When I visit a new place, one of the first things I do is search for a yoga studio.
I’ve practiced on and off for 15 years, and I’ve rolled out my mat in cities all around the country — Washington, Sacramento, Boston. I’m also a yoga teacher and have taught in parks and libraries, in addition to more traditional studio spaces. One time, I taught first responders I embedded with for a reporting assignment.
So, when I joined The Baltimore Banner last month as an education enterprise reporter, I started thinking about where I might take a yoga class, or teach, in Baltimore.
Unlike many of my new colleagues, I don’t have Maryland roots. But I am no less committed to The Banner’s mission to strengthen, unite and inspire the Greater Baltimore community. Connecting with readers through yoga is one way I hope to fulfill that mission.
Below you’ll find a list of yoga studios and organizations offering classes across the city and the surrounding area.
I’m new here and have not yet practiced at any of them. This is not meant to be a “best of” list. You’ll find the studios below arranged in alphabetical order. I did, however, speak with several teachers and studio owners to better understand the sorts of classes they offer and the types of students they serve. Consider this list an invitation to come practice with me at one of these places or another whose classes help you find peace, strength or connection.
And if you practice at a studio that’s not mentioned, tell me about it! You can reach me at email@example.com
The signature class offered at Aluma Yoga, with studios in Cockeysville and Mount Washington, is a traditional vinyasa flow. Students move through a warmup, sun salutations, a standing sequence, and hip openers, all set to music, before ending class lying flat on their backs in a pose called savasana. Unlike many other area studios, Aluma’s classes are not heated. Founder and CEO Melody Kleeman said while her classes can be a form of exercise, that’s not the goal. “This is not a work out,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to work in and become more acquainted with ourselves.” Another way Aluma creates opportunities for self-discovery is by sponsoring international yoga retreats. Students just returned from a trip to Greece.
Nazaahah Amin said she opened Ama Wellness in West Baltimore’s Harlem Park neighborhood to bring yoga to a community that deserves it. Ama is devoted to serving Black women and girls. During in-studio classes held twice a week, Amin invites her students to meditate, move their bodies and share their thoughts on themes like grief or parenting. Her students often tell Amin they never knew they needed a space like the one she created at Ama. “What students always say after class is they feel lighter,” said Amin, a certified yoga therapist. She also offers classes at several Baltimore public schools for mothers and daughters, and this fall, for the first time, she will offer a teacher training program.
Baltimore Yoga Studies
Baltimore Yoga Studies offers self-led ashtanga-style classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings starting at 6 a.m in Old Goucher. Unlike many other styles of yoga with classes led by teachers, ashtanga requires students to memorize a set series of about 75 poses. During class, students move through the sequence at their own pace as teachers like Heather Hax, who co-directs the program, distribute props and offer hands-on assists. That format might sound rigid or intimidating, Hax said, but she encouraged curious new students to explore how the practice can “work best for your body.” Proceeds from the classes support Guardian Baltimore, a nonprofit Jiu-jitsu gym that offers free classes for children ages 6-17.
Bikram Yoga Works
Kendra Blackett-Dibinga said she opened Bikram Yoga Works in Mount Vernon to ensure classes are available for everybody, including people who have traditionally been excluded from yoga. “We want everyone who walks in our doors to feel they have a place here and can find themselves on their mat,” said Blackett-Dibinga, the studio’s chief visionary officer. The primary style of yoga offered is Bikram, where students gather in a room heated to 105 degrees and are led through a set series of poses held for roughly 10 breaths each. Blackett-Dibinga said the studio also offers more traditional yoga and fitness classes, many of which are available online, too.
BreakAway Yoga owner Jennifer Lucas said the Parkville studio aims to offer classes that are a diversion from the norm. “I wanted this studio to be different,” she said. For example, students who take her aerial yoga classes move through yoga poses while suspended from the ground in a hammock. The Buti yoga classes offered at BreakAway are a high-energy mix of power vinyasa flow and plyometric movements. Lucas stressed that neither of these classes have any prerequisites. “It might feel awkward at first, but the more you come, the more it comes to you,” she said.
CorePower Yoga is the nation’s largest operator of yoga studios, with more than 220 locations in 21 states. Baltimore is home to three of them. The classes are a proprietary form of athletic, heated yoga taught in modern, welcoming and spa-like spaces, although students can also access classes live online or on-demand. Along with the vinyasa-style classes CorePower is known for, the Denver-based chain also offers a yoga sculpt class, which combines yoga, cardio and strength training. The three Baltimore studios are located in Brewers Hill, Federal Hill and The Rotunda.
Free Baltimore Yoga
Free Baltimore Yoga is a volunteer-run organization that offers accessible, trauma-informed, mostly outdoor classes a few times a week at no cost for students. Led by Naadiya Hutchinson and Grace Marshall, the group aims to offer classes that feel safe and welcoming for LGBTQ students and people of color. “Not everyone feels safe doing something as vulnerable as practicing yoga,” Hutchinson said. “We want our students to feel comfortable and empowered,” Marshall added. Anyone who teaches a Free Baltimore Yoga class must pledge their support for those values. Check out @freebaltimoreyoga on social media for more information about upcoming classes.
When Jessie Kates opened Shift Yoga in Fulton, she wanted the studio to be different than the many others that offer physically demanding hot power yoga classes. “If yoga is about being well in mind, body and soul, why are we only pumping exercise?” she asked. Shift offers mostly slow-paced Yin yoga and meditation classes that Kates says are designed to serve and celebrate all bodies, not just thin, flexible, athletic white women. Students can take classes in person or online, and a few classes each week are free. “I’m trying to shift the narrative around what yoga is and who yoga is for,” Kates said. “I want students to walk out of our classes knowing that they are already whole and complete.”
The Womb Room
The Womb Room offers prenatal yoga and childbirth education classes as well as support groups for new moms. At the start of every yoga class, students are invited to share how far along they are in their pregnancies, whether they’re having boys or girls, and what they’re struggling with that week. “Having that extra sense of connection during a time that can be pretty confusing and isolating is so beneficial,” said Karen Kindig, a perinatal mental health therapist who owns the studio. Kindig first learned about The Womb Room, located near Wyman Park, when she took childbirth education classes there during her own pregnancy. She bought the business when the prior owner announced plans to retire because she knew firsthand how valuable the classes were and didn’t want to see them disappear.