The popularity, love, and respect for yoga is continually growing Memphis. No matter your community, there are plenty of options to engage in yoga at most gyms alongside a number of amazing studios dedicated to it. If you’ve never tried yoga or want to become more consistent in your practice, September—Yoga Awareness Month—is the perfect time to unroll the yoga mat.
Memphis’s yogis introduce you to different styles of yoga and some of the lesser-known benefits.
By Susanna Lancaster
Amy Lenkszus at Sumits Yoga
“Yoga is for every body,” says Amy. Having practiced yoga for 10 years and taught it since 2013, she enjoys the rewarding experience of watching people change in body, mind, and spirit as they take part in her classes. “A big misconception is that you need to be flexible, but it’s the opposite. You become flexible by doing yoga.” She has seen people become less anxious, develop a better body image, and even gain the confidence needed to get a new job or get off medications they didn’t really need after starting yoga. Because certain wind-relieving poses aid in digestion, many also see an improvement in skin complexion and have more balanced blood sugar. “People just feel better,” she says.
Amy studied yoga in Arizona under the well-known instructor Sumit Banerjee before opening a Memphis location of Sumits Yoga. When Shelby Farms was renovated last year, Amy saw a perfect opportunity to bring stand up paddleboard (SUP) yoga to Memphis. SUP yoga presents an additional challenge because it all takes place on a floating paddleboard, and there is always the possibility of losing one’s balance and falling in the water. Sumits offers SUP classes for all ages and yoga levels and helps people connect with nature in a way simply not possible in a traditional setting.
In addition to SUP yoga, Sumits presents a wide variety of classes, from beginners to more advanced hot yoga. The Sumits community is “focused on a better tomorrow. And I think that’s why yoga grows,” Amy says.
Facebook: Sumits Yoga Memphis | Instagram: @SUP901
Janet Katz at Second Story Yoga
Having practiced and taught yoga for over a decade, Janet teaches gentle yoga, yoga on a rope wall, and all levels of advanced vinyasa. She’s seen a difference in strength, stamina, anxiety, and relief for tight hips, hamstrings, neck, and shoulders—both for herself and her students. She even admits: “Studying and practicing yoga has transformed my parenting. I think my three daughters would agree I am less reactive and more open-minded.” Simply inhaling and exhaling is something she advises people to do to destress or get energized.
Second Story Yoga offers classes of all sizes and levels. “It’s exciting to introduce students to a system of simple movements that can reduce aches, pains, discomforts, and, in some cases, even chronic conditions,” Janet says.
Website: secondstoryoga.com | . Facebook: Second Story Yoga
Olivia Lomax at Delta Groove Yoga
When competitive sports threw Olivia’s body out of alignment, she tried yoga instead of visiting a chiropractor and loved it. Now 20 years later, she has been teaching for 17 years and holds over 10 different yoga certifications. As the owner of both the Delta Groove Yoga studio and the school that certifies yoga instructors, she is constantly amazed to watch people heal both physically and mentally. Community is the most rewarding part of teaching to Olivia, and she believes yoga “changes how people approach life.”
Olivia became interested in Kundalini yoga when she was pregnant with her first child 16 years ago. After studying and getting certified in it, she brought this form of yoga to Memphis and is still one of the few teachers here who specializes in it. She describes Kundalini yoga as an “evolutionary energy” because it focuses more on the subconscious and helps the body’s nervous system. Kundalini helps in prenatal yoga as well as all kinds of recovery purposes.
Delta Groove Yoga teaches all levels of yoga for all ages. To help people find the class that best fits their lifestyle and needs, the studio offers 40 days of classes for $40. “People tell me all the time they can’t do yoga because they can’t even touch their toes,” Olivia says. “But yoga isn’t about that.”
Website: deltagrooveyoga.com | . Facebook: Delta Groove Yoga
Charlie Graham’s Free Downtown Yoga in the Park
One of Charlie Graham’s goals as a yoga teacher is to eliminate the intimidation people feel with yoga. Having started practicing yoga around 18 years ago, she recognizes that to an outsider, yoga may seem like something only for fit people in fashionable workout clothes, but she has erased this stereotype for many. Charlie says that yoga holds a mirror to herself and reveals her faults and strengths. “Yoga doesn’t care,” she insists. “It’s not a rubber mat. It’s a mirror.”
Tuesday evenings at 6 pm, she holds a free yoga class for anyone who wants to come, including those who have never tried yoga. Charlie shows everyone the positions, rather than just naming them. The session largely focuses on deep breathing because people can practice the mindfulness of yoga anywhere by taking deep breaths. Every week, she notices more people coming, and many have told her how they’re more confident, less anxious, and sleep better.
Karen Moss at Better Bodies Yoga
After Karen’s father died of lymphoma, “yoga fell into [her] lap.” As a personal trainer, she discovered and began practicing it to help one of her elderly students. Yoga ended up benefiting her just as much, helping her make it through the Chicago marathon she ran in memory of her father. Karen saw not only the physical benefits of yoga but the mental, emotional, and spiritual ones as well. Yoga helped with her loss. When the opportunity arose to open a yoga studio on the same street where her father worked, it seemed like a sign. “It was meant to be,” she says.
Karen’s goal is help people be the best version of themselves—better, happier, kinder, more caring, and more whole. Yoga has eased her own autoimmune disease. In her years of teaching, she has seen yoga help so many different people heal, whether from physical injury, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, or even paralysis. “It’s something that truly transforms the soul,” Karen insists. Better Bodies Yoga offers classes for all ages, and it focuses on each individual’s needs.
Website: betterbodiesyoga.com • Facebook: Better Bodies Yoga • Instagram: @betterbodiesyoga
Better Bodies Yoga Offers Himalayan Salt Caves
The studio will open its new Himalayan salt caves on September 11. One room will be for relaxation, another will be a yoga salt room, and the third will have a salt bed that massages the body. These rooms will offer endless benefits to those who enter, aiding in sinus issues, asthma, skin conditions, bronchitis, ear infections, and respiratory infections. The salt can even help people who are giving up smoking and those fighting depression.