Mahatma Gandhi once spoke the words, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Yoga instructor Kimberly strives to live by this motto. Though she holds degrees in civil engineering and finance, she chooses instead to volunteer in the community, coach young female runners, and support education programs. At Yogacentric, Kimberly helps students of all ages manage stress, lose weight, and successfully impersonate a rubber band through 10 classes and counting. Trained in the Ashtanga system of yoga, Kimberly emphasizes breath as the connection between asanas.
During Shiva Shanti Yoga School's Vinyasa-style yoga classes, founder Felise Berman guides students toward inner peace with outward expressions of love, joy, and gratitude. Known as Shivadasi to her pupils, Berman draws upon studies at India's Bihar Yoga Bharati Institute for Advanced Studies to fill multilevel routines with ancient poses and meditation exercises. Most sessions begin with Shivadasi's signature sun salutation, which unites 24 asanas that warm the muscles and focus the brain. As the class progresses, deep breaths weave movements into a flow that’s more graceful than a swan's royal curtsy. In addition to hosting Vinyasa classes, Shivadasi and her teaching team lead yoga nidra sessions, which relax the body as the mind explores lucid dreams. The studio also helps pupils deepen their yogic practice with one-on-one tutorials and a collection of instructional DVDs available in its online boutique.
At Movement Journeys, the experienced staff teach a wide variety of classes, including belly dance, Pilates, and Ashtanga yoga. The outfit balances out its workout fare with jazz, Zumba, and ballroom-dance classes designed to help students stimulate their creativity and move in different ways. They offer most classes in levels that range from beginner to virtuoso and age groups that range from 13 years of age to seniors, ensuring every student learns at a comfortable pace.
Aiming to beautify its clients inside and out, the instructors at Serenity Yoga and Wellness Spa guide their patrons in zapping stress with five types of yoga and nurture their skin with signature facials and massages. In an effort to spread even more benefits, they regularly host workshops, philosophy classes, and family yoga. Students line up their mats on hardwood floors in the studio, where windows let natural light flow across sky-blue walls.
Bodily alignment can help create order in the mind and heart as well, according to Omni Kitts Ferrara, the professional dancer who owns Yoga Montclair and sister studio Yoga Morristown. At the Yoga Alliance approved 200 RYS and 500 RYS studios, she and her team of Yoga Alliance–certified teachers shepherd students toward the peace and goodness that lie within using flowing movements and moments of meditation. They welcome students of all experience levels and walks of life, inviting them to stay "as long as the conversation intrigues [them]." To cultivate physical and metaphysical strength, classes pair inspirational words with poses as playful as a puppy fetching a red clown nose. Instructors begin each session with a mind-centering exercise before launching into stretches, balances, and breath work that melt stress and bolster flexibility. Basic and Gentle routines teem with beginner-friendly poses and alignment guidance, and Level I/II classes ready students for intermediate-level backbends, headstands, and handstands.
Yoga Vita seems to be made of sunshine. Glowing paper lanterns and golden-yellow walls greet all who enter, awakening the senses while melting the day’s stresses. Amid lush, green plants, new and seasoned yogis cultivate strength and focus with lengthy poses, controlled-breathing exercises, and guided meditation. To help students to align their bodies properly, instructors such as studio director Debra Lauren incorporate straps, blocks, and other supportive props. Debra has amassed a deep understanding of Iyengar yoga during repeated trips to India, which have refined her teaching skills and earned her enough frequent-flier miles to book passage to Jupiter.