Harmony Yoga Retreat | Yelapa, Mexico

This was my first time out of the country and my first yoga retreat, so it was an amazing adventure, to say the least.

Yoga Journal Conference Midwest

Dharma Mittra, Seane Corn, Aadil Pakhilivala, Maty Ezraty, Jim Bennitt... Need I say more?

Friday, May 8

The Refinery | Champaign, IL

LOCATION: A bit out of the way, but a great gym... The Refinery is on the west side of Champaign, IL. With a membership there you can take as many classes as you want with out signing up for them. This lack of commitment is what attracted me to this gym. And I'd be remiss if I didn't include it in my reviews, as it was here that I discovered yoga.
COST: Since I work for the University of Illinois, I use to get some sort of group discount. I think it was $25-30/month
STUDIO: The yoga space was one of the smaller rooms, which was great for the class size. Unfortunately, it was usually next door to some sort of Body Jam or Ab Attack... read: non-stop loud music.
CLASS DESCRIPTION: Twice a week they offer restorative yoga classes that integrate asanas (yoga postures), breathing exercises, relaxation, balance work, and flowing sun salutations to build strength. Yoga postures will streamline and lengthen your body, increase flexibility and feel rejuvenated and refreshed. Other times during the week you could also find BodyFlow which "combined" yoga, tai chi, and pilates maybe. It wasn't traditional yoga or tai chi, but it did offer more classes similar to yoga.
INSTRUCTOR:My first yoga teacher (and currently one of my teachers at the Living Yoga Center), Hayli Peterson is an amazing instructor. At the refinery she offered a gentle introduction to yoga that wasn't very challenging, but gave me time to get to know yoga. The second night a week was taught by Steve, another instructor at the Living Yoga Center. Steve Willette offered a little more challenge and always changes things up. He was more daring with The Refinery crowd, which was good for me to experience and get to know yoga even more.
CONTACT:The Refinery

I don't think I can really remember my very first class at The Refinery, to be honest, but I would hate to leave out the location that introduced me to yoga. At the time I was running a couple miles per day, and yoga ended up being the perfect way to stretch it out. I went to this class with a new friend, and it was for this reason we got to know each other. Now I can't imagine life before Katie. OK, this review may be ridiculously sentimental. To the basics, maybe? Hayli and Steve did the best they could given the situation, looking back, but the room was covered in mirrors (which I later learned was really a distraction for me). The sound from other classes easily leaked in... so you would often be going into savasana while thumping music was going on next door. But I had nothing else to compare this experience to... so I really didn't mind. They had everything you needed there... mats, blocks, props, etc.

I think if you're curious about yoga, but intimidated by a room full of super lean, stretchy woman (which isn't the norm, from my experience... super stretchy, often, but yoga graces all types of bodies); maybe your local gym is the perfect place to start. Start with a gentle yoga class, for sure, and if you're in the Champaign-Urbana area... I would recommend The Refinery. I think it's an excellent gym for what it's group fitness classes offer alone (and they offer a lot more)!