Yoga studios are a dime a dozen. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
While there are many options, diversity is a great thing once you know what type of workout you are looking for. Here are some of the basics you need to know in order to find the perfect fit for all your yoga needs.
Asana means a pose. This word will appear in almost any Sanskrit name for a pose. Asanas can range from simple tree pose (Vriksasana) to the hip-opening lizard pose (Utthan Pristhasana). Asanas are the beads that make the necklace of a yoga flow class.
Vinyasa means a flow and it is the arrangement of asanas for the purpose of a particular practice or workout. A single vinyasa can be an entire workout or necklace or it can be part of a rigorous series that requires intense strength and endurance to complete. A strictly vinyasa-style class will have the same postures each week and rarely deviate from this flow. Styles of flow differ based on the instructor and styles are often named after the originating yogi, including Astanga (the most ancient and rigid form), Bikram (a trademarked style) or Iyengar.
Tip: Bodybuilders and yogis alike are at risk of repetitive motion injuries, so try out different styles of classes and instructors. The most experienced practitioners vary their routines in order to focus on different characteristics of health – strength, balance, flexibility and breath.
Hot Yoga, most popularly Bikram, involves a heated room and normally focuses on holding poses for a few seconds to a minute. The major benefit of hot yoga is an increase in sweating, which removes salts and substances like lactic acid (the cause of muscle cramps) from the body and skin. For hot yoga to be effective as a detoxifying workout, stay hydrated!
Restorative yoga utilizes props, normally provided by the studio, including blocks, pillows and folded blankets. Restorative yoga is great for people with injuries and athletes looking to unwind from rigorous training and can give practitioners an introductory class into listening to the body.
Tip: Pain is your body communicating with you, and ease of motion is your body working as the finely tuned Rolex it was meant to be. Do not be afraid to speak with instructors before class or raise a hand during class to find alternative poses and flows that will suit your body’s needs while still giving you the workout desired.
SAMSARA WELLNESS: Balance and Awareness
“Samsara” in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions is the cycle of life and death, a balance between two basic elements in existence. Located off Mohawk Street, Samsara Wellness Center is not simply a yoga studio, but a multifaceted organization of wellness experts and woke locals. Owned by Stephen and Katherine Winters, Samsara Wellness Center has been serving the community using innovative, yet traditional, methods since 2013.
From yoga for kids, chair yoga and yoga for ninjas, everyone in the family is welcome and encouraged to find their own flow. The diverse staff practice many forms of yoga, massage, meditation, even tattoo and piercing. Through their brand-new nonprofit, White Wolf Wellness Foundation, the studio provides free classes, holistic wellness practice and education for the diverse Kern County community.
The demand for yoga practice from diverse groups of people is there, explains Stephen, which is something White Wolf Wellness Foundation and Samsara Wellness are trying to address.
“Twenty percent of participants in our free yoga classes identify as something other than heterosexual, and 70 percent are people of color,” he said.
The studio practices the idea of “hatha,” which translates to sun and moon in Sanskrit. Keeping balance between both the energy of the sun and the calm of the moon is central in this restorative, but strengthening practice, learning to listen to the body by leaning deep into a pose when it feels right and easing up when the body needs it.
“We work on breath-work during the whole practice,” said Stephen.
Focused breathing energizes the body, allowing muscles to stretch and flex for each pose to fully benefit the body.
“Learning how to listen to the voice within you is the basis of hatha; it is controlling distractions,” Katherine explained.
This is a skill most people struggle with today, avoiding inner thoughts and the signs one’s body is giving.
“I struggle with this today, and it’s a continuous cycle of learning and practice,” she said.
The studio controls distractions by controlling the environment and addressing each sense to ensure a complete wellness session. Controlling sight, smell, touch and sound, in particular, enhances the outcomes for clients.
“I believe we are the only sound studio used as a healing modality,” said Stephen.
Samsara instructors use music, aromatherapy, massage and live instruments like singing bowls and gongs whose tones are used to calm and focus practitioners similar to go a good om chant.
Nourish fully at Samsara Wellness with locally pressed juices and herbal supplements from Sherrill Orchard and Moo Creamery and test out aromatherapy samples before a class.
WARRIOR 1 YOGA Strength and Diversity
Warrior 1 is a stabilizing and fierce pose based in Hindu mythology. It is also a locally owned powerhouse studio with two locations that offer more than your everyday yoga. Warrior 1 has heated and nonheated yoga, plus cycling, spa treatments, laser liposuction and even cryotherapy. The bigger twist?
