Yoga is one of the best practices you can find for developing peace of mind and body. Nearly everyone can do it; 5-year-olds, 95-year-olds, large, small, those with physical limitations, or those who run marathons every weekend. It’s a practice that welcomes all with open arms. The list of yoga benefits is long:
- increased flexibility
- improved balance
- reduction of back pain
- prevention and treatment of headaches
- improved digestion
- improved respiration and oxygen saturation of blood
- increased energy
- increased muscle strength and tone
- improved cardiovascular and circulatory health
- reduction of stress and improved peace of mind
- eased symptoms of depression
- improved sleep
The list goes on, but I’ll stop there (see “benefits of yoga” infographic from Freedom Genesis at the end of this article). What it comes down to, is that there are very few reasons NOT to practice yoga. We want to help you start by providing basic information on types of yoga along with a list of Portland yoga studios. The list of studios includes drop-in rates, new student packages, and the primary type of yoga practiced.
A Short List of Yoga Styles
Below are descriptions of 8 common yoga styles. Those described are the most commonly practiced at Portland yoga studios.
Ashtanga consists of 6 progressive pose sequences. It focuses on synchronizing the breath with a continuous flow between poses. The physically demanding continual movement typically produces a lot of internal heat, therefore sweat. This helps release toxins and purify the body. It’s great for toning and building core strength.
Bikram and Hot Yoga
They both make you sweat, but they are not one and the same.
Bikram is a strict series of 26 yoga poses in a room that’s heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. Each of the 26 poses is performed twice and in the same order each time, over 90 minutes. No music can be played and there is no talking or interaction with the instructor. Bikram is named after its founder, Bikram Choudhury and is typically pronounced like “bick-rum.” It is based on hatha yoga techniques. To practice as a Bikram-affiliated studio, you must use Bikram-certified teachers who have been trained in the Choudhury tradition. If you’d like to try it, the nearest Bikram studio is in Portsmouth, NH.
Hot yoga is much less strict. The temperature usually ranges between 80 and 100 degrees and humidity can vary. It can be comprised of any combination of postures and usually lasts around 60 minutes like typical yoga classes. Instructors are usually influenced by more than one style of yoga and have complete leeway in how they teach. Music can be played, talking is permitted, and interaction with the instructor is allowed.
Hatha (pronounced “hah-tah” with a hard t) encompasses nearly all types of modern yoga and is very popular in the West. It’s a gentle introduction to the postures and practice of yoga. You will most likely leave class feeling mentally relaxed and physically loose.
Iyengar (pronounced “eye-yen-gar”) was founded by B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. It places utmost importance on proper alignment, therefore “props” are often used to help students attain proper form. Props include blocks, straps, blankets, and bolsters. This form of yoga is great for those with injuries. Highly trained Iyengar instructors will guide you to the correct alignment and help you work with your limitations.
Restorative yoga is focused on relaxation. There are not as many poses and the poses are held for a longer amount of time. Props are used to help maximize your level of relaxation by reducing the amount of effort it takes to hold a pose. This is a great choice when you’re under a lot of stress. For most people living in the modern world, that would require at least one class per week; maybe even every couple hours on bad days.
Vinyasa / Power / Flow
Vinyasa (pronounced “vin-yah-sah”) is similar to Ashtanga in that you flow between intense poses, however, the poses can differ from class to class. Music is often played to keep things flowing and lively. If you’d like a mix between yoga and a workout, Vinyasa is for you.
Yin is like the deep tissue massage of yoga. Poses target connective tissues, ligaments, joints, and deep fascia networks. You will take the time to relax into poses, focusing on softening the muscles and tendons to acquire the deepest access to your tissues. It is closely aligned with meditation with many instructors speaking like they’re leading you through a “body meditation.” You will connect with your body through both mental focus and physical movement.
Which is right for you?
With the myriad of choices available, how do you decide which is right for you?
Why are you interested in starting a yoga practice? It could be for mental well-being, strengthening your core, becoming more flexible, recovering from an injury, etc. Know your needs and seek the yoga that fills those needs.
Do Your Research
Be sure to read all of the class descriptions at the studio you are planning on trying. If the class you attend isn’t for you, try one of their other classes or another studio. It’s important to note that this article does not describe all yoga styles and it’s possible there are studios in your area that offer different options. Be sure to do your research!
Keep in mind, that even though different classes may practice the same style of yoga, the style of the instructors could be totally different. So, if you liked the yoga but didn’t get a great feel for the instructor’s style, try another instructor or studio. It’s ok. They understand and just want you to love your yoga practice. One of the beauties of finding your yoga space is that most studios offer new student specials so that you can shop around without breaking the bank.
