Yoga classes plentiful around Lawrence; everyone ‘will get something out of it’

photo by: Kathy Hanks

Anne Underwood, a certified Iyengar instructor and owner of the Yoga Center of Lawrence, 920 Massachusetts St., Suite 4, practiced a pose using rope props on Sept. 3, 2019.

From local gyms to Lawrence Parks and Recreation, yoga classes abound around town, but one yoga teacher considers the occasional class just a taste of yoga.

“If you want a serious study of yoga, I recommend a studio,” said Sharyn Harley, owner of OmTree Shala, 1405 Massachusetts St.

Here in Lawrence, each yoga studio offers something different for the seeker of the physical, mental and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India.

“Thirty-six million Americans practice yoga,” said Anne Underwood, a certified Iyengar instructor, and owner of the Yoga Center of Lawrence. The sun-drenched studio sits above The Roost, at 920 Massachusetts St., Suite 4. Iyengar yoga has been offered in this space for 20 years. This type of yoga uses a variety of props, including a wall of ropes, which help the students become more aligned in the poses.

Everyone is welcome at the Yoga Center, the young and old, the lithe and those who haven’t touched their toes in years. Underwood has had people tell her they do not want to try yoga because they are not flexible.

“That’s like not wanting to learn Spanish because you can’t speak it,” Underwood said.

Following the complete approach to yoga, not just the physical, is paramount to Underwood. There are also the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects, which she said led in turn to physical health, vitality and mental clarity.

“Yoga is such a good product, even if it’s taught poorly the student will get something out of it,” Underwood said.

Training more teachers

photo by: Kathy Hanks

Sharyn Harley, owner of OmTree Shala, 1405 Massachusetts St., poses in the studio on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.

Stepping into OmTree Shala, you enter a space filled with well-tended plants. Although teachers incorporate some Iyengar into classes, Harley said they follow the philosophy of her teacher, Bhavani Maki, from Kauai, Hawaii. Harley has 500 hours of training and annually brings Maki to Lawrence to teach classes.

Harley follows the philosophy that by engaging in all aspects of yoga one is uplifted.

“Yoga teaches us to connect with ourselves and surroundings and to the source of joy within one’s self,” Harley said. “The physical is important, the energy is important, the mental is important, the higher level of consciousness needs to be addressed. Any good yoga student will get tired of trying to do just handstands.”

Harley offers a 200-hour teacher training program at OmTree. She thinks Lawrence can use more yoga teachers.

“There are so many people in this town not doing yoga yet,” Harley said.

A different experience

photo by: Kathy Hanks

Leigh Granada, who, with her sister Beth Kuckelman, owns Lava Yoga, 1520 Wakarusa Drive, Suite J, sits in the studio on Sept. 19, 2019. The temperature in the studio can reach 103 degrees during a hot yoga session.

One of the biggest surprises for people is discovering that hot yoga classes don’t smell like body odor, said Leigh Granada, who, with her sister Beth Kuckelman, owns Lava Yoga, 1520 Wakarusa Drive, Suite J. They also own a Lava Yoga studio in Topeka.

The sisters have a thing for sweating and took a monthlong intensive hot yoga training.

“We love it,” Granada said. After the only hot yoga studio closed in Lawrence several years ago, they decided to open up Lava Yoga.

“It wasn’t our idea to open a yoga studio; we just wanted to practice this kind of yoga,” Granada said.

They teach the vinyasa flow, which moves from one pose into the other in a room that ranges from 93 to 103 degrees.

“It doesn’t feel as hot as you think,” Granada said.

photo by: Kathy Hanks

Leanna Henning, left, and Kaci Wilson practice a type of hot yoga on Sept. 20, 2019, at the Yellow Brick Yoga studio, 1410 Kasold Drive, Suite A1.

A second hot yoga studio, Yellow Brick Yoga, 1410 Kasold Drive, Suite A1, opened in Lawrence a year ago. Kaci Wilson and Leanna Henning offer a totally different type of hot yoga than Lava Yoga.

Baptiste Power Yoga was developed by Baron Baptiste and is focused on poses, meditation and self-inquiry. Henning said she came upon it when she was suffering from depression and anxiety and it turned her life around.

Since opening the Lawrence studio, Wilson said they have formed a community of people from college students to those in their 60s who attend the classes. The women met at Baptiste Yoga classes in Overland Park and decided to open a studio in Lawrence.

“This type of yoga would appeal to anyone looking at stepping into a new way of being,” Henning said.

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