Megan Ryan Kaiser doesn’t remember her first hot-yoga session as a transcendent, transformative moment. She recalls the feeling of intimidation that almost sent her packing. Over time, the class did enhance her life as she felt the benefits throughout her transition, but it might not have without the support of a welcoming community of students and instructors. She struggled to find such an affirming place to pose after moving to the Madison area from Los Angeles. Instead of continuing her search, she decided to build the community she sought by launching Dragonfly Hot Yoga.
Students of all shapes, sizes, and skill levels flock to the studio’s award-winning classes, which range from beginner-friendly Intro to Yoga sessions to Advanced Flow routines filled with challenging inversions and arm balances. Spacious classrooms let students move freely, and flooring specifically designed for hot-yoga classes repels sweat and odors. During most yoga classes, the room’s temperature rises to 85–105 degrees, which promotes flexibility and toxin release. The instructors also lead traditional fitness classes, including a boot-camp-style workout filled with resistance training, calisthenics, and plyometrics. Before and after classes, students bond over tea and books in a lounge that’s as cozy as a fireplace wearing a hand-knitted sweater. To help busy parents integrate yoga into their routine, the studio also offers childcare during many morning classes and private yoga sessions, which can be scheduled at a convenient time. Dragonfly Hot Yoga | Barre also offers non-heated yoga and barre-amped classes in their new Studio Mild space.
When the team at Inner Fire Yoga says they "care profoundly about the well-being of individuals and the greater community," that's not an empty sentiment. Since opening in 2002, they've raised over $79,000 for causes both near and far, from the Second Harvest Food Bank of Southern Wisconsin to the relief effort for the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. They also sponsor a scholarship program that awards a three-month unlimited membership to a deserving nominee who otherwise couldn't afford it.
The latter effort speaks to Inner Fire Yoga's inclusiveness?most of their award-winning classes are open to students old and new, advanced or just beginning. Their compassionate staff are there to guide students on a smart yoga path. All of the classes are heated, some are gently warm, and some will dial up the cardio factor.
Amid inspiring hues of gold and fuchsia and a polished hardwood floor, yogis at Jewel in the Lotus Yoga invigorate their bodies and minds with expressive postures and meditative practices. Jewel in the Lotus' teachers bring a diversity of experience levels, certifications, and specialties as they lead daily classes spanning a wide range of yoga traditions, such as Vinyasa and Ashtanga classes, Prana flow classes that combine breathing, meditation, and movement,
as well as two-hour master classes for the truly dedicated yogi. Creative director Aubree Saia also offers in-depth sessions to help students to heighten their physical and spiritual practice, with themes including acroyoga, transformational breathing, and learning to massage your head with your feet.
Every Friday, Bliss Flow Yoga hosts a happy hour yoga class with healthy treats that accompany poses. It's all part of the comfortable, beginner-friendly environment created by owner Angela Gargano, whose work has been featured in the press by the likes of the New York Times and the Wisconsin State Journal. Angela heads a staff of supremely qualified and certified instructors, each of who boasts a minimum of 200 hours of training. Together, Angela and the Bliss Flow team distribute their talents across a packed schedule, which includes daily classes aimed at many levels and regular workshops designed specifically for newcomers.
Energy Center Fitness Club is manned by a staff of personal trainers, group instructors, lifestyle coaches, and massage therapists. Staffers keep the club open 24/7 to give members round-the-clock opportunities to lift free weights, climb aboard cardio and weight machines, and make saltwater taffy in the stretching area. The staff leads more than 20 group classes, whose curricula include boot camp, Zumba Toning, Pilates, and cycling. Owner, trainer, and lifestyle coach Shawn Bollig also discusses nutrition with guests, while the club's Thin & Healthy Total Solution offers clients a weight loss program aimed toward a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
Free towel service keeps workouts hygienic, as do the private locker and shower areas. Massage therapy soothes peaked muscles, while Energy Center Fitness Club renders clients tan in lie-down and standup UV booths. A complimentary play area, meanwhile, keeps children entertained and prevents their imaginary friends from hogging the invisible elliptical machines.
Koha is the Maori word for gift, and Koha Yoga founders Whakapaingia Luke and Sara Laimon found the gift of each other by accident one fateful day. After playing Rugby in LA wreaked havoc on his body, Whakapaingia discovered the healing practices of yoga and Thai massage. One afternoon, he was out practicing yoga on Venice Beach, where Sara, who missed a flight and found herself stranded, would haphazardly stumble upon him. She had been a longtime practitioner of yoga, and decided to join him on a whim. This impulse on Sara's part led to the two falling in love and eventually melding yogic postures and acrobatics into what would become their signature flying-yoga style.
Today, they teach this revolutionary form of flying yoga—which involves one practitioner supporting an “airborne” partner with their limbs in a lying position and making jet-engine noises with their mouth —alongside Maori- and reggae-inspired mat classes, standup-paddleboard yoga lessons, and Thai-massage body sessions. Furthermore, the founders donate 10 percent of all class proceeds to help impoverished people around the world via Kiva.