An American Road Trip

One of the great things about working with my best friend and the fact that he is a photographer means we get to visit some incredible places. Most of our time is photograph-focused but if I get the chance I love to check out some of the local yoga studios during our travels.

holiday-american-road-tripLast November took us to Chicago Illinois, Jackson Wyoming, Las Vegas Nevada and Pismo Beach California where I was lucky enough to squeeze in some stretchy time in some seriously wonderful studios. Classes I was very grateful for – all that driving leaves one a tad stiff!

It has become a habit of mine to do a bit of research on yoga studios when I travel. I tend to leave it until I have arrived at my destination. Thanks to hotel WIFI and Yelp it is pretty easy to find your closest yoga studio especially if you are in the States. Another awesome thing about studios is that they are all competing for your business so they often do amazing introductory offers for new visitors and I even found a few classes that were donation based.  If you do end up paying full price though, expect the price to be around 10-20USD per class – maybe even more. This isn’t cheap considering the tiny town where I come from you rarely pay £10 for a class.

So here are my reviews of the studios I visited. Definitely take the time to visit the websites your search generates. That will be where you find any offers and whether the studio does classes in the styles you like. I found so much choice though, even in tiny Jackson so I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

CorePower Yoga,

Streeterville Studio, 227 E. Ontario St., Suite 202 Chicago, IL 60611

This place is awesome, not only is it a chain so you are quite likely to find a CorePower yoga studio nearby, you can also get a free week of unlimited yoga as a new student – bargain! Classes are usually $25 for a drop-in so the money saving potential is vast if you sign up. Yes I may get a few spam emails as a result but easy enough to unsubscribe. Make sure you have a US phone number to add to the form though when you sign up. My hotel address sufficed but yeh worthy of having those details on you when you sign up to qualify for your free week. Even if the offer is no longer available or for some reason you can’t sign up, the classes are definitely worth paying for anyway – I was really impressed with the place.

The timetable is pretty full so you will easily be able to find a class that fits in with your busy travelling schedule. There are classes for beginners right through to the more experienced yogi and many of the classes are in heated rooms with humidity so make sure you check that out first and of course drink plenty of water if you choose a heated class. I personally LOVE hot yoga so it was an added bonus for me. 

The classes I chose were both heated classes. In my experience, I have always found the level of classes in America to be quite high compared to that of the UK so opted for an intermediate class – CorePower Yoga 2 and  a beginner friendly class – Hot Power Fusion. I wish I could have squeezed in an advanced class as I felt I could have pushed myself that bit more, but the intermediate class is still great if you are an experienced student. It had also been a while since I had practised in heat so taking it down a notch or two was probably not a bad shout.

chicagoMy first class was with Chelsea who offered a really nice balancing flow. Postures were held a little longer for the first sequence and then for the second and third round we followed our breath which is a style I really like and definitely something I will incorporate into some of my classes. Flowing in such a hot room allows you to ‘get your sweat on’ as it were and I couldn’t help but feel my Apple watch fitness app should have been a lot higher considering how soaked my yoga kit was. 

Hot Power Fusion was led by Lauren and boy does she know her stuff. Lauren reminded me a lot of my teachers back in Shanghai and I had immediate respect for her. This class wasn’t as busy as my first class which selfishly was great as it meant I got some great hands-on adjustment which was my favourite part of the class. Although the class was beginner friendly, I wouldn’t say it was easy, definitely more prompts and alignment cues but still a challenge – good for me as I like a challenge :)

The staff at CorePower Yoga are lovely and really helpful with any questions you might have. The studio is modern and clean and have all the props you might need to help optimise your practice. I will definitely be returning to CorePower Yoga on future visits to the States but hoping I can do more than two classes next time.

Inversion Yoga

290 N Millward St, PO Box 1075, Jackson Hole, WY 83001

jackson-hole-wyomingThe next stage of our trip took us to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. From a photography perspective there really are some stunning places to take pictures. Yes, it was a tad cold and somewhat unnerving with the wolves howling in the distance while we stood alone in the middle of nowhere snapping away but it really is a beautiful place.

Jackson Hole is pretty small but full of some gorgeous shops and restaurants – definitely the place to buy your cowboy boots. There is also a wonderful yoga studio there called Inversion Yoga and was probably the most inspiring of all the studios I visited during our trip. 

I opted for the Ski Fit yoga class because it was different and I had never seen a class like this before. This is a seasonal class though so be sure to check the schedule for an up to date version of what’s on and when. This class promised to get me ready for the ski season so lots of lower body work and core. To be honest, you don’t even need to be a skier to enjoy the benefits of this power-style class.

Kira was our teacher and she is just amazing. She had a prosthetic leg and trust me when I say she can do more with one leg than I can ever hope to achieve having two. Not only was her class incredibly challenging and well structured but with Kira’s friendly persona I was beyond inspired. It was more cardio based than I am used to but I really liked it. Kira’s tips for crow pose were just great and I am definitely going to incorporate jumping from Downward Dog to Malasana into my own classes – after 15 of those Child’s pose couldn’t be more welcome. 

jacksonThere are many different styles to choose from at Inversion Yoga, whether you are an Ashtanga fan, Iyengar, Kundalini etc, your needs are sure to be satisfied. They even have classes specifically for kids. You can book online or give them a call. I think I just popped in but to be honest I wouldn’t usually chance it as you never know how popular a class is when you are visiting a studio for the first time. I cannot wait to go back – one of my favourites :)

