About eight years ago, Thomas Taulbee began a journey to make changes in his life and recapture the person he used to know and wanted to become once again. Two years later, yoga became a part of that journey to self-discovery. Initially running was his outlet and helped him conquer half marathons and triathlons while reaching his weight-loss goals. At the time, he had only used yoga as a means for stretching. Then in 2011, a catastrophic injury ended his running career.
“From that moment on yoga became part of my life in a big way,” said Taulbee, who used to be a teacher at Green Monkey, but is now teaching in North Carolina.
“If you had ask me five years ago if my life would be where it is now, I would have looked you in the eyes and chuckled. Yoga has been the greatest gift I could’ve ever asked for! It has allowed me to gain a greater sense of who I am, which for much of my life had been missing. Stress and anxiety has been replaced with a greater sense of peace and gratitude. The opportunity to share the gift of yoga is a true blessing and honor,” said Taulbee. To help you decide how to begin your yoga journey, here’s a little more about the practice of yoga and a few of the studios that offer a variety of classes in South Miami. Maybe it’ll change you, too.
BALA VINYASA (BV)
After opening her first yoga studio in Naples in 2007, Kiersten Mooney launched BV in Coral Gables in 2012. Though the studio offers an array of classes, Mooney says their niche is Power Vinyasa Yoga, which is based on the Baptiste style. “As the only Baptiste Affiliate Studio in Miami,” according to Mooney, BV offers primarily Power Vinyasa Yoga, but it also offers classes including Slow Flow Restorative, Power Yoga Basics, Kids Yoga, Hatha and Therapeutic yoga, Prenatal, and Gentle Yoga. “We deliver an experience, not just a physical workout. Though you will get an amazing physical workout, you will also get an uplifting and wholehearted experience that will stay with you,” says Mooney. BV even offers classes for the special needs community, such as Yoga for Epilepsy, Yoga for Autism, Yoga for Veterans, and for those in recovery, said Mooney. She added that they’re always looking for ways to be of service to the community, and are collaborating with the University of Miami on cutting-edge yoga research. Three studies have already been published, and the fourth study is in progress. “We design and create programming that is scientifically proven and used as prescriptive practices, such as our Therapeutics class for athletes,” said Mooney.
Though yoga might seem intimidating, it’s actually a practice that’s good for men and women of all ages. Still if you’re feeling a bit uncertain, BV’s ‘ABCs of Yoga’ can help ease your nerves. “We offer a class called the ABC’s of Yoga that’s specifically designed to help with the transition into a yoga studio, where one of our teachers will give you a tour of the studio, a step-by-step breakdown of what to bring, what to wear, where to put your mat, how to set up for class, and then of course, how to practice the asanas (yoga poses),” said Mooney. “Yoga isn’t a competition and isn’t designed for any particular gender in mind. What you get out it depends on what you put into it, and as always, go at your own pace. Drop what you know and just go,” she added. Mooney comes with the expertise needed to help you. She’s a graduate of the University of Miami with a double B.A. in Sociology and Exercise Sports Science and Sports Medicine, plus a graduate degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition. “I am most passionate about empowering people to create the greatest life that they were born to live and be bold enough to step into it,” said Mooney. Bala Vinyasa offers more than 70 classes spread over seven days a week. Just find something that fits your schedule and needs.
Coming up on their fifth anniversary, Corpo Yoga stays true to traditional practice through the discipline of the mind and body approach. Each class at Corpo has a meditation component, there are no mirrors in the studio to help yogis reconnect with themselves and not their body. When coming up with the business plan for Corpo during her graduate program, Cybele Chamas, owner of Corpo says, “I wanted to have a place that I could offer different disciplines of yoga that meets different needs. That’s how I came up with the four styles that we offer here—Anusara, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Kundalini yoga.” These four styles have different things to offer for different needs, and each class is offered for different levels, from beginner to advanced. Anusara is a style that focuses heavily on alignment, great for people with past injuries that want to learn yoga in the right way. Vinyasa is a flowing class that doesn’t stop much, and every class is different. For instance, one can be focused on hip opening or on the back. Kundalini yoga is the root of the meditation and breathing part of yoga, a more spiritual practice. Ashtanga, is a sequence that’s always practiced in the same order, a more traditional, more challenging yoga.
There are about 45 classes offered at the studio, including kids and ‘tween classes. Chamas notes that during the ‘tween classes, the instructor talks to kids about issues they face, such as self-esteem, visualization, and breathing techniques they can use in stressful situation like test-taking. The children’s classes teach yoga using songs, stories, and animal re-enactments that get the kids involved. To make it easy for parents, adult classes coincide with the kids and preteen classes to help make it a family affair.
For Jennifer Gonzalez, 34, of Palmetto Bay, whose 4-year old daughter Kai attends the children’s class, this is a time of quiet for mom. “She [Kai] has been practicing yoga for a few months. I decided to have her try yoga after I began practicing. I was hoping it would help her expel any extra energy, get a great full body and mind workout and leave relaxed like I do. Sure enough, it does just that!,” said Gonzalez. “She loves learning new poses through games and songs. Although they do offer a class at the same time for the moms, I just take the 90 minutes for me to relax.”
