When Monica Wason moved to Salinas, she was in the midst of planning an addition to her family. Though she soon discovered that there were no prenatal health venues near her new home, she was undeterred. She decided that she'd simply open one herself, and founded Green Belly as a wellness center for fellow pregnant women. Soon, her clientele expanded to include postnatal and non-pregnant women as well as men, prompting Monica to broaden her efforts. She funneled her experiences as a nurse and massage therapist into pampering services, and hired a teaching staff to help lead yoga, Pilates, and belly-dancing sessions. Today, she continues to welcome guests from all walks of life into Green Belly's lime- and cream-colored rooms to fulfill their wellness needs. As sun beams through the studio's skylight and bay windows, her aestheticians work to brighten faces with Jadience skincare products. She exclusively stocks the spa with organic products, complementing the center's nature-inspired décor while also honoring the trees who taught her slow-breathing techniques.
The staff at Om Oasis promote physical fitness and stress-free mental states during engaging workouts and calming spa services. The fitness class schedule brims with energetic spinning classes, Pilates sessions, and fitness-focused yoga modalities, all of which help firm muscles and torch calories, and some of which can defrost Antarctic snow-globe souvenirs by occasionally meeting in a heated practice space. The studio's massage therapist dissolves muscular tension with an arsenal of serenity-inducing techniques, and an aesthetician doles out waxing and facial services to keep skin as youthfully radiant as a baby glow stick.
When owner Nicole Duke took her first Bikram yoga class, she was a competitive long-distance runner looking for something to complement her already active lifestyle. What she found went beyond just the physical; she noted an increased sense of calm and decreased desire to punch in ceiling tiles after completing the 26 intentionally sequenced poses of the 90-minute Bikram class. Once she graduated from teacher training, she set about opening Bikram Yoga Aptos—a studio equipped with eco-friendly antibacterial flooring, private showers, and a high-quality air purification and filtration system. These facilities get put to good use—seven days a week—as a cadre of teachers lead all levels of students through the classes conducted in a room heated to 105 degrees.
Yoga Center Santa Cruz offers yogis of all skill levels the chance to increase flexibility and reduce stress and body ailments while developing their mind-body balance through various styles of yoga, including BKS Iyengar, vinyasa flow, and restorative yoga. Limber up during the upcoming six-week Introduction to Yoga (January 20–February 24) or Introduction to Flow Yoga (January 6–February 10) series, great for beginner body-benders who need to learn the basic poses, concepts, and anatomy of yoga. For more seasoned students, the Yoga Center offers a variety of drop-in classes, which take place several times a day and usually last between 60 and 90 minutes. Like the five realms of Chutes and Ladders mastery, classes range from the beginner level one to the advanced level five and are taught by certified, trained instructors. Private lessons, which can be scheduled with Tamara or Karen, are also available for dedicated practitioners looking to master the fundamentals of yoga while avoiding the penetrating stares of a nosy group of yoga mats.
Divinitree Yoga and Art Studio's instructors seek to share their passion with the community, creating a welcoming atmosphere for students of virtually any skill level or yogic persuasion. The classes encompass a range of styles, although flowing Vinyasa and Hatha sessions appear prominently throughout. The more advanced sections of these energetic practices encourage students to push themselves physically while still keeping a mindful awareness of their breathing and posture throughout.
Beyond the yoga mat, the instructors also keep themselves busy by hosting art classes for students' children and caring for their onsite garden, which grows organic produce and spare chakras.
Greg Molkentin may have found inner peace through yoga and meditation, but that doesn't mean he likes to sit still. As the yogi behind Yoga With Greg, he shares his favorite yogic style - the flowing movements of vinyasa - with students throughout the week. Sometimes, he does this in a classroom, but, twice monthly, he also leads yoga-based hikes into local parks. He and his pupils climb the sandy dunes of Bakers Beach to catch glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge before mimicking the architectural marvel with their bodies. Alternatively, they find watery ocean vistas between the trees in Land's End park, where they let the asana flow like the waves.
And even on these outdoor excursions, a large part of Greg's practice remains focused on meditation. Beyond his 200-hour yoga teacher certification, he also has 15 years of meditation experience with eight years of retreat practice in Kyoto, Japan.
Invoke Yoga & Pilates sprang from a friendship that formed when Ali Staloch, a certified yoga teacher, took a class from Heather Liguore, a certified Pilates instructor. The two ladies were led to combine their talents and create a fitness haven where students can work their cores, enhance their flexibility, and cultivate inner peace within one building.
During hot-yoga classes, experienced teachers shepherd students through 26 ancient poses within 95-degree heat that works to loosen muscles, oust toxins, and scare off devious snowmen masquerading as yogis. In addition to guiding pupils through power-flow yoga and em-power yoga, they'll demonstrate basic poses and modifications in beginning yoga courses designed for rookie contortionists. On the other side of the coin, instructors fluent in Pilates lead sessions that incorporate mat-based isometric exercises and low-impact movements on Reformer machines, working to strengthen core muscles. The teacher, who may be Liguore herself, circulates through the room during group classes, sharing words of motivation and tips on form and alignment.