Rebecca Rankin and Lisa Lau came out of college prepared to be an architect and an engineer, respectively. Today, they own Bikram Yoga Squirrel Hill. Their goals haven't changed much, though—Rebecca specializes in the architecture of the human body, and Lisa studies its engineering, teaching students how to bend and breathe during each 90-minute class.
These classes are held in a studio heated to around 105 degrees. But newcomers to the practice needn't worry—as the space's website says, "The heat is not there to make it tough, it is there to help." As participants move through the 26 asanas, or postures, of Bikram yoga, the heat loosens up their muscles and encourages a detoxifying sweat, allowing for deeper stretches and a smoother post-workout slip-and-slide ride. Rebecca, Lisa, and their fellow instructors limit their class sizes to better personalize their guidance, and welcome guests of all skill levels to attend any session.
Studio owner Claire's yoga journey began at her middle school's book fair, where a book about yoga caught her eye. On a whim, she took the book home and used it to help her begin at-home practice. Her dedication to the mind-body stayed with her through high school and college, where she wound up majoring in advertising and marketing. After spending some time in the ad field as a professional, she had an epiphany: she didn't believe in anything strongly enough to justify selling it, at least as not as much as she believed in yoga. With a nudge from her supportive husband, Claire decided to combine her passions for business and yoga by obtaining her 200-hour teaching certification and purchasing Yoga Innovations.
Today, Claire and her seven fellow yogis help guide students of all experience levels to greater fitness and healthier lifestyles via challenging and nurturing yoga sessions and core-bolstering Pilates classes. She specializes in power Vinyasa flow, which shepherds students through a series of difficult poses in 90+ degrees, and unheated prenatal yoga—a variation designed to help pregnant women mindfully battle the aches, pains, and pickle-juice cravings associated with pregnancy.
Yoga H'om's instructors continually encourage students to push the limits of their abilities by patiently introducing new skill sets to beginners and challenging seasoned yogis to perfect advanced maneuvers in a safe and supportive atmosphere. Teachers encourage their pupils to develop at their own pace and learn from one another during all-levels classes, which include Vinyasa-style Yoga Flow sessions, where attendees link one pose to the next with transitional movements that require intense focus and balance. During gentle yin yoga classes, beginning, injured, or physically disabled students can ease into mild stretches with the use of props, and experienced pupils can use the meditative session as an opportunity to wind down following vigorous flow classes. Regardless of the style, instructors in each session emphasize mindful breathing techniques and conclude with a period of deep relaxation that lasts just long enough for attendees to shake that song that has been stuck in their head.
The experienced instructors at Stray Dog Yoga Studio shepherd body benders through a series of Vinyasa movements executed in a heated room. Pupils stretch and sweat their way through the flow, which unites movement with breath the way a magnet unites Dad's finger paintings with the refrigerator door. Each class challenges partakers to push their bodies, find the limits of their flexibility, and discover a sense of peace within themselves. Stretching students of all levels can participate, as modifications for difficult poses allow beginners to follow along and work toward improvement.
Moonglow Yoga's team of certified yoga instructors guides students through a collection of heated and nonheated classes to hone strong bodies and minds. The studio's schedule boasts classes for students of all experience levels, including beginners Vinyasa classes, in which newbies learn foundational poses, breathing techniques, and how to weave baskets from sticky mats. Teachers dial the studio temperature up to a balmy 95 degrees during Hot Vinyasa sweat sessions, challenging savvy stretches with advanced poses such as half moon, wheel, crow, and robot.
Sometimes our dreams are within reach, but more often, those dreams are on the highest of high shelves, beside the BB gun and the cupcakes "for tomorrow." Reach that shelf with today's Groupon, which will stretch your muscles and muscle your stretches into a month-long stretch of intense muscular moves. For $30, you get 30 days of unlimited group yoga classes at Yoga on the Square in Regent Square, a $99 value. The 30 days are consecutive and begin the first time you drop in for a class.