Exhale on this driving tour of Atlanta's best yoga classes

Credit: Bita Honarvar

Credit: Bita Honarvar

This story originally published in the April/May 2017 in Living Northside.

Wendy Person, an executive at Coca-Cola, first walked in to Kashi Atlanta to take yoga classes for physical exercise but found an unexpected mental benefit at the end of each session: meditation.

“It dawned on me that meditation was really calming in ways that I never intended and expected,” Person says.

Kashi Atlanta, a sort of yoga-centric community center, offers a variety of classes, from beginner’s yoga and meditation to advanced spiritual practice with a particular focus on breathing.

“Breathing with awareness,” says executive director Swami Jaya Devi Bhagavati. “So part of that is learning how to be present, how to be in the moment and accept what’s happening right now.”

While all meditation practices at Kashi use breathing as the key element, some focus on mindfulness or being present in the moment. Other meditations use visualization and positive thinking, and some zero in on letting go of fear and anxiety.

Person brings her meditation practices to the office. Even in the middle of a tense meeting, she might breathe deeply and do some meditative practices to relieve stress.

“It’s a great way to calm and re-center,” Person says. “I bring it into my day all day long.”

Credit: unknown

Credit: unknown

Northside yoga studios incorporate breathing, meditation and other practices in their classes.

Here are a few highlights at nearby places, as well as Kashi Atlanta.

1. Stillness Yoga and Meditation Center. The East Cobb studio has yoga and meditation classes for all levels, including children ages 6-14. A restorative yin/yoga class benefits people recovering from injury or experiencing chronic conditions. 3115 Roswell Road, Marietta. 770-337-9335. stillnessyoga.com

2. Brain and Body Yoga. Believing the body's anxiety and illness is a result of stress coming from the mind, practitioners use free-flowing movements to release body tension, worries and negative thoughts. Weekly classes include core work on Mondays and tai chi on Thursdays. 48 King St., Roswell. 770-643-2220. bodynbrain.com

3. Roswell Yoga Life. More than 30 classes are offered per week, including a prenatal yoga session on Sundays. A two-hour restorative yoga class with a crystal bowl healing technique uses props to accompany poses and sound therapy to help participants decompress. 408 S. Atlanta St., Roswell. 770-299-1639. roswellyogalife.com

4. Lift Yoga and Barre. Yoga, fitness and barre classes are offered daily. An acra yoga partner workshop includes Thai yoga massage, in which partners move together, or one massages and stretches the other. 501 S. Main St., Alpharetta. 470-268-4361. liftyogastudio.com

5. Johns Creek Yoga. Traditional hatha yoga classes are offered. A meditation and pranayama session splits the class into breath work and meditation. A yin yoga session has long held poses and targets the lower back, hip and pelvis areas. 11705 Jones Bridge Road, Johns Creek. 770-619-1283. johnscreekyoga.com

6. Kashi Atlanta. The variety of classes and workshops includes a prosperity yoga session with mediation, and a yoga class with mantras to help alleviate addictive behavior. The class uses prayer and meditation followed by a 12-step meeting. 1681 McLendon Ave., Atlanta. 404-687-3353. kashiatlanta.org