Twenty years ago, a friend gave me a book with a set of asana postures in it. The book was Perfect Health, by Deepak Chopra and in it Chopra taught that doing this simple yoga practice would release tension and get the energy circulating in my body. I tried the postures every so often, but always wondered if I was doing them correctly. It can also be easy, when you are practicing alone at home, to sometimes skip the practice entirely. You know how it is...
Over the last few years, however, I decided to learn and practice yoga more officially. I felt a deep desire to heal and transform and sought out local yoga studios to help me. I knew what I desired was going to require guidance and structure.
But, which yoga studio to choose in Buffalo? There are so many... and they are all slightly different, with different schedules, cultures and locations - all important in determining how motivated I am to get there.
This list is designed to help those who would like to begin or refine a yoga practice choose the right yoga studio:
Ashtanga Yoga Buffalo (AYB)
2 Wallace Ave, Buffalo, NY 14214
Ashtanga yoga was created by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. Malissa Larson is the owner and teacher at AYB located in Parkside Lutheren Church. She is very knowledgeable, patient, and kind. If you choose to go to AYB, she will teach you the primary series of Ashtanga Yoga. This is not like a traditional yoga class. The shala opens at 5:45am during the week, and closes at 8:45. You can go to practice anytime during those hours. There is no teacher in front of the class instructing. Malissa watches and assists and teaches while you practice the series that she has taught you. There is an emphasis on the breath and on maintaining drishti, or a focal point. You can find AYB on Facebook here.
841 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14209
The Hatha yoga that you will practice at the Himalayan Institute is generally slower paced, with an emphasis on spinal alignment and diaphramatic breathing. Teachers will create sequences that center you, create energy and heat, integrate and assimilate, and then relax you so there is an equal amount of exertion and relaxation. Here you will practice much more than just the asanas (postures). You will also learn other practices like pranayama (regulating energy through specific breath patterns) and meditation. Classes take place in an historic Delaware Avenue mansion. You will find a class that fits your experience level: Beginning, Intermediate, or Advanced. There is also a great bookstore and gift shop at this location to help and support your practice. Check out the Institute on Facebook here.
162 Mill Street, Williamsville, NY 14221
1738 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14207
You can find great variety and an accommodating schedule at East Meets West Yoga. Here you can take faster-paced Vinyasa (flowing movements with synchronized breath), Hatha (relaxed pace focusing on alignment and breath), Yin (slow opening of the fascial layer of the body), Iyenger (which encourages the use of props to increase joint mobility and flexibilty), and/or Gentle/ Restorative (relaxing and nourishing). There are two locations: one in the beautiful and newly renovated Foundry on Elmwood in North Buffalo and in the Village Glen on Mill Street in Williamsville. You can also check them out on Facebook here.
2 Wallace Ave, Buffalo, NY 14214
Located in Parkside Lutheran Church, Yoga Parkside has great classes and teachers to support your practice. Yoga Parkside prides itself on being a friendly place to practice. It does not feel pretentious and trendy. The down-to-earth and welcoming atmosphere makes everyone feel welcome. Take advantage of the new student special, a two-week unlimited membership for just $30. Classes are offered in the morning and at night during the week. The studio is open on Saturdays and Sundays, as well. They also have a great kids' yoga program. Parking is super easy and stress-free in this Parkside neighborthood. Yoga Parkside also offers frequent workshops and community events.
4575 Main Street, Snyder, NY 14226
659 Oakwood Avenue, East Aurora, NY 14052
758 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222
With studios in Elmwood Village, East Auraora, and in Snyder, Power Yoga promises to "work you out" when you come to practice. The style of yoga taught here is the Baptiste Power Yoga style created by Baron Baptiste. The emphasis is on breath, flow, and heat. Power Yoga will make you sweat and "ring out your stress" in the roooms that are set to 90 degrees. Here you can take a challenging flow class or a foundations class. Power Yoga also has a great line of apparel for you to check out so you can rep your studio properly.
133 Grant St, Buffalo, NY 14213
Shakti Yoga is one of the oldest yoga studios in Buffalo. The studio itself is beautiful and in an historic old bank. The floors are heated and cozy. Choose from different types of Vinyasa for the one that is appropriate to your level and needs. The Vinyasa style will help you link your breath with movement. There is a slower vinyasa flow class and a steadier paced one, as well. There is even a more gentle class that is great for people who are healing on some level. Director Michelle Gigante also provides private sessions in yoga and in reiki and qigong. Shakti is well known for its live music series, workshops, and other events.
I never dreamed that I would be this dedicated to yoga. I am the type who likes to see serious physical gains when I exercise, because if you don't...whats the point? Yoga has taught me something entirely different, however. It's not just about physical gains, it's about balancing the mind and body, about healing, about self-transformation and empowerment, and lastly, it's about realizing the true self- the Self that is divine consciousness.
Can the gym do that for you?