Houston's newest yoga studio, Big Yoga, opens Wednesday in Montrose. Lest you think this establishment is yet another cog in the ever expanding yoga market in Houston, Big Yoga stands apart with a streamlined approach to class offerings and a commitment to community service.
Founders Nancy Sheridan, 27, and Laura Calcaterra, 25, are determined to bring a fresh perspective to yoga studio ownership. Though they have taught yoga at various studios in town for several years, each started out in other industries.
Calcaterra moved to Houston straight out of grad school to take an accounting job. She simultaneously fell in love with her after-hours yoga practice, eventually completing a local teacher training. In February 2011 she decided to pursue teaching yoga full-time.“I set out to create a life I love and share yoga with as many people as possible,” she explains.
“We are committed to providing yoga for real people, with real lives,” Calcaterra explains.
Nancy Sheridan found yoga in Philadelphia. With a background in fashion but “no real direction,” Sheridan was working odd retail jobs when she discovered Baptiste Yoga. As a result, everything changed. “I was totally uncommitted to anything. The Baptiste practice helped me find my passion, and connect with my intuition and my body again,” she says.
Sheridan completed teacher training, moved to Houston and started teaching yoga full-time. “Every day I am grateful that I am able to do what I love for a living, and that this practice showed up in my life in such a big way.”
Big Yoga will offer Baptiste-style power vinyasa yoga, “and offer it really well,” says Sheridan. Founded in the 1940s by Walt Baptiste, and now championed by his son Baron, Baptiste Yoga is at once rigorous and meditative. It focuses on empowering individuals to embrace their full potential, creativity and passion, ultimately to become more authentic and confident inside and outside the yoga studio.
Baptiste teachers use clear language during class and strategic but adaptable technique, making the practice accessible to individuals across different fitness levels, ages, experiences and backgrounds.
“We are committed to providing yoga for real people, with real lives,” Calcaterra explains. “At Big Yoga students can expect consistent quality and a consistent practice, no matter what time of day or what teacher.”
Fully trained in the power vinyasa method and sharing a passion for the practice, Calcaterra, Sheridan and the rest of the Big Yoga team hope not only to demystify yoga, but also to extend its reach.
“Community service will be a huge part of what we do. We will empower people of all ages, shapes and economic backgrounds. Sharing this practice with as many types of people as possible will lead to more integrated, empowered and connected communities,” Sheridan says.
Big Yoga will partner with several local nonprofit organizations, including the Houston Area Women’s Center, M.D. Anderson Sprint for Life and Buffalo Bayou Partnership, to engage in projects and provide yoga to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it.
Big Yoga’s first “charity of the month” is the Houston Area Women’s Center, which provides shelter, counseling and advocacy to victims of domestic and sexual abuse. During March, Big Yoga staff will teach a series of yoga classes at the Center.
In a similar vein, Big Yoga will offer kids yoga four times a week (scheduled simultaneously with adult classes) and family yoga on Sundays. Children can reap enormous benefits from yoga, including improved physical strength and body awareness, enhanced concentration and a nuanced understanding of behavior and relationships, says Yoga Journal. Having completed multiple kids yoga trainings and taught classes for children of all ages in various settings, Calcaterra is thrilled to weave kids and family classes into Big Yoga’s schedule.
Situated at Allen Parkway and Waugh (3115 Allen Parkway, first floor), across from Whole Foods Market, Big Yoga will hold its first class on Wednesday at 6:15 a.m. It offers several pricing packages. Purchase an unlimited 30-day class pass at the special, grand opening rate of $40 (normally $120/$95 auto-renew) or opt for a 10-class ($125) or 5-class ($65) pack.
The yoga center will also provide donation-based classes on Sundays. For more information, visit www.bigyogahouston.com.