Warrior 1 has been succeeding at challenging stereotypes, welcoming people of all backgrounds, experience and body types to join in the fun. Here, it is only heart-pumping if you want it to be.
With two studios, 35 employees and schedules packed with cutting-edge programs, Warrior 1 is still a personable family business.
“I have 35 employees, but my mom runs the front desk,” owner Dana Healey laughed.
Healey is not only a certified trainer in yoga, but she’s also a veteran, former bodybuilder, contractor and philanthropist. Focusing on breaking down the yoga stereotypes, Healey embraces the healing power of yoga, matching it with one part Bakersfield heart and one part military excellence.
“My first yoga DVD kicked my butt,” Healey said. “It was hard even for someone like me.” Picking up yoga as a form of destressing from both military service and bodybuilding, Healey notes that yoga is not simply meditation but a complete workout for both the mind and body.
“I used yoga to rehabilitate myself, then I opened Warrior 1,” she said.
Since then, she has strived to connect yoga with those who truly need it by scheduling free classes, specifically for veterans and cancer survivors.
Both guys and girls can enjoy a good sweat while feeling better and more complete. From bodybuilders looking to gain flexibility to moms stopping by in between errands to simply unwinding from responsibilities, Warrior 1 has everyone covered. The hardest thing is getting people to take the first step away of the florescent lights of the gym and into some yoga pants.
“Everyone takes something different from yoga,” explained Healey.
Recognizing the diverse needs of her clients and understanding the power that yoga has to heal and revive, Healey is taking giant leaps in showing the world that yoga is not just for chicks.
Warrior 1 does not focus on one school of thought, instead combining techniques, levels and styles to meet any client’s workout needs. They have traditional vinyasa and Bikram-style hot yoga, from beginning to advanced levels; yoga sculpt, which uses free weights to build muscle; Buti yoga glow, which is a black light Zumba-like class; and specialty workshops that focus on core strength, self-defense, self-care massage, mixed martial arts and more.
THE YOGA ROOTS Flexibility and Community
The Yoga Roots is the newest studio in town, but owner Shannon Quigley is no stranger to Bakersfield or building a business. Growing up in Bakersfield with a family business, Quigley became an architect by trade working in a firm, but decided to be her own boss and keep it local. With over 12 years of teaching experience, Quigley first opened The Yoga Roots in Lancaster in 2013, recently expanding to a larger location and opening her Bakersfield studio on F Street.
The Yoga Root’s beautiful Bakersfield studio opened in July 2018 and focuses on creating a space that encourages practitioners to use yoga for health and also build community. It truly is a downtown wellness hub, welcoming people from all over town to connect and build yoga-based friendships.
“We have clients hanging out without us, but that’s OK! That’s the point,” said Quigley’s husband, Kyle, while holding their 2-year-old toddler Carter.
After all, a community that sweats together, stays together.
The Yoga Roots has a heated yoga room, kitchen space to host parties, detox pods from Happy Whole You and a merchandise shop called The Goods. The Quigleys design and print sweatshirts, tank tops and accessories locally and have been partnering with local businesses and employers.
“We’ve been collaborating with local businesses, including Rig City Coffee, Lengthwise Brewery, Windwolves Preserve and the Kern High School District,” Shannon said.
The Yoga Roots provides free yoga for KHSD employees and works on campus at Tierra Del Sol and Highland high schools.
Group exercise offers opportunities for practitioners to learn from the experiences of others, gain insights into different interpretations of forms, and learn to overcome obstacles like pain from injuries and a lack of flexibility. Humans are naturally social animals and The Yoga Roots encourages building connections with others in the class and hosts 30-day yoga challenges and biannual retreats. “Costa Rica is looking like our top pick again right now,” exclaims Shannon. “We’re excited to practice, learn about each other, create friendships, sweat and laugh together,” she said.
The Yoga Roots is a Baptiste-affiliated studio, which is a style of hot yoga where instructors must learn how to control the energy and direction of the vinyasa, while giving hands-on support for each practitioner.
No time for yoga? Think again! The Yoga Roots recently unveiled a brand-new schedule for the Bakersfield studio with new instructors. Classes range from five to 90 minutes, from meditation and breathing to a high-intensity flow. If you cannot make it to the studio, catch The Yoga Root’s live studio podcast on SoundCloud, stream it directly from their website or check out the newly expanded sister location in Lancaster.