Jun 19 2015

Yoga for You In Your Neighborhood

By: Sarah Ashley Jolly

Yoga for You in Your Neighborhood

Over the past week and a half I have been attending yoga classes near and far in the great city of New Orleans. As a newcomer to the city, and someone who enjoys practicing yoga regularly, I made my way around the Crescent City, twisting, bending and breathing. New Orleans is without a doubt a mecca for yoga students, old and new. There are several studios throughout the city, each provide unique approaches to fitness and yoga practice. I must say no two studios are alike, just as no two students or teachers are alike. These studios cater to a variety of audiences and needs. Chronic pain? Stubborn Injury? Look no further, many of these locations offer therapy to aid in healing. While physical therapy is a mechanical process, yoga and the techniques that accompany it make for the most organic healing process. I suffer from chronic leg pain and found these workouts, and personal attention to be pain free. No matter your age, experience level or preference there is a studio near you that will not disappoint. In speaking with some of the owners and instructors, I realized they all have a few things in common. Everyone I spoke with at each studio emphasized the importance of diversity, inclusion, and community as pillars of their studio. I was invited by many studios to attend class so that I could truly experience all they have to offer. This sentiment was authenticated as I continued to speak with other students, instructors, and staff. Everyone was equally enthusiastic about this piece, and never did I encounter any negative commentary about other studios in the area. Yoga in New Orleans is truly a community, where you the price you pay is secondary to the way you feel.

Uptown

Studio: Transform NOLA

The Long of It:

 

Transform NOLA is a quaint studio off of Oak Street. It is easy to miss if you aren't looking but, it is certainly a gem. Studio owner, Mia Oramous says this studio has been home to yogis for over twenty years. The majority of the clientele is made of regulars however, don't let that shy you away if you are a newbie, the staff and fellow students are all very welcoming and friendly. The classes generally meet with less than ten students, an ideal setting for a student that is looking for personal attention and a casual, relaxing atmosphere. Mia invited me to attend three of the classes that her studio offers, "Candlelight Restorative Yoga," "TRX," and "Stronger, Leaner, Longer." Transform NOLA's restorative yoga class is the perfect way to end a stressful day, or any day - if it were up to me. Restorative yoga, with instructor, Ashley, at Transform NOLA focuses on breathing and alignment poses followed by a long savasna or rest. At the end of class the instructor, with permission, will adjust your body for optimal relaxation using scented essential oils to set the mood, concluding with a short meditation. TRX class uses suspended straps from the studio's beautiful vaulted ceilings to optimize a body-weight resistance workout. The class I attended among a handful of other students is the realization of Mia's goal to provide a pain-free workout that centers on core strength and healing. "Stronger, Leaner, Longer" taught by pilates expert, Candy, is pefect to restore your body to balance, and utilize muscles you didn't know existed. I learned so much about my body in this class, and am forever grateful for the small class size because of all the personal attention I recieved. Mia is an experienced yoga teacher, and personal trainer who works with her students to provide a unique experience tailored for their needs.

The Short of It:

Transform NOLA is a small studio that is perfect for someone who is at any level of their yoga practice, that also enjoys a variety of other fitness options such as TRX and Pilates. This studio, and its staff are able to provide personal attention and there is a definite comrade among students who attend.

Studio: Shanti Yoga Shala

The Long of It:

Nathalie Croix is the creative director and founder of Shanti Yoga Shala on Magazine Street. This studio is situated in a converted residential construction. Its interior is warm and inviting. The studio is bursting at the seams, yogis from near and far flock to this studio for Nathalie and her colleagues’ intense vinyasa flows. Vinyasa yoga focuses on repetitive dynamic movement sequences designed to increase flexibility, awareness and strength. If you plan on attending class come early to get a good spot! Students here can expect individual instruction and attention to alignment. Nathalie says "in our classes students work on both flexibility and strength, as well as the cultivation of prana shakti. Moving energy through the body by not only working the physical aspects of the practice but also by connecting with the subtle body and finding stillness in motion." If you have been practicing yoga, and are looking to take your vinyasa practice to the next level this is the place for you.

The Short of It:

 Inversions, vinyasas and sweat oh my - this studio is for the practiced yogi, although beginners’ classes are offered if you are looking to start a dynamic practice. If you enjoy a good sweat, but are looking for something much deeper than a gym experience this boutique studio is for you.

