By Ansley Bourn
Walking into my STRONG class at Westside Yoga, I was welcomed by several contagious smiles, one of them belonging to the instructor and founder, Amber Barry. This was my second time at the studio, and I was excited to see just as many friendly faces as I did at the grand opening a few months back.
The studio is one huge open space, which made it super easy for new-comers to find the cubbies, bathrooms, water fountains, blocks and blankets. I made some room for myself on the second row and began to stretch. Honestly, I had walked in carrying the day’s stress on my shoulders, but the happiness in the room quickly melted my stress away. On the wall in front of me, there was a quote painted: “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” This quote could not be more perfectly placed than on a wall at Westside Yoga. Amber and her instructors have done an excellent job of creating a positive and welcoming atmosphere to yogis of all levels. Whether you’ve been practicing yoga since you could walk or have no idea what a downward facing dog is, you will leave here happier.
Before the class started, Amber told us the focus for the night was tapas — building heat for the purpose of refinement. The goal was to strengthen and lengthen our entire bodies. Starting out in child’s pose, my joints and muscles felt a little tight. We repeated different poses several times throughout the class, and I was surprised by how quickly my flexibility improved. By the end of class, I didn’t need to use the balancing blocks at all! (YAY!) I have no doubt this was a direct result of Amber’s inspiring instruction and constant encouragement. There were times we were holding poses for so long I thought I might fall, and Amber, sensing this, would remind us all to smile and laugh because yoga is supposed to be fun! For me, the hardest part of yoga is calming my busy mind to focus on the pose in front of me. By creating a positive and playful environment completely void of judgement, Amber made it much easier for me to conquer each pose and move through to the next with ease. I left the class feeling accomplished and rejuvenated. No doubt about it… Westside Yoga is THE#happyplace, and I will definitely be going back for more!
Details:1891 Howell Mill Road, Suite D Atlanta, GA 30318, westsideyoga.net