Riverwest Yogashala focuses on Iyengar yoga, a composite of ancient yoga practices and contemporary innovation, in its weekly classes for all experience levels. Master molders lead body-bending sessions that incorporate a series of standing poses to improve flexibility, increase strength and balance, and align spines for easier overcoat maneuverability. Props such as blocks and straps buoy pose performance throughout each muscle-strengthening class level. Expectant mothers and newly minted moms can attend pre- and post-natal classes to embrace bodily forms and boost personal health. A nonprofit yoga center, Riverwest Yogashala schedules multiple classes daily, and offers free sessions every month to encourage first-time yogis to reap the benefits of regular back bends, downward-facing dogs, or salami salaams.
To help students of all ages and abilities stave of injuries and retain youthful flexibility, instructors turn to Bikram Choudhury’s unique spin on yoga, leading a fixed series of 26 postures in 105-degree heat. The heat helps deepen each stretch, kick start circulation, detoxify the body, and disguise any chronic sweating conditions. Bikram Yoga Milwaukee's instructors host more than 50 weekly classes between both locations.
Light ricochets off the Milwaukee River, sending twinkling photons into Invivo Wellness, a gym and wellness center. On the roof, groups of students drink in the fresh air during seasonal yoga classes, their faces warmed by the sun and hair teased by the cool breezes that jump off the river below. Inside the bustling studio, certified instructors—with backgrounds as diverse as dancing and business—lead students through intense fitness classes. They also coach guests during one-on-one personal-training sessions within the sunny space. Whirring cardio machines comprise just one section of the space's equipment selection upon which clients might train.
Adjacent to the fitness center is Invivo's spa, a quiet and relaxed haven to counter the bustle of its next-door sibling. Populated by certified staff, the spa pampers guests with various massages to complement yoga.
Seven days a week, the instructors at Milwaukee Power Yoga draw from their own extensive yoga trainings to conduct classes for all experience levels, from a beginner's class for newbie yogis to an advanced class for yoga pros. On the wooden floors of a 95-degree studio, they shepherd perspiring students through vinyasa flow poses, connecting postures to breath in a continuous flow that flushes toxins from the body. Through stretching, balancing, and strengthening exercises, instructors help their pupils build muscles, bolster stamina, align spines, and increase flexibility. The heat assists connective tissue with elasticity, which decreases the risk of injury.
The teachers also encourage students to replenish electrolytes after class, whether by drinking sports beverages or licking the salt off snowplow bumpers. Everyone should feel free to work at their own pace, a mindset further promoted by the instructors' willingness to offer variations for each pose, making classes accessible to everyone.
Sunlight filters through the windows of Core Essence Yoga’s loft-style studio, reflecting off the rare patch of hardwood floor that remains uncovered by a colorful yoga mat. Stretch-induced groans escape the lips of students as they lift their legs high into the air or arch their backs and touch their palms to the floor behind them. The studio’s instructors—all of whom are registered yoga teachers and many of whom have achieved 200-hour certifications in their chosen style—look on approvingly and illustrate subsequent poses with their own lithe bodies.
The above scene typifies the classes offered at Core Essence Yoga, a studio on the east side of town that caters to beginners and experienced yogis alike. Music diffuses throughout the semi-heated room during Slow Flow classes that introduce new students to the Vinyasa style with gentle movements and focused breathing techniques. Instructors crank up the thermostat for advanced Power Vinyasa classes, which establish stronger ties between breath and movement and experiment with challenging poses such as arm inversions and downward-facing octopuses. Muscles strained during these sweat-inducing sessions regain their vitality during relaxing Thai bodywork. An ancient form of bodywork that draws on the collected wisdom of 2,500 years, Thai bodywork balances the body’s energy channels, releases emotional blocks, and evaporates stresses.
Inspired by the German Turnverein associations of the early 19th century, the Milwaukee Turners first came together in the mid 1800s, gaining their charter from the Wisconsin State Legislature in 1855. In 1882, the group constructed Turner Hall, and the building has housed the organization and its stockpiles of sweatbands ever since. Over the decades, the hall has welcomed in visitors with a mission to help them create sound bodies and minds.
Though they derive their name from “Turnen,” the German word for gymnastics, the Milwaukee Turners teach visitors much more than just how to lasso a pommel horse. In addition to the gymnastic school, the organization schedules classes for yoga. Their rock-climbing wall's top ropes take climbers up 26 feet where they practice climbing or belaying techniques. To strengthen minds, the Turners lead meetings such as the 4th Street Forum, which discusses issues crucial to the community, and host concerts within the Turner Hall Ballroom.
Now a national landmark, Turner Hall echoes the organization's rich history. Sprung from the mind of famed architect Henry H. Koch, the building's design includes an Italianate façade crafted with Cream City brick and panoramic paintings that make visitors think they're trapped inside a cartoon. The venue boasts a beer hall and two-story ballroom, making it an ideal locale for special occasions.