Corpo also offers workshops on nutrition, meditation, yoga practice, therapeutic yoga, as well as offering therapeutic massages, reiki, and holistic services.
Green Monkey has called South Miami home for six years and though they offer a variety of classes – Vinyasa flow, Beginners Yoga, Ashtanga, Pilates Fusion, Restorative, Hot Vinyasa Flow, and Anusura – they claim Power Yoga to be their most popular. Newbies should start with the Beginners Yoga class to learn the poses slowly and safely. “Yoga is a very safe, non-intimidating, non-competitive environment. The best thing you can do is introduce yourself to the instructor prior to the class and advise you are just starting your yoga practice. Teachers love beginner yogis. We are very excited and eager to share and teach the practice of yoga to new people,” Said Paula Walker, director of marketing and corporate sales for Green Monkey, who has been practicing yoga for about 15 years.
Yoga helps deal with everyday life stresses. “The breathing and meditation we practice on the yoga mat, we then take off the mat to use in stressful situations such as traffic on US1 or dealing with personal relationships,” adds Walker. “Yoga is a form of meditation; it is a moving meditation that quiets the mind, which everyone could use to lead a more peaceful life.” Yoga also helps with the process of aging, keeping us active physically and mentally, she added. Green Monkey also operates corporate wellness programs where instructors lead wellness classes such as yoga, meditation and others, on-site at area companies. In addition, they offer teacher training programs twice a year for anyone looking to become a yoga instructor. Just OM Yoga Studio A new studio in town, OM Yoga Studio, is adding Suspension Yoga to its roster of classes, which is now trending in the yoga community. This new form of practice offers yogis a new way to help increase mind-body awareness, alignment, and stability through suspension, inversion, and deep floating relaxation. Don’t let the suspension intimidate you; there are Suspension Yoga classes ranging from beginner to advanced. Just OM will also be adding Power Vinyasa to its roster soon. All the studio owners share a common belief that yoga is for everyone of any age and any athletic ability. Many of them have yogis as young as four and ranging into the 70s. Though yoga might more often be associated with women, men like Taulbee are actually showing up in classes in increasing numbers. “Yoga is very popular with men, especially men with Type A personalities and athletes. Many professional athletes practice yoga. Alex Rodriguez and Chris “Birdman” Anderson have taken classes at Green Monkey South Miami studio,” said Walker.
“There’s a tendency among men [to think]that yoga is easy, not challenging, and for women only. None of this is accurate. I do see an increase of men attending. Like many things education is so important. For those of us in the yoga community, it’s a responsibility to spread the word by letting people know of the benefits of steady yoga practice,” said Taulbee. These include healing pain and injury; strengthening bones, muscles and joints; keeping the body fit and flexible; weight loss; improving sleep, and detoxifying the body.
How often should you practice? Well, the more you take time for yoga, the more you get out of it. However, most studios said just one day a week would be beneficial, but three would be idea. “We have a saying at BV yoga, ‘Come three times a week to change your body, come five times a week to change your life.’ I encourage you to practice as often as possible, yet with the reality of busy lives a little yoga is better than no yoga,” said Mooney.
FREE FOR ALL
Lululemon Athletica offers free yoga classes at the store every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Footworks, known for their training programs, also offers free yoga on the weekends. Check their website for more information.
WHAT TO WEAR
South Miami not only offers a variety of places to practice yoga, but also a variety of locations to make sure you’re perfectly outfitted when you show up to class. There’s Lululemon; BlueFish Sport; and Peace, Love, World all in the neighborhood. According to Barbara Quanstrom prints are in and have found their way onto the yoga scene. Vibrant colors and performance prints are being worn to yoga class more.
“A plain supplex pant or capri just doesn’t cut it anymore. Women are looking for something more fashionable so they can wear it throughout the day and feel good about their outfit and look stylish — yoga clothes that take you from the gym to the streets,” said Quanstrom.
BlueFish is known for its fashion-forward active wear, including dri-fit, four-way stretch, and breathable fabrics that allow for a full range of motion and quick drying time. “Colors are best, arousing the senses and brightening your mood. I know several gurus that won’t allow their students to wear black when practicing because they want them to feel bright,” added Quanstrom.
For those who would rather stay with a more subdued palette, Alina Villasante of Peace, Love, World is partial to neutral colors, soft fabrics and great fitting clothes that also connect to the soul – evident in the inspiring messages on many of her pieces. For women on the go who need something to take them from yoga class to after-school activities or even drinks with friends, the Love 2 Love Light and Love 2 Live collections have lightweight, body-fitting fabrics that are perfect for transitioning, according to Villasante. She says the most popular colors at Peace, Love, World for yogis are neutrals, blacks, whites, and yellows. Villasante’s perfect gear would be, “A comfortable yoga outfit with positive affirmations that make you feel loved and balanced.”