Blue Sky Yoga

107 E Charleston Blvd #145, Las Vegas, NV 89104, USA

I love Vegas…the city of sin….how very….un-zen! Now yoga may not be on the top of your list if you find yourself in this part of the world and I wouldn’t blame you at all. There is however, ALOT of choice. Whether you are staying right on the strip or a little further afield you are very likely to find a class close to you. las-vegas-blog

My research on Yelp returned many options for classes, heck they even have classes where you can do your Sun Salutations in the company of dolphins! A tempting offer with spa access included in the price but the class times didn’t fit in with my Vegas schedule :) 

We were staying at the Wynn Hotel which is one of my favourite hotels in Las Vegas. Aside from the casino, wide choice of restaurants and decor that will leave your jaw on the floor, the gym and spa are also insane. I have never really been a gym person…preferring classes to running on a fast conveyor belt or powering up the elliptical – it’s just not me. One thing you can be sure of though – gyms in Vegas tend to be quiet which for me makes them far more palatable. The Wynn Gym has the best machines and there is even a multi purpose room where I often got my stretch on. 

I didn’t feel I needed to go to a class with such great facilities where I was staying, but for the purposes of this blog I wanted to see what else was out there.

A friend of mine suggested Blue Sky Yoga, an arts studio hosting donation based yoga classes. It was a little out of town, but as we had a hire car this wasn’t really an issue.

Cheryl our teacher, was warm and welcoming which is often quite rare in Vegas. The studio is simple – one room with a space outside to leave your shoes, but the walls are covered in art. Very cool.

blue-sky-yoga-las-vegasI chose to participate in Restorative yoga and stayed on to try the Vinyasa class. Selfishly, I would have preferred it the other way around as I like to basically collapse after a Vinyasa session. Suitably relaxed after my restorative class the temptation to have a pre dinner nap was quite high. As I was with a friend of mine, we decided to stay as she was really keen to try the Vinyasa class. 

Compared to the restorative session, this class was packed. People were squeezing their mats into every nook and cranny. I am not sure if it was because the time of the class was popular or whether it was more attractive because it was more energetic compared to the previous class. Either way I am glad we had first dibs on a space – I really hate squeezing myself in. 

My friend is a beginner and found the Vinyasa class tough. Restorative was definitely her favourite out of the two, but Vinyasa is a shock to the system after basically spending an hour relaxing. I would say the class we had was in-between beginner and intermediate. The thing to remember when participating in a tough class is that Child’s pose is always an option, so if you find yourself struggling take a moment to re-connect with the breath. 

Blue Sky Yoga is a really cool place to practice. I struggled with how busy the Vinyasa class was as I really don’t like having to keep an eye out for flying feet in my face but thats just me. It’s no surprise Cheryl’s classes are popular, she’s a great teacher and hosting donation based classes is certainly attractive – as I have mentioned before yoga in America can be super pricey.

The suggested donation is $12 per class which is a very fair price for what you get. This was probably the ‘oldest’ studio I visited so equipment was more ‘used’ than other places I visited but this never really puts me off. I usually travel with my own towel and mat anyway.

Harmony House Yoga

991 Price St. Pismo BeachCA93449
California is full of yoginis and yogis – wherever you go a pair of funky printed yoga pants usually aren’t too far from sight. 

You really are spoilt for classes too and Pismo Beach is no exception. Relying on my trusty Yelp app I found I liked the sound of Harmony House Yoga. It was a five minute drive from where we were staying and after a sneak peak on their website the studio looked amazing.

I wasn’t disappointed. Friendly reception staff guided me towards a large beautiful room – it felt like a giant cabin, the sort of place you would be impressed by if you booked a yoga retreat. 

Liz was our teacher for Vinyasa Flow – and this is one stretchy, spiritual lady. Liz knows a lot about chakras and it’s interesting to hear her thought processes and the theory behind the asanas in her class. The sequences were challenging enough and there were enough modifications to make this class suitable for all levels. 

My favourite part was the venue itself – it really is beautiful. The sun coming through the window, lighting up such a large room just felt special. I have had mixed experiences with yoga in California. The classes are fine but often the atmosphere feels competitive and too much ego. I did not feel this at Harmony House Yoga and I would go back in a heartbeat.  

Pismo-harmony-yogaIt is worth checking out their website before you go. There are often special events on and while I was there a donation based class was on offer with proceeds going to veterans. Also make sure you check out their shop, the yoga kit and mats on offer are of great quality and the prices aren’t too bad either.

So that was my American Road trip! Primarily there for the purpose of taking photographs and a rather hectic schedule work wise, but I still managed to squeeze in some yoga. What surprised me the most was that even in fairly remote locations there still seemed to be a really decent choice of classes showing how far ahead America is with yoga compared to the UK. Hopefully with more time the UK will get there too.

Choice may beat the UK hands down but classes are much pricier. Some classes I had a look at were as much as $50, which just leaves a bit of a sour taste. Most places also charge an extra couple of dollars to rent a mat too. I usually have my own but it’s still worth being aware of. 

Also, if you have some spare dollars it is worth checking out the shops and boutiques that sell yoga gear. There are many places that specialise in some seriously funky stuff and prices aren’t bad either. For an even better bargain, head out to the shopping outlets. Nike and Adidas have some great sales and even with the pound not being so great right now you can still pick up a deal.

I would love to hear about your yoga experiences travelling and if you have any recommendations yourself, comment below :)


Vic xox

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