Julia Roberts started doing her downward-facing dogs back in the '90s after declaring she wanted a "yoga butt" like the tight little packages found in the glossy health magazines. Her superficial attraction to the Indian practice was a sign of yoga's Westernization. American studios evolving in tandem with the self-help craze usually offer a pampering salon-type experience often priced beyond the means of most Houstonians. But those interested in a more traditional experience without all the frills -- no New Age music playing faintly in the background, no ballet floors or skyline views, no crystal or massage therapy -- should head to the nonprofit Vyasa Studio. With several medical doctors on staff, Vyasa traces its roots to a large yoga university in Bangalore, India. The studio is performing research in conjunction with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to study how yoga may improve the lives of cancer patients. And it will get your pranayama and asanas twined in no time. Affordable memberships don't guarantee yoga butts, per se, but rest assured every anatomical inch will be put to work. Namaste.
Readers' choice: The Yoga Institute