As a rough-and-tough type of gal, I renounced yoga for years. I never thought I could possess the elegance of yoga poses, and I found most classes to be too zen for my liking. But it was hard to ignore certain types of yoga as they popped up in the Valley, sparking my curiosity to give specialty yoga a try. Here are a few picks from one yoga hater to another of some types of classes that might just change your mind about yoga.
1001 North Third Avenue, #2
Five years ago, Brandi Boers and Amber Wertz left corporate America to pursue a different kind of life, one involving silks, yoga, and hanging from the ceiling. As founders of Elevate Yoga, an aerial yoga studio, they explained that the silk is a fun way to make yoga accessible, especially for newbies and those with injuries alike. The benefits don’t just extend to the body, as Wertz puts it. “You’re going to gain confidence you never in a million years thought you had inside of you – because of what it does for you, not just your body, you.” Trying aerial yoga for the first time was admittedly scary, but it was hard not feel like a butterfly hanging from those silks (just not as graceful). There’s an impressive feeling of empowerment and strength that comes from trying the different yoga poses, and well, it’s just pretty cool to literally swing in midair.
Arizona Goat Yoga
26601 South Val Vista Drive, Gilbert
Founders April Gould and Sarah Williams came up with the unique and genius idea of goat yoga because Gould had a ton of goats and Williams did yoga. They combined the best of both worlds and Arizona Goat Yoga was born. Most of their classes consist of out-of-towners and non-yogis because of the casual, fun atmosphere the duo creates. “When people do our classes, it’s not intimidating at all,” Williams says. “They come to class, and everyone is playing with goats. Everyone likes goats, and we even put two alpacas in the middle of class.” Goat yoga might just be an excuse to play with goats, but hey, I’ll take it. And what are the goats’ favorite yoga poses? Cat-cow and downward-facing dog. If goats can do yoga, you can, too.
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Social Stretch was founded upon the idea of changing people’s minds about yoga. Knowing that people have certain notions of what yoga is and who did yoga, Juliana Thomsen set out to break down those barriers by coupling yoga with something familiar. With Social Stretch classes, that familiarity could be wine, beer, doughnuts, or fries. By emphasizing a social ambiance with partner stretches, and encouraging people to just try it, Thomsen firmly believes, “yoga is not about touching your toes; it’s about who you become on the way down.” I may have been a little skeptical when trying one of their classes out, but a big bite into a doughnut tempered any anxieties I may have felt.
7337 East Shea Boulevard, #105, Scottsdale
Yoga and beer? Yes, please. If you are vehemently opposed to yoga, maybe a little inebriation will change your mind. McFate Brewing saw this trend and they jumped on it right away, offering yoga on Sunday mornings in their barrel room with the promise of a cold pint of beer afterwards. “It’s a phenomenal experience,” manager Hugo Ferland says. “You get to hang out and have a beer, and it’s overall what the body needs to start the week off right for the following Monday — total relaxation mode on Sunday.” With beers like the Shot In The Arm, a coffee stout barrel aged for over a year, to choose from, I’m convinced this is the best way to do yoga.