The proud and pliable recipient of a yoga mat's worth of accolades, Amazing Yoga spreads its limber arms to embrace all practitioners, welcoming stretching sophomores and savants alike. Talented, passionate instructors lead an array of classes over a flexible schedule at each of Amazing Yoga's four studios. Clients can frequent the studio of their choice and stack their chakras in classes such as the Basics, a beginner's power-yoga class that emphasizes foundation postures, helping practitioners build up a strong foundation to withstand floods, high winds, and tickling attacks. Amazing Yoga recommends bringing your own water bottle and a mat to classes, though rental mats are available for $2 per class.
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.
Personal trainer Ariana Chernin and choreographer and fitness instructor Jillian Lorenz, designed their signature Barre Bee Fit workouts for women's bodies. At their chain of boutique studios, instructors teach the fitness system's unique cocktail of ballet barre work and calorie-torching choreography, which can incorporate free weights and kettlebells. To keep routines engaging, the team introduces new props and moves weekly, and sets each workout to a motivational soundtrack.
Students of all skill levels learn to shimmy with grace during Pittsburgh Bellydance Academy's comprehensive bellydance classes. Beneath the pressed-tin ceilings of a renovated theater-turned-studio, experienced instructors lead dancers in beautiful movements that can also help tighten and tone the body. Besides combinations, choreography, and head-to-toe technique, many sessions include flexibility and strength training. Others enhance the aesthetic experience with props such as the single and double veil, zills, canes, and fan veils. Students also receive training in musicality, interpretation, improvisation, and performance skills, helping prepare them for biannual showcase performances where they can show off their new moves.
Yoga Matrika offers classes to suit every lifestyle and skill level, including those of expecting mothers, harried mail carriers, or horse trainers who use the "natural" technique. Newbies can ease into downward dog, warrior, and wicked vizier with a yoga foundations class or a nice, slow Matrika flow. More advanced yogis and yogi bears will prefer anusara yoga or the core challenge flow, while the adventurous might want to try special temporary classes such as zhong dao (Chinese yoga). The studio also offers prenatal yoga, Pilates mat, and mom & baby yoga, so your little one will be stretched to NBA-worthy lengths by kindergarten.
Rebecca Rankin and Lisa Lau came out of college prepared to be an architect and an engineer, respectively. Today, they own Bikram Yoga Squirrel Hill. Their goals haven't changed much, though—Rebecca specializes in the architecture of the human body, and Lisa studies its engineering, teaching students how to bend and breathe during each 90-minute class.
These classes are held in a studio heated to around 105 degrees. But newcomers to the practice needn't worry—as the space's website says, "The heat is not there to make it tough, it is there to help." As participants move through the 26 asanas, or postures, of Bikram yoga, the heat loosens up their muscles and encourages a detoxifying sweat, allowing for deeper stretches and a smoother post-workout slip-and-slide ride. Rebecca, Lisa, and their fellow instructors limit their class sizes to better personalize their guidance, and welcome guests of all skill levels to attend any session.