Students glide slowly across the gleaming wood floors of Columbia Tai Chi Center, their controlled purposeful movements sihouetted in natural light from a window. Wesley Adams, the director and head instructor, leads students through the moving meditation that is Tai Chi, helping students find balance and peace as they learn the ancient discipline. Wesley also offers Q-Ex Mindful Movement classes, a contemporary fitness program that draws on the ancient practices of Tai Chi and Qigong to help build strength and reduce stress. All his classes are small, with a 10:1 student-to-teacher ratio to ensure all students can benefit from personal attention and no one student hogs all the relaxation.
Guided by the spiritual tenets of mindfulness, MindBody Health's owner, director, and teacher Diane Barnes watches over a spiritual sanctuary in her studio. In the Three Hours of Bliss renewal retreat, minds and bodies withdraw from the stressors of everyday life, focusing on the present moment and casting aside worries of morning traffic, speeding tickets, and upcoming mail-fraud trials. Because every mind and body is different, the theme and focus of every session depends on the needs of its participants—though each remains rooted in the spirit of mindfulness and balance within the individual. Previous and planned retreats include Learning to Let Go and Mindful Eating. Holding the highest of yoga training and education, Diane leads a supportive, disciplined classroom, strengthening her students' minds while expelling stress, tension, and chronic spit ballers.
Nine teachers. Twelve styles of classes. Seven days of class per week. Whether they’re expectant mothers, 7-year-old children, or lifelong power-yoga practitioners, yogis come to Om Yoga’s studio to practice their chosen ancient body-bending art. In each class, the instructors adhere to the eight-limbed philosophy of Ashtanga yoga, modifying the poses and stretches for students of all experience levels.
Many studios focus solely on two principles of yoga: asanas (poses) and pranayama (breath control). However, Om Yoga’s teachers focus on a practice that involves all eight aspects of this traditional art, which include such intangibles as morality, self-observation, and even the ability to control the senses, a helpful trick when staring into the sun while standing next to an angry skunk.
Flex + Fit cultivates an environment focused on well-being, from sweat-inducing fitness classes to habit-changing cooking classes. This effort was lauded by Charlotte Magazine in its 2012 Best of the Best feature. The group fitness curriculum includes sweat-inducing hot yoga, in which limbs bend and stretch in a studio stoked to the ideal temperature, and air classes that suspend students from the ceiling to execute mid-air yoga, ballet, or fitness moves, or—as recently featured on CNN—to nap.
Complementing the fitness classes are lessons in culinary exploration, hosted by head chefs and tour guides that teach small gatherings to craft meals and sip complimentary libations in an on-site kitchen. The fitness studio’s natural-wood floors give way to a wall-mounted Buddha figurine at the head of classes, and his-and-hers locker rooms lavish hard-working muscles with a soothing downpour from overhead showers bred from two prize-winning Amazonian rain clouds.
YogaFlex employs 16 accredited instructors to bend limbs and minds into harmonious configurations. Choose from more than 35 weekly classes, offered in tissue-tweaking styles including deep stretch, therapeutic Ashtanga yoga, and toxin-wicking hot yoga. All sessions are lead in a friendly and comprehensive manner, with overtones of constant challenge and encouragement. Because the studio’s supply of yoga mats is limited, students are encouraged to bring their own cushy rectangles from home.