Studio: Freret Street Yoga

The Long of It:  

 

Freret Street Yoga is tucked into a corner of a small shopping center on the bustling street that so many New Orleanians call home. Freret Street Yoga teaches Hatha Yoga, which emphasizes the alignment of posture and breath. This practice at its roots result in rest and relaxation and at fullest expression can be utilized for a good workout that is easy on the joints. This studio incorporates helpful props into its unique design, creating an organic and fluid practice environment. I attended a class called "Happy Hour Yoga" that the studio hosts every Friday. This class is the perfect way to unwind, and bring the workweek to a close. This class welcomes students of all levels of experience to realign the spine and recharge your muscles. This studio also offers a unique class for the working student on a schedule, "Yoga After Dark." This class is conducted at 9:00 PM, shifting tired bodies into shoulder and hip opening poses to reclaim your body after a hard day's work. Additionally, it is notable that this studio usually gives first time students a free class, and regular students earn a $5.00 credit for every student they refer.

The Short of It:

Freret Street Yoga is home to yogis of all shapes and sizes. The studio is thoughtful in design and instruction. If your schedule is cluttered with work and other responsibilities or you’re just a night owl, the “Yoga After Dark” class offered weekly from 9:00-10:00 PM is for you. Perhaps, you’re a little too shy to head over to the studio, Freret Street Yoga offers taped classes online for you to try at home.

Studio: Wild Lotus Yoga     

The Long of It:

Wild Lotus Studios have two locations on Perrier Street and St. Claude Avenue. The downtown location was born from a collaboration following hurricane Katrina, that resulted in 'The New Orleans Healing Center.' A place for community healing and growth, that is inhabited by Wild Lotus Yoga, and other organizations that encourage physical, mental and spiritual health.  Wild Lotus Yoga was founded by Sean Johnson who has been practicing and teaching yoga in New Orleans since 1999. Wild Lotus Yoga is unique because the studio has monthly themes that teachers incorporate into their classes and students utilize to make the most of their practice. I believe Sean says it best “We translate this integrative yoga philosophy in daily classes through a combination of yoga postures, breathing practices, meditation, music, mantras, readings, poems, stories, and...We love the physicality of yoga and also celebrate the universal spirituality of yoga practice in positive, life-affirming, accessible ways - avoiding dogma and self-righteousness. Wild Lotus Yoga classes emphasize setting an intention for yoga practice, creating space for you to link the practice to what is meaningful in your life.  We seek to offer creative instruction throughout the class that puts generous attention on physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, energetic, and breath awareness."

The Short of It:

Wild Lotus Yoga is for you, perhaps if you are split between uptown and downtown and don’t want to be tied to one locale, or maybe if you are looking for an experience that is the perfect balance of spiritual and physical benefits. This studio offers a variety of classes and workshops that extend throughout the summer and into the year. Come here to relax, meditate, chant and sweat off the stress of the day.

Studio: Life NOLA

The Long of It:

 Life NOLA is the place to go if you are feeling a little like, their studio director Aubrey, when she first began “I was a bit intimidated by yoga because I mistakenly assumed I needed a bunch of fancy prerequisites to qualify as a yogi. I thought I needed a fancy mat; I thought I needed to know the fancy words and chants; I thought I needed to be a certain size and weight; I thought I needed to be able to touch my toes (which I absolutely could not do at the time); I thought I would have to pay an arm and a leg to take a good class. When I took my first class at Life, I was blown away by the simplicity of the practice, and the feeling of community and support.” Life NOLA is conveniently located uptown on Magazine Street, and frequently collaborate with their neighbors, Whole Foods, in addition to priding themselves on fair prices that accommodate students of all backgrounds. The studio is nestled in a repurposed home, in which is provided a kitchen with high-quality Alkaline water, that students are encouraged to use, make tea or have a snack with friends before class.  

The Short of It:

Life NOLA is for you if you are looking for looking for a yoga studio that makes you feel as if you’ve just walked into an old friend’s house. Perhaps, plan a day of retail and yoga therapy while strolling down Magazine Street and check out this studio to give your feet a break and your mind a vacation that is much cheaper than the rolling waves that you’ll be guided to in this relaxing experience. If you ate too much on your stroll down to class, don’t fret because Life NOLA also has classes that will help you burn off the  last  beignet or two you just ate.  

