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.
Platoon's two-hour self-defense training course was developed by Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Noah Spear as a means of training teenaged girls and women in easy and effective techniques to escape a physical attack. She leads the small classes, giving personalized instruction that allows participants to perfect street-smart self-defense moves in an intimate setting. Practice on a real-live man before heading out into the wild armed with the knowledge and the ability to dodge danger. Call ahead for availability.
John Morris made his fortune in iron and then, with the help of his sister Lydia, turned to a far more delicate medium: exotic plants. Starting in the 1880s, the duo traveled the world in search of specimens to bring back to their Philadelphia home. That formidable collection blossomed into the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania after the siblings donated their estate to the University of Pennsylvania in 1933.
Their carefully manicured English-style gardens, complete with swan pond and azalea meadow, now also belong to the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors today stroll winding footpaths among 13,000 plants, hailing from 27 countries; there's a prominent Japanese influence in several areas, including the Japanese Hill and Water Garden. Stately trees dot the property, including trident maple, Engler beech, and Bender oak?the latter of which researchers believe may predate the Morris estate by more than 100 years. And some notable plants are kept inside: the Victorian-style fernery encases tropical fronds and trickling waterfalls in a balmy paradise of glass.
Children especially flock to the Garden Railway, where G-scale model trains chug through a miniature garden, passing buildings made entirely of natural materials by skilled chipmunk carpenters. The Garden Railway runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and on weekends through mid-October. They and their minders also tend to enjoy scrambling across wooden bridges suspended high above the forest floor to get a bird's-eye view of the arboretum at the Tree Adventure.
Equilibrium Spa serves as an oasis for those in need of an escape from life's trials and tribulations. Much like diamond-studded pajamas, Equilibrium Spa offers a unique blend of luxury and comfort; wooden floors, open spaces, and plush furniture welcome guests as they enter. Aestheticians administer more than 10 types of facials, ranging from personalized pore-cleansing treatments to anti-aging blends that include actual 24-karat gold. Those in need of stress-relief can turn to the spa's massage therapists, each of whom is proficient in specialized massages, wraps, and detoxifying treatments. For further beautification, the staff also spruces nails with multiple mani-pedi treatments and can rid skin of unwanted hair with waxing services.
For more than 25 years, the Harcum Music School has been bringing music into the lives of children and adults through intimate one-on-one lessons. The family-friendly music school operates out of the white-cottage home of Richter Hall on the campus of Harcum College in Bryn Mawr. Inside, passionate instructors cultivate first-time students in all manner of instruments, from the precise fingerpicking of the mandolin and banjo to the slap hands of the electric bass.