Students bend over backwards to find quality yoga

Grace Madlem

[slideshow_deploy id=’61623′]By Orly Mansbach and Grace Madlem

Recently, more and more high schoolers have turned to yoga as a low impact way to exercise and stay fit. In the past year, Grady has begun offering yoga, known as Advanced Personal Fitness, as an elective P.E. credit. This  class has become a number one option for students trying to fulfill their P.E. credits. Because not every student can take the class, however, we decided to attend several yoga classes for beginners at various yoga studios near Grady to see why yoga has become such a popular activity.

One of us, Orly, had never been to a yoga class before, while the other, Grace, considers herself a fairly experienced yogi after taking both Grady’s yoga class and ones at multiple other studios.

Our first studio was Atlanta Yoga Collective, located off Cheshire Bridge Road at 1085 Alco Street NE. The studio was very modern, with an all white and hardwood interior, sparsely decorated with a mirror at the front and two small shrines in the front corners of the room.

Our instructor was very friendly before, during and after the class. She played relatively loud but calming music and quickly led us through the different poses. Although this was a beginner’s class, the novice among us felt relatively lost the whole time, while the more experienced yogi felt that the class was a good mix of exercise, stretching and new material.

Overall, the class size was small and intimate, with only about 10 people, and the location was very accessible. Parking, however, was tricky, and this was the most expensive studio, with a single class being $17 or a month of unlimited classes for $20 for new students. While Atlanta Yoga Collective was fast-paced it seemed perfect for more experienced yogis and is conveniently located for people in Morningside.

Next, we went to Candler Park Yoga, located between Candler and Inman Park at 1630 DeKalb Avenue NE, roughly a fifteen minute drive from Grady. Though we arrived at our class a few minutes late, our instructor was very welcoming, and we quickly settled comfortably into the much larger and homey room. This carpeted studio was decorated with multiple shrines at the front with dim fairy lights strung around the room.

This experience was far more about inner focus and was more slowly paced. We both found ourselves slowly unwinding and releasing our stress from the school day. The instructor spoke in a calm manner and explained the poses in depth while also providing modifications for each position. We left with the feeling of having truly achieved ‘Zen,’ a state of focus that  incorporates complete harmony of body and mind, comforted that this class was cheaper than the last at $10 and included a free class card for our next visit.

Our third and last studio, Highland Yoga, was the clear winner in terms of accessibility, located at the close distance of 842 North Highland Avenue Northeast #5. This studio had an abundance of parking spaces and was the fastest to reach, as it was a mere 5 minutes from Grady.

This class, Heated Vinyasa, was heated at 90 degrees to make the class slightly more challenging, increase circulation and helps with endurance. Highland Yoga offers more Heated Vinyasa classes than any others and is essentially the studio standard.

This was the cleanest studio and had the most accommodations offered, including complimentary towels and yoga mats. The studio itself was the largest and most sparsely decorated, with only a few mirrors, electronic candles, and a very small shrine in the corner.

The class was by far the most challenging, both because of the poses and the added element of heat. The class was extremely fast paced, each relaxing stretching pose being broken up by planks and many rounds of adho mukha svanasana, commonly known as downward dog. The multiple cycles of sun salutations created a  feeling of shanti, or peace. The instructor was clear and friendly throughout the session, sharing quick anecdotes and encouragement when needed. She helped guide many students into challenging positions and was easy to follow, with simple but effective explanations of transitions.

Overall, Highland Yoga was the most crowded, with barely enough room for us to squeeze in the front row. For new students, the current deal is $10 for 10 days, or $39 for a month of unlimited classes, but the prices heavily steepen thereafter. Aside from the high prices and limited space, this class offered a vigorous yet relaxing exercise for all levels.

Even though the style of each studio differs, our personal favorite was Highland Yoga. Between the price, atmosphere, location and instructor, we found this studio to be the most well rounded. It is clear, however, that there are many different kinds of studios throughout Atlanta, each with their own sense of the art that is yoga.