Mid-City

Studio:  Crescent City Aerial Arts

The Long of It:

 

Crescent City Aerial Arts is made for the fearless but also, caters to the timid crowd. This studio is a small bright space fit snuggly into NOLA Xtreme Fitness, a cross-fit studio. The staff are lighthearted and welcoming. This studio offers an array of classes from Acro-Yoga focusing on strength and alignment, Introduction to Aerial Arts with an emphasis on core-stability and motion, to Aerial Sling/Hammock 1 encourages flexibility and introduces students to the necessary strength and movements that allow for aerial motion. Class size varies upon the day and can be small or large. The instructors work with students to elevate the heart rate and work the muscles that are crucial to this practice. While beginners are welcome, this art form is certainly harder than it looks and would be a breeze for someone who maintains physical fitness.

The Short of It:

Crescent City Aerial Arts is perfect for someone who is ready to try something new, and perhaps adopt a new hobby. This is also an intense workout that will utilize your entire body-weight, so be prepared to work while you play. Come to one class to try it out, and take some cool pictures or make it a routine and become a flying aerial artist. If you don't think this if for you but, you'd like to sit back and watch the pros during a truly beautiful and invigorating experience come out to Inverse Universe June 27 & 28 at One Eyed Jacks. 

Studio: Balance Yoga & Wellness

The Long of It:

 

 Balance is perfect for the student that is ready to commit to a specific style of yoga, try one, or try a few at this cozy studio. This studio employs a large number of teachers that are carefully screen and are very experienced. When speaking with the owner, Jessica, she related that she believes yoga to be a sort of community service, a healing activity, that is natural to the body and to the practice itself. Balance also offers an array of ayurvedic consultations. Put simply, ayurveda is a traditional form of western medicine that originated in India, one of the oldest medical practices in the world. If you’re at your wits end with dealing with the doctors office, give this a try. Consultants view you, as a whole person with whole problems, not just an earache or an ankle sprain. You are a whole person, with a body that is connected in more ways than you could read in a textbook. The most common treatments that are sought after at Balance are remedies for digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, chronic pain and weight management.

The Short of It:

Balance Yoga & Wellness could not have a more fitting name. This studio is the perfect blend of the variety of styles and options yoga has to offer. Balance offers several classes a day, where you are sure to find a home. If you are a beginner, try one of Balance’s many introductory classes, that are centered on stress relief, relaxation, and working with injuries.

Studio: Swan River Yoga

The Long of It:

 

If you have the heart of a traveller and are want to travel somewhere new without leaving your zip code, try Swan River Yoga. Upon entry into this large practice space, you will feel as if you have travelled thousands of miles to a light, airy and colorful locale. Swan River Yoga has it all this large studio encases a large practice space, the Good Karma Prasad Café and massage & wellness services. Co-owner and instructor Michelle Baker is an old-soul who truly appreciates traditional yoga. She and other instructors incorporate traditional chanting and meditations into all of their classes. Immediately when you walk into the practice facilities, you feel as if you have stepped foot into a beautiful, foreign country. Take a break from your normal fitness routine, or yoga practice and try this fully equipped studio that used to house both a library and a beauty school. As I spoke with Michelle it was clear that she truly appreciated the unique history of this space and its continuity and focus on inner beauty and enlightenment. The goal of this studio is to be bold, foster a sense of community and to be inclusive of all students from any background.

The Short of It:

This is a beautiful space that offers a unique emphasis on traditional yoga, its origins, and incorporation into a your daily routine. Swan River is more than just a yoga studio it is a full service vegan, organic cafe, a yoga studio and a massage and wellness center. If you want it all come to Swan River Yoga, where the food is warm and so are the staff.

CBD/Downtown

Studio: Bikram Yoga Nola

The Long of It:

 

What is Bikram yoga, you ask? It is essentially hot yoga, which takes place in a room that is approximately 105-8° degrees Fahrenheit. Bikram Yoga NOLA is a beautifully designed studio with a separate room for your hot yoga practice. This room is filled with natural lighting, and velvety flooring, that could easily be mistaken for hardwoods is called Flotex Flooring. This flooring is designed to be waterproof, antimicrobial and antibacterial, perfect for an environment that produces massive amounts of sweat. If you are ready to release tension and the toxins that are byproducts of the bustling crescent city, try Bikram Yoga NOLA. The instructors will push students to reach their full potential and flexibility. Classes foster group synergy and are perfect for you if you are looking to try something new with your fitness routine, while also incorporating yoga techniques, and doing something good for your body. If you are interested in this practice, be sure to hydrate at least 48 hours prior to and after class.

