Leave the bustling city behind for a moment and enter Shavasana. Lie flat on the floor and just breathe…
After a day on the Freedom Trail, or yet another busy week at work, a visit to the yoga studio might have the highest appeal. In Boston you don't ever have to travel far to find a place to practice, as dozens of studios can be found within the city limits, and plenty more in the suburban areas. There are places that cater to every discipline and style, from the traditional to the more modern, experimental forms of this age-old Hindu practice which centers around the union of body, mind, and spirit.
Yoga is often described with the Sanskrit word "asana," meaning physical posture or pose. However, while stretching surely comes to mind, yoga is much more than extending your range of motion. It involves balance and strength in the strive for perfect alignment; add to that mindful breathing, and then some rigorous spiritual and mental training. Although the asanas make up only one of the eight "limbs of the yoga tree," in the West they often receive all the attention.
Whether your yoga session is a way to get a work-out in, or to allow your soul some consideration, Boston offers a choice of venues, teachers, and types of classes. Keep in mind that the list of studios below is limited and doesn't include all that are available.
Note: April 6-11, 2010, Sheraton Boston hosts the "Yoga Journal Conference," an event that takes places four times annually in different cities across America. The conference draws some of the most renowned teachers, along with hundreds of yoga enthusiasts for classes, lectures, and an endless supply of props and yoga attire for purchase. Along with yoga masters Seane Corn, Ana Forrest, and Gary Kraftsow, best-selling author and mind-body physician Deepak Chopra will participate in this almost week-long Boston conference.
Recommended Yoga Studios:
The Yoga Studio - Founded by legendary Boston Yogi Barbara Benagh in 1980, the Yoga Studio is the oldest in Boston. Benagh still teaches many of the classes, and runs the longer courses, "In Depth and the Art of Teaching", for those who are experienced practitioners. Classes follow a simple format of Level 1, 1/2, 2/3, 3 and 4/Teachers. In addition to the regular classes and trainings, the Yoga Studio offers retreats and workshops. Location: 29 Harvard Street. (2nd floor) Brookline Village (located above Lavinia Borcau Day Spa), Phone: 617-566-1489, Website: www.yogastudio.org
Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga Institute - With two locations in Boston and some forty affiliate studios across America and in far-off places like Australia and Cyprus, the yoga institute offers a unique style of power Vinyasa developed by Baron Baptiste. This type of yoga is an energetic linkage of poses which creates a flow between the traditional asanas. Your breath dictates the speed of the movements and the journey between postures becomes as important as the poses themselves.
This is one of the busiest yoga venues in the city, where some 3,000 students pass through the heated 90 degree rooms in any given week. The institute has won several awards for providing the best and most affordable yoga opportunity in Boston. Baptiste himself has traveled the world to teach, has been on the coaching staff of an NFL team, and is an international best-selling author. The institute offers classes for beginners to advanced students, as well as teaching certification courses, boot camps, retreats, and workshops. Locations: Cambridge Studio: 2000 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge (tel. 617-661-6565) Brookline Village Yoga Center: 25 Harvard Street, Boston (tel. 617-232-9642), Website: www.baronbaptiste.com
Iyengar in Harvard Square - For a more intimate yoga experience, try out the studio in the Victorian home of Eleanor Williams. With exclusive focus on Iyengar style, Williams teaches smaller classes with more personal attention. The Iyengar style of yoga is very precise and the attention is on proper body alignment throughout the practice. Iyengar is known for its use of various props in carrying out the postures: belts, blocks, cushions, straps, even sand bags. Williams has trained and studied with Patricia Walden, and has made numerous trips to India to learn from B.K.S. Iyengar himself. Location: 154 Mt. Auburn Street Cambridge, Phone: 617-661-7370.
North End Yoga, LLC - Located in the quaint "Little Italy" of Boston, North End Yoga is owned by Alicia Orr and Alessandra Miele who offer classes and private instruction. In addition to the Ashtanga classes, you can try the Yin Yoga class, which is a meditative style focusing on connective tissue and joints rather than muscles. At North End Yoga, you can also practice Pilates. Check out the website for special events such as meditation classes and in-depth yoga workshops. Location: 256 Hanover Street (3rd floor), Boston Phone: 617-227-YOGA (9642), Website: www.northendyoga.com
Back Bay Yoga - In a brand new studio covering over 5,000 square feet, you can practice Ashtanga (fast-paced, flowing yoga) at several levels, and Mysore Ashtanga, which allows for an individual practice with the assistance and guidance of teachers. There's also a "Core Vinyasa" class, which aims to strengthen and align particularly the abdominals, lower back, and shoulders. One unique class offered at this Back Bay studio is "Forrest yoga" which uses heat and vigorous sequences of movements to remove toxins from your body and to connect with your core. For a modern take on the ancient tradition of yoga, try the Hip Hop yoga class. Location: 1112 Boylston Street, Boston, Phone: 617-375-9642, Website: www.backbayyoga.com
Bikram's Yoga College of India - The only yoga school in Boston affiliated and certified with the Bikram Yoga College of India, this school adheres strictly to the Bikram philosophy, which focuses on the curative methods of the practice in order to regenerate tissue and heal chronic ailments. Working through a routine of 26 postures and breathing exercises in a heated room, all classes run 90 minutes. The participants are encouraged to drink plenty of water throughout the day before coming class. Classes run every day in all three studios located around the city, with the most extensive schedule offered at the Back Bay location. A therapist at the Harvard Square studio is available for Kripalu and Reiki massage. Locations: Financial District: 108 Lincoln Street, Boston Back Bay: 561 Boylston Street, Boston, Harvard Square: 30 JFK Street (2nd floor), Cambridge, Phone: 617-556-9926, Website: www.bikramyogaboston.com
Healthworks Fitness Centers Boston - Healthworks Fitness is a traditional gym for women only, with seven locations in the city. Offering a long list of yoga classes, you can choose both location and style to fit your level and needs: Ashtanga, Hatha, Kundalini, Power Yoga, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Svaroopa, and Yolates (combination yoga-pilates) are some of the classes available. For a complete listing of schedules, mind/body events, and workshops, visit the Healthworks website. Location: 441 Stuart Street, Boston, Phone: 617-859-7700, Website: www.healthworksfitness.com
Roslindale Yoga Studio - Including prenatal and "baby & me," this studio has a long list of yoga classes, but also offers the opportunity for Tai Chi, Zumba, and Reiki instruction. You can follow coursework towards certification both as a yoga teacher (200-hour Yoga Alliance Registered Program) and Reiki instructor. Roslindale also offers various workshops and special events throughout the year. Check the calendar on the website for details on all the programs. Drop-in charge is $15 per class, but the studio offers "community" classes at various levels and styles a couple of times a week as a way to give back to the neighborhood. These classes are offered at the bargain price of $6 per class. Location: 4155 Washington Street, Roslindale, Phone: 617-363-9642, Website: www.roslindaleyoga.com
South Boston Yoga - In this elaborate studio in South Boston, you'll find props uncommon to most venues: a rope wall (to assist in those inversions), body rolling balls and bolsters, benches for backbends, sandbags, and even rock salt lamps to provide inviting ambience for meditation. Another attraction is its eco-friendliness: cork floors, water filtration, non-toxic cleaning materials, "green" yoga mats, etc. You can purchase a one- or three-month unlimited yoga pass (one-year passes are also available) that gets you access to all regular classes, or a single drop-in class pass for $15. Mats are available to rent for $1. About 15 teachers are on staff, and they offer classes for all levels with no particular style adherence – each teacher creates a practice according to personal style and experience. Location: 141 Dorchester Avenue, Boston, Phone: 617-548-2964, Website: www.southbostonyoga.net
Dahn Yoga and Healing -The Dahn Yoga studio at Copley Square is part of an international movement with roots in Korean martial arts, intended to develop and strengthen body and mind. The yoga that has cultivated from this tradition is physical and simple, while other forms of yoga often can be quite complicated. All ages, levels, and body types are invited to explore the benefits of the practice at this studio. Some of the classes offered: DahnMuDo, a form of healing, non-combative martial arts; IE (intestine exercise class) to benefit increased blood and energy flow to aid in the elimination of toxins from the body; Tai-Chi; and VIB, "vibration class" aimed at removing stress and getting rid of stale energy while replenishing the body with new and fresh power. Classes are limited, so check the calendar on the website for details. Location: 551 Boylston Street, Boston, Phone: 617-262-9642, Website: www.dahnyoga.com