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Yoga — In the Studio & Beyond

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Wander through Santa Fe any day of the week and you’ll notice a multitude of people in colorful yoga pants with yoga mats draped over their shoulders. As a yoga teacher and lifelong student, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to move to Santa Fe in 2018. I was equally thrilled to discover several unique yoga offerings that ranged from traditional studio settings to outdoor adventures. I quickly realized that Santa Fe is more than just a center of art and culture: it’s a mecca yoga for students and teachers alike.

IN THE STUDIO

YogaSource, arguably Santa Fe’s most popular and well-known yoga studio, offers 50 classes per week; there’s something for students of every level. In addition to a variety of classes and workshops, talented teachers offer retreats and teacher trainings. Wendelin Scott, one of YogaSource’s two owner-directors, says they also periodically offer community action classes. “When we feel a strong call to support a local or international organization, one teacher or a combination of teachers will teach a special class, and the proceeds from that class go to support that cause,” says Scott.

YogaSource was founded in 2008, and last year it expanded to a second location, on Guadalupe Street. When asked the reason for YogaSource’s growth, Scott explains, “[YogaSource] subscribes to the Sangha model of happy and healthy interrelationship. Sangha means community, a community of people who are seeking truth and pursuing self-inquiry and higher ideals for themselves.” She continues, “We believe in the strength of wisdom of the collective, of everyone being seen and heard, rather than one person having all the answers.”

There is no doubt you’ll find your favorite yoga offerings at this remarkable studio. From Iyengar and alignment-based Vinyasa yoga to Yin and restorative yoga, YogaSource has it all, and it even separates classes into levels so students can identify ones whose intensity is right for them. Additionally, YogaSource is home to ChantSource, a co-creation with YogaSource teacher Linda Spackman that provides live online and local classes featuring chants from the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita and Vedic tradition. For more information, visit yogasource-santafe.com.

BODY By Nature (previously BODY of Santa Fe) is another yoga destination beloved by locals. When you walk into BODY, you experience a feeling of zen. The soft music and beautiful space instantly bring a sense of calmness. More than a yoga studio, BODY is a holistic wellness center. “At BODY, we are here to help clients awaken to their true potential,” says Lorin Parrish, the owner-director.

BODY’s upscale clothing boutique carries sustainable clothing lines exclusively, so you’ll only find ethically made organic clothes. The fibers are organic, the dyes are safe and their manufacturers are committed to having the smallest carbon footprint possible. Past the boutique is Love Your Body, a “conscious kitchen” vegan deli. In addition to smoothie, soup, salad, pad thai and other items on their menu, they offer hands-on, by-donation, plant-based cooking classes.

A professional massage therapist and highly trained healer herself, Parrish points out that the essence of BODY is its well-staffed health spa. “We are very selective about hiring world-class massage therapists, body workers and estheticians that all have exceptional healing abilities. That’s what truly sets our Health Spa apart,” she says.

BODY also offers in-house childcare so that parents can take classes, use spa services or even run errands. Parents can leave their children for up to three hours; the rate is $15 an hour, and $8 an hour per additional sibling. “We don’t just babysit,” Parrish says. “We treat our kiddos the same way as their parents do. We create an atmosphere where kids can express their potential in a very social and special play environment.”

Come in, drop your little one off at the daycare center, shop at BODY’s clothing boutique and enjoy a treat at their deli before heading off to a massage, facial, healing session or yoga class. Choose from Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha, Prajna or Kripalu yoga classes, or opt for therapeutic, restorative or even candlelit yoga. Whatever you decide, you are guaranteed a relaxing, renewing time at BODY. For more information, visit bodyofsantafe.com.

Yogis — men and women who are proficient in yoga — will find no place better to deepen their practice than Prajna Yoga. (The shortest class at Prajna is three hours, so it’s definitely for advanced students.) Husband-and-wife team Tias and Surya Little founded their retreat center in 2005. Their wellness space is nestled on Old Santa Fe Trail and features beautiful 360-degree mountain views.

Tias Little explains that people usually come for the whole day. So what does a typical day at Prajna Yoga look like? After students arrive, they meditate. After that, they do some somatic training and preparatory work on the floor. “It’s called SATYA, which is an acronym for sensory awareness training for yoga attunement,” says Little. “Through sensory awareness training, students become more attuned to their structure: fascia, bones, ligaments and bloodstream.” He explains that students will flow through asanas (yoga postures), which include standing poses. Props are used to aid in proper alignment. A catered lunch is provided, and at the end of the day, students focus on a restorative practice. In addition to in-house classes and workshops, the Littles offer retreats all over the country, including in Big Sur, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and South Florida.

Santa Fe’s Prajna Yoga can only be described as a destination yoga center. People come from the world over to deepen their practice by training with the Littles. For more information, visit prajnayoga.net.

