Y7 is the yoga studio with a cult following, best known for combining traditional yoga flows with a non-traditional setting of hip-hop beats, dark rooms and candlelit settings—attracting the likes of Meghan Markle amongst other famous celebs who have sweated it out in one of Y7’s high-vibe classes. Formerly working in fashion as a brand/sales manager in NYC, Sarah Larson Levey co-founded Y7 (the Y stands for Yoga and the 7 represents the seven chakras) with her husband in 2013 at the age of 27. At the time, she recalls feeling frustrated by the yoga experiences that were available to her and has since disrupted the industry in such a way that Y7 now has 13 studio locations across the East and West Coast—totally reinventing the way people engage with the practice. “Y7 was created out of a personal need,” Sarah tells Amodrn. “I really wanted a consistent practice where I knew I was going to sweat, get a great workout and have fun.” Here, we chat to Sarah more about the inspiration behind Y7, her business journey thus far and why you won’t find any mirrors in her studio spaces…
What makes Y7 so different to other yoga studios?
We have taken out all the mirrors and practice in a dark, candlelit studio. We practice a fast vinyasa flow where we match the breath to the beat of the latest music.
What is the reason behind having no mirrors in your studios? Is this something you personally didn’t like when visiting other yoga spaces?
It was definitely a personal choice to encourage students to focus on what the poses feel like rather than what they look like. It’s also a way to avoid distraction and self-judgement.
How has Y7 incorporated music into traditional yoga practice?
We use the beat of the music to time the breath of the flows. and to guide the momentum to the peak of class.
Is yoga something you’ve always been into?
Not at all. Its only something I started to get into about 6 years ago. I pinched my sciatic nerve in 2012 was only allowed to do yoga as a form of movement.
What is your yoga training background and have you trained specifically in anything related to Y7’s unique concept?
I am a 200 hr RYT. Y7 was a creation of what I wanted—we only train specifically in our method once instructors have been hired.
What are some of the brand’s core values and how do these translate into your community?
We work really hard in having an open and safe environment for our employees and we do the same with the studio. We’ve created a space where there is no judgement, constant communication and thoughtfulness.
As an entrepreneur, what are some of your ultimate productivity hacks for getting things done?
Make a list and check things off of it. When I put something down on paper it feels more real to me haha.
Best business advice you’ve ever received?
To not take myself too seriously. Being a business owner comes with so much pressure and every little decision can feel like it is life or death if you let it.
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt on your business journey?
To not take everything so personally. Everyone is on their own journey and will have their opinions and reactions… most of the time those have nothing to do with you.
What was the hardest part of launching Y7?
Learning about commercial real estate! I literally had no other experience signing a lease other than apartments—so imagine my surprise when I found out you couldn’t just move in.
How would you best describe your health and wellness philosophy?
Do what makes you feel good. I believe that health and wellness is personal—there is no one size fits all.
How do you practice self-care?
I try to prioritize spending time with myself. I love getting all cozy on the couch with a book and a glass of wine.
What does the future look like for Y7?
More studios of course but we are also focused on doing more retreats and training that we take around the world—I want everyone to feel connected to the brand even if they aren’t able to make it into the studio on a regular basis.