Stretch the truth
A poser’s guide to the local yoga scene
Over the course of many years, my various friends, family and psychiatrists have attempted to impress upon me how beneficial yoga could be, that it could calm my mind and improve my physical well-being. For many years, I have willfully resisted, not wanted to change my glamorous sedentary lifestyle in favor of a spiritual workout plan where I’m judged by my inability to put my feet behind my head.
But I have recently found myself unable to function. I have generalized anxiety disorder, GAD for short, and depression. Every day feels like a constant battle between the overzealous, nagging worry and physical tension that frequently overwhelms me and the person that I desperately want to be. It is a rough day when you finally realize that you need to make life changes. So, when the opportunity arose to explore the growing yoga community in Reno, I jumped at it.
I was not sure of what to expect when I went into these classes. Would someone read my aura? Would they force me to hold a handstand in silence for an hour and contemplate my feelings? Was I joining a Lululemon cult? With the way that people talked about yoga, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some Kool-Aid in the complimentary tea.
Over the course of a few weeks, I worked hard to get over myself and keep an open mind. I had always associated yoga with one of two things: A deep, meaningful and spiritual affair that I couldn’t possibly comprehend or a degradation of yoga, taken over by the Tammys and Beckys of the world who co-opted meaningful symbols and made them into crop tops with glitter “om” signs that say “Namaslay.” And during my time visiting the yoga studios around Reno, I saw both sides of that spectrum. But realistically, the most common atmosphere was one that treated yoga as a fluid force, allowing us as practitioners, or yogis, to derive our own meaning, purpose, and level of spirituality.
The first few classes were difficult. It was hard not to feel self-conscious and incapable. I tried to take comfort in the fact that there were sometimes elderly attendees to the class, thinking I wouldn’t have to struggle alone. But then a couple, who I had heard talk about their first great-grandchild, practiced their headstands against each other, and I lost the hope I had.
After a few classes, I started to feel a little bit more comfortable, especially listening to the advice of fellow students, like Roxane Osborn, a student at The Studio. After a car accident nearly 15 years ago, Roxane took up yoga to help her find more mobility in her body. She understood how easy it was to feel self-conscious in class.
“Remember that actually nobody is looking at you,” Osborn said. “Don’t be afraid to fall out of postures. Everyone does. And no one is paying attention to how wrong your knees are because they are looking at their own.”
Once I felt comfortable enough to make mistakes, I started to feel my nerves calm. Then on a particularly hard day, I took a class with Rishi Studio owner Jelena Hardy.
“Anxiety is just energy,” said Hardy. “But energy is power. And it can make you implode on yourself or explode on those around you. Or you can use it to drive you.”
It was a general sentiment to the class, but it gave me comfort. No, I didn’t feel my mind completely quiet, nor do I think I ever will. But by the end of that class, laying on the floor in Savasana, or corpse pose, I saw my thoughts move by my eyes slowly, like a movie.
I can’t say that yoga will cure me of my anxiety. But what I can say is that—aside from the hell that was Bikram yoga—every class I took gave me a space to focus on my body, be with my thoughts, and feel more at ease than when I started. I completely misjudged yoga. But that’s an “L” I’ll definitely take.
Each studio, class, and teacher varies, but all have their merits. With the growing number of studios in town, there’s a definite option for everyone.Northwest Reno
When I arrived at Rishi Yoga, 1350 Stardust St., I was surprised to find that nestled in a strip mall, was a little yoga sanctuary headed by the owner, Hardy. As I walked into the studio, I felt my hands begin to shake out of nervousness. Along with GAD and depression, I also have social anxiety. Trudging alone into the room full of strangers who had already built their own community, I felt a little bit like I was squaring up in front of a firing squad. Apparently, I looked as lost as I felt, because Hardy found me quickly, embraced me in a hug, and said, “You must be Anna.”
