The largest city in the US State of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (or as the locals call Philly), is a globally recognized hub for its rich history, deliciously original sandwiches and its backdrop for the infamous Rocky Balboa films!

With a growing population of just over 1.5 million people, it's a city that is, unsurprisingly, visited by around 43 million tourists every year.

A recent annual report suggests that the city relies heavily on its tourism for economic growth, and the constant bustling, energy fuelled environment within the cities cafe's, restaurants, and bars are a representation of the places popularity.

Yet, Philadelphia is also famed for its sporting and exercise excellence. From The Phillies of Major League Baseball, The Eagles of the NFL, The Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA, to The Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL; the city is more than familiar when it comes to performing at the very highest of levels.

As well as competing in some of the toughest sporting leagues in the country, Philadelphia is also recognized for sports and exercise participation levels in the United States.

A recent report suggested that, in comparison to other states, those from Philadelphia have an above-average exercise rate. Also, as well as sports-related exercise, long-distance running, and gym-related exercise are popular choices amongst those who live there.

Similar to New York and Los Angeles, the city has seen a growth in demand for exercises and activities that have spawned from other cultures - yoga being the prime example!

The platform 'Expertise' registered over an impressive 340 yoga studios in the city alone, a figure which illustrates the extensive demand this ancient exercise has in Philadelphia.

Spanning across both central and the suburbs, there shouldn't be an issue to find a local studio close to work or home.

Finding the right studio with an instructor you are both comfortable and confident may not be the easiest of feats. After all, the city has 340 studios to choose from so the extent of choice may cause a few headaches here and there.

Identifying personal goals and motivations before looking for a studio is vital.

Paying phenomenal fees on an annual course and then arriving on your first day to realize the environment/teaching isn't to your liking could be a costly mistake, yet such mistakes have occurred before.

Here we will outline a few considerations that all should make before investing in a long term group of lessons.

Furthermore, we will begin to identify some studios and additional opportunities across the city that may be of interest.

A woman walks beyond an underpass in Philly.
Yoga has been heavily influential upon the exercising circuits across Philadelphia. (Source: Visualhunt)

What to Look For: Finding a Yoga Instructor

Whether you're searching for an instructor in Boston, Chicago or even Houston, there are certain considerations that should be made!

So, let's begin to think about the instructor, or as yoga enthusiasts may call the yoga master.

Firstly, the concept of yoga is that it's an inclusive practice, and all should feel welcome when participating. There should be no element of competition and the atmosphere must emanate a level of positive energy that is largely transcended and created from the instructor.

Now, let's list a few attributes to look out for:

  • They assist to reveal but don't give out all the answers

A good teacher in any educational vocation must enable a level of curiosity. When a teacher merely answers all questions, the student misses the chance to engage in dialogue, thus enabling the student to discover the answer for themselves.

  • They continue honing their craft, whilst sharing new ideas with their students

Yoga is over a five-thousand-year-old practice, and those devoted to it could spend more than one life alone to understand the very essence and depth of its teaching. If an instructor is simply teaching for financial gain and not practicing what they preach, this can be an obvious warning sign.

  • They recognize and appreciate the students that attend every week

Yes, a fully booked session usually has around 20-30 participants, yet you would expect the instructor to scan the room, assisting those that require help with the various poses. If you are attending week in and week out, you would expect a level of familiarity and connection with the person that is guiding you.

  • They are personable and human when teaching

It is imperative that the instructor gives off a calming, natural energy, and creates an atmosphere in which makes those attending feel comfortable. If the teacher is rather high brow and puts themselves above the students, you are in the wrong environment.

Finding the perfect instructor in alignment with personal motivations may take a few visits to some different studios, but in the long run, it will be more than worth it!

A group of students partake in a yoga class outdoors.
A number of establishments also offer outdoor classes as well as those which take place in a studio. (Source: Visualhunt)

Ashtanga or Hatha? Finding The Style That Reflects Personal Goals & Motivations

Discovering personal goals is the first port of call when it comes to deciding what type of yoga class will be most effective.

There are over 13 standard styles of yoga and there are also multiple variations that stem from the core principles of the standard practices. Therefore, little research must be done beforehand to ensure the style of yoga suits the participant.

Kundalini Yoga is a historic and fundamental style that incorporates meditational practice. So, if you are interested in yoga for mindfulness and mental development, this is certainly an approach to consider.

Vinyasa, also known as 'flow', accentuate's the importance of breathing control and how it must be integrated between the various poses that are performed. It is a style that is very much applicable to beginners for the movements are done so in a slow and controlled manner.

Hatha, roughly translated to 'forceful', is an approach that emphasizes the physical development of the student. Yoga can increase muscle definition and develop the bodies' overall flexibility; this style is often endorsed by athletes who want to improve on such areas to enhance their performance in their chosen sport.

Ashtanga is considered to be a very physical approach that incorporates a flow-style with spiritual components. Suitable for those that crave routine within their workouts and wish for there to be a meditational element to their practice. It is viewed as a more challenging style and therefore beginners may be deterred by the physical and mental intensity required.

 Yoga Studios in Philadelphia

A couple perform a yoga pose together.
Yoga classes are available not alone for the individual, but families and couples are often encouraged to participate together. (Source: Visualhunt)

Philly Yoga Factory is a studio that offers a range of styles and the sessions run seven days a week!

Early morning classes, as well as evening sessions, help to cater to those who work throughout the day and the various classes can be booked through their homepage.

From Vinyasa, Yin, and Bikram (hot) yoga, there is a wide scope of options available and it is accredited as the first donation-based yoga establishment in Philly.

From as little as 7 dollars (purchased online), beginners can get their first taste of yoga practice without burning a hole in their back pocket. The studio illustrates the importance of diversity, and the 'all welcome' slogan emphasizes this.

Another studio that offers specialist classes in the city is the highly regarded Magu Yoga. The director, Alex Auder, was recently named one of the top 25 of the 100 most influential yoga teachers in the country.

With various monthly and annual membership options, newcomers are also enticed by trying an initial session to gain an insight into the environment and overall teaching styles of the yoga instructors.

This is a great incentive to find a studio which mostly reflects the students personal goals and motivations.

You will often find studios across the city offering free or reduced classes for beginners. The more you attend the more likely you are to find the most suitable studio with a favourite instructor!

Bikram (hot) Yoga is also a popular style and there are a number of studios across the city, including the Westside, that offer this option.

HotBox Yoga West Philly has an embedded philosophy in which it aims to empower the local community through the practice of both yoga and meditation. Both studios offer classes for all levels of experience and the main intentions are to enhance flexibility, develop strength and overall balance in one's life.

Through creating 'space for all', the environment is meant to be inclusive, thus creating a comforting atmosphere for the students - certainly worth a try if you've never experienced hot yoga before!

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