The Story of Good Ground Yoga


Every good story has a beginning a middle and an end. Every good story has a theme. The theme of this story is Be Brave Enough to Cause an Upset.


In the beginning I had been teaching yoga as a side job.  I did this while I was in law school and then as a practicing attorney.  At first arguing cases in Brooklyn Family Court and rolling out my yoga mat to teach felt symbiotic.  It was exhilarating even.  


But over time I started to dread picking up my briefcase or walking into court despite the important work that I was doing.  So I made the decision to leave my job, move out of Brooklyn and teach yoga full time.  This was my first upset which at the time felt more like coming up for air rather than an act of courage.  


That was 20 years ago.


The middle of the story goes like this.


I taught and learned and grew.  I met my teacher Ana Forrest unexpectedly at a 3-day workshop with my soon-to-be husband.  Within 24 hours after meeting her I knew that she would be my mentor and that Forrest Yoga would be my home.  I got married, gave birth to my daughter and studied and taught more and more.


And all the while I dreamed of opening my own studio.  Building community.  Training teachers.  Being a space holder. Sharing everything I knew about yoga.


My husband at the time told me I was crazy.  That it was too hard.  Financially risky.  And that he would never support my decision.


Years later, after my divorce, I made the decision to open Good Ground Yoga.  I found a small intimate space.  Painted the walls.  Created an alter.  Bought mats and props. Hired teachers.  Held a Grand Opening. 


This was an act of courage and of love.  


Since then Good Ground Yoga has been home for countless humans.


We believe in the transformative practice of yoga.  We believe that each person is unique.  We come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities.  We believe that each student brings to the yoga mat their own story, history, and experiences.   This is why we approach each student with wonder and reverence.  Our job at Good Ground Yoga is to make each student feel safe, well cared for and personally tended to. 


Our fundamental mission is to help our students better understand their body and nervous system, build both physical and emotional strength and resilience and learn to accept themselves 100%.


As for the end of the story?


As we boldly forge forward into uncharted territory of a studio without walls we know that our community is bigger than these four walls.


It lives in the hearts and minds of all our students. It lives in the ways each one of us brings what we learn on the yoga mat into our lives off the yoga mat. 


It lives in our thriving online classes, where we are learning that we don't have to go to a studio to create a sanctuary for yoga-- that it can exist in our own homes despite the distractions. 


It lives in our outdoor classes, where we are learning that being in nature can present unexpected gifts like reaching our arms to the sky and feeling the soft earth under our feet.


It lives in our online trainings and workshops, which are filled with students from all over the globe.  


And in all honesty the end of this story is really just another beginning.


Leslie Pearlman

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Leslie Pearlman is a former Forrest Yoga Guardian and Mentor Teacher with more than 20 years teaching experience. She has been teaching Forrest Yoga since 2002. She is the founder and director of Good Ground Yoga, one of the most well-known yoga studios in the Hamptons. She is widely known for her radiant energy as well as her compassion, support, humor and warmth. Leslie has the unique ability to make every student (regardless of ability, shape, size, age, or experience) feel safe and seen. She has taught thousands of students in New York City and the Hamptons and conducts teacher trainings and workshops nationally and internationally.In recent years Leslie’s passion has been in recovery work for addicts. Leslie is also a certified Y12SR teacher and has developed a Forrest Yoga based mindfulness program for drug and alcohol inpatient and outpatient treatment centers.


Prior to teaching yoga full-time, Leslie was an attorney at Brooklyn Legal Services where she provided legal assistance to domestic violence survivors. It was through this work that Leslie saw the connection between personal empowerment and self-healing.  This link is at the heart of Leslie’s teaching. She has a deep conviction that yoga can help you observe how you’re treating yourself and those around you. Leslie understands how to use yoga therapeutically and is creative in developing modifications for all her students.  Her classes move people deeply. Leslie has the uncanny ability to see where students are blocked and help them move forward and heal.

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Denise Hopkins

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Denise began her yoga journey after working for 13 years in the NYC fashion industry. Yoga became her saving grace to the competitive nature of the business. In 2005, she decided to take the Forrest Yoga training based on gut instinct. It was life changing. She completed her training with founder Ana Forrest and has spent over 15 years teaching in NYC and more recently in the Hudson Valley.

Denise (RYT500) is a Forrest Yoga Mentor (Guardian) Teacher and a certified Yoga Tune Up® teacher. She leads her own workshops, teacher trainings. and retreats. She has taught at New York University and teaches annually at Omega Institute. Denise loves traveling to teach workshops and Hands-On Assisting trainings for teachers.

In 2010 Denise partnered up with Kate Lubensky to create Yoga for Breast Cancer, a DVD created to address the needs of breast cancer battlers and survivors. It was so well received that they recently produced two more DVD’s entitled Gentle Yoga for Cancer and Yoga for Heart Health.

Through her training, Denise learned the skills she needed to let go of old behavior patterns which set her up for being “walked on.” She found an inner strength which birthed new confidence, passion, and lots of feeling. Denise draws from her strong sense of intuition and passion for hands-on healing.  She has a knack for reading the energy of students and responding to what they need. Denise’s way of instructing is direct, clear, and inspiring. It is her desire that every student feels seen and understood.

She also incorporates her work with Cranial Sacral Therapy into her hands-on assists and private sessions. She has studied at the Milne Institute as well as the Upledger School. 



Leslie’s classes are a spiritual experience. She expertly sets an intent that always resonates and then weaves it through every pose. The magic is felt in every class as you transform not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.  Leslie feels you and sees you whether in person or right now via zoom.  She is an outstanding communicator and a gifted healer.  Perhaps her greatest gift of all is she shares her soul and in turn opens up her students to be in touch with theirs.

"I have thought of you often and deliberately not removed myself from your email list. I chose to do this because you have no idea what a lifeline your class, you, were for me. I was in deep, self-protective, isolation mode and your community drew me out for a moment each day and enlivened my spirit. My gratitude cannot be conveyed. So thank you, Leslie. You are a beacon, a true teacher, a humane being."

Leslie is an exemplary yoga teacher and healer.  In 2014 I completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training.  It was life transforming.  Whether in her training or being in one of her classes; you know you are being seen and guided through your practice in a way that if you listen to what she tells you to do you will not only not injure yourself you may just heal what has been hurting you.  She is a gifted, passionate skilled practitioner.  Leslie has seamlessly taken her classes and trainings to the virtual world.  Words cannot adequately describe what a gift it is to call Leslie my teacher."