Dominique Ponko sits at the head of the class, leading yogis through muscle-lengthening postures with the steady flow of her deep, rhythmic inhales and exhales. It’s been a long journey for Dominique. She first sought out yoga at the age of 26 to help her cope with life-threatening seizures and a slow-growing brain tumor. Yoga comforted her through three difficult years, welcoming her into a space for healing spiritually before she was able to find the proper medicine to help her heal physically. Though still a little shaky, Dominique has triumphed and opened four yoga studios—voted Best of the ‘Burgh in 2010—to inspire her students to ease their ailments, build strength, and find inner peace.
During her studio's heated Vinyasa-flow classes, an enthusiastic and supportive instructor guides students through a series of strengthening postures that work to increase flexibility and build muscles. Warm, balmy air courses through the studio, pricking beads of sweat on brows to help detox bodies and loosen stiff muscles into deep, soothing stretches.
At Corks and Canvases, local artists demonstrate how to paint vivid scenes while students sip their favorite wines. After passing out canvases and supplies, teachers guides attendees aged 15 and older stroke-by-stroke through the process of creating projects such as a Van Gogh–inspired starry night over Pittsburgh or a sailboat as it floats at sunset. At BYOB classes, they invite guests to uncork a vintage and nibble snacks brought from home. The studio also hosts bachelor or bachelorette parties, fundraising events, and family nights that let kids and their smartest stuffed animals paint alongside adults.