Find your flow

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

You say you're inflexible. Mediating isn't your thing. Or you've always wanted to try yoga, but just don't know where to begin. Starting now, no more excuses. "If you can breathe, you can do yoga," insists Balanced Yoga instructor Anne Comarda. To prove her right, we consulted local studios to find styles of yoga perfect for every age and fit level.


Intensity: Low

The Gist: While all yoga with postures can be considered hatha, on a studio schedule it refers to a slower class focused on refinement and alignment. "It's working into the pose in a more mindful way," explains Anne Comarda, who teaches at Clintonville's Balanced Yoga. "You're going to get more talking, more stopping and working on poses." While less aerobic than vinyasa, Comarda says, hatha creates more body awareness and relaxation.

Who it's For: "It's good for all levels," says Comarda, who sees a mix of middle-aged men and women. Beginners benefit from learning basic poses, while the advanced can move deeper into each move for a greater challenge. "I've been practicing for 13 years and I still get challenged by the basic poses."

Getting Started: First-timers should be prepared to use props (provided by the studio) outside of a mat: blocks, blankets for padding and straps to help stretch and reach.

Quick Tip: Find a teacher who can teach to all levels, Comarda says, and one who also knows how to modify poses. "Hatha is also good for injuries, and those who don't want to blow through postures."

Try it at: Balanced Yoga

Classes: Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa

Rates: Starts at $15/drop in

Find it: 3526 N. High St., Clintonville, 614-265-9642,


Intensity: Medium-High

The Gist: Expect to start moving-and quickly. "You'll be in downward dog within three breaths," says Holly Moretti, owner of Grow Yoga in Grandview. The class will be vigorous for the first 10 to 15 minutes before settling into a series, holding poses while focusing on a gazing point. "You'll sweat. It's designed to heat the body so that it detoxifies you."

Who it's For: Initially designed for young men, ashtanga does require some athletic ability. It's also a good fit for those who have trouble quieting their mind. "Some people need to be so intense in their movement that it distracts them from their thoughts," Moretti says. "The faster practice appeals to them."

Getting Started: Start with an ashtanga beginner class, "unless you are a runner or have really high aerobic capacity," Moretti says.

A Little History: "It's kind of a masculine practice-very driven, very focused," she says. "It's the same intensity as a workout, but a lot more gentle on the joints."

Try it at: Grow Yoga

Classes: Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa

Rates: Starts at $15/drop in

Find it: 1780 W. Fifth Ave., Grandview Heights, 614-487-9642,

Hot Yoga

Intensity: Medium-High

The Gist: A cousin of bikram, this athletic yoga moves students through 26 poses designed to hit every muscle group in a swelteringly hot, 105-degree room. "It's a workout," says Dr. Pam Popper, owner and teacher at Wellness Forum Hot Yoga in Worthington. "You'll burn 600 calories in an hour in that room."

Who it's For: It's great for athletes looking for strength and conditioning. "Everybody benefits from heat. It is a really powerful tool. Even iron will bend if you get it hot enough," Popper says. But it's not just athletes. Popper sees all types, including men, who make up 40 percent of classes. And her oldest student, who is 72 and comes daily.

Getting Started: "We tell first-time students, your goal is to stay in the room and just sit in the heat," Popper says. "The most common mistake is people try to overexert themselves when they get in that room. If you feel woozy, sit down. Just make a commitment to stay there for 90 minutes."

The Dress Code: "As little as possible," advises Popper, who discourages long pants. "You will sweat, so wear something you'll be comfortable in." And bring a towel.

Try it at: Wellness Forum Hot Yoga

Classes: Hatha, Ashtanga, Hot Yoga

Rates: Starts at $15/drop in

Find it: 510 E. Wilson Bridge Road, Suite F, Worthington, 614-846-YOGA,

Power Yoga

Intensity: High

The Gist: In a Downtown warehouse-esq space, Julie Verhoff Pipes cranks up the rock music and the heat (typically a balmy 85), and leads students through aerobic vinyasa-style poses. Here it's all about the flow, linking each pose to the next breath. "I prefer a warm room for two reasons. You never want to stretch a cold muscle, so it prevents injury," she says. "It also allows you to go deeper into the poses."

Who it's For: It's good for athletes, Verhoff Pipes says-especially runners. "It's great for strength and flexibility," she adds. "And it's cardiovascular."

Getting Started: Students should expect to be challenged, but not intimidated, Verhoff Pipes says. Oh, and bring a towel and a bottle of water, as sweating isn't optional.

Inspiration: An avid student of ashtanga, Verhoff Pipes remembers being in a class with no music and no heat, going through the same poses each time. "I remember thinking this could be a lot more fun," she says. And V Power Yoga was born.

Try it at: V Power Yoga

Classes: Power Yoga

Rates: Starts at $15/drop in

Find it: 240 N. Fifth St., Suite 380, Columbus, 614-22-VYOGA,