While many neuroendocrine physiology scientists are up to their elbows in hypothalamus, Sara Turk uses her scientific credentials to foster a more holistic approach to wellness. She traded in her lab coat for a pair of yoga pants and spent the next phase of her life studying under celebrated yogis such as Anusara yoga founder John Friend and Sadhana Yoga Chi guru Doug Swenson. Boasting an understanding of yoga's many forms as well as a penchant for mediation, nutrition, and cross-training, she became a teacher and opened Cherry Blossom Studio with her sister. Turk's hard work and passion eventually earned her the opportunity to serve as a yoga ambassador with the popular athletic-wear company, Lululemon.
Turk and her seasoned team of instructors cater to students from all fitness levels within a spacious studio replete with gleaming hardwood floors and tranquil, green walls. Patrons who'd like to extend the peaceful notions discovered during their yoga practice can swing by the studio's boutique, where they'll find ecofriendly soy candles, eye pillows, and organic cotton leashes for spirit animals.
Sunlight streams into Rising Hearts Yoga Studio through the floor-to-ceiling windows as Hanif Hekima leads a group of familiar faces through an 80-minute class. Hanif, equipped with almost 40 years of yoga experience, has created a peaceful studio in which dedicated yogis further their practice and leave their home-entertainment systems lonely during six-week sessions. Students may attend up to five classes per week, and each session is tailored to students of a similar experience level, creating communities of yogis as they flow through the classes as a group. The studio’s six-week sessions are also punctuated with retreats and workshops that whisk students away to idyllic rolling hillsides and meadows full of bluebonnets for intensive meditation and deepening of yoga forms.
After undertaking a three-week foray into asceticism, Body & Brain Holistic Yoga's founder Ilchi Lee reached an epiphany about the interconnectedness of the body, the mind, and the universe at large. In an effort to share his newfound philosophies with others, Lee formulated a holistic yoga technique adapted from a 9,000-year-old text and sun do, an ancient Korean practice that mixes yoga, tai chi, and meditation techniques. Nowadays, senior and basic instructors teach Lee's curriculum at facilities across the county, where students can tap ki energy during various classes and workshops, including Dahn yoga classes, healing chakra workshops, and the five-step Brain Education Systems Training (BEST). BEST training teaches natural healing techniques that rely on the brain and involve no copays to the medulla oblongata. Each program at Brain & Body Holistic Yoga is designed to imbue participants with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits.
After only one year of serving as a destination for alternative fitness options, Houston Press named Ekam Yoga Center the Best Yoga Studio in its "2010 Best of Houston" issue. The health-conscious, eco-friendly, ghost-free studio lets prospective students sign up for a bevy of mind-body courses, including the calorie-burning Latin rhythms of zumba, the mind-clearing, tension-melting of meditation, and the muscle-bendiness of a yoga class such as hot yoga, gentle yoga or prenatal yoga. If you are a new student, you get a free Intro to Yoga course, offered weekly on Wednesday nights, to help you acclimate to poses and ready your mind for an episode of Criminal Minds. Almost 20 courses are offered weekly and classes begin as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 7:30 p.m.
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.