Before heeding the call to a life as a certified yoga instructor, Diana Roehl helped companies to cultivate corporate talent as a human-resources specialist. Now she helps individuals to discover the strengths that lie within. Roehl steers students toward these revelations with Hatha yoga, whose deep breaths and focused poses center the mind as they fortify the muscles. Natural light and calming blue walls envelop group classes at her studio, casting a soothing glow on shiny wooden floorboards where students practice shoulder stands and bridges. Roehl also brings her yoga teachings to local offices, showing employees how to dislodge stress and impossibly jammed printer paper with graceful movements and powerful exhalations. Between classes, she leads Thai bodywork sessions, which combine acupressure and ayurvedic medicine through assisted yoga poses.
Born in the late 1930s, Sri Dharma Mittra studied the eight branches of yoga under guru Sri Swami Kailashananda, the man largely responsible for introducing the healing practice of yoga to the Western world. Through years of selfless teaching, and focus on building a community of healthy, spiritually-centered yoga practitioners, Dharma Mittra developed a devoted following of students throughout the United States. Arlington Yoga Center's instructors stay true to the yogi’s teachings by welcoming pupils into an oasis of soothing pastel-colored walls and an airy practice space, guiding students through a roster of classes for all skill levels. A quick perusal of the studio's schedule yields ample opportunities for rejuvenation in a variety of sessions, including the restorative sequences of Gentle Dharma, which invigorates minds and bodies alike with gentler, less demanding poses. Targeting the muscles that support the spine, Dharma 1 and 2 sessions incorporate the eight limbs and 40 phalanges of the style's philosophy into a series of asanas that promotes stamina, graceful flexibility, and the ability to imitate a statue. More advanced classes bump up the thermostat to 80 degrees in order to ensure a more invigorating workout with deeper stretches, and aromatherapy sessions encourage students to purchase pure essential oils before class and practice amid the calming scent of lavender or other botanical extracts. As a precursor to attending yoga classes, Arlington Yoga Center requires all new students to fill out a waiver and leave their pet howler monkeys at home.
While many workouts involve a coach barking “Faster!” at you, Super Yoga Palace’s supportive instructors encourage their students to work at their own pace. In the studio, constructed from environmentally friendly materials, students link breathing with poses in classes tailored to multiple experience levels. The Super Flow class strengthens frames with a blend of Vinyasa flow and posture-enhancing exercises more effective than sleeping in a straight-backed chair. Students can also opt for introductory classes that emphasize yoga basics, or sessions focused on sun salutations and other deep stretches. At the studio’s monthly community events, yoga enthusiasts mingle during group workouts with live music from local and touring bands.
Chrystal Rae and Andres Illera became best friends practicing yoga together, so it's no surprise that love is a fundamental tenet of Gaia Flow Yoga, their shared studio and registered yoga school. When describing the tenets of love-based yoga, Chrystal says that the practice hinges on the opening of the heart, which allows the spirituality of ancient yogic practices to blend with modern Western mindsets. So far, Chrystal and Andres have coaxed open the cardiovascular doors of more than 100 yoga teachers through their school, reaching exponentially more students and students’ imaginary friends along the way. With 29 active instructors and two locations, they teach an endless stream of classes that combine the ideas of Hatha, Raja, and Bhakti yoga.