Step into the new Bishop Arts Yoga studio at 502 N. Bishop Avenue and enter a refuge from the daily grind. Dark wood floors, soothing music and soft flickers of candlelight create a quiet space to retreat and treat yourself and your body to some well-deserved down time.
Studio owner Cynthia Vega knows stress. As a reporter for the morning news on WFAA Channel 8, she spends her work days in a news van bringing the latest information on murders, fires and general mayhem to the Metroplex. Vega describes herself as definitely not a morning person, yet proclaims that she’s “healthier than I’ve ever been even though I get up at 2:45 a.m. every day.” She adds, “Yoga calms me down.”
Vega, with a background in gymnastics and dance, and partner Steven Grillo, a former weightlifter and personal trainer, have always been athletic. In fact, they met at a gym when Grillo asked her if she was a yoga instructor. At the time, she wasn’t, but she dragged Steven to his yoga first class and he was hooked. Since that class, he hasn’t missed a day of yoga in two years. Even though he’s given up weightlifting, yoga has helped him lose weight and gain strength. With yoga, you’d be “amazed by how much you can do with your body without extra equipment,” he says.
Grillo earned his teaching certification and over time developed his own style of power yoga, a series of flowing movements designed for a total body workout. The studio is heated to about 85 degrees to help prevent injury and increase mobility. While most exercises done in a traditional gym contract the muscles, yoga postures lengthen muscles, enhancing flexibility in the joints. Using your own body weight as resistance, yoga also builds upper and lower body strength. Further, constantly changing postures provide a cardiovascular workout.
The physical movement of yoga enhances more than your body. “The more I do it,” says Vega, “the more mental focus I have. It becomes part of the way you deal with your daily life.” Sharpening that mental focus is part of the reason Vega will use her experience in coaching children’s gymnastics and dance to teach a children’s yoga class beginning in January. Geared toward 6-12 year-olds, the class will help children gain muscle control and balance, while teaching them how to focus and calm themselves. “Kids are so over-stimulated now,” she says. “We’ll use games to bring awareness to their breathing and their bodies.” Children learn to take tests in school; Vega believes yoga will help them learn how to cope with the stress of taking those tests.
Vega and Grillo looked for over a year to find a studio space until someone suggested Oak Cliff. As a space had just opened up in Bishop Arts, they snagged it. Grillo did almost all of the finish-out work himself, committed to creating “your home’s chill out atmosphere in a yoga studio,” he says. Elmwood resident and yoga student Stacy Hilburn agrees: “It’s very tranquil. I love the mood and lighting.”
Never tried yoga? Don’t worry, says Grillo: “We all had our first class.” He cheerfully modifies poses for beginners, and reminds everyone that the focus should be on your own abilities. He encourages everyone to do only as much as he or she can do. Anyone of any age, body size or fitness level can do yoga, he emphasizes. With regular practice, poses that seemed challenging at first become easier, muscles get longer and stronger, and stamina increases.
Vega and Grillo are thrilled with the way the community has embraced them and are eager to add other classes and more instructors as demand grows. “I want to share with others what yoga gives me,” says Vega. The good feeling she gets from yoga carries over to the next day, she explains: “My whole body feels grateful.”
The facility provides mats and towels as well as changing rooms and cubbies to stow your stuff. Wear loose comfortable clothing and bare feet. Classes are an hour long and the schedule is growing. Several class packages are offered to fit any budget, as is a drop-in fee. For prices and schedules visit www.bishopartsyoga.com.