By Leslie Strickler
Richmonders work hard. We are a tough and resilient lot when we want to be. But we also understand the value of play, getting outside, and being active. While there are many ways to maintain our physical and spiritual core, there’s nothing quite like the practice of yoga to harness the power of body and mind.
An umbrella term, yoga can mean many things to different people – it can be a religion, philosophy, and practice all rolled into one. The origins of yoga date back to the fifth and sixth centuries BCE. One of the six orthodox schools of Hinduism is also called Yoga. Not until the 1980s did the Western world begin to catch on to movements commonly used in ancient India’s ascetic circles.
Today the yoga scene in Richmond has been evolving at a rapid pace, now offering everything from beginner to advanced offerings. Where to go for what is the biggest question these days in Richmond as well as around the country. The best advice from local practitioners here in RVA is to explore a little of everything until you find what fits you best. And most important, be patient and enjoy the wealth of knowledge this community has to offer. If teaching yoga is potentially something you could be interested in, then why not have a look at https://www.siddhiyoga.com to read about what is involved in the training of yoga teachers.
One of the best ways to get to know yoga is to start with a small business or independent contractor in Richmond. There is a growing list of teachers in RVA- everywhere from art galleries to private residences. Using an independent contractor not only allows you to support the city’s local teachers but also explore the city’s nooks and crannies. Studios, on the other hand, usually offer amenities such as yoga mats to borrow or rent, yoga props (i.e., blocks, blankets, straps), and set schedules. Alternatively, you can seek out the ultimate yoga experience by partaking in a Marianne Wells retreat in a number of exotic destinations across the globe.
While it’s impossible to list all the yoga options in Richmond, we’ve included a smattering of options to get you started:
Donation Based Yoga with Jessica Scalin is based off of the idea that when yoga is accessible it leads to a happier and healthier community. “My approach to yoga has changed as my experience has grown,” explains Scalin, an ambassador for lululemon who is in her 7th year of teaching. With a pre-med degree and an athletic background, Scalin began working in a studio where $20 per class was the norm. Scalin quickly realized the need to make yoga available to everyone and today she offers donation based classes in unique community settings where participants pay what they can.
“The labels for yoga are not for me,” Sclain says, “through experience I became my healthiest through marrying the forms, taking whatever was beneficial and applying it.” When people ask Scalin what type of yoga she teaches, the answer is always the same: “I teach all of the forms. I use whatever will be best for the students…It is important that I teach from a place of authenticity.” Scalin regularly offers Brewasana classes in the warehouse at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (capped off with a beer) and in community settings such as Island Yoga on Belle Isle.
In Ashland, Center Of The Universe and Latitude Yoga Co. have teamed up to offer Poses & Pints in their own brewery. Attendees enjoy a fun and energetic flow style yoga class that’s suitable for yogis of all levels. After yoga, participants often stick around and enjoy some pints of COTU’s selection of craft beers with friends.
Om on Yoga, located near Libbie and Grove, offers a variety of classes, focused on the Vinyasa (flow) style, for all levels of practitioners. Beyond the classes they also have a boutique and lounge area so you can browse the merchandise and chat with fellow yogis before, between, or after class.
Yoga Source in Cary Court, with its three separate rooms, has the ability to offer a wide range of classes in many time slots. Variety is the spice here and the front desk staff and instructors can help Richmonders navigate the many different classes to find a good fit.
Ashtanga Yoga Richmond focuses on a unique unguided practice called Mysore. The teacher doesn’t lead the class but rather teaches the set sequence to each independent student, pose by pose. They also offer led Ashtanga classes where the instructor cues the students, as well as an extensive Vinyasa schedule. Their sunlit studio is located right next to the Byrd Theater.
Project Yoga Richmond offers a wide variety of classes in a unique practice space off Dickens Road. Most classes are donation-based ($10 suggested) and the funds raised by this non-profit go toward providing classes for those who might not otherwise have easy access to yoga – those living in juvenile detention centers or senior living communities, students in schools, and individuals with special needs.
If you want to sweat, hot yoga studios Bikram Yoga and Hot House Yoga offer yoga in temperatures reaching 95 degrees and above.
While options are plenty in RVA, many Richmonders say that simply practicing yoga anywhere-and on your own-is the way to go. Often called pop-up-yoga, the idea is that yoga can be practiced on the spot, whenever and wherever. “I don’t like being told what to do,” says Anita Molayi, a medical student who has been practicing yoga since she was 15. “When suggested social norms tell me you can’t just pop into a handstand in the middle of a shopping mall, I take that as a challenge.”
Molayi says that when she lived in New Orleans she regularly practiced chair yoga with chronic pain patients as this relaxed and steady form of exercise could help to relieve these types of symptoms. Where some sufferers may decide that something similar to these CBD oil UK based products and brands offer the best form of relief for their problem. CBD-based products such as gummies, oil and others could prove to be helpful in not only relieving the pain but could also help in alleviating stress that may arise from the discomfort. Websites such as Blessed CBD and similar others could be a potential place where one could procure these products if they believe the effects of the same.
While that is an option, others could decide to partake in yoga to see what benefits this can offer them in their journey to full health and Molayi will be on hand to help. When she moved to Nashville she began practicing yoga with giggling school children. And here in Richmond she is now fostering yoga in the medical community, both for practitioners and patients. “Yoga truly is for everyone,” says Molayi while looking for a place to do a handstand.