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Isaac Pena may be the next Rodney Yee, whether he likes it or not

Isaac Pena

The closing of Issac Peña's yoga studio has meant less paperwork and more time in the yoga spotlight (Photo: Yogoer.com)

To an outside observer, the closing of Sankalpah, the home base of instructor Isaac Peña and his loyal community, may have looked like a major setback.

Instead, the studio’s closing has left the beloved martial-arts-loving, inversion-prone yogi a renewed sense of freedom and purpose—and it’s translating into yoga stardom.

“I don’t want to be the head of anything,” Pena says, smiling. He admittedly does not enjoy the business side of running a studio. “I want to win the best supporting actor award.”

But that’s not going to happen. Peña’s new free-agent status is making him harder to find, but in that too-important-to-be-available way that only makes the spotlight shine brighter on a rising star.

Peña first saw the writing on the wall when he left Sankalpah for a six-day photo shoot. While he was gone, studio attendance shrank by 300 people. After years of overextending himself, he decided he didn’t need to be that busy, and now he’s working three hours a day and practicing for “about eight.”

Isaac Pena

(Photo: Yogadudes.tumblr.com)

“Let everyone come to me,” he says. And they do—for his intense, athletic style of instruction, and his gentle, profound magnetism, both of which are reminiscent of Rodney Yee’s allure.

Students traipse across Manhattan for Peña’s classes at Pure Yoga, his Saturday Sadhana sessions at the new Bija Yoga in Union Square, and to Body & Pole for flexibility training.

And he’s focusing primarily on his true passion: private sessions with his devoted clients, at least one of whom has won an Oscar.

Peña admits this cautiously, laughing and shrugging off the indications of influence. He won’t commit to plans for the future, and prefers to see where life, and yoga, will take him.

“I’ve always tried to bring yoga outside of the box,” he says. Often that means his classes don’t quite match what’s listed on the studio schedule. “I tell Pure Yoga they should just put on the schedule: ‘Show up to Isaac’s class, and you never know what’s going to happen.’”

Peña approaches his career in the same way. But something’s definitely happening, and it may just be big. —Lisa Elaine Held

7 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. November 16th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Great for him to find more freedom in his life, this will parlay into more presence for the peeps he teaches….

    Yoga Stardom is an oxymoron.

    -j

  2. December 14th, 2011 at 8:40 am

    [...] its schedule, like aerial dance, acrobatics, and yoga. (Their roster includes star instructors like Isaac Pena.)Having good teachers and a fitness focus converts curious pole-fitness dabblers into clients who [...]

  3. February 1st, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    [...] made it onto our list of NYC’s Most Beautiful Yoga Studios.The line-up of teachers also wowed us. Isaac Peña, beloved creator of Sankalpah and a Well+Good fave, is a Bija regular. During this evening of [...]

  4. March 25th, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    [...] Isaac Pena is coming to France because at LUXYOGA our mission is give you the best that life has to offer. The [...]

  5. April 13th, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    [...] opens its first permanent space in AustinGuess who will be joining him at Exhale? None other than Isaac Pena, who will be right back where he started.Around the country, yoga festival juggernaut Wanderlust [...]

  6. April 23rd, 2012 at 9:33 am

    [...] his teaching career“It’s always been home to me, and I’m so excited to be back,” says Isaac Peña, who returned to the Exhale yoga schedule last week, after launching his teaching career there [...]

  7. July 24th, 2012 at 10:56 am

    [...] kind of loyality extends to yoga, too. Paul Birch, a student of yoga instructor Isaac Pena, says, “There’s just nobody like Isaac. He’s challenging, moves me deeply, and it’s [...]

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