Wellness, both physical and mental, is a hot topic these days. Workout programs and diet fads come and go, hawked by celebrities and promising Instagrammable bodies and instant bliss.
As trends ebb and flow, one constant remains: yoga.
Yoga, the discipline of physical, mental and spiritual practice originated in India around 5,000 years ago and is said to have been brought to the West by Indian gurus in the late 19th century. Westerners began twisting their limbs and breathing mindfully in earnest in the 1980s, and the trend has not shown any signs of slowing down. Yoga has been shown to have a multitude of benefits, including improved posture, stress reduction and increased muscle strength. Yoga practice is one of the most inclusive physical programs, benefitting men, women and children.
We’ve put together a list of some unique local yoga practices.
Marnie Myhre runs RiverStones Wellness out of her St. Anthony Park home. RiverStones offers yoga classes as well as private physical therapy, yoga therapy and energy healing sessions. With a background in physical and yoga therapy and ergonomics, Myhre is focusing on helping her clients age gracefully, “and have fun doing it,” she said.
Her most popular class is the “Yoga for Good Men” class, which brings men into the practice of yoga in a non-intimidating environment.
“I believe strongly that yoga should be accessible to all as it is a wonderful way to improve flexibility and balance while having fun,” Myhre said. “The men regularly report a difference in how they feel after practicing.”
Soma Yoga, which combines somatics, a bodyworks field focusing on internal physical perception and experience, with a mind and body philosophy along with the practice of yoga, is another popular class offered at Myhre’s studio.
“It involves slow, gentle movements that facilitate the release of involuntary, habitual muscle patterns. It helps to relieve chronic tension that can lead to muscle and joint problems,” Myhre said. “Soma Yoga practice can lead to improved posture, freedom of movement, greater energy and overall well-being.”
Located in the former Peapods space on Como Avenue, Healing Elements is a wellness center that includes massage services, a yoga studio, many unique workshops, energy work and retail space. One of the more unique and universally appealing classes offered at Healing Elements is the Candlelight Flow class, offered, predictably, in the evenings.
“I believe people are attracted to the calming nature of candles and a slower-paced yoga class,” instructor and studio manager Sara Sleeper explained. “Since the class is later in the evening, it’s more appealing to students to have a calming class rather than a vigorous vinyasa.”
With four different Candlelight Flow classes currently available, there really is something for everyone here. Each instructor brings his or her own touch to the 60-minute session. “This definitely adds to the popularity and general allure since you’re always experiencing something new,” Sleeper said.
Bliss Yoga Studio
Bliss Yoga Studio celebrated 10 years on Valentine’s Day, offering a variety of yoga classes, workshops and yoga therapy. Minnesota Monthly magazine included Bliss Yoga Studio in its Best Yoga Studio of 2011 list, and the men’s yoga class offered at Bliss was featured in the magazine. Owner Sheila Burns added the class so that men in the prime of life (40-80) can also benefit from yoga by improving their flexibility and reducing their stress levels, she said.
The Tuesday evening men’s class has been one of Bliss Yoga’s core classes. “It has been tremendously gratifying to see students improve their flexibility, to grow more confident in their practice, and in many cases, to experience significant changes in their health and well-being,” Burns said. “The men’s class gives new students an opportunity to improve their flexibility and strength without comparing themselves to women, who are more naturally flexible. Of course, men participate in other classes at Bliss Yoga Studio and we have two male yoga teachers, as well.”
Bliss also began offering Yoga Teacher Training (RYT 200) in 2016, with its first class of newly minted teachers graduating this past December.
“Our teacher training program is comprehensive and rigorous, and is a great way to begin a career in yoga or to bring your practice to the next level,” Burns said.