Yoga teaches people how to sustain poses while still breathing, a skill most yogis use to live undetected in wax museums. Trick a tourist with today's Groupon: for $20, you get 10 drop-in yoga or tai chi classes at Three Rivers Aikido in Maplewood (a $100 value).
Overseen by sensei Elliot Freeman, experienced instructors at Three Rivers Aikido help students to pave pathways to physical and mental balance during tai chi and yoga classes. Students of all experience levels find ample opportunities on the schedule to try their hand at tai chi and yoga amid the studio's signature aikido classes. Dan Woods mentors students in the flowing forms of tai chi chuan, channeling lessons from his own tutelage under master Justin Meehan to a flock of spiritually enlightened swans. As attendees move through the studio's 3,500 square feet of floor space, they can hone such skills as standing meditation, single-push hand exercises, and graceful spiral-rotation maneuvers.
Russian-born yoga instructor Alyona Komolova draws upon classical dance training and more than a decade of teaching know-how to steer pupils through meditative poses during yoga sessions. Scholars practice breathing as they stretch into core-firming tableaus, enhancing their reach and flexibility enough to finally access fourth-grade Halloween candy hidden atop the fridge. With a waterfall fountain, wood-bordered mirrors, and flickering candlelight, Three Rivers welcomes its visitors into an Asian-inspired sanctuary.
Three Rivers Aikido
When Aikido instructor Elliot Freeman discovered martial arts as a teenager, his interest knew no bounds. He searched for and attempted to master as many forms as he could find, including Kendo, Tae Kwando, and sword. When he heard rumors that the mysterious style known as Aikido could grant practitioners the ability to throw people across the room without touching them or secretly attaching their pant legs to a trebuchet, he knew he found what would be the bedrock to his entire career. He eventually studied under acclaimed Aikido masters, earned top ratings in the National Karate Assocation and American Karate Association, and formed various programs and dojos. In 1993 Freeman journeyed to St. Louis to study with action-film star Sensei Steven Seagal at his Aikido summer camp. Seagal became so impressed with Freeman that he asked him to open a new school in St. Louis. Freeman readily agreed, founding Three Rivers Aikido where he still acts as chief instructor alongside many other Master Instructors. Freeman, along with 12 other Aikido instructors, welcomes students of all ages to come and train within the 3,500-square-foot dojo.
In addition to the martial-arts training offered at the dojo, Yoga instructor Alyona Komolova, a former Russian ballerina, offers classes to help students increase flexibility. Tai Chi Instructor Justin Meehan, a martial-arts veteran of 38 years, instructs attendees in tai chi, a relaxing flow of prescribed motions that balance body and mind.
Master Ken O'Neill, who has been practicing martial arts since 1969, and has experience with Aikido, Mauy Thai, Filipino Kali-Escrima, jujustu, Russian Systema, and more.