Yoga is a fantastic hobby. As much of a mental workout as a physical one, it is a pastime that can encompass several benefits in one. You’ve got exercise, meditation, learning, and, at the right studio, community. For many, and hour of yoga leaves them feeling physically and mentally stimulated in a way that just cannot be replicated with other workouts.
Yoga has grown in popularity over the past few decades, and the trend has certainly hit in Tampa. There are dozens of studios across the bay area to explore, all offering different styles, vibes, and times for practice.
Below are three lists:
- The Three Best Studios in Tampa
- The Three Best Instructors in Tampa
- The Three Best Places to Practice in Tampa
That last one may surprise you – as a lot of yoga practice around Tampa Bay doesn’t actually occur in a studio!
If yoga is a new activity for you, there are several things you may want to know before you hit the mat:
- Make sure to wear comfortable, stretchy clothing. Form-fitting is best since you will be moving around quite a bit and don’t want your shirt flipping up over your head!
- Understand that there are different styles of yoga. Some are calm and gentle, and some feel like an intense cardio workout. Read class descriptions ahead of time so that you can be mentally prepared for whatever you are walking in to.
- Reservations will likely be needed. Yoga is popular and space is limited. Check out the studio online to see if you need to reserve a spot. Required payment in advance is common.
- If it is your first class or even your first class at a new studio, show up 15-20 minutes early. You will likely need to fill out some paperwork and sign a waiver.
- If you don’t have a mat, don’t stress! Most studios will rent them to you for a dollar or two a pop. If you prefer to have your own, they cost less than $10 at Marshalls and TJ Maxx.
- Bring water. You might work up a sweat, and it is always good practice to have water on hand during a workout.
- Studio etiquette is a thing. No shoes in the studio, and make sure to respect the quiet space. Loud conversations with your friends or neighbors are disruptive to others.
- Teachers may offer hands-on adjustments. This is normal and they are trying to help you improve your practice. If you aren’t comfortable with this, let your instructor know ahead of time and they will respect your space.
- If you have any injuries, let your instructor know about those ahead of time as well.
- Some teachers demonstrate some don’t. It is completely acceptable to glance around the room at what others are doing if you are unsure on what to do next.
- Remember that yoga is for everyone! Do not feel intimidated if your poses don’t look like the person’s next to you. Remember that it is called yoga practice, because that’s all it is.
So put on some comfortable clothes, grab your mat, and get ready to listen to some Sanskrit instruction while breathing deeply! Yoga is for everyone, and somewhere on the lists below is the perfect experience for you.
The Three Best Studios in Tampa:
This is, of course, an incredibly subjective list. A space that is beautiful to one person may feel uncomfortable to another. Keep an open mind when exploring a studio, and remember that there are some absolutely fantastic studios in town that are not listed here.
Almost every yogi in the Tampa Bay Area has tried at least one class at Bella Prana, and for good reason. This incredible studio features three studio spaces, a full yoga boutique, shower facilities, and more than 90 classes per week! If you are fitness motivated, you can take a Power Hour class or a Flow Level 1 or 2. If you are in it more for the mental benefits, you can try Yin Yoga or Breathwork Meditation. They even offer heated classes and chanting classes. This studio offers the full spectrum of yoga activities, all lead by some truly wonderful instructors. If you are new to yoga, then this is a great place to start out. You can pick up a bundle of classes or even a month of unlimited in order to explore different styles and instructors.
Be forewarned, this space can feel slightly intimidating when you first walk in. The lobby is huge and cavernous, and there are always yogis running around. If you are unsure of where to place your things, which studio space is yours, of what props you need, just ask! The vibe of the place is very welcoming. So hold your head high and join the practice!
This studio stands in stark contrast to Bella Prana. It is situated in a small bungalow home and overall feels much more intimate than the yoga warehouse that is Bella Prana. They offer much smaller classes, so you are bound to get more personal attention from instructors. In fact, after just a few visits they are going to know you by name. The class list isn’t quite as extensive as some other studios in the area, and while there is certainly a fitness focus within this studio, it is clear that their instruction is more heavily influenced by mental work. At the start of every class, you will sit on your mat and get a brief “Dharma Talk” from your instructor. This can encompass anything from personal anecdotes to discussion of astrology, to the weather outside. Once you have all experienced the talk together, it is time to practice. You will feel the principles of the talk throughout the design and movement of the class, and it all adds up to a pretty incredible experience.
The space is small, so know that you might be practicing in a hallway, against a wall, or super up close and personal with your neighbor, but the entire environment just adds to the charm!
