After graduating from Penn State, sisters Jessica Bajoras and Jamie Malinowski went into pharmaceutical sales. Sharing a passion for healthy living, both sisters eventually found their way to yoga and were studying with instructors across the country. Though they achieved success in the sales world, Jessica and Jamie decided to realize a lifelong dream of opening a business together when they founded Prima Yoga. Today, they offer classes in Bikram yoga, a hot-yoga style that involves 26 postures—participants simply must contort their bodies into all the letters of the alphabet, i.e., a hyper-charged version of the “YMCA”—and two breathing exercises over the course of 90-minute sessions. The sisters teach these sessions in a heated room with antibacterial flooring.:
For Kelly Meeder, the owner and founder of Smokin' Hot Yoga, hot yoga is about more than just meditation. She views her brand of hot yoga as a way to not only center oneself but to also lose weight, increase flexibility, and enhance athletic performance. In fact, many of the poses resemble calisthenic maneuvers, such as pushups and pull-ups. Kelly and her fellow instructors teach a broad range of classes for all ability levels. Level-one classes are best suited for beginners, whereas level-two sessions are ideal for seasoned yogis and types of bread that need to bake longer.
Take Yoga wants all of its students to pour as much yoga into their lives as possible, which is why the studio offers classes at every level. If you're just getting started, Take Yoga offers an absolute beginner workshop to teach the basics of breathing and poses. The classes progress from there, featuring more difficult techniques along with specialty styles such as restorative yoga, hot yoga, and yin yoga. Pilates classes, meanwhile, build a solid core and increase flexibility through controlled movement.
The experienced instructors at Stray Dog Yoga Studio shepherd body benders through a series of Vinyasa movements executed in a heated room. Pupils stretch and sweat their way through the flow, which unites movement with breath the way a magnet unites Dad's finger paintings with the refrigerator door. Each class challenges partakers to push their bodies, find the limits of their flexibility, and discover a sense of peace within themselves. Stretching students of all levels can participate, as modifications for difficult poses allow beginners to follow along and work toward improvement.
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.