The Short of It:

The short of it: If you can't get enough of the New Orleans summer heat, try Bikram Yoga NOLA. This studio is more than just a class to make you sweat. It incorporates strength and balancing poses that challenge your mental and physical capabilities. Bring, rent, or buy a towel, a water bottle to beat the heat in this challenging class.

Studio: Reyn Studios

The Long of It:
 

Reyn Studios is located in the CBD on Magazine Street, simply follow the signs that direct you to the upstairs unit of a beautifully designed building. This studio is perfect for the high-powered individual who desires a variety of movements and fitness routines. The studio thoughtfully, and beautifully incorporates the industrial elements of its origin into the studios design. There are two practice areas in this space a smaller area called "backstage" and "mainstage." The backstage is well-lit with edison bulbs, and a wall of windows overlooking a white-washed parking garage, complete with skylights and chandeliers. One wouldn't expect a designer to want to showcase such a view, but Reyn Studios does it beautifully. Don't believe me? Go to a class, see for yourself and try not to stare out the window the entire time. The mainstage is laden with wooden features and large windows, the space is so visually-pleasing, you'll want to come work up a sweat here before and after work.  If you do decide to come back twice or even three times in a day the studio will discount the class price for a repeat visit.  
The Short of It:
Reyn is an industrial oasis. The design of the studio is fluid with the concrete glory of the CBD, the “backstage” has a view you have to see to believe and the “mainstage” is has wood detail and window treatments that will relax you as soon as you step foot in the room. This studios regular clientele can’t get enough of this high powered yoga studio. Reyn Studios offers more than just yoga, there is muscle-toning classes that you will thank yourself for later, dance classes to help you find your rhythm and even yoga especially designed for runners.  

Metairie

Studio: The Pilates & Yoga Loft

The Long of It:

At the Pilates & Yoga Loft, you are more than just a valued client, you are family. I spoke with an instructor, Brigitte, and all the while I felt like I was talking to a friend. The folks at the Pilates & Yoga Loft strength is in their unique ability to guide clients  to understanding their own bodies. When you understand your body through the lens of yoga and pilates, your daily routine becomes more manageable and less painful. Simple techniques such as how to properly align the spine and sit up straight can revolutionize your experience at the office. This belief is central to the success at the Pilates & Yoga Loft, recalls Brigitte, “We have seen the impact having a Pilates and/or yoga practice can change the quality of your life.  Our clients spend most of their lives giving themselves away to other people or things.  We want the time they spend at our studio to be for them.  We show them they are stronger than they think and that they deserve to take time for themselves.”

The Short of It:

The Pilates & Yoga Loft in Metairie is  the perfect balance of core and connectivity. The instructors at the Pilates & Yoga Loft have over 600 hours of training, and are dedicated to changing your day for the better when you walk in the door. Take a few hours out of your schedule per week to try the Pilates & Yoga Loft, you won’t be sorry.

Studio: TRIYoga NOLA

The Long of It

:

TriYoga is a variety of yoga that developed in California under founder and yogi Kali Ray. The best way to describe this form of yoga is as an intentional moving meditation. Teachers that are trained in this practice are taught to be extremely intentional in their instructions and movements. Movements can be dynamic but they also are wave-like in motion and transition. All transitions are connected with the breath and by posture. Teachers of this style appreciate the traditional origins of yoga and treat triyoga as a lifestyle not just a variation of yoga. When speaking with my instructor Jennifer, she revealed that she has used triyoga to make a positive impact on her life and that of others, as a means to external and internal healing. The studio I practiced in is the perfect mixture of darkness and light, there is one massive window  that lights the entire area. Classes in your neighborhood can be located here.

The Short of It:

Triyoga is suitable for newcomers and more experienced students looking to "tri" something new or ease into the practice. Triyoga is less about fitness and more about a fluid meditation that incorporates physical movement with internal stillness and breath work. Classes near you can be found online at triyoganeworleans.com or with Laura Fiedler-Ates at her new studio Bliss Body Yoga & Pilates in Metairie.

--If you're afraid of commitment, try a drop-in class at any of these studios.
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