Features

‘Hot yoga’ turns up heat at new Thayer Street studio

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Marked only by an orange and white sign on the second floor and an unmarked staircase at street level, the new Thayer Street addition NOW Yoga and Fitness may only be noticed by eagle-eyed pedestrians. Nestled above College Hill favorites East Side Pockets and Kartabar, the fledgling studio opened its doors Aug. 22 – and it hopes to draw more eyes than those that occasionally look up while passing by.

 

Upscale oasis

The studio’s decor walks a fine line between modern and traditional, painted in bold shades of slate gray and orange. Most of the lights are switched off during classes, letting the sunlight from the large wall-to-wall windows stream in over the wood floors. The room is wide and the ceilings are high – the openness draws the eye to the Asian-inspired carvings and leafy plants that created a muted atmosphere.

On a quiet Friday afternoon last week, that atmosphere inspired a sense of calm.

“It’s important to balance your life,” said instructor Dawn Souza to the class, as her feet padded about the wood flooring. “It can be difficult when there’s nothing but chatter happening in the background.”

Her four students balanced somewhat unsteadily, but took her comments in literal stride, shifting from the warrior one position, with one leg lunged forward, to downward dog.

“Open your heart up to the universe today,” Souza said as her students stretched their arms skyward. “What does the universe have in store for you today?”

 

Uniting technology and tradition

Students may not know what the universe has in store for them, but owner Per Davidson has ambitious plans. The new yoga studio, Davidson said, is meant to be state-of-the-art, with infrared heating units to augment existing heating and “Sun Squares” – seasonal affective disorder light therapy meant to provide more natural lighting. Both technologies will supplement “hot yoga,” a type of yoga conducted in 90 degrees Fahrenheit that is supposed to naturally relieve stress and flush the body of toxins.

“It’s more similar to sunlight, the way it heats things,” Davidson said of the infrared lighting. Davidson said he hopes the Sun Squares will also be a draw during the colder months for “wintertime blues.”

The Squares themselves are already hung carefully from the ceilings and walls throughout the main room. The current schedule includes 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. yoga classes daily which differ in intensity and focus, though Davidson said the studio will also begin offering fitness classes such as Pilates and Zumba.

Davidson said the Thayer location was a deciding factor in opening the studio.

“I wouldn’t have even considered it if I hadn’t found a place like this because the economy is very bad in general,” he said.

But for Davidson, yoga has been a longtime interest. He spent time in India and has worked with experienced yoga practitioners.

He drew inspiration for the studio from a similar one near the University of California at Berkeley.

“I saw the success of that studio and how popular it was, and I realized it was a similar demographic, very similar type of neighborhood to Thayer Street,” Davidson said.

But Davidson said Brown students are not his primary target demographic.

“I would like to have people from all walks of life come to the studio,” he added.

Though attendance has been sporadic thus far, with some classes drawing four or five students and others none, Davidson said he is confident the studio will eventually prosper.

“There’s a niche for this place,” he said.

 

A hard sell

Though the studio lacks a street-level space, some students have already noticed its presence.

Georgia Tollin ’15 said she noticed the NOW Yoga and Fitness sign when she first moved in and received a flyer advertising a free class last Thursday. When she told friends Wendy Ginsberg ’15 and Lee Bernstein ’15, a Herald contributing writer, about the free class, “we all kind of decided to try it out together,” she said.

“I’ve only taken that one class, but I’ve enjoyed it,” Tollin said. “The instructor was really knowledgeable.”

Tollin, who practices yoga at home, said she prefers hot yoga to other types of yoga “to get a work out.”

“I was hoping it was going to be a little more rigorous and more active,” Tollin said, but “I definitely want to go back to check out their other courses.”

Bernstein, who has also done yoga in the past, took free classes offered by a student-run club inside Hillel last year, she said. 

“I definitely think this space is nicer and more inviting,” she said. “I personally am a very clean person so that space was nice for me.”

At $15 for a drop-in class, NOW Yoga and Fitness charges rates comparable to those of University Athletics, which also holds a variety of yoga classes but lacks the equipment for hot yoga. But the Thayer studio charges substantially more on a monthly basis – unlimited classes begin at $130 a month while Brown charges $75 per semester – and additional fees for equipment rentals. Hillel’s free classes come with accompanying free rentals for mats and blocks.

Tollin acknowledged that charging money for yoga might be a hard sell for students, who have access to free classes at Hillel. “I know it’s often hard to get college students to pay for extra,” she said.

But NOW Yoga and Fitness has value for people looking for other options, she said.

 

Namaste

Davidson said he thinks three to five months should be enough time to see the studio reach peak enrollment, and he hopes to have at least a dozen people in each class.

Until then, Davidson plans on expanding the number of instructors at the studio and possibly hiring Brown students as receptionists.

But last Friday, the future was far from anyone’s mind. As the class came to a close, Souza led her students through the final relaxing poses and turned out the lights as they lay face up on the floor.

“Relax,” she said. “You have the opportunity today to let go, a little bit.” She moved from one student to the next, correcting their posture, relaxing the muscles, running her hands over the temples of their faces. After they sat up and assumed the last yoga pose, she paused for thanks.

“I’m very humbled and honored to share my practice with you,” she said. She pressed her hands together and bowed. “Namaste.”

  • Nayeema Akter

    I like the article. Have enough information about the studio. People who didn’t notice the new studio on Thayer Street they might be able to know about the studio and its services. Hopefully this studio will achieve its goal.

    Nayeema Akter
    http://www.anamayaresort.com