Hardy’s Weekend Warrior Power Flow class was a notably physical approach to Vinyasa Yoga, a style that synchronizes the breath with the yogic postures in a continuous flow. Even during this demanding workout, Hardy endeavored to connect with the class mentally, sharing vulnerable personal stories during her teaching, a reason many students come back. For those looking for a more spiritual, personal practice of yoga, and the chance to become part of a community, Rishi Yoga would be a great fit. Monthly rates and class packages range from $89 to $120, with a student special for $179 for three months, while the drop-in rate is $15.Downtown
During my first trip to Temple Yoga Reno, 190 California Ave., I felt decidedly uncomfortable. The smell of incense was overpowering and before the Warm Flow Level 1 & 2 class taught by Candice Marie Connolly started, I was told I could pick out three Fairy Tarot cards from a deck she had spread out near her own mat. The inner skeptic in me rolled her eyes, but I was committed. I grabbed three and put them at the edge of my mat, and rubbed on some essential oils as they were passed around. I had low expectations, but what followed was a class that was physically straining yet incredibly emotionally calming. I consider myself a passionately devout atheist, but it was difficult to not feel a spiritual connection in the room. I even took the time to read the meanings for all my Fairy Tarot cards.
Of all the yoga experiences I had, my classes at Temple Yoga Reno were the most meaningful. I felt comfortable making mistakes and truly learning the practice, without fear of judgment, and felt my mind slow down to a pace that my GAD doesn’t normally allow me to reach. This studio is perfect for those who want to relax their minds, strengthen their bodies, and practice a more traditional style of yoga. Drop-in rates are $18 or $10 with a student, military, or senior discount, and class packages and monthly memberships range from $65 to $180, although there is a new student rate for the first month of unlimited classes for $54.Midtown
The Studio has been a pillar of the yoga community in Reno for longer than I can remember. Now located at 1085 S. Virginia St., The Studio offers a myriad of different yoga classes, and the lobby, which doubles as a tea and elixir lounge on Wednesday and Friday nights, offers hip, urban comfort without any pretension. During my first class at The Studio, taught by Patric Calhoun, I found a profound sense of inner hatred for downward-facing dog. The class itself was relaxing, but I had a difficult time finding the stillness Calhoun asked for while my muscles shook under a level of physical exertion they were unaccustomed to. Still, the class retained the same atmosphere of individual peace as other studios, but without any spiritual undertones.
The Studio is a great location to find not only a wealth of yoga classes, but also the opportunity to immerse oneself in Reno’s music and arts culture. Monthly memberships and class packages start from $60 and go to $185, with a handful of discounted options for students. Drop-in rates are $18 per class.
From the street, the giant white doors of Midtown Community Yoga, 600 S. Virginia St., don’t look like much. But opening them up leads to a bright, cheery space that offers an eclectic atmosphere and class lineup to suit yogis looking to expand into acrobatic yoga, new practitioners looking to build up their knowledge, and even skeptics who feel more at home at a rock concert than they do in child’s pose.
“I would recommend a friend date to the acrobatic yoga,” said Jay Thomas, a student of the studio. “There’s nothing that builds friendship like having someone’s feet so close to your face.”
Midtown Community Yoga offers monthly memberships on a sliding scale from $68 to $108, $16 drop-ins for regularly scheduled classes and $10 drop-ins for community classes, and a $50 special for the first month for new members.
Another popular Midtown yoga establishment is Pure Yoga, 855 S. Center St. Founded just over five years ago, Pure Yoga now offers 11 different types of classes throughout the week, as well as a couple of different workshops every month that focus on topics like pre-natal yoga and self-care with therapeutic yoga and massage.
“I like to start my mornings by coming here,” said student Bri Nicholson. “I feel like I’m sitting in a warm tree house. It’s so peaceful.”
With class packages that range from $60-$110, monthly rates starting at $80, a $15 discount for students and WCSD teachers, and a drop-in rate of $20 per class, Pure Yoga is a great location for those wanting to refine their yoga practice on a budget.South Reno
Yoga Loka, 6135 Lakeside Drive, is well-rounded studio, offering numerous class options that range from beginner yoga sessions, to chakra yoga, to classes that use aromatherapy and reiki—a Japanese practice of alternative medicine that claims to promote healing by the transfer of energy through the palms of the practitioner.
