New studio brings ancient and trendy forms of yoga to north Stafford
BY KATIE THISDELL
Angela Cardella and Linda Osorio first tried hot yoga when they started talking about opening their own yoga studio last year.
After sweating their way through the trendy form of exercise in one of Fairfax’s 100-degree studios, they were hooked.
“When I did it the first time, I was like, oh my gosh, I love it, I love how I feel afterward,” said Cardella, who has practiced yoga for nearly 20 years. “You can achieve these deeper poses. Instead of pushing yourself, it’s allowing yourself to be more flexible.”
But Cardella and Osorio didn’t like the drive to Fairfax, which turned the 1 1/2 hour class into a half-day ordeal.
So last month, the two women opened a new yoga studio in North Stafford. They offer various forms of hot yoga, including gentle sessions for seniors and beginners and challenging, fast-paced power yoga.
More than 300 people have taken classes at Stafford House of Yoga on Garrisonville Road over the past four weeks, confirming to the owners that they are meeting a need.
“There’s a lot of stress in this area,” said Osorio, also a co-owner of nearby Massage Matters.
The central location could be just what people from Fredericksburg to Marine Corps Base Quantico need, she said.
Sixteen instructors offer up to 90 classes each week, ranging from Yoga 101 for beginners, to hot yoga sessions that last 1 1/2 hours.
Hot yoga is “very trendy right now,” said Cardella, who has taught yoga for eight years, but just discovered hot yoga last year.
Eventually, Stafford House of Yoga may broaden its reach and become focused on additional healing arts beyond yoga, say the two owners. The business’ second floor already features another new business, Healthy Groove, a holistic health and wellness center run by Kristy Robinson.
“The community is molding this place. We’re trying to get it organized,” said Osorio, 35.
The co-owners met at Massage Matters, where Cardella, 44, has been a massage therapist for years. Also a longtime yogi, Cardella moved around the world with her Marine husband. In 2004, she studied in India to be a yoga teacher.
The idea for a studio had been brewing in the back of Osorio’s mind for awhile. Last fall, she decided to look at places around Stafford County, and asked Cardella to join in.
The two are passionate about helping people improve their lives, focusing on balance and building strength from the inside out. Yogis advocate that the practice can offer benefits physically, mentally and spiritually.
The two women put together a business plan, and they planned to rent a space at a strip center. But the day they were to sign a lease, the house on Garrisonville Road became available for rent.
The two-story building has been many things, including a residence, gift shop and hair salon. Cardella and Osorio had already decided to name their business “House of Yoga,” so they were thrilled to actually be in a house, which they said provides a more relaxed vibe than a busy shopping center.
Inside, the gentle smell of incense fills a warm, comfortable lobby. Up a few stairs are restrooms with showers, along with a normal-temperature yoga studio.
Unlike in some places, where yoga studios are as common as coffee shops, the Fredericksburg area has fewer centers devoted to yoga.
The Fredericksburg Healing Arts & Yoga Center, serving the area since 1984, is one option, and it offers a variety of classes. Another option is Heart to the Sky Yoga Space inside the BOA Martial Arts Center in Fredericksburg. Many gyms also offer yoga classes, as do independent teachers.
At Stafford House of Yoga, it’s really the hot yoga studio, off the lobby, that the owners say makes the center unique.
Insulation helps keep the fully mirrored room between 101 and 106 degrees, with humidity at 35 to 40 percent. A cold towel with essential oils refreshes yogis after each class.
Some studios in Washington and in Northern Virginia are quite crowded, Cardella and Osorio said. They figured some of the dedicated yogis were from Stafford and, like them, would prefer a place closer to home.
A popular form of hot yoga is Bikram yoga, a system developed and copyrighted by Bikram Choudhury. Strict rules are placed on how the name and specific 26-posture series is used, so many studios instead offer alternative hot yoga classes.
“We wanted to offer lots of things,” said Cardella.
Stafford resident Janet Anderson said she’s glad to have all sorts of hot yoga classes to choose from.
“I dream about getting there the next day,” said Anderson, 48, said of the studio.
She said she used to sit in the sauna at her gym after yoga classes, but since Stafford House of Yoga opened, Anderson has canceled her gym membership.
“I am the hot yoga queen right now,” said Anderson, a former runner who injured her foot. “I tell you, this is the best place since sliced bread.”
Critics of hot yoga say that the extreme temperatures can trick people into a false sense of flexibility, or cause dehydration and dizziness.
Cardella advises students to listen to their bodies—don’t think you have to do the difficult modifications that instructors show.
It’s also important to be well-hydrated before classes and to bring extra water for during and after.
“I think once you get in there, it’s not like you’re sliding yourself on a tray into the oven,” said Anderson, who said she’s addicted to the detoxifying feeling of the hot yoga classes.
Over the past few weeks, she said her skin is clearer and she’s lost weight.
Whether students are interested in hot yoga or other styles, the owners hope their center can be a convenient and welcoming place for people to both exercise and get some peace of mind.
Osorio said she loves seeing first-timers, older crowds and couples do yoga, whether hot or traditional.
She hopes that new yogis will say, “I can bend a little more than last week.”
Stafford House of Yoga is “dedicated to creating an environment that promotes inner harmony, emotional development, and physical health through yoga and community engagement,” according to its website.
The wellness center is at 971 Garrisonville Road. For a class schedule or more details, visit staffordhouseofyoga.com or call 540/659-0777.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975