Movement is medicine for Sunyatta Amen, proprietor and head instructor at MamaSita Movement & Wellness Studio. She expresses this philosophy through an eclectic menu of group classes such as Urban Fusion Belly Dance, Zumba, and Brazilian Samba Workout. During classes, students gain confidence as they shimmy hips and undulate bellies through each 60- to 90-minute workout.
"Our brain is designed to realize what we wish, without any minor errors," says Dahn Yoga founder Ilchi Lee, "If you want success, it will create success. If you want happiness or health, it will create them. Anything is possible, as long as negative thoughts and emotions don't interfere." To make this challenging, yet hopeful philosophy accessible to all, Lee combined the Eastern concept of chi energy with his own brain-management system, developing a distinctive program that unlocks inner peace and sweeps up brain clutter caused by the daily stress of always having to find Waldo. Warm-up yoga maneuvers awaken muscles before 30–40 minutes of breathing, stretching, core practice, and meditation—including a signature brain-wave vibration technique that aims to calibrate mental and physical energies. Cool-down exercises ease the body back into quotidian functionality before a 10-minute teatime invites socialization among participants while bolstering pinkie endurance. Dahn Yoga is also taught at independently owned and operated franchises called Body & Brain Yoga.
A licensed chiropractor and experienced martial artist, Dr. John Surie started practicing hot yoga when he met his future wife, Natalie. Charmed by her Australian accent and passion for the practice, he soon became an avid Bikram student himself, and in 2002, the husband-and-wife duo opened their first studio with Natalie helming her own curriculum of Bikram-inspired classes. Today, their hot-yoga empire has expanded to five studios sprinkled across the United States and Australia, each teeming with certified instructors who lead students through 13 different class styles. Designed to make hot yoga accessible to everyone, classes range from the studio’s signature Ignite series, which introduces newcomers to the foundations of hot yoga, to intense Shape classes that see stretchers melding hot-yoga and Pilates moves while solving Pythagorean equations.
Each studio comes equipped with special flooring tailored to the humid environment of hot yoga, as well as air-circulation and advanced heating systems to keep fresh, hot air blowing.
Hot Yoga's name is a simple representation of a complex art. There, yogis gather students in warm rooms for 60- to 80-minute stretching sessions that limber up the body, purge toxins from the blood stream, and accelerate the natural healing process. They teach primarily Vinyasa-style yoga, which connects asana through flowing movements supported by deliberate breathing exercises. Beyond classes, the instructors also keep guests stretched and sweltering in private lessons or group yoga parties.
In addition to simple lessons, Hot Yoga's staff also unlocks the art of instruction itself, offering both a 200-hour and 500-hour registered-yoga-teacher certification in accordance with the teaching standards of the Yoga Alliance. These lessons involve both classroom time with senior instructors and personal study, and culminate in a test in which yogis must be able to describe what the bottoms of their feet look like when upside down and backwards.
Owner and studio director Valerie Grange believes that you can "discover your true self through the healing power of a regular yoga practice and mind-body holistic therapies." She created Buddha B Yoga as a place where students of all experience levels can further their mental and physical well-being. Along with a team of diverse and experienced instructors, she leads students through various styles of yoga on the sunny studio's gleaming bamboo floors. In Vinyasa classes, students link continuous, flowing postures with the deep-breathing Ujjayi technique, or turn stiff muscles into pliable play-doh during Yin and Yang yoga's sun salutations. Demonstrating their passion for the earth, the staff promotes veganism and hosts workshops to raise funds to help rescue animals and spirit animals in need.
Get off at the Dupont Circle Metro, walk a few blocks and then up to the fifth floor of a narrow building to stumble – panting – into Yoga District. Offering some of DC’s least expensive yoga classes, the studio is as basic as they come, with spare rooms that put changing stations, bathrooms and workout areas in close proximity. Still, the actual yoga space, while small, is clean, sun-filled and well-stocked with yoga accoutrements, and freelance teachers regularly come in to teach a range of disciplines, from vinyasa and restorative to yin and yogalates. Yoga District has five other studios around the city, each similar in philosophy and teaching methods.