Light streams in through the studio windows, bouncing off the painted brick walls and illuminating the yogis—each like a cat arching its back in a sunbeam—stretching on the hardwood floor. At Shiva Shakti Yoga Center, instructors, each with at least 500 hours of training, tailor each 60- to 90-minute yoga class to accommodate the needs of students of all experience levels. Drawing on such methods as hatha, Vinyasa, vigorous, restorative, and Anusara, the dynamic of fluid sessions help strengthen muscles and center minds for yogis of all kinds. The studio also hosts occasional workshops with guest teachers to keep bodies limber through varied regimens.
According to TriYoga Boston’s certified instructors, yoga has many faces. It’s a meditative practice that can inspire spiritual growth. It’s a tool for breathing more effectively and clearing the mind. Like lap-swimming in a moat, it’s an ancient exercise system that promotes strength and fluid movement. In a classroom with wooden floors, oversize windows, and recessed lighting, students practice guided relaxation, chants, and traditional poses. Each flow syncs with rhythmic breathwork and focus-building exercises. Seven levels of classes accommodate students of all abilities, from absolute beginners to yogis training to teach. Slow-paced Basics classes help novices build a strong foundation. In addition to emphasizing safety, these classes cultivate comfort with props such as bolsters, blocks, and pillows. As a complement to yoga classes, the studio offers one-on-one massage and yoga-therapy appointments.
When entering and exiting the studio, students can unwind at a meditation garden with a waterfall. The space makes an excellent spot for soaking up sunbeams or discussing the many innovations of TriYoga founder Kali Ray, whose experience with spontaneous, Kundalini-inspired Hatha yoga flows have shaped the studio and its classes.
Don't show up to Common Fitness expecting to see rows of treadmills under fluorescent lights—the company considers that far too boring. Instead, exercisers work out outdoors on the Waltham Common, hauling tires, lifting kettlebells, and forming the poses of Vinyasa Flow yoga under the guidance of certified trainers. The idea is to create a less monotonous workout and also to set a friendly, social tone that in turn makes classes more fun.
Tiffany Sarkissian wasn't happy with the accessibility of the workout regimens she was teaching, so she invented her own. Combining her three passions—yoga, ballet, and core-strengthening—she created "floga," a gentle workout suitable for students of all fitness levels. Backed by her staff of certified instructors, Tiffany leads pupils through floga's series of Vinyasa yoga postures, stretches, and balance exercises—all of which are designed to boost core strength, elongate muscles, and improve flexibility. Each workout plays stimulating music and, like a pratfall down the stairs and into your bedroom, concludes with a tranquil resting period. The instructors also lead lively Zumba sessions and outdoor boot-camp classes.
It was the early 1980s, and after devoting about a decade of her life to fitness, Zayna Gold felt like her body was beaten up. Over time, she began noticing that her high-intensity gym workouts were hurting her body as much as—if not more than—they were helping it. Her husband, Clark, was having the same problem. An avid weightlifter and runner, he found the physical wear and tear was starting to prevent him from maintaining his physique. Zayna recalled teaching Pilates early on in her career, and how it worked her entire body with low-impact movements. She returned to the lengthening and strengthening classes, and by 1989, she and Clark founded Boston Body Pilates.
Their mat, equipment, and barre classes each call upon low-impact stretches and resistance moves that strengthen the core, elongate muscles, and promote overall muscle tone. Zayna's signature program, Brand New Body, challenges students to complete 30 Pilates or barre classes over 2–3 months; and upon completion, they may notice significant changes to their figure. The schedule also includes spinning classes, in diverse variations such as Zen Spin and Spin Bootcamp. In any class, Zayna and her large team of instructors inspire their students to establish a mind-body connection, helping them to feel both physically and mentally stronger, much like solving a crossword puzzle carved in stone.
A team of some of the most seasoned yoga teachers in the Untied States from various yoga styles shepherds students through sequences that range from gentle flow to physically demanding poses in classes that draw from Hatha, Vinyasa, and heated traditions. Every aspect of Down Under Yoga's design sprung from the minds of practicing yogis. Their students created the layout for the many-windowed, earth-toned studio, created the art and photography on the walls and bonsai trees.
They also serve up side dishes of Pilates, world dance, and Gyrokinesis, in which participants perform flowing, circular movements using a chair and mat, with the seamless flow allowing it to be done by all clients, including senior citizens and those with disabilities. In workshops, teachers and guest instructors discuss specialized topics, such as the role yoga plays in building core strength or ameliorating back pain. Ensuring that their moral compass points due north, Down Under Yoga refuses to sell overpriced apparel or environmentally damaging water bottles, or to accept corporate money to promote products.