Though Breathing Time Yoga is housed within an old jewelry textile mill built in the 1800s, its classes hearken back to an even earlier time. Beneath the lofty 20-foot ceilings, seasoned instructors—many of whom have completed several hundred hours of teacher training—practice ancient poses and breathing exercises designed to promote strength, flexibility, and inner peace. During heated yoga classes, they turn up the infrared heating system to deepen stretches, help bodies sweat out toxins, and prevent arctic penguins from waddling in and interrupting class. Within this communal practice area illuminated by the sunlight drifting through the oversize windows, they also host non-heated classes that explore the breath-fueled sequences of Vinyasa-style yoga and the lengthy, alignment-focused poses of the Iyengar tradition.
In addition to leading yoga routines for students of all levels, the instructors supply free spring water, tea, mats, and props. After class, they encourage students to socialize in the reception room or browse the onsite library. Those interested in bolstering their mind-body connections may also schedule private meetings with a certified yoga therapist or personal coaching from yoga teachers.
The professionally trained fencing instructors at Rhode Island Fencing Academy & Club seek to develop their students' mind, body, and character through participation in the centuries-old sport. During the academy's classes, students of any skill level may choose to learn on all three Olympic weapons: foil, sabre, and épée. The one-hour sessions generally last for six weeks and each builds on prior material to help students improve their skills on the strip. Two meetings are composed entirely of competition with fellow classmates, allowing students to show off their newfound skills, and the last session is a class tournament.
Rhode Island Fencing Academy & Club, which originally operated as a two-location enterprise, consolidated into one 12,000-square-foot full-time professional fencing studio in March of 2012. The air-conditioned facility features 15 electric strips and zero chandeliers from which swashbuckling fencers may swing. Though the sport finds its roots in the practice of sword fighting, modern fencing is much safer, and the academy has advanced equipment and instructors that hold CPR certification just in case.
Raffa Yoga is not a standard yoga studio, which is apparent right away from its wide variety of yoga classes that range from consciousness-raising Prana flow to rockin' hip-hop yoga and trapeze-like, aerial antigravity yoga. During classes, percussionists tap out soothing drumbeats as students find their center. An oversize golden Buddha mural looks over the classroom, prompting students to contemplate spirituality and wonder if the real guy ever wanted to just take a day off work and take a nice long nap.
Raffa Yoga’s active relaxation center includes Urban Sweat, a stress retreat composed of 21 massage and treatment rooms and 6 heat-therapy rooms. The eco-friendly space soothes the senses with ingredients such as eucalyptus and yellow turmeric, which is known for its anti-inflammatory qualities.
After emerging from the studio’s Himalayan-salt grotto, guests can sip a healthy, hydrating beverage at the juice-cleanse bar. They can also browse the selection of accessories in the full-service yoga boutique.
Ocean State Bikram Yoga’s spacious studio nestles cozily in a restored old mill, retrofitted with resilient carpeting, mirrored walls, and a host of private showers and dressing rooms. Inside a heated classroom, experienced instructors lead students of all skill levels through high-energy routines of Bikram-style yoga posturing. During each 90-minute tutorial, they shepherd practitioners through a swift rotation of 26 poses and two breathing exercises. Instructors calibrate each class to promote calorie-torching perspiration and release muscles from the shackles of overly tight ligaments, binding tendons, and rubber-band girdles. In addition to sparking caloric bonfires, consistently practiced Bikram yoga can chip away at chronic pain and help reverse the effects of injury by boosting circulation and mobility.
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Now in their 10th year of dueling instruction, U.S. Fencing Association–certified coaches Michael and Anne Olson invite local squires to apprentice under the blade at their 3,500-square-foot sword school. At Blackstone Valley Fencing Academy, students ranked amateur through Arthurian clash in a safe and controlled environment over the course of six weekly classes. Beginning swordspersons are required to take the intro to fencing class, while experienced participants can wield their choice of foil, épée, or slashing saber as they parry and riposte across the academy’s four regulation-length electric-fencing strips. Sessions are divided by age for jousters as young as 7, and you can check the class schedule here. Participants should wear an embroidered gambeson and burnished chain mail, or at least court shoes and comfortable long pants.
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