by guest blogger Jana Koeberle
Juanita Village, 750 NE 119th Way, Kirkland, WA 98034
As a fan of Baptiste-style power Vinyasa yoga, I was anxious to learn more about and experience Bala Yoga, which just opened in July. The studio, which is located in Juanita Village, next to Urban Coffee Lounge, seemed to be showing up in everything I was reading and the website was very compelling and informational. I’ve been practicing Vinyasa in Bellevue and was happy to have an alternative closer to home.
In talking with the owner of the studio, Mike, I’ve become an even bigger fan of what he is creating. As a nutritionist and former professional mixed martial artist, Mike came to Kirkland (where he attended high school back in the day) from Sacramento to visit Bastyr and explore educational opportunities. He had a concept for a wellness center that focused on nutrition, yoga, and a person’s whole well-being. While stopping in at Urban Coffee Lounge, the available spaces for lease next door caught his eye. With the input and guidance from a cadre of yoga instructors and friends, he’s transformed four spaces into an oasis with bamboo flooring and warm colors. There are no mirrors in the studio (thank you) and in the tradition of Baptiste-style yoga, the room is a warm 87 degrees (this is not a hot yoga studio).
I took a couple of classes last month and while I loved the foyer and the studio (whomever is providing Mike aesthetic direction on marketing and studio design is doing a great job!), I found the changing area to be a bit “communal” for my liking. That said, if you are just dropping your bag and peeling off some sweats, it’s fine. There are also men’s and women’s restrooms down the hall if you prefer something a bit more private or if you come tearing in after work, as I often do, and need a full change of clothes. Showers are to come and tweaks continue to be made to the space.
Mike’s focus right now is providing Kirkland with great yoga teachers and a beautiful atmosphere so that the students can be present in their practice. He’s building his team of instructors and while building the schedule of classes, he’s mixing up instructors to see who is a good fit for various levels and various class offerings. Dora, a favorite instructor of mine, is teaching at the studio and she’s an especially good person to teach an all-level class as she can assess people quickly and move people into the variations they might need. You’ll see quite a few “all-levels” classes on the schedule now, which means this is a great time for the beginning yogi to start his or her practice. You’ll catch a glimpse of what someone more advanced might be doing, but there is no pressure to do anything but focus on your own practice.
As the instructors and the students begin to gel, Mike will work to create his own “Bala Flow” which will be the basis of the practice and is a variation or off-shoot of the traditional Baptiste Flow. Another fantastic thing about the schedule at this studio is the wide range of times classes are offered and the variety of classes. I’ve seen Gentle Flow, Hour of Power, Relax & Renew and some athletic stretching classes offered over the past month or two. Later this month, Bala will be offering a series called Mommy & Me with dozens of yoga movements designed to nurture baby’s development.
Overall, my thinking is that this is a fantastic opportunity and place for someone not familiar with yoga or maybe a little intimidated by yoga studios to learn and begin to practice. It’s a chance to literally grow along with the studio. If you are more advanced or have been practicing for awhile, you may need to find an instructor who can work an “all-levels” class and meet your needs. Mike strikes me as a community-kind-of-guy and he’s very open to what the students want, so let him know! I plan to return to practice at Bala more often and watch Mike grow this into a lovely addition to the fitness and wellness community in Kirkland.
Childcare: None provided
Pricing: Various packages available and pricing is competitive to other studios. Bala does offer the $20 for 10 consecutive days for first-timers and the drop in rate is $17. See website for more details.