Portland Yoga Studios
Below is a list of Portland studios that were returned from a quick Google search. If there are any we missed, please let us know! The rates are as of July 5th, 2017. Please visit their websites to find current offerings and prices.
|Creating Space Yoga
1717 Congress Street
www.creatingspaceyoga.comSingle drop-in classes: $15
New students: $5 first class, 2-week unlimited $30, 4-week unlimited $60Creating Space holds 4 outdoor classes per week at their location on the Fore River.
|Hustle and Flow
155 Bracket Street, 3rd Floor
www.hustleflowstudio.comPrimary yoga type: Vinyasa
Single drop-in classes: $15
New students: 1-month unlimited $55Hustle and Flow also offers Buti yoga which fuses yoga and dance.
|Lila East End Yoga
251 Congress Street
http://livelila.comPrimary yoga type: Hatha
Single drop-in classes: $18 / students $15
New students: 2-week unlimited $40 or 1 month unlimited $80
332 Forest Avenue
www.magnoliafitnessmaine.comPrimary yoga type: a combination of barre and yoga philosophies
Single drop-in classes: $16 adults, $5 18 and under
New students: 30 days for $30
|Maine Hatha Yoga
49 Dartmouth Street
http://mainehathayoga.comPrimary yoga type: Hatha
Single drop-in classes: $15 adults, $7 community class, $10 kids class
New students: 1-month unlimited $55 or 10-class pass $55
648 Congress Street
www.nirajyoga.comPrimary yoga type: Vinyasa
Single drop-in classes: $11 adults
New Students: No special rate
Happy hour Friday: $5 for 60 minutes
|Portland Power Yoga
84 Cove Street
http://portlandpoweryoga.comPrimary yoga type: Vinyasa
Single drop-in classes: $14 adults, $5 for teens under 18 and Veterans
New students: 1-month unlimited $59
|Portland Yoga Studio
616 Congress Street
www.portlandyoga.comPrimary yoga type: Iyengar
Single drop-in classes: $15
New students: 1 month unlimited $45
|Rêve Cycling Studio
559 Forest Avenue
www.revecyclingstudio.comPrimary yoga type: Vinyasa
Single drop-in classes: $15 adults / $12 student / $10 teen
New students: 1-week unlimited $15
|The Rooted Collective
36 Market Street, 2nd Floor
www.rootedbarreyoga.comPrimary yoga type: Vinyasa
Single drop-in classes: $18
New students: 1-month unlimited $58
|Spiral Tree Yoga & Wellness Studio
570 Brighton Avenue
https://spiraltreeyoga.comPrimary yoga type: various yoga and wellness classes
Single drop-in classes: $15 adults / $14 student / $10 teen
New students: 2-week unlimited membership – $30 adults, $25 students, $20 teens.
|Still Water Yoga
254 Commercial Street
http://stillwateryogaportland.comPrimary yoga type: Hatha and Iyengar
Single drop-in classes – offered in summer only: $21 for a 90-minute class and $26 for 2-hour classStill Water has a course-based structure to build on your practice from class to class. Prices vary.
|WholeHeart Yoga Center
449 Forest Avenue, #1
http://wholeheartyoga.comPrimary yoga type: Kripalu
Single drop-in classes: $18
New students: 2-weeks $25
|The Yoga Center
449 Forest Avenue
www.maineyoga.comPrimary yoga type: Varied
Single drop-in classes: $15
New students: Free introductory courses are listed on their website as well as any new student specialsThe Yoga Center works on a course-based structure. Current course length varies between 3 and 9 weeks. Prices vary.
Outdoor Yoga Opportunities
There are a number of chances for you to stretch your yoga muscles outside this summer and a few options are below. Some studios offer outdoor classes as well, so check with your studio of choice.
The cost for the following classes is donation-based with $15 usually being the suggested donation amount.
- Community Earthing Yoga with OmBody Health – Tuesdays, 5:30-6:30 pm on the Eastern Promenade near the community gardens and tennis courts (June 6 – September 5)
- Fresh Air Yoga with Ashley Flowers – Wednesdays, 6:00-7:00 pm at Payson Park near the sledding hill (May 17 – August 16)
- Friday Morning Flow with Cayce Lannon – Fridays, 7:00-8:00 am on the Eastern Promenade in front of the USS Constitution Memorial (July 7 – August 25)
What about online yoga or videos?
There are pluses and minuses to learning and practicing yoga in your living room. Here are a few:
- Practice whenever and wherever you want and even in your pajamas if you’re so inclined.
- Access to world class instructors.
- No practice disruptions when you’re on vacation. Your instructor follows you to your hotel room. Creepy, but convenient.
- No potential for embarrassing yoga moments in front of others. Fall down or eat beans before you practice. No worries!
- Stop, rewind, or pause the videos as much as you need to get it right.
- Lots of choices. You can choose whatever style of yoga you’d like, as often as you want.
- It’s cheap and unlimited. Plans can cost about the same as one drop-in yoga class per month.
- No feedback on whether you’re doing it right. Instructors aren’t right next to you, guiding you to proper alignment and form.
- Pursuant to point one, you could be building bad yoga habits. You could even possibly hurt yourself.
- Although you have a lot of choices, you often do not build upon your practice from week to week.
- It’s easy to ignore your practice. With no weekly commitment to an in-person class, it’s easy to skip classes and lose momentum.
- No yoga camaraderie! The energy you receive in a room of like-minded individuals, taking care of their health and mental well-being cannot be rivaled in your living room. Your cat seriously couldn’t care less that you’re doing yoga. They’d rather you hold a piece of string in front of them.
- Information on yoga from the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm.
- Yoga Has Potent Health Benefits, an article published by Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201403/yoga-has-potent-health-benefits.