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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

The Non-Traditional Namaste

Aug 30, 2016 03:17PM

Kurtis Cloward with Arrichion Hot Yoga assists students practicing AcroYoga. ( Photo by Melissa Oyler)

Is this what yoga looks like now?

by Melissa Oyler


On a recent Tuesday evening in an old warehouse building in Southend, 84 people sweated it out at an event hosted by Adidas. Gym-goers warmed up to rock music at weighted circuit stations, then accelerated heart rates doing sprints in a sunny parking lot, and lastly—surprisngly—hustled into a dim, quieter room to ditch their tennis shoes and lay out their yoga mats to stretch it out.

Yoga? Yes, yoga. This may seem like a far cry from the vision of yoga as a spiritual, enlightening practice full of meditation and mindfulness. Adidas likely isn’t sponsoring many yoga events in India. But in the United States, and in Charlotte, yoga has taken on many faces, faces that even running shoe brands are tapping into.

Adidas representative Heather Chmielewski explains exactly why yoga is a great marketing spot for her brand. “Yoga does much, much more than help improve flexibility for runners. It builds the mental endurance that is so necessary. The strength and flexibility are no brainers. But holding a long yoga pose requires mental stamina, just like running,” Chmielewski says. “There are so many parallels between the two. Want to beat your PR [personal record]? Stay injury free? Build strength? Balance out your runs with yoga classes.”

Arrichion Hot Yoga, the studio hosting the Adidas event, also trains MMA fighters and wrestlers, and the studio’s owners found that fighters who stretch it out perform better in the ring. As a result, clientele are varied – anything from buff 20-something males who can’t touch their toes to older women who can contort themselves into pretzels and have been doing so for years.

“Most people that do circuit don’t really like doing yoga, and most people that do yoga don’t really do circuit,” Arrichion owner Quinn Reynolds says. “As a result, yogis tend to ‘flop’ into their flexibility, but that’s actually not correct,” she explained. “You want to be really strong in your flexibility!”

As a result, Arrichion’s business model tends to attract a broader group of clients. “We get a range of people – from pro athletes that have never done hot yoga before coming here, to people that have just done yoga but have never tried circuit, to people that have never worked out before in their lives.”

Arrichion Hot Yoga (Photo by Melissa Oyler)

Light as Air

Kerri Flanagan with AIR Charlotte says silks classes can help with yoga form. (Photo by AIR Charlotte)

Arrichion isn’t the only one. All around the Queen City, fitness groups are breaking a sweat in the name of yoga. AIR Charlotte in Myers Park describes their workout as “an intense aerial fitness training program fusing athletic conditioning with yoga, ballet and Pilates on aerial silk hammocks.”

“The silks wrap around your body and support you for certain difficult poses, which to some are not possible in traditional yoga, “ Kerri Flanigan with AIR explains. “For example, [in] a handstand or headstand, the silks will hold you up, giving you the experience of how a pose should feel, helping you learn which muscles to engage to get into the pose, hold it, and get back out.

“Taking a few AIR classes will definitely raise your game in your regular yoga practice,” Flanigan says.

Craft-brewed Yoga

Sometimes a nontraditional yoga practice doesn’t necessarily mean the type of yoga practiced, but the venue as well. Brewery yoga has definitely taken on a following in Charlotte, and Old Mecklenburg Brewery has quickly become a host to what they say is one of the biggest yoga classes in the country.

Every Tuesday, hundreds of yogis gather on OMB’s lawn for Yoga On Tap. Entry is $5 but includes a beer. Yoga instructors are different each week – all from studios in the area.

Alicia Roskind, owner of Okra Yoga and Gumbo (The Store in Plaza Midwood), was one of those visiting instructors recently. “I feel that socializing and yoga, in particular at breweries, work very well together and help bring the yoga community together,” she says.

It’s not just about embracing yoga, either, Roskind says. “Drinking local, craft beer has become a staple of how cities bring people together. It supports local entrepreneurs manifesting products they are passionate about and helps to foster culture.”

However, embracing the nontraditional doesn’t come without concerns. Socializing and working out can be fun when done together, but Roskind cautions the use of alcohol before and during yoga. “I think it is important for us as a yoga/beer drinking culture to be mindful of how and when we use alcohol. Yoga is centered around balance, no pun intended,” Roskind says. “Drinking before and during yoga can lead to minor and/or serious long-term injuries.”

But a beer after yoga? No problem! “If we can practice yoga and drink beer responsibly afterwards, then it is a fantastic combination with a balanced lifestyle,” Roskind says. Cheers to that.

An Evolving Practice

Yoga in a nontraditional form may actually help serve as a gateway into yoga as a deeper, more spiritual practice, says Lisa Moore, owner of Harmony Yoga in Ballantyne. “I consider it a great starting point as it is the only way that many people will find their way to yoga,” Moore says.

She herself is a former dancer and found yoga through a physical practice. “I stayed at this level for many years until I went through some hardships that invited me to delve into a self-exploration of my purpose in this lifetime.

“I started to study yogic texts and seek teachers that taught the philosophy of yoga and the hidden realm of the subtle body,” Moore says. “I quickly realized that I really didn’t know much about yoga at all.”

Moore acknowledges that most of us in the West have never truly realized what a true yoga practice looks like beyond the physical.

“As someone who is humbled by the science of yoga as a means of self-healing and self-realization, it can be hard to witness some of the current diluted offerings that seem out of sync with what the ancient sages prescribed,” Moore says. “But we all have to start somewhere as an introduction to yoga.”

At the end of the day, whether we are practicing at a brewery, in a heated room, with silks or some other way, Moore says, “Our yoga practice should not be measured by what we achieve, but how we evolve.”


Harmony Yoga


How Do You Yoga?

Whether yoga is a spiritual practice, a full-on sweat session, or something in between, Charlotte has yoga for everyone. Below are a few different types of yoga practices around the Queen City:

Triple C Yoga (Photo by The Yoga Dude)

AIR Charlotte 1043-C Providence Rd. 704-249-6757

Arrichion Hot Yoga 125 Winona St. 704-201-4586

Elemental Healing 5200 Park Rd. 908-407-1000

Good Vibes Wellness 980-355-2585

Harmony Yoga Ballantyne area 704-277-3887

IMX Pilates Charlotte 8035 Providence Rd., Ste. 330 704-575-5366

Jeffrey Shoaf 726 E. Blvd. 309-287-0576

NC Yoga Bar Hosting yoga at Sycamore Brewing, Lenny Boy Brewing Co., and Wooden Robot Brewery. Owner Lindsay Cunningham describes NC Yoga Bar as “the studio without a studio.” 248-515-4439

Okra Yoga 1912 Commonwealth Ave. 704-266-1443

OMB Yoga on Tap 4150 Yancey Rd. 704-525-5644

Peaceful Dragon 12610 Steele Creek Rd. 704-504-8866

The Yoga Dude Hosting yoga at Triple C Brewery, Run for Your Life, Pure Pizza 704-604-1498

Two Trees Acupuncture 1318-A3 Central Ave. 704-770-1318


Want to learn more on your own time? These local retailers offer resources on different modalities of yoga.

Gumbo: The Store 1916 Commonwealth Ave. 704-999-6630

The Bag Lady 1710 Kenilworth Ave., Ste. 200 704-338-9778

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