A friend of mine, who is well aware of my penchant for both fashion and yoga, recently mentioned that she wanted to bring me to a new yoga studio that recently opened up here in Houston, Bayou Bliss Yoga. My friend enthused over the small class sizes, the adorable bungalow-style house that the studio calls home, and especially the super-cute yoga clothes for sale in the reception area. "You're going to love it," she assured me. I'm always happy to try a new studio -- and to shop for great yoga gear -- so I agreed to check out an evening Alignment-Based Vinyasa class.
Studio founder Dana Shamas greeted me upon my arrival and took me on a tour of the house the studio she calls home. In addition to small-group (6 or fewer yogis) and individual classes, Bayou Bliss will be offering massage, nutrition consultation, meditation, breathwork, energy healing, and other spa treatments to create a total holistic center. There is even a kitchen where meals will be cooked, and a community dinner has already been planned for June 24.
Oh, and the clothing boutique? Yeah, I'm going to have to work on that "letting go of attachments thing" we hear about so much in yoga class.
Local yogis may already know Dana from the Jivamukti class she teaches at YogaOne on Sunday nights, but this was our first time meeting. I was intrigued by the small class, dedicated holistic concept she is shaping at Bayou Bliss; my practice was developed at home, and expanded through the usual large-group classes you usually encounter at a yoga studio. Although I was only going to be taking the Alignment class -- led by instructor Kristin -- alongside my good friend, I wondered how I would feel practicing in such an intimate space. To ease my fears, I engaged in some serious window shopping.
Dana led me through the small, well-edited selection of yoga clothes she carries in the studio's boutique. The Anjali line of clothing is sold exclusively in Houston at Bayou Bliss, and only one other studio in Texas carries Anjali (a store in San Antonio). The husband and wife team who design the Anjali met in the world of fashion design, but combined their passion for yoga with their profession to create beautiful, sweat-shop free yoga clothes for yogis. I was taken by the beautiful designs, and impressed with the soft fabrics -- too often I am distracted by a scratchy hem or poor fit when I should be concentrating on not falling down on my mat. The clothes are simple and unfussy, but include cute details that appeal to the fashionable yogi -- ruffles, bright colors, and fun prints.
Another item that caught my eye was the tie-halter yoga top by FOAT Design, a line that focuses on using recycled fabrics and materials. All the buzzwords were there -- sustainability, sweatshop free, recycle/reuse -- but design isn't sacrificed in the process of sustainability. That tie-halter top that I noticed? It's designed to tie at the side of the neck, rather than the back, which is more comfortable for any number of reclining poses. Brilliant.
The real showstoppers for me were the jewelry collections by Swati Jr. and Alexandra Senske. They are quite different -- Swati Jr.'s pieces are a little more "Earth mother/Moon goddess," while Senske's are more geometric, with almost primitive lines and textures -- but both appealed to my desire to wear distinctive, meaningful pieces of jewelry, something that is particularly true when I am in practice on my mat. Both jewelry designers are local, by the way.
As for what happened when I got on my mat? My Alignment-based Vinyasa class did just what I hoped it would do, opened me up to the possibilities that proper alignment hold for a sustained, long-term practice. It was intense but gentle, and the overall experience has me ready to go back for more. I think this would be a particularly great spot for beginners looking to learn the fundamentals, or yogis like me, who practice primarily at home and could use a refresher on proper body alignment. The classes are slightly more expensive than at a larger studio, but the personal attention, customization, and additional services (like initial and then periodic consultations to review your overall health and pinpoint areas that need to be addressed with yoga, or other modalities) are in line with the value.
Plus the clothes are so cute! I'll work on that attachment thing later, but for now I really need to decide which necklace is coming home with me after my next class.
Bayou Bliss Yoga is located at 4318 Kyle Street.