After only one year of serving as a destination for alternative fitness options, Houston Press named Ekam Yoga Center the Best Yoga Studio in its "2010 Best of Houston" issue. The health-conscious, eco-friendly, ghost-free studio lets prospective students sign up for a bevy of mind-body courses, including the calorie-burning Latin rhythms of zumba, the mind-clearing, tension-melting of meditation, and the muscle-bendiness of a yoga class such as hot yoga, gentle yoga or prenatal yoga. If you are a new student, you get a free Intro to Yoga course, offered weekly on Wednesday nights, to help you acclimate to poses and ready your mind for an episode of Criminal Minds. Almost 20 courses are offered weekly and classes begin as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 7:30 p.m.
While many neuroendocrine physiology scientists are up to their elbows in hypothalamus, Sara Turk uses her scientific credentials to foster a more holistic approach to wellness. She traded in her lab coat for a pair of yoga pants and spent the next phase of her life studying under celebrated yogis such as Anusara yoga founder John Friend and Sadhana Yoga Chi guru Doug Swenson. Boasting an understanding of yoga's many forms as well as a penchant for mediation, nutrition, and cross-training, she became a teacher and opened Cherry Blossom Studio with her sister. Turk's hard work and passion eventually earned her the opportunity to serve as a yoga ambassador with the popular athletic-wear company, Lululemon.
Turk and her seasoned team of instructors cater to students from all fitness levels within a spacious studio replete with gleaming hardwood floors and tranquil, green walls. Patrons who'd like to extend the peaceful notions discovered during their yoga practice can swing by the studio's boutique, where they'll find ecofriendly soy candles, eye pillows, and organic cotton leashes for spirit animals.
Sunlight streams into Rising Hearts Yoga Studio through the floor-to-ceiling windows as Hanif Hekima leads a group of familiar faces through an 80-minute class. Hanif, equipped with almost 40 years of yoga experience, has created a peaceful studio in which dedicated yogis further their practice and leave their home-entertainment systems lonely during six-week sessions. Students may attend up to five classes per week, and each session is tailored to students of a similar experience level, creating communities of yogis as they flow through the classes as a group. The studio’s six-week sessions are also punctuated with retreats and workshops that whisk students away to idyllic rolling hillsides and meadows full of bluebonnets for intensive meditation and deepening of yoga forms.
The Texas Yoga Center helps new and experienced yogis cultivate concentration and flexibility with a variety of 70-minute Hatha-yoga classes. Through a series of detailed instructions, students in beginner and all-levels classes learn basic moves such as the gate stance and chair pose, building a strong foundation for future yoga sessions and woodworking demos. Along the way, they receive personalized attention and a challenging workout from friendly certified teachers who fill each studio with warmth and laughter, welcoming questions as they show how to start a fire with an intensely focused stare. Intermediate-level sessions explore variations on basic poses, deepening the stretches to achieve a greater range of motion. Additionally, a convenient schedule allows participants to hone breathing and mind-focusing techniques that promote relaxation, pain relief, and relaxing scream-free sleep.
Instructors at YogaOne Studios tout training in disciplines that range from gentle hatha yoga to fast-flowing vinyasa yoga, weaving together poses from these disciplines in 60- and 90-minute hot-yoga classes for students of all levels. During the active flow class, instructors draw techniques from Baptiste Yoga, Forrest Yoga, and other vinyasa traditions, leading students from one posture to the next in a continuous flow. Alternatively, during the yoga-for-athletes sessions, instructors lead students through slow-paced poses that emphasize deep stretches, full breaths, and realistic sloth impersonations. In an effort to deepen practitioners’ relaxation, flexibility, and detoxification, they heat their practice rooms to between 80 and 105 degrees. Following these sweat-inducing sessions, students can enjoy access to multiple showers, changing rooms, and purified water.
Michele Stamos believes yoga and Pilates are two peas in a pod, a very, very fit pea pod. She started Happy Belly Studios to combine the two forms of exercise with her own light-hearted take on fitness. She and her staff greet students at the front door with "happy jelly bellies" and a smile, but once inside one of the two studio spaces, they get serious. In Studio A, instructors lead groups through Hatha and Baptiste Power Vinyasa yoga—a highly aerobic form of stretching—as well as Piloxing and Pilates barre classes. They host private Pilates lessons in Studio B, training clients how to use advanced equipment such as reformers, Wunda chairs, and flame-resistant Cadillacs.