"Our brain is designed to realize what we wish, without any minor errors," says Dahn Yoga founder Ilchi Lee, "If you want success, it will create success. If you want happiness or health, it will create them. Anything is possible, as long as negative thoughts and emotions don't interfere." To make this challenging, yet hopeful philosophy accessible to all, Lee combined the Eastern concept of chi energy with his own brain-management system, developing a distinctive program that unlocks inner peace and sweeps up brain clutter caused by the daily stress of always having to find Waldo. Warm-up yoga maneuvers awaken muscles before 30–40 minutes of breathing, stretching, core practice, and meditation—including a signature brain-wave vibration technique that aims to calibrate mental and physical energies. Cool-down exercises ease the body back into quotidian functionality before a 10-minute teatime invites socialization among participants while bolstering pinkie endurance. Dahn Yoga is also taught at independently owned and operated franchises called Body & Brain Yoga.
To teach the Bikram yoga method, each aspiring instructor must endure nine weeks of intensive training program, along with 500 hours of practice. For Bikram Yoga Reston's instructors, the training was just another milestone on their quests for wellness. Designed to be as practical as it is aesthetically pleasing, the airy practice space is outfitted with cushioned flooring that is covered in an antimicrobial woodgrain sheet, and mirrors span the walls to help students identify which of their fellow cobras are actually basilisks. A cleaning crew wipes down the studio and shower facilities daily.
At East Meets West Yoga Center, a group of trained instructors guide both adults and kids on a path toward personal self-discovery. Working under the philosophy that all individuals are unique and yoga is not a one-size fits all activity, teachers aim to honor their students’ differences and cater classes to their needs. Sessions draw on Hatha, Vinyasa, and Kundalini techniques and the schedule includes specialized sessions for seniors, moms-to-be, and children.
For Michelle Fondin, yoga is just one component, albeit an important one, to achieving inner and outer peace. She incorporates the ancient practice into the Ayurvedic system of holistic and meditative practices designed to cultivate overall wellness and address mind and body problems. When she meets with a new client for an Ayurvedic consultation, she seeks to determine the true cause of their ailments, discussing health concerns alongside the stuff of life, which may include anything from relationships to career paths. In addition to helming these in-depth consultations, Ms. Fondin and her team lead hatha yoga classes and meditation sessions within a spacious, sunny studio where glimpses of critters from the forest below are not uncommon sights. “There's this instant unplugging from the crazy hectic world into a serene setting,” explains Ms. Fondin.
Ms. Fondin hopes that The Ayurvedic Path not only equips her clients with new tools for achieving balance between mind and body, but also helps foster a sense of community. To that end, she keeps her classes limited to 13 students and makes an effort to get to know every practitioner.
Balanced Bodies' windows look out onto Runnymede Park, where deer often emerge from the woods and blue herons land near the stream. Inside the studio, groups work to capture the animals' ease of movement, flowing from plank positions into mermaid side stretches while maintaining pristine posture and giving effort without strain. Co-owners Carrie Smith and Adriana Ferrer-Perez believe that through Pilates exercises, their students can attain pain-free, fully functional movement for life. The duo oversees seven other instructors—nearly all claiming BASI teaching certifications—who lead classes in mat work, Reformer machines, and the Avalon System designed by Rael Isacowitz. Balanced Bodies also serves as a BASI Pilates teacher-training host facility, where aspiring instructors can undergo comprehensive and specialized teaching courses, including one that demonstrates how to dunk full-size exercise balls.