were putting out?
CHLOE KERNAGHAN: We had launched Sky Ting TV in 2019, but we were doing highly-produced videos using a videographer and making the videos very refined. Once the pandemic hit it was very clear that we were going to be filming from our homes, but that also gave us liberty to be very in the moment with what we were teaching as opposed to universal classes. We could do a class like ‘yoga for anxiety’ or ‘yoga for voters’ so we were able to gear our content calendar around what was going on in that moment, which I think our students and overall community appreciated. Even with the classes being pre-recorded it still very much felt like the teacher was talking to you and was with you in what you were going through, which I think was useful in building that feeling of community.
KRISSY JONES: I think our content got less precious in a way, and more fun and free. We’re not going to do a retake if we mess up a sequence. There’s no editing and people saw the insides of our apartments, having a more real experience with our students kind of differentiated us in the world of yoga videos.
L’O: What sort of requests or feedback have you been getting from members moving into 2021? What are people needing more of this year?
KJ: We get a lot of requests for more classes to do with your family. I think more people are feeling comfortable doing yoga now because inside of your own home you don’t need to have the proper outfit or feel funny if you don’t know the names of poses. More people are getting involved and doing yoga together, so I think more beginner classes and more classes for grandparents and moms and dads who have never done yoga. Definitely more basics, and people are needing a lot of anti-anxiety and anti-stress classes and techniques whether that’s breathwork or meditation or restorative yoga. Mental health is really important and we want to serve that need as everyone is struggling in their own way with the environment we’re all living in.
L’O: With the rising popularity of at-home workouts coupled with New Year's resolutions, a lot of people are getting into yoga but may also feel intimidated by it. What are some tips you have for those who are new to the practice?
CK: A lot of people have this stigma that in order to do yoga you have to be flexible and look a certain way, and obviously the industry doesn't make that any better because it caters to a certain image. A lot of campaigns will show the ultra-flexible very accomplished yogi doing an intense pose, but for us the practice is really practical tools and techniques that can help you feel more comfortable with yourself. When you're beginning the yoga practice we always emphasize having fun with it. It doesn’t need to be the most serious thing, and eventually you can start to refine your technique and do more complicated poses but that is definitely not the be-all end-all of the practice. The real point of practicing yoga is to give you tools to help calm your mind down so that you feel more centered and at ease. We all can do yoga, it just looks a little different on each of us.
L’O: What are some ways that you both manage stress and keep calm?
KJ: I’ve been leaning more heavily into what I know and believe in which are these techniques. My practice of yoga and meditation has gotten a lot more ritualized and it’s now something that I have to do every day, whereas in New York when I was bopping around town yoga was more fun and I could fit it in wherever. I’ve also just been going to bed earlier, reading more, being more simple, cooking more at home, and filling my days with fewer things, which helps me feel grounded and relaxed. It’s hard to get frenetic when everything else in your life is a little more chill.
CK: I feel similarly, doing yoga definitely helps with stress. Even though it’s our jobs and obviously we teach a lot of yoga, being a student for me is vital for my well being. Being able to take a class and not teach it and immerse myself in what I’m doing in that moment helps relieve some of the daily stresses of running a business and being a part of where the world is right now. Another simple thing I like to do is a short little dance-shakeout with music. Moving my body in a way that’s a little more spastic and not structured is a great way to get out anything that’s been held or lingering in my body. Also just the rituals of a longer morning and evening routine. When the world was open my life felt so crazy with getting up early to teach yoga privates and going out for dinner almost every night with friends. For me what’s been helpful is taking more time to do everything, which luckily with the lockdown we’re all in, it’s possible to move a little slower and a little more softly.
L’O: What are your favorite yoga poses for stress relief?
KJ: We have this pose that we do called rounded plow where you flip your legs up over your head, bend your knees into your ears, and you’re literally a snail in a shell just listening to your breath. That one’s fully putting yourself out of commission and healing whatever’s going on. Any restorative pose with a lot of blankets and bolsters where you can just let go into the support of your props and gravity acting upon your body is also good. For breathing, making your exhale longer than the inhale can help your nervous system switch from fight-or-flight to more a relaxed mode.
CK: One thing that I think should be part of everyone’s regimen is swinging your legs up the wall at the very end of the day. I do it from my bed and I sit there for 3-5 minutes just letting my feet and my legs drain. It’s such a shift in my nervous system that quiets me down, especially if I’ve been running around or even in a chair all day. It's a nice inversion that is really gentle on the system but allows me to drop into sleep way more quickly than when I don’t do it.