A BRIEF AND WONDROUS GUIDE TO YOGA IN AUSTIN

Oh Reader, I’ve been very naughty!

But why, Tolly?  Why have you been so naughty?

Hold onto your hats: I am DRINKING COFFEE. RIGHT NOW.

Snicker.

No!  It isn’t funny!  See, I had successfully been “off” coffee since last Friday, and was determined to make a week of it.  My kefir-drinking, Bikram-yoga practicing, shoeless husband had similarly kicked the coffee habit, and like him, I was really beginning to enjoy some benefits. There was only one grand downside …

And what was that?

I could no longer think straight in the mornings.

Sounds like an addiction to me.

I’m going to have to agree with you there.  Almost as soon as I “stopped” coffee, I got the expected caffeine headaches, and dealt with them easily enough. But I didn’t expect to feel so darn light-headed, especially in the mornings. I am quite simply still tired without the aid of stimulants, glorious, glorious stimulants.  And while my stimulant of choice is legal in all 50 states, I am shocked to experience, well, withdrawal symptoms: Chiefly, feeling profoundly out of it.

But it’s OK, because despite my backslide this morning, I’m still (precariously) on the wagon. I’ve also taken to another habit.

Oh?

Yes. You see Reader, since I finished my internship at KUT — tear — and since my work load at my day job is lighter this month, I’ve attempted to fill up my time (and revive my half-flickering brain) with more yoga, more aerial silks, and more dance.  I feel a bit like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, in fact, but instead of practicing my chops at a rough-and-tumble bar in industrial Pittsburgh, I practice my moves in a lavender-scented studio in Central Austin.

Anyway, this all got me thinking that perhaps a short list of my favorite yoga studios in Austin might indeed be useful to you. I’ve named just three here, knowing full well Austin contains roughly three thousand; if I haven’t included your favorite studio below, please do tell me about it in comments.

1. DHARMA YOGA

In a city where the yoga studio-to-person capita may very well near 1-to-1 in a not so distant future, Dharma Yoga is my absolute favorite because of its spiritual and introspective focus. At my last class (Monday), we explored the concept of “arrows:” I.e., the point of pain (physical or mental) we all feel sometimes — the first arrow — and then, the psychological pain we layer on top of that: Embarrassment for feeling pain, resentment at feeling pain, etc. These feelings are the second (or third, or fourth) “arrows,” and they are entirely self-inflicted.

In other classes, we’ve set our focus on generosity, on risk, on forgiveness — you get the idea. It’s touchy-feely yoga and I adore it, because not only are the classes physically challenging, but soul-centering too. Another thing about Dharma Yoga? Every class ends with partner poses. I know what you’re thinking — ew! Strangers! I don’t want to touch people, at the end of class no less! But let me tell you, I’m a total convert to partner poses, and couldn’t imagine my practice without it: Giving somebody else a deeper stretch, or a profound point of relaxation, is now just as important to me as receiving instruction.

2. BLACK SWAN YOGA

I almost feel a little bit silly recommending Black Swan Yoga to you, because I’m 99% sure you’ve heard of already. This studio BLEW UP almost as soon as it opened, and its donations-only income model was a big part of that. But the reason Black Swan Yoga stayed popular was because of its unique way of running shop: Music in class if often indie rock or old school R&B, and the classes themselves range from accessible, Hatha-like classes to “Yoga Rave,” a part-pose-flow, part dance party class that I am ashamed to say I have never attended.  As soon as it returns to Black Swan’s class schedule, I will endeavor to correct that.

Another thing about Black Swan Yoga? They have their own video channel! Check it out here: BlackSwanYoga.tv.

3. AERIAL YOGA AUSTIN

My good friend/fellow aerialist Lydia teaches Austin Aerial Yoga, and full disclosure, is a sponsor of Austin Eavesdropper. She currently teaches at Dane’s Body Shop in Hyde Park, and what I love about her classes is that they are a perfect gateway to aerial, if you are even the least bit intrigued by it.

Fabric hammocks in Lydia’s class are low to the floor, and combine familiar yoga poses with (perhaps foreign) aerial moves. The result is a gentle session that helps deepen your stretches, and will maybe — maybe! — embolden you to try an aerial silks class (here is where I attend). But even if aerial silks isn’t your thing, Lydia is wonderful at helping students new to the form feel relaxed and capable. There’s a special thrill in successfully performing your first inversion, and Lydia enables you to accomplish the task safely.

(You can try out your first aerial yoga class for 50% off by entering the “EAVESDROPPER” code at checkout.)

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So, there you have it everyone!  Yoga in Austin. What did I get right?  What did I leave out? Tell me about your favorite studio in the comments below.

IMAGES /// Top to bottom, courtesy: AwakenedLotus.tumblr.comDharma Yoga, Black Swan Yoga, and Austin Aerial Yoga (photographer Rafael Rodriguez for AAY)