With a population just shy of three million, The Windy City is one of America's largest and most visited places.

Famed for its extensive skyline of numerous skyscrapers including the iconic John Hancock Center, Chicago is also home to notable impressionist and post-impressionist works as well as being home to several highly regarded museums.

Often described as a bustling urban hub, to be a true 'Chicagoan', you must have pride from where you come from, and with the wealth of exciting things to see and do, it isn't such a challenge in doing so.

Due to the cities colossal size, there are a wealth of activities to partake in around each of the cities main areas. So, whether it's Lakeview or Wrigleyville, Roger Park or Logan Square, residents won't have to travel too far to engage in the cities rich and diverse range of activities.

Chicagoans are a proud bunch when it comes to sports and exercise. Historically, the city has competed for major honors in a range of professional sports and is only one of ten cities to have teams from the five major American professional team sports, (baseball, basketball, football, hockey & soccer).

Yet, for the everyday person, you don't have to compete at a professional level to remain fit and healthy, and a lot more people are choosing different approaches to reach their physical wellbeing goals.

One of the approaches that have become increasingly popular by the year is yoga. A holistic exercise method that dates back to over five thousand years ago and was linked to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization that once inhabited the lands of Northern India.

Since then, the exercise has developed and changed to make it more accessible to present society.

There are different styles of yoga, from Ashtanga to Hatha, Kundalini to Power Yoga, each style comes with its differences, and identifying these is important to help accomplish certain goals and motivations.

Chicago is home to a plethora of yoga studios, and each offers various programs and drop-ins for those looking to get involved. And, If starting at a beginner level, the first thing to acknowledge is that the exercise in itself isn't competitive, and the premise is that all can be involved regardless of experience level and proficiency.

We will begin to look at some of the options that are available across the city as well as looking into some of these practices in more depth.

A statue amongst tall buildings
There has been an increase in yoga studios popping up across central Chicago. (Source: Visualhunt)

 Yoