Houston, the fourth most populous city in the nation with over 2.3 million residents, is celebrated for its leading advancements in space exploration, as well as being accredited for one of the most diverse cities in the country with over 145 languages spoken.

Pretty impressive right? Well, it doesn't stop there. It is also considered to have one of the most refined culinary establishments in the world and Houstonians are said to eat out more times a week than any other city in America!

With the thousands of restaurants and cafe's that decorate this wonderful city, amongst them lay a variety of health and exercise establishments to help shake off those unwanted calories.

There are numerous ways to keep fit in the city of Houston! From sports centers, fitness gyms to outdoor exercise classes; staying fit has never been so easy.

From running clubs, rock climbing, nature outings, basketball clubs, spin classes, zumba, and even soccer-inspired fitness classes; whatever fitness motivations and goals you set, they can surely be accomplished through the variety of choices the city has to offer.

As well as the more conventional forms of exercise, different styles of fitness have been adopted from other cultures, and over the past twenty years yoga has experienced an ever-increasing rise in popularity.

Not alone Houston, but across the States including other cities such as Boston and Chicago. Yoga studios have been popping up left right and center, and the practice has become a common form of exercise for the everyday American.

And with multiple studios across the city, there are almost limitless opportunities for those wanting to get involved.

Yet, before signing up for the first class, it is important to distinguish the difference in styles. As yoga is considered to be one of the oldest forms of structured, physical, and mental exercise, there are multiple variations that have since stemmed from traditional teachings.

We will have a look at some various styles of yoga, as well as exploring some opportunities that are available across the city.

A picture of Houston's inner city skyscrapers.
Whether it's the city or the suburbs, Houstonians have several yoga establishments to choose from. (Source: Visualhunt)

Sahaja Yoga

Sahaja Yoga is one of the more recent variations of the practice, having been created in 1970 by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi.

Sahaja involves meditational exercises to become more self-aware and at peace within the present.

Self-realization is the foundation of Sahaja Yoga. It requires the student to partake in several steps until a sense of unity, contentment, integrity, and balance are instilled upon the participant.

This particular approach is practiced in over 90 countries and it is said that this experience of self-realization has been achieved by hundreds of thousands of people across the world.

Bikram (Hot) Yoga

Another practice invented in the 1970s, Bikram Yoga is completed in a humid room (usually around 105-degree temperature), and the duration of each class usually lasts around the 90-minute mark. This style has a wealth of devotees across the United States and the world and hundreds of studios are tailor-made to create and offer such classes.

Often referred to as the 'torture chamber', Bikram may not be everyone's first choice, but those that perform it regularly swear by it, accrediting it as a practice that is most effective in the development of mind and body improvement.

Just a few benefits of Bikram Yoga can include:

  1. Building core and full-body strength
  2. Alleviating pain whilst reducing the recovery of a physical injury
  3. Improving overall physical and mental wellbeing.

Although there can be a wealth of benefits associated with hot yoga, some people have had challenging experiences in the past.

Partaking in continuous exercise over an extended period in humid conditions can lead to dizziness, weakness in the lower core whilst participants have been said to faint in such conditions.

Again, this style will not be for everyone, yet, it may reap a wealth of benefits to those whom it is suited to.

Yoga Therapy, Houston

A yoga class takes place in a local park.
Yoga therapy has become increasingly popular across The United States. (Source: Visualhunt)

Even if you aren't personally battling against a health condition, yoga therapy is said to be a beneficial practice for all; regardless of age, fitness & experience level, health status or where one may be situated (since yoga hit the mainstream, studios can be found across almost all towns, provinces and cities across the states).

A growing number of physicians are recognizing the benefits associated with regular yoga practice, and it is said to be helpful from those suffering from, but not exclusively to:

  • Cancer
  • Certain mental illnesses including anxiety & depression
  • Certain eating disorders
  • Those suffering from different addictions
  • Hypertension
  • Pulmonary hypertension (although before involvement, this must be consulted with a doctor, qualified physician).

Therapeutic yoga is known to be different in its approach compared to more traditionalist styles of the practice.

If conducted in hospital treatment rooms, the practice must be tailored to the individual and their particular ailment/illness.

The classes may include physical tools to assist, and this could be anything from blankets, blocks, elasticated straps to bolsters.

Although general and specific benefits of this practice continue to be studied, a depth of research conducted in the past highlights a variety of benefits that an individual can experience just from taking part!

Online Yoga Classes

An increasingly popular approach is to conduct yoga classes through online platforms such as Zoom and Skype!

People are often switching to online classes as it saves time traveling to and from the studio, and the classes can be conducted at home/at work, making it a more convenient approach to regular yoga practice.

Although yoga classes conducted online can save money in the long term as well as being more time effective for the participant, there are also some downfalls to online yoga classes.

Firstly, it reduces the personable factor associated with the exercise.

Several participants become involved in such exercise classes for the sociable factors involved. Those that partake in yoga classes regularly aim to embody a holistic approach to their lifestyles. This could mean alterations in their diet, social circles, and overall style and approach to living.

So, if you are partaking in an online session, the opportunity to converse before and after with fellow participants will be restricted.

Furthermore, it is likely you won't receive specific feedback from the instructor in regards to one's techniques and bad habits are more likely to be picked up in an online session as opposed to a face-to-face, class-based environment.

Atrium Yoga Studio, Houston

Based on Westheimer Rd, Central Houston, Atrium Yoga Studio is one of the largest and most popular destinations to do yoga in the city!

With multiple classes throughout the week and weekend to choose from, you will truly be spoilt for choice!

From group beginner vinyasa sessions, power vinyasa classes to therapeutic and even prenatal classes, Atrium covers all bases to ensure their student's goals and motivations are catered for.

The studio also does weekend/one-week isolated workshops and their schedule for all of their sessions can be accessed through their homepage.

What Are The Top Studios in Houston, Texas?

An entrance of a yoga studio.
There are a number of considerations when it comes to choosing a yoga studio. (Source: Visualhunt)

As stressed earlier, yoga has gained popularity across other cities including Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York and Houston is no different.

Not alone in the city, but there is a wealth of studios across the suburbs of the city also, so if you aren't living or working in the central areas, it is still likely that there will be a studio within close proximity!

Happy Belly Studios, based on Jester Boulevard, is a contemporary fitness studio that offers not only yoga classes, but pilates, barre and even TRX (total resistance exercise) workouts.

They even offer an introductory wellness session to incentivize new customers! This is a great way to establish if the environment/instructor is the right fit without having to spare a cent!

Another popular destination for Houstonians is at Black Swan Yoga! With studios based across the State (Austin, Denver, Dallas, San Antonio & Houston), it is an establishment that hosts hundreds of students per week!

With personalized artwork, luminous lighting to curated podcasts, and music choices created by the yoga instructors, Black Swan aims to generate a unique and tailored environment to separate them from their competitors!

With courses/membership programs to cater to a customer's preferences, the studio remains open until 11 pm most evenings to cater to those that may work late and are unable to attend daytime and afternoon sessions.

There are a variety of class types and their packed schedules (along with availability) can be accessed through their homepage.

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Christopher