Inside the spotless studio celebrating its 11th year of providing instruction, the heat swirls around the students of Bikram Yoga Rockville, lending to a warm, dynamic setting as they bend and pose. Each 90-minute session sends students flowing through a set of 26 postures, lead by the guidance of a certified, experienced, and nurturing instructor and wise words carved into the floor by previous students. The instructor provides students with comprehensive instructions for each pose—one building on the next to strengthen all the muscle groups—while offering corrections or modifications so all levels can practice together. Mats and towels are available for rental should students not have their own.
While some may view yoga as an effective way to mock the movements of household pets, Thrive Yoga's instructors delve into the art form’s fitness, spiritual, and meditative aspects. A stone pathway snakes through lush foliage growing from walls and decorative rocks, leading the way to a studio with spacious open ceilings and hand-painted artwork on the walls. Here, more than 40 classes and weekly workshops are taught by a staff well versed in making hands-on adjustments to individualize the experience for their students. Studio owner Susan Bowen leads a team of more than 20 instructors, each of whom bring their own expertise and backgrounds to bare as they teach.
In addition to traditional Hatha, Vinyasa flow, and hot-yoga sessions, instructors lead specialized workshops in styles such as prenatal yoga. Another specialty class, aerial yoga, employs the use of silk hammocks to suspend limbs from the floor, which is safer than tying dental floss around a light fixture and hoping for the best. The studio even offers teacher-certification training and engages small private parties with a yoga lesson, meditation, and Reiki healing. Thrive also maintains a boutique of yoga supplements such as mats, props, DVDs, books, and clothing.
At Hot Yoga Bikram Tysons, instructors foster a noncompetitive environment where students can pursue their own yogic goals in either a 2,000- or a 600-square-foot practice space heated up to 105 degrees with 40% humidity. A sanitizing system continuously refreshes the air while students follow their instructors through two breathing exercises and 26 standing, seated, and reclining poses, which methodically stretch and strengthen muscle groups across the entire body. As the students sink into each pose, the instructors walk about the room, gently correcting postures by offering hands-on adjustments, verbal guidance, or Pictionary interpretations of each pose. Although the studio's Flotex antibacterial flooring helps to keep attendees microbe-free during class, onsite shower facilities allow guests to rinse off any sweaty chakras afterward.
"Our brain is designed to realize what we wish, without any minor errors," says Dahn Yoga founder Ilchi Lee, "If you want success, it will create success. If you want happiness or health, it will create them. Anything is possible, as long as negative thoughts and emotions don't interfere." To make this challenging, yet hopeful philosophy accessible to all, Lee combined the Eastern concept of chi energy with his own brain-management system, developing a distinctive program that unlocks inner peace and sweeps up brain clutter caused by the daily stress of always having to find Waldo. Warm-up yoga maneuvers awaken muscles before 30–40 minutes of breathing, stretching, core practice, and meditation—including a signature brain-wave vibration technique that aims to calibrate mental and physical energies. Cool-down exercises ease the body back into quotidian functionality before a 10-minute teatime invites socialization among participants while bolstering pinkie endurance. Dahn Yoga is also taught at independently owned and operated franchises called Body & Brain Yoga.
Pure Om Fairfax, formerly known as Bikram Yoga Fairfax, sports an earthly orange palette, state of the art yoga studio, and bright, natural lighting that provide a cool counterpoint to the heated intensity of its Bikram yoga classes. Though rigorous with its balmy heat and strict 26-posture series, the 90-minute classes are open to students of all experience levels and are taught by a team of Bikram–certified instructors. The 4,700-square-foot facility boasts not just an expansive practice space outfitted with medical-grade linoleum flooring and a natural-gas-fired heating system but also shower and locker-room amenities that make changing back into street clothes comfortable and efficient.
For Shauna Simon and her family, yoga is more than just a workout or stress-reliever—it's an integral part of their daily lives. She first discovered the transformative powers of yoga when she was a teen and later lived in an ashram for many years, traveling to India to deepen her knowledge. At her yoga studio, she creates a nurturing atmosphere for adults and kids so that each student can leave feeling energized and peaceful.