Yoga Oasis holds a special place in my heart. Not only because Darren Rhodes, the studio’s founder, does this: 

Tanutara: Making of the Anusara Syllabus Poster from Ross Evans on Vimeo.

But also because Yoga Oasis was where I found a comfortable, positive, and affordable home to practice yoga regularly.

I’ve been doing yoga in a very informal way for a number of years, but mostly using videos at home. The occasional beginner’s class was useful, but often a little pricier than my undergrad pockets could afford. But in the winter of 2010, I decided to take advantage of my vacation–and my salary–to actually attend a yoga class daily. The first three days were brutal; I hadn’t been so sore in…well, maybe ever. But after I broke through the fourth or fifth class, I could already feel a difference.

My favorite class, the one that maybe confirmed my love for this new endeavor, was on Christmas Eve. Only a few classes were offered that day, so the one I went to was CROWDED. Crowded as in, people were pouring out of the studio; doors were open, both side and back, and luckily we were having a typical Tucson “winter,” so the weather permitted it.

Stephani, our instructor, took that full-to-the-brim class and ran with it. The yoga itself was intense, but what made the experience that much better was the shared energy in the room. No other word can describe it, but it was like you could feel a pulse of everyone around you, all working through the ridiculous crunch of the physical space to balance and breathe.

Not to mention that my fella and I went to yoga together there a lot before we started dating. If it weren’t for Yoga Oasis, maybe we wouldn’t have hung out in the first place!

Yoga Oasis was founded by Darren Rhodes, and he has expanded the YO space and staff to now house three different locations:

  • Central: 2631 N. Campbell Ave, just north of Grant & Campbell.
  • East: 7858 E. Wrightstown Rd, west of Pantano.
  • Downtown: 245 E. Congress St. #101 (I told you guys I’d be focusing on the downtown stuff!)
Map courtesy of YogaOasis.com

All three studios boast a variety of levels and classes, so it’s easy to find one that fits your pace and preference. My favorite class is YogaHour. At only $5, they definitely cost less than an average yoga class in almost any city. YogaHour is a flow class, meaning that it can go from pose to pose quickly, so you can break a nice sweat! Also, there are certain Yoga Hours that are a set sequence, (formerly known as YoFlo), which is a great way to track your progress. I remember in the first class, I was appalled that anyone could do this :

Asta kravasana

After our instructor led the pose, I was one of the people who heaved and struggled and couldn’t even make it far enough to fall on my face. But after a regular weekly regimen of Melissa’s Wednesday night class, I can kinda do it!

The photo quality is not as pretty as the one above, nor is the pose as perfect, but it’s a lot better than where I started!

Another huge factor in Yoga Oasis’ greatness is its phenomenal staff.  Every instructor I’ve had at YO has created a welcoming, supportive space. Each one is unique; some like to play Rihanna during YogaHour, some prefer a more mellow playlist. Some move more quickly than others through the poses, but all are very purposeful in their pose sequence, and attentive to making adjustments. And as cheesy as it sounds, despite each of their unique styles, they all exude a warmth and openness to what yoga can bring to everyone. Yes, we are encouraged to push our limits, but never to do so in the danger of hurting ourselves.

They also prove their commitment to Tucson’s environment and local economy. If you walk, bike or bus to class 10 times, you earn a free class. (Don’t forget to get your card punched!) How’s that for encouragement to go green? Also, if you’re at YO Downtown,  Xoom Juice is nearby for a post-shavasana pick-me-up.

(Apparently Ari Shapiro and Darren Rhodes are both partially responsible for the other’s new downtown location.)

Have you ever had a great/weird/funny yoga experience? Itching to share recommendations for other yoga venues in Tucson? Share in the comments!