Bikram, Yin, Vinyasa. No, these are not different kinds of foods. These are different types of yoga. Yoga has long been a go-to for fitness fanatics as a way to tone the body and relax the mind. So, what do yoga fanatics do? And where can you take these classes? As it turns out, Madison has a plethora of yoga studios – there’s even a website called madtownyoga.com where yogis (that’s what yoga-doers are called, apparently) can look to see what classes are offered, where and what day. Here’s my breakdown of yoga options for students interested in picking up body bending this summer or just in time for finals.

Kaivalya Yoga & Massage, the one above Fresh Madison Market on University Avenue, offers roughly four classes a day ranging from Hot Power Flow (a mix of yoga and Pilates in a 95-degree room) to Power Sculpt (yoga that focuses on toning the body). Why the heat, you might ask? It helps make the body looser and easier to morph into complicated yoga poses. Kaivalya also offers vinyasa classes. Vinyasa is a modern take on more traditional forms of yoga. 

Kaivalya offers a $10 intro week where customers can go to as many classes as they want. However, after that, the price increases to about $10 a class or packages ranging between $55 and $175. The benefit of Kaivalya is its location; being so central to campus is tough to beat for students. The week’s worth of classes I attended were good workouts, but not as mentally calming or stimulating as I had hoped.

The Studio at 613 Williamson St. offers a truly unique option: Yoga Barre. For those unfamiliar with ballet terms, that means yoga on a ballet bar. Katherine Greedy, The Studio’s outreach coordinator, helped explain Yoga Barre to me. 

“The barre classes are really fun,” Greedy said. “A little more fitness-oriented than the flow classes, a really fun combination of yoga, Pilates and ballet. You use a ballet bar, but it incorporates yoga poses … If you ever wanted to be a dancer, you kind of get that fix.”

As someone who has always dreamed of being a ballerina but lacked the coordination, this seems like a dream come true. The Studio’s website advertises this workout as “the best damn workout of [your] life.” Willing to give it a try? A drop-in class is offered for $20. Is the price is too high for you, but you’re still interested in trying this unique-sounding class? Right now, Groupon has a deal on this particular class offering a half-off discount: five classes for $45 or 10 for $69. 

Classes The Studio offers are centered on “Flow.” This idea of flow is common in many different yoga classes: the goal being for participants to move into poses in tandem with their breath. Even when the poses are extremely hard and pretzel-like, it’s important to keep breathing calmly and through your nose: this helps center the mind and keep focus on the class.

The next stop on our tour is Inner Fire Yoga, a 20-minute bus ride from the heart of campus, but well worth the wait. Inner Fire holds many different types of classes daily, like Yin yoga: a relaxing 60 minutes meant for strengthening. In Yin, yogis must hold the poses longer than normal, allowing for a deeper pose.
But, as you may have guessed from its name, the studio’s specialty is hot Bikram-style yoga. 

Bikram yoga is named such after its founder, Bikram Choudhury, who designed different postures to be repeated and practiced in a 105-degree room. Yes, you read that correctly, 105 degrees. Rooms where Birkram yoga is performed in are often called “torture chambers.” Yet, people are obsessed with it – like it’s some kind of cult. Though the 90 minutes of class feel like they will never end, you leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, like nothing else you have ever experienced. It’s not meant for everyone, but it certainly has its benefits. 

Inner Fire offers an unlimited intro month for $30. But, like every other yoga studio in Madison, the prices hike up extraordinarily after the trial. The classes are physically challenging, but also mentally satisfying, and I highly recommend trying out the unlimited month.

Looking for a studio close to the Capitol? Check out melt on State Street. Though melt offers a variety of different fitness classes from Pilates to “chisel,” an intensive workout class, yoga instructor Jill Lundberg proves a unique class: alignment yoga. Lundberg did her training with another local studio, Mound Street Yoga Center. 

Lundberg said there are many specific benefits to alignment yoga. 

“I think it cultivates flexibility, strength and that balance,” Lundberg said. “And I also think what is amazing about alignment yoga is mindfulness … our lives are often times really stressful, [so] we really just concentrate on what we call down-regulation, this idea of concentrating your mind either on your breath or on a posture and that can actually down-regulate and relax your system and is really good for people with stressful lives.” 

A drop-in class at melt is $15 with various package options.

These are just a few of the classes and studios that Madison has to offer. Now, with all of this new information, what should potential yogis invest in? Honestly, my best advice is that if you are seriously interested in finding a yoga studio (aka your new home), take one class from each of the excellent studios previously mentioned and see which one fits your needs best. This will help you figure out which one feels the best for you, because none of these workouts come particularly cheap. 

To recap, Kaivalya offers a great intro week and the best location of the studios, but lacks the mental connection I crave in a studio. Inner Fire Yoga is a far commute and expensive after the first month, but its classes are mentally and physically satisfying. melt has a great location, but its classes aren’t exclusively yoga, and its gym-like setting is more expensive than working out at the Southeast Recreational Facility or Natatorium. The Studio in Madison offers unique and exciting classes, but at a price that most college students can’t afford to shell out. In short, the choice is yours. 

Namaste.

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