At Dana Hot Yoga, the path to relaxation is sprinkled with sweat. Within a heated studio, Vinyasa classes—which accommodate both advanced yogis and beginners—mix rigorous sequences with meditative breaks. By varying the pace and intensity, instructors ensure each workout targets almost every muscle while bringing the mind to stillness. And the warmth is an integral part of the experience as well, as it helps loosen up tendons so they flex further and release stored toxins.
Even though the environment is hot, the prevailing attitude is anything but. Teachers stress that students needn't be flexible or have ball bearings installed in their joints before taking their courses. For them, consistent practice and a positive outlook are more important than perfection.
While studying under renowned Ashtanga masters, Mark Nelson, owner of The Yoga Garden, learned that each person receives unique benefits from their yoga practice—be it the calmness felt postclass or the increased physical strength gained from core-centric poses. His roster of instructors, a diversely trained group, teaches with this knowledge in mind. The guiding yogis include a prenatal yoga master, a former philosophy student and martial artist, and a published author who pens poetry when she is not positioned in downward facing dog. The faculty also offers lessons in Pilates and meditation, allowing clients to choose from multiple, mat-paved routes to inner peace.
At Power Yoga Works, winner of the Suburban Yoga category in Philadelphia magazine's Best of Philly 2008, certified instructors guide aspiring yogis of all skill levels in muscle-toning and detoxifying classes. The studio's focus centers around the power Vinyasa style, a modality that combines deep-breathing exercises with sequenced sets of flowing poses to help to build strength, increase flexibility, release tension, and purge the mind of distracting heavy-metal guitar riffs. Fledgling flexers receive a proper introduction to the fundamentals during four-week beginners courses that teach body alignment and come with a complimentary yoga mat. The schedule boasts copious classes and meeting times, helping students to salute the egotistical sun seven days a week. A warm, spacious studio allows up to 65 students at a time to stretch and bend without disrupting their neighbors' wingspans.
Fountain of Yoga's staff focuses on motivating its clients toward complete wellness through yoga, and tension- and pain-relieving therapies. In calming, subdued lighting, the instructors lead students through Vinyasa yoga classes in which they synchronize deep breathing to a quick, flowing series of poses. In each session, students can perform more challenging or easier movements based on their abilities, and the instructors walk around the classroom to offer slight modifications to help them to perfect their technique. Furthering their relaxation services, instructors soothe clients and assuage their aches with massage and reiki services by appointment.
At Wake Up Yoga, practicing yoga moves far past the physical benefits. And while the physical benefits of yoga are significant—improved flexibility, strength, and endurance, to name a few—here, yoga is also meant to benefit the mind and heart. The studio hosts Vinyasa flow and yin classes, both of which help release anxiety and stress in different ways. Through the movements of yoga, students can take a break from the never-ending to-do list in their brains and instead focus on the breath and body.