Mention hot yoga to someone and you’re likely to get a big reaction – people seem to either hate the thought of it or love the practice of it. I definitely fell into the former category, until I came to High Street Yoga during this bitterly cold January to give it a shot. I won’t lie – it was just as sweaty and challenging as I was anticipating, but also way more fun than I expected.
Tamsy teaches power yoga, based on John Baptiste Baron’s methods which she extensively studied prior to opening her own studio in 2009, and all of these methods are bio-mechanically engineered to be safe and accessible. The classroom is also typically heated to between 80 and 90 degrees, depending on the class being taught, which is meant to help “bring what’s underneath to the surface,” by opening pores, increasing metabolism, improving respiration and flexibility, and encouraging people to slow down.
Originally from San Antonio, Texas, she began practicing yoga when she was only 11 years old and began practicing more consistently in 2002. Her love of yoga has led her across oceans to study as far away as Hawaii and India, and she has also practiced with many individuals from Cairo and Nirobe. “We relate to one another through this language,” she said, explaining how the physical practice of yoga can help bypasses any language barriers.
She eventually came to Westerly and found she was the only one teaching this particular method initially; wanting to share it with this community, High Street Yoga became an accredited yoga school in 2012. “So many people have learned how to teach yoga here; we want to set everyone up for success. We all take energy from one another – the foundation of this studio is community, connection, and collaboration.”
Among the teachers is Franchesca Brown, who has been coming to High Street Yoga since October 2016 and teaching since July 2017. “My friend suggested we try it, and I just fell in love,” she shared. “Each studio is different, and this one made me comfortable because it’s a very supportive environment and all the teachers make sure that the poses are safe and accessible for students, and I knew I was getting so much more out of practicing here than if I was just watching Youtube tutorials.”
Franchesca studied athletic training in college, and went on to get trained as a teacher at High Street after becoming close with Tamsy. She now teaches the Yoga for Athletes class, which she says is more for regular, intermediate-level practitioners, and the Wednesday evening Happy Hour class. “When I’m teaching, I think my personality comes across. I’m very hands-on and I’ll be like “Put your booties down!” she laughed.
“The best teachers tend to people, serving others, handing them the block, making the experience the best it can be,” Tamsy explained, as she introduced student and teacher Matt Bishop, who also moonlights as a bartender at the Knickerbocker.
Matt has been consistently practicing yoga for two and a half years at High Street Yoga and began teaching last summer. He currently teaches Power Yoga Hour, the slightly slower paced Power Down Yoga, and alternate Friday Happy Hour classes.
“I used to lift weights, but then I transitioned away from that,” Matt explained. “I was initially drawn to yoga because I was looking for a way to be strong physically, mentally, and spiritually.” In his spare time, Matt enjoys golfing and has found that his game has improved since beginning his practice. “Yoga keeps me grounded, and I’m able to apply a lot of it to my life outside the studio.”
Being able to turn negatives into positives is a key piece of Tamsy’s philosophy, both for yoga and for life. There’s been a lot of construction going on outside the studio lately, which is frustrating at times for a group of people trying to tune the world out and focus inward, but Tamsy is pleased to see that the town is improving its infrastructure. “We move earth,” she said, excitedly. “We’re ground breakers.”
“I am humbled every day – without this community, I wouldn’t be here, and that’s why I opened the studio. When you’re here, it’s just you and you – no judgement, no mirrors, no extras. It’s succinct, it’s simple. Yoga is about remembering – nobody is better than you. You know how to be you. You’ve got that down.”
High Street Yoga offers a variety of affordable classes in the morning, afternoon, and evening, days and weekends, too. Please check out their website or Facebook for more details and to find the class that’s right for you!