As part of the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, a private college that educates holistic healthcare providers, Spirit of Yoga focuses on self-restoration and self-empowerment. The classes here range from traditional Vinyasa yoga, which combines poses into a continuous flow, to more creative sessions on a “yoga wall”. But all emphasize more spiritual practices, focusing on movements and breath work that provide therapeutic benefits. Meditation is offered as part of many of the sessions. That’s not to say Spirit of Yoga doesn’t have fitness-oriented classes as well; if you want to get your heart rate up, take Hatha Tone, which uses body weight training techniques for a muscle toning workout.
The schedule here is accommodating, covering a variety of disciplines and skill levels. All classes are drop-in, though some request reservations. Check out the Soy Shop while you’re in the studio if you want to pick up some yoga-related gear, books, or jewelry.
Jim Keegan, the founder of Yoga Nirvana, draws on his studies in kinesiology and biomechanics to help visitors obtain inner peace and healthy bodies. Before opening his own studio, he served a nine-year stint as the head yoga teacher at Arizona State University and continues his teaching career through international workshops. Jim and his fellow instructors guide students through classes such as Ashtanga for beginners, Kundalini yoga, power yoga, and mediation. Sore students can ease their tired muscles by scheduling an appointment with the studio's licensed massage therapist. In addition to group classes, Jim offers private lessons and whisks pupils away on all-inclusive yoga retreats.
Heidi Lamar didn't know much about spas when she first purchased Spa Lamar. As she explained to reporters from Skin Inc., "not coming from a spa background, there were things I didn't know I couldn't do." Unhindered by industry conventions or previously fixed ideas, Heidi set about filling her 14,000-square-foot spa with innovative amenities—from a luxurious waterfall-fed pool to an onsite yoga and dance studio. She also cultivates locals instead of the typical resort crowd, banishing cacti from the decor in favor of a Caribbean-style ambiance that, as she told the Arizona Republic, caters to those who already live in Arizona and want to get away to a tropical island. Today, her media-lauded spa is the largest privately owned spa in Scottsdale and is frequented by locals, including members of the Phoenix Suns Dancers.
Before treatments that include massages, acupuncture, mani-pedis, and facials, guests garbed in fluffy complimentary robes duck into the steam room. They sample wholesome lunches and fruit plates from the tropical tea bar and relax in the sauna while waiting for a haircut or warm algae wrap. Sunbathers float around the pool on loungers, whereas others simmer in a bubbling whirlpool. Unlike many traditional spas, Spa Lamar is completely coed, making it an ideal place for couples that are on a first date or permanently trapped together inside a horse costume with a broken zipper.
At the age of 14, Baltimore Yoga Village founder Anjali Sunita traveled to India, where she discovered the joys of simple living mixed with the sorrows of yearning for a greater purpose. After years of expanding her education and worldview through reading and the guidance of a college mentor, Anjali found peace within the rigid discipline and spiritual focus of a South Indian ashram. Soon setting her mind to sharing the physical and mental benefits of yoga with others, she taught in private homes and underserved schools before opening her own pair of studios known collectively as Baltimore Yoga Village.
There, a team of certified yoga instructors oversees a supportive community dedicated to peace, health, and spiritual growth. Whereas many studios’ teachers spend too much time teaching students to knit their own mats, Baltimore Yoga Village’s programs focus on the ancient practice of Hatha yoga, which includes deep breathing techniques, yoga postures with attention to physical alignment, and guided relaxation. The staff also leads regular workshops in a variety of topics, from Thai-yoga bodywork to meditation through devotional songs.
At One Love Yoga, co-owner Margot Meissner pairs a deep love of fitness with a burning desire to help others find inner peace. She draws upon teaching certifications in yoga, Pilates, and aerobics, as well as a degree in social work, to shepherd students toward happier, healthier states of being in hot- or power-yoga sessions. Along with her partner Jim Hurst and a team of seasoned instructors, Meissner works to cultivate a warm and welcoming atmosphere, giving each client’s power animal a firm handshake upon arrival and offering gentle hands-on adjustments during class. The team also extends its focus and know-how to mat-based Pilates lessons and Latin-infused Zumba sessions. After classes, they invite students to linger and chitchat with their classmates or peruse the studio’s selection of yoga gear, apparel, and gift items.
After studying under Bikram Choudhury, the father of Bikram yoga, Sumit Banerjee decided to bring the heat to his own class style—an amalgam of Bikram- and Ashtanga-inspired postures. The Sumits Yoga signature class steers students through deep stretches performed in a toasty studio. Aided by the heat, these movements help students hone both balance and strength.
Though Sumit champions the physical benefits of the practice—muscle toning, detoxification, and the ability to someday fry an egg on one's forehead—the true object of his style is “the simple pleasure and self-reward that comes from quieting our minds." To honor this, he emphasizes introspection and spiritual awareness over perfect technique, allowing guests of any experience level to participate.