Gateway Bodyworks owner Lisa Firey believes deeply in the power of holistic treatments, as she has seen remarkable results firsthand. When her beloved dog, Porter, came down with an immune disease, doctors attempted to treat the symptoms with Western medicine. She suspected the medicines were weakening Porter’s immune system, so she began to research alternative methods. Soon she was treating her dog with vitamin C, nasturtium, and dandelion root, as well as massage. This method reenergized Porter and prolonged his life. Impassioned by this discovery, Lisa went on to earn a degree in muscle therapy and is now pursuing a doctorate in natural health.
Today, Lisa employs a staff of 20 experts to practice holistic healing methods. Within her garage-turned-spa space, her team focuses on acupuncture, bodywork, and massage. During reflexology treatments, therapists push pressure points on the feet, relieving stress and removing stuck-on shoe inserts. Acupuncturists treat everything from fatigue to autoimmune disorders and suggest herbal remedies. Alternatively, massage therapists use the long, languid strokes of the Swedish modality, and can also alleviate pain related to sports injuries, pregnancy, and postpregnancy. To round out the center, Lisa also set up a yoga studio with classes such as Hatha, Mommy & Me, and Kundalini.
At Power Yoga Works, winner of the Suburban Yoga category in Philadelphia magazine's Best of Philly 2008, certified instructors guide aspiring yogis of all skill levels in muscle-toning and detoxifying classes. The studio's focus centers around the power Vinyasa style, a modality that combines deep-breathing exercises with sequenced sets of flowing poses to help to build strength, increase flexibility, release tension, and purge the mind of distracting heavy-metal guitar riffs. Fledgling flexers receive a proper introduction to the fundamentals during four-week beginners courses that teach body alignment and come with a complimentary yoga mat. The schedule boasts copious classes and meeting times, helping students to salute the egotistical sun seven days a week. A warm, spacious studio allows up to 65 students at a time to stretch and bend without disrupting their neighbors' wingspans.
Rachel Odhner and her team of dedicated teachers bring their love of yoga to all portions of the population. They introduce beginners to the exercise form with gentle and friendly classes. They tailor their programs to kids, seniors, and those suffering from Parkinson?s. They found each of their classes in the practice of Anusara yoga, which incorporates chants, breathing exercises, and asana meant to reveal the beauty in each practitioner. With a schedule boasting classes from early in the morning through late evening, there are options for all ages and skill levels from Beginner/Gentle to Yogahour.
Mindfulness is the goal of everything Verge Yoga does, from flowing yoga sequences to breathing exercises to meditation. Specialized classes cater to different skill and experience levels, although every session provides its own sort of calming escape, encouraging thoughtful introspection even while incorporating challenging sequences of movements.
For newcomers, introductory-level sessions explore basic poses and breathing techniques, developing the strength, flexibility, and balance that students will need when they move on to more demanding classes. These advanced classes use deeper stretches or seamlessly flowing asana sequences to provide more of a challenge. With continued practice, the instructors help students develop the sort of calm self-awareness that can add stability and clarity to their entire lives.
At Dana Hot Yoga, the path to relaxation is sprinkled with sweat. Within a heated studio, Vinyasa classes—which accommodate both advanced yogis and beginners—mix rigorous sequences with meditative breaks. By varying the pace and intensity, instructors ensure each workout targets almost every muscle while bringing the mind to stillness. And the warmth is an integral part of the experience as well, as it helps loosen up tendons so they flex further and release stored toxins.
Even though the environment is hot, the prevailing attitude is anything but. Teachers stress that students needn't be flexible or have ball bearings installed in their joints before taking their courses. For them, consistent practice and a positive outlook are more important than perfection.
While studying under renowned Ashtanga masters, Mark Nelson, owner of The Yoga Garden, learned that each person receives unique benefits from their yoga practice—be it the calmness felt postclass or the increased physical strength gained from core-centric poses. His roster of instructors, a diversely trained group, teaches with this knowledge in mind. The guiding yogis include a prenatal yoga master, a former philosophy student and martial artist, and a published author who pens poetry when she is not positioned in downward facing dog. The faculty also offers lessons in Pilates and meditation, allowing clients to choose from multiple, mat-paved routes to inner peace.