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Breaking Into Boston's Yoga Scene

By Rhiannon D'Angelo

I'd always been intrigued by yoga, especially since its practice had the potential to cure my racing mind and keep me in shape at the same time. Despite being an athletic person my entire life, this sub-culture seemed intimidating. Yoga studios in Boston always seemed like exclusive clubs and I wasn't on the guest list.

I imagined a cult-like membership system where the elite followers were required to adhere to a strict dress code of Lululemon racerback tank tops and capri pants costing more than I spend on most formal wear. Would the lithe Sanskrit speaking students shun me if I showed up at their studio wearing socks (gasp) and a baggy t-shirt?

Boston has never had the reputation of being "welcoming," "friendly," or "laid back" – so maybe my trepidation had nothing to do with yoga at all. After all, yoga is a spiritual and physical practice – not a popularity contest, right? Despite my fears, I bought myself a mat, checked out a few schedules and set out on my journey to find the Beantown yoga studio that was right for me.

The journey spanned six months before I found my favorite studios; along the way I definitely found the average, the definitely not for me (hello Bikram!), and the best of what Boston has to offer. As expected, I certainly came across a fair share of fancy yoga outfits, trim bodies and props (special towels, headbands, mat carriers and spray bottles) but I learned all the "stuff" is just peripheral. What makes a good yoga studio is less about the actual building and more about the instructors, the yoga styles offered, and of utmost importance for us busy Bostonians, convenience.

Here are my picks for some of Boston's best places to practice yoga:

The Best of the Best

7/25 Yoga Scene - OM Warrior
(credit: OM Warrior)

Om Warrior
133 Pearl St.
Boston, MA
(617) 901-4480
Visit website for schedule and prices

When I first entered Marc McDonald's studio in the Financial District I had that feeling people have when they find their dream home, it just felt right. McDonald says his teaching is rooted in the idea that anyone can and should practice yoga. His students certainly reflect his vision, all shapes, sizes, ages, genders and levels seem to be present in each of his classes. His afternoon Vinyasa class (my personal favorite) is never the same – you'll sweat; you'll laugh; you'll focus; and you'll push yourself to a place you never thought would be humanly possible. Yeah, maybe you'll fall on your asana (his joke, not mine) but no one's watching – they're too focused on their own practice. From Pink Floyd to Radiohead to Massive Attack, McDonald's playlists are so on the money he may have a future career as a DJ.

The Best of the Rest

7/25 Yoga - Prana Power Yoga
(credit: Prana Power Yoga website)

Prana Power Yoga
Locations in Cambridge, Winchester, Newton
Visit website for schedule and prices

With locations in Cambridge, Winchester and Newton, Prana lovers span from the city to the suburbs. Put your mat down in one of Taylor Wells' classes and you'll see why this "Yogapreneur" and "Super Mom" has been so successful. The insightful Wells effortlessly leads students into each pose while simultaneously explaining how you can have the Best Life Ever. The Prana 2 Music class seems to be one of the most popular yoga classes in town, so do sign up early.

7/25 Yoga - North End Yoga
(credit: Rhiannon D'Angelo)

North End Yoga
256 Hanover St
Boston, MA
(617) 227-YOGA
Visit website for schedule and prices

One might think this serene sanctuary wouldn't belong in the noisy neighborhood, but as NEY students soon learn, it makes perfect sense. The super friendly instructors and welcoming atmosphere fit right in on hospitable Hanover Street. Swing in to the expansive sunny studio for Mysore, Vinyasa or Pilates classes. New students benefit with the $30 for 30 days welcoming promotion.

7/25 Yoga - Exhale Yoga
(credit: Exhale website)

28 Arlington Street
Boston, MA
(617) 532-7000
2 Battery Wharf
Boston, MA
(617) 603-3100
Visit website for schedule and prices

Though the prices may be on the higher end at Exhale, the amenities and abundance of class types and times will knock your socks off and ensure you'll never skip a workout. With convenient locations on Battery Wharf and the Back Bay, if you work downtown you can get to either outpost in less than 15 minutes. Yoga newbies can build a foundation with their "Absolute Beginner Class" and seasoned yogis can shake up their routine by trying something different like Core Fusion Yoga. When it's all over, soothe your muscles in the steam room, sauna or hammam.

When not 9-to-5-ing it, Bostonian Rhiannon D'Angelo is sharing her wry thoughts on pop-culture, fashion and travel on her popular blog Down The Rabbit Hole: A Bostonian's Musings on Fashion and Culture.

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