Camp isn’t just a yoga studio. This fitness complex also offers aerobic, circuit, and spin classes. The yoga is, however, housed in a separate building, and you can purchase yoga subscriptions only, so for the sake of the list, we will consider it to be its own studio. This is not a great studio for beginners. Classes are all heated, and all decently intense. The instructor will assume you have a base knowledge of poses and yoga principles. If you are looking to take your practice to the next level, then this is a fantastic choice for you. The flow classes are physically and mentally challenging, and the flow 2 classes offer instruction for arm balances, inversions, and more difficult postures that you can’t always access in a level one class.
The space is well lit and well appointed, but it is HOT. Definitely expect to sweat in this studio. It cannot be avoided, and you are absolutely not alone. This studio is not for the faint of heart, but if you are looking for a challenge, then Camp is here to challenge you.
The Three Best Instructors in Tampa:
Like studios, instructor preference is incredibly subjective. It is important, however, to connect with an instructor. Many people only begin to like and appreciate yoga when they find the right fit in a teacher. Again, keep an open mind, and try to identify what you value in an instructor. Do you prefer tough love or quiet encouragement? Are you there for fitness or for meditation? Do you like to be touched or not? These are all things to keep in mind when considering which instructors you will like, and which are a better fit for a different type of yogi.
Austin teaches at the Yoga Loft, a fantastically intimate little studio in Ybor City. He is friendly and informal and is the perfect choice of instructor for anyone who isn’t into the hippy side of yoga. Austin began practicing in 2011, which means he is relatively new to the practice as well, and his style of teaching is incredibly accessible. He is also known as the “handstand king”, so if you are working on some floating poses definitely check out one of his classes!
Kolton teaches at Sattva Yoga, and her classes are not to be missed! Kolton is very open about how a difficult time in her life led her to practice, and how yoga helped her to face her challenges and find a sense of inner peace, and you can feel that journey in every class she leads. She is great at explaining how to get into complicated looking poses and is highly encouraging of anyone and everyone who comes to her class. Not only that, but she exudes friendliness and honesty in a way that is very appealing. If you are looking for an instructor who is on your side and is honest about her own path, then Kolton is the instructor for you.
Anne teaches at Camp, and her classes are peaceful and encouraging, so much so that the more difficult sequences will sneak up on you. Her calming voice will slowly guide you into increasingly challenging sequences until her reverent humor during the impossible ab sequence breaks your focus in a delightful way. You can tell that Anne has a deep appreciation for her practice, and occasionally breaks the flow of classes out into workshops in order to encourage her students to grow and get better. According to her Camp bio, her favorite quotes are “Come with your heart or don’t come at all,” and “The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.” That should tell you everything you need to know about how Anne approaches and runs her class.
The Three Best Places to Practice
Yoga can happen anywhere and everywhere, and there are several fantastic locations around Tampa for you to enjoy your practice. If the thought of joining a studio intimidates you, or in any way gives you pause, then skip the classroom altogether and go out into the world and experience yoga a different, more unique way. It is time to get out of the studio and into the world – enjoy yoga anywhere!
The Front Lawn at Armature Works
The front lawn of Armature Works is a truly magical space. Overlooking the Hillsborough River and downtown Tampa, this space is outdoors, in the sun, and has an incredible view. Community yoga classes are periodically held by teachers from different local studios, like Bella Prana and Kodawari. If you are looking for an iconic Tampa experience, this is it.
Every Saturday morning, instructors from the Yoga Loft host a free community class in this incredibly charming outdoor space. The garden is really more of a courtyard, outfitted with a brick floor and a charming fountain. You can easily find sunshine or shade, and you will be practicing with dozens of local yogis all out to enjoy a Saturday practice. This is a fantastic, peaceful place to practice.
This riverside park is the heart and soul of downtown Tampa. The incredible landscaping, innovative art, and architectural features all make this space an incredible place to practice. A free class is held every Sunday evening on a tiered part of the lawn that turns your “studio space” into an amphitheater. So come practice while watching the Florida sun slowly sink over the Hillsborough River. It is a wonderful way to end your weekend and kick off a new week.
There is so much yoga available all over the city that there is no excuse not to try it. Whether you are an experienced yogi or a tepid beginner, there is space for you in this practice. You will learn to breathe deeply, quiet your mind chatter and appreciate your body for everything it is capable of. Why not give it a shot? So find a class, find an instructor, find a space, and go out and enjoy it!