As Santa Fe’s only nonprofit yoga studio, Santa Fe Community Yoga (SFCY) is first and foremost a resource for the community. According to Executive Director Lara Bache, in 1995 the local community turned out to help founder Michael Hopp create a physical space for the community to practice. SFCY offers the lowest rates in town, with at least one by-donation class a day, at which students can pay whatever amount is comfortable for them.

SFCY’s schedule includes an array of weekly classes, including Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin, gentle and restorative yoga, as well yoga basics and pre- and postnatal yoga. In addition, experienced yoga teachers offer workshops and retreats on weekends. Trained healers offer massage services, and on the first Wednesday of every month, SFCY offers a by-appointment Intuitive Presence Energy Clinic. The session is a clothes-on experience of light touch, with occasional sounds, off-the-body energy work and directed breathing. Appointment times are 7:15 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and with sliding-scale pricing of $20-40, a session is affordable.

SFCY also sponsors several programs that give back to the community. For example, every month one of the teachers hosts a karma class, with proceeds going to a local charity or cause. In addition, SFCY offers free classes for middle school and high school students through its Yoga in Schools program. The same program also trains teachers to teach yoga in schools. Basic yoga and mindfulness are brought to even the most high-risk schools. “We’re always making sure that we’re serving at least part of the Santa Fe population that could use it the most,” says Bache.

In January 2019, SFCY expanded and now has two movement rooms and more than 20 new classes on its schedule. “This is a community goal come true,” says Bache. “This organization has its own karma and its own trajectory, and we’re just guiding it along.” For more information, visit santafecommunityyoga.org.

Yoga retreats and trainings — some for students and some for yoga instructors — are among the diverse workshops and retreats held at the beautiful, historic Mabel Dodge Luhan House Conference Center in Taos. In 2019, one is scheduled in June, and two are scheduled in October. For more information, visit mabeldodgeluhan.com/workshops.

AND BEYOND

If the traditional yoga studio setting is not quite your vibe, you’re in luck, because you’ll fi nd more than just yoga studios in Santa Fe. Longtime Santa Fe yoga teacher Barbara Powell, dubbed “Yoga Ma” by her students, offers private and group yoga classes and retreats, and they are usually outdoors. Having taught yoga for more than 35 years, Yoga Ma has done it all, and her focus nowadays is “wild yoga.” Says Powell, “It’s about encouraging people to get their feet back on the ground and being out in Mother Nature. I think she needs us, and I think we need her.” For more information, visit yogamabarbara.com.

Spoonful of Yoga: As a registered yoga teacher at the 200-hour level, with a supplemental certification in Yoga Nidra (the practice of guided meditation and yogic sleep), I love to teach yoga. And I love to practice it every bit as much. And if you ask me where I like to practice, my answer is “Outdoors, preferably on a paddleboard in the middle of a high-desert lake.” Lake Abiqui. is one of my personal favorite paddleboard yoga destinations (pictured at right). To me, nothing beats taking my shoes off, wrapping my ankle in a board leash and paddling out into the open water. Even advanced yogis find practicing yoga on a paddleboard challenging. Balancing against even mild waves forces you to use muscles you didn't know you had. I love a challenge, and my next certification may just be in stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga instruction. For more information, visit facebook.com/spoonfulofyoga, or stop by one of my classes at Santa Fe Community Yoga.

It’s clear that yoga is no longer found only in gyms, studios and retreat centers. The demand for yoga and meditation has spread to hotels, resorts and even historic inns. Los Poblanos, in Albuquerque, is both a historic inn and an organic farm. Through YogaZo, it offers outdoor yoga classes. Albuquerque-based YogaZo is a mobile yoga studio that has been teaching private and public yoga classes at Los Poblanos since 2016. “Our relaxation-based yoga classes are held outside in the summer on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings,” says Ashley Fathergill, YogaZo’s founder and an instructor. “We are so grateful that we get to be part of the magic that is Los Poblanos and to teach in such a serene environment.” For more information, visit yogazoabq.com.

If you’re looking for a full-on yoga experience, nothing beats a festival. Don’t miss the Nomadic Yoga Festival, held at the Yards in Albuquerque, each May. It is focused on yoga and fi tness classes, food, brews, community and music. For more information, visit nomadicyogafestival.com.

Tourists describe Santa Fe as The City Different and rhapsodize about the green chile and the galleries filled with beautiful art. Less well known is that it’s also a yogi’s paradise. Teachers possess unparalleled talent, and they offer an abundance of opportunities to practice yoga and mindfulness, whether it is in a studio or an outdoor setting. Whatever type of yoga you’re looking for, you’ll find it in The City Different.

By Leah Pinkus
roamingandrecording.com

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Leah Pinkus