Teen explores unconventional yoga studios around Columbia


Julia Schaller

Feature Photo by Paige Kiehl.
Hot yoga is for the courageous. Flow yoga is for the flexible. Sunrise yoga is for the stressed.
To get a feel for the different yoga studios around Columbia’s community, I decided to stretch myself and plunge into the yoga world by participating in classes from Sumits Hot Yoga, Element Yoga and Health Studio and alleyCat Yoga. Now, I’m not a regular yoga participant, but I’ve done several yoga classes throughout the years.
I started my yoga journey at Sumits Hot Yoga. It is a local venue at 103 505 East Nifong Blvd. that allows its participants to sweat off their stress while strengthening their bodies and focusing on balance.
When I arrived, I was appalled that I had to pay an extra $4 for a towel and a mat. In the past when I’ve done yoga, I got those items for free. I am always a little skeptical of using mats that yoga places provide because of the risk of spreadable diseases, but I was adamantly reassured at Sumits that their mats are properly cleaned.
After about five minutes of the class, everyone in the room was sweating profusely in the stifling 100 to 105 degree temperature of the air. Our yoga instructor even sloshed through the accumulated puddles of sweat as she walked around us. This torture lasted the whole 80 minute class.
Safe to say, hot yoga was for someone with immense endurance and tolerance of humidity, but not me. The purpose of doing yoga is to relax, yet I felt no relief of tension during my session. I wouldn’t do this class again. I’d recommend it to someone with more experience.
I do have to admit though, I was very pleased to find out that the yoga mats, towels, and floors are cleaned. Sumits Hot Yoga said they use tea tree oil on the yoga mats to help prevent the spread of diseases. Tea tree oil is said to be effective against bacteria, viruses, fungal infections, mites and lice. They also clean down the floors with floor cleaners and the towels are put into a washer.
Continuing on with my adventures in Columbia’s yoga, I took “flow” yoga at Element Yoga and Health Studio located at 1506 Chapel Hill Road, STE E. The flow class means the poses should improve strength, cardiovascular health and flexibility.
As I entered, the instructor welcomed me and the room’s atmosphere immediately soothed me. There were about eight participants in the class, a perfect number for the size of the room, and this time I got to use a mat for free.
The class challenged my flexibility and upper body strength as I twisted my core and worked my abs. The poses included holding a stretch and doing a curl-up type motion, which felt rewarding. I could tell the instructor was quite experienced because for every pose we did, she said the yoga name and then translated it, which is impressive. The instructor put me at ease and even quickly massaged our legs as we stretched out on our mats. This allowed me to completely let go, and a massage on freshly stretched muscles is always amazing.
The class was a real treat for my body, mind and soul, and I would recommend it to anyone. During the session, the instructor had us focus on peace of mind by having us connect our thoughts and mindset with how we feel and the depth of our hearts. She used phrases like ‘breathe deeply,’ ‘find your inner peace’ and ‘smile and think positive thoughts.’
The last place I ventured to was a Sunrise Yoga class at alleyCat Yoga located at 23 South 4th Street. Waking up at 4:50 a.m. to get there at 6 a.m. was no easy feat, but when I got there and walked into the dimly lit, carpeted room, I was at ease and knew the early rise was worth it.
The spirit of the room was warm, and there was an Indian shrine in the front of the room, as well as many decorated elephant statues in the hallways. There was even a small running fountain display in the front of the studio. The instructor gave genuine smiles and asked about my day and a bit about my personal life.
There was only one other person who took the class with me, I suspect because of the early bird hour, which included stretching our legs with a strap, and improving our balance by either sitting on a cushion or sitting half on it. The mat, strap and cushion were all free.
The class went by smoothly. Everything we did was focused around breathing, letting go of tension and stretching our muscles for the day ahead. The intensity of the poses was not too laborious. I am certain I will go to Sunrise Yoga again. I am even considering buying a pass so I can go for multiple weeks. The class is perfect to loosen up in the morning.
Through my experience, I’ve realized I have a better end result with classes that are geared more toward stretching and relieving tension in my body. Overall, if you’re looking for a great yoga spot in Columbia, I would stop into alleyCat Yoga, or Element Yoga if you’re looking for something a little bit more intense.
By Julia Schaller