At each of its 31 area locations, the YMCA of Greater Houston pursues a mission to bring health, wellness, and personal growth to communities. Kids leap into activities ranging from swim lessons and youth sports to a teen Youth & Government program that stirs up confidence and leadership abilities in students, preparing them for mudslinging student-council campaigns.
Zumba, ballroom dance, and Les Mills group exercise classes shake up adult workout routines, as complimentary childcare frees up parents to pursue fitness goals. Meanwhile, adult sport leagues such as basketball and racquetball result in friendly competition and hyper-literate team names inspired by obscure philosophers.
At Yoga West, experienced, dedicated instructors promote healthy, centered lifestyles with sessions that unite the mind and body within a nurturing environment that emphasizes community, not competition. Owner Kristin Abel—whose motto is "It's just yoga"—welcomes patrons of all ages, shapes, and skill levels to ease into the relaxing world of yoga at their own pace, learning to release stress while having fun and getting fit. In classes suited to those who are stretching across the mat for the first time to advanced yogis, Abel and her team of dedicated instructors foster the release of toxins as students flow through Vinyasa's series of poses or stretch and soothe the body in restorative-yoga classes. The instructors also lead sensual belly-dancing classes and TRX resistance classes to bolster core muscles and cardiovascular systems without the need to jog with a giant sloth clinging to your back.
At the various Dahn Yoga studios throughout the country, it's quite common to see people bouncing up and down while hitting their abdomens with closed fists. Like the fighter who pumps himself up by pounding his chest before a big fight, the students perform this movement to help warm up their bodies and prepare them for a Dahn Yoga class. Practitioners believe the repeated fist taps concentrate energy in their abdomen and help them focus.
Next, they move on to more traditional yoga moves that help stretch and strengthen the body, as well as improve balance and boost circulation. Classes wrap up with a variety of energy work and meditation techniques, including brain-wave-vibration therapy and jigam—which helps practitioners quiet their minds and take a break from trying to figure out which really came first: the chicken or the egg?
This type of East Asian energy work drives Dahn Yoga, helping its participants create more balanced lives and enhance their overall feelings of well-being. Because it doesn't follow a strict set of yoga poses, but relies instead on mind-body exercises, Dahn Yoga is good for people of all ages, body types, and fitness levels.