However, the best feature of Yoga Loka by far is the class opportunities for groups often underserved in the yoga community, such as pregnant women and those with chronic pain or illness. There is also a wealth of knowledge among the team of instructors, many of whom carry certifications as registered yoga teachers, master’s degrees and doctorate degrees. Yoga Loka also offers numerous workshops that deal with a spectrum of topics, from chakras, to meditation, to cognitive health. One student who wanted to remain anonymous shared her story about the studio.
“It has been difficult feeling such a blocked energy in my chakras,” she said. “But after attending their Chakra Yoga series, it has been truly transformative. I have never felt my chakras flowing so freely.”
A single class drop-in rate is $18, while the class package and monthly membership prices range from $83 to $275.
Juice Box Yoga has become a staple in Reno’s yoga community. While the studio is known for its Bikram yoga classes, it also offers hot Pilates and slower-paced, cooler classes. For some godawful reason, I decided that the third formal yoga class that I had ever taken should probably be their beginner Bikram yoga session. I walked into the studio and met Eric Pehrson, who told me that, since it was my first time, my main goal should be to stay in the room. How hard could that be? (Apparently very hard, considering that the class is composed of 26 poses, and the room itself is humid and warmed to a balmy 105 degrees Fahrenheit.)
I made it through to the end of the class—but not without a healthy dose of nausea and regret. Everyone applauded me at the end though, which would have been nice if it weren’t mortifying. I basically came for the yoga but stayed for the frozen lavender-infused face towel they passed out at the end of class. People were generally supportive though, and a woman from the class pulled me aside in the locker rooms to tell me that it gets better, becoming a grief counselor I didn’t know I needed.
Consider trying the mellower classes if you aren’t experienced in yoga or don’t do well in heat. But if you are searching for a deeply intense workout, want to work off pounds through exercise and heat, or just wonder what it’s like to swim in pools of your own sweat, then this is the studio for you. Try visiting either of the two Reno locations at 631 Sierra Rose Drive and 1635 Robb Drive. Membership and class packages go from $105 to $180, but new members can take advantage of their 14-day unlimited class pass for $39. Drop-in rates are $20 or $10 for students.
Yoga Pod Reno, 13981 S. Virginia St., is the only yoga studio in about a six-mile radius, offering a convenient location for South Reno yogis. However, considering the wide array of classes, a trip to Yoga Pod Reno is well worth the drive. The studio offers 70 diverse classes per week, so it is easy to find one to fit any need, personality and time frame. For those who are looking for an intense workout in a rigorous, fitness-focused environment, the YogaTone class is the perfect fit. Those who want the vigor of a Bikram yoga session in a more positive learning environment will find it in the PodHot sessions.
“If you want a spiritual class, there’s a class here for that,” said Mike Fraley, one of the managers at Yoga Pod. “If you don’t, there’s a class for that too. Some teachers … want to open up your mind as well as your body, so you can take what you learn on the mat and apply it to your life off it.”
There are a variety of class packages and membership plans ranging from $119 to $200 a month, or simply drop in on a class for $25.Sparks
The Yoga Pearl, 2955 Vista Blvd., specializes in Yin, Vinyasa and Restorative yoga, as well as meditation and spirituality. It offers an average of 25 classes a week, as well as a workshop every Wednesday. There are also frequent special events at the studio, including sessions that focus on vibrational healing, heart healing, and the art of self-care, which vary in price.
This is a perfect location for small, personal classes, and even offers one-on-one private yoga sessions. The drop-in fee for regularly scheduled classes is $13, but The Yoga Pearl offers a wide variety of pass levels, from the two-class red pass for new students for $20, to the unlimited monthly yellow pass for $74, to the six-month unlimited blue pass for $350.