After a long summer break, the start of a new semester can sometimes be overwhelming. Fortunately, there’s a new treatment in town that can help with the anxiety that assignments and exams can cause, with fitness benefits to boot.
Yoga Shelter, which currently has six locations — five in Michigan and one in California — recently set up shop in Midtown at 69 W. Forest. Although all six studios use the same name, each are independently owned.
Naomi Ruth, owner of the Midtown studio, was raised in Detroit. She said she “fell in love with all of the different aspects of the city” and wanted to do something to be more active in the community. She attended Wayne State and got a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Development; she also taught yoga.
Ruth wondered how to pull together her education and experience while also helping the community. After working 70 to 80 hours a week for community organizations, she realized there was not a yoga studio in Detroit.
“I went to the Yoga Shelter in Grosse Pointe. That’s where I would practice,” she said.
It was their philosophies, teachers and the “great community of people” there that inspired Ruth to open a Yoga Shelter in Midtown.
“I also thought it would be a good balance for people who provide a good community space for (others) who live (and/or work) in the city,” she said.
Ruth received her teacher training through the (Grosse Pointe) Yoga Shelter and opened the Midtown studio less than three months ago.
“My hope is to offer up this place for everyone to come together regardless of where they live, of their history, of any device that we use to sort of segregate people,” she said. “I’m just hoping this could be a place where none of that comes in.”
The studio offers approximately 28 classes in order for participants “to fit yoga into their life.” So far, students from ages five to 80 have enrolled in the courses.
“One of the things that I’ve always loved about the Yoga Shelter and the community is that it’s non-competitive (and we) welcome everybody,” Ruth said.
Various classes, such as xflowsion, vinyasa and fusion, are offered for beginners, in addition to those who are experienced.
“Our teachers are really great in being able to balance that, being able to provide modifications and just making everybody feel comfortable,” she said.
The studio does not practice any religion, but focuses on the “balance between flexibility and strength,” she said.
“Some people come to be more flexible. Some people come to build more strength. It really kind of goes across the spectrum,” Ruth said.
Ruth said she thinks that the most important part of yoga is “respecting your body.”
“That’s what we really emphasize here,” she said. “Just recognizing our own body and how we hold ourselves and just the way we move, being able to just appreciate who we are, or where we are, and working towards improving.”
Currently, there is an “opening special” for new members. The shelter is charging $10 for 10 consecutive days of yoga.
“You come for 10 consecutive days, and take as many classes as you want,” Ruth said.
Students are also offered 30, 60 or 90 days of unlimited yoga.
“For the 90 days, it’s $165. So it’s $55 per month to practice yoga as much as you want.
So if you came every day, it’s less than $2 a class,” Ruth explained.
Furthermore, Yoga Shelter has implemented a referral program where a customer can earn a $3 credit to an account for each person he or she brings in who signs up for classes.
Varsha Das, a WSU junior majoring in biology, said this deal would benefit students like her who enjoy yoga.
“I would love to try (the Yoga Shelter) because (this deal) will give me a chance to explore all of the great yoga classes without worrying about the budget,” she said.
While currently taking yoga lessons, Das noticed that the workout has helped her relax and de-stress.
The physical and mental aspect of the workout has kept Stephanie Selvaggio interested in yoga since 2009. Selvaggio joined the Midtown location when it first opened in June.
“I joined Yoga Shelter because of the beautiful philosophy behind the teachings and the true authenticity of the instructors,” she said. “Yoga Shelter has given me the tools to be healthy and be my own problem solver.”
Another loyal customer, Jonathan Kung, has been with Yoga Shelter for approximately a year and a half.
“I used to go to the one in Grosse Pointe so it's been kinda on and off,” he said. “But now that there's a Midtown studio, I'm there usually a couple times a week.”
Kung said he joined Yoga Shelter because the staff was “extremely warm and welcoming. ”
“They did a great job fostering a community at the Grosse Pointe shelter and Naomi comes from that,” he said. “I have no doubt she'll succeed in doing the exact same thing here.”
Prior to yoga, Kung said he lifted weights and ran.
“I guess I got tired in trying to keep my body in a shape that it just didn't really want to be in,” he said. Yoga is now his primary source of exercise.
“It feels pretty great,” Kung said. “I'm in better shape than I have ever been and I actually feel healthy. Not sore, tired or worn out, just good.”
He explained that in yoga, there are milestones that one works toward.
“With yoga you become strong enough to master different poses,” Kung said. “It's pretty … gratifying to be able to balance your whole body on your forearms or get up to a full handstand.”
As well as physically, the exercise has also mentally helped him become a calmer person and be “more aware of” his surroundings. In addition, Kung adds that yoga for him “is also a practice in mindfulness.”
“I'm really thinking about the things that are going on in my mind and body when I practice,” he said.
He has found that this ability has helped him “interact with people” and the community.
“It's a pretty great skill to have in a social setting,” he said.
Kung encourages people to give yoga “a chance and try out different teachers” since they all have various approaches to exercises.
“Some will have you … in a pool of sweat while others will have you leaving feeling refreshed and energized. Each one is great and they all have strengths that they play off of,” Kung said.
“We’ve had such an amazing group of people coming here already,” Ruth said. “I just hope that the community continues to grow and it’s a really great space for people to come together.”
She added that she, along with the rest of the Yoga Shelter’s instructors, is there for everyone who enters the studio.
“Everybody who works here, who teaches here, is accessible and just wants to help in any way they can,” she said.
Selvaggio believes that Yoga Shelter was really needed in Midtown.
“It's a place where Detroiters can come to sweat, breathe and lift themselves up all while being exactly who they are,” she said.
“Detroiters already have a bunch of close-knit communities,” Kung added. “Midtown Shelter will fit right into that mindset.”
For more information about class descriptions, prices or schedules, visit www.yogashelter.com
or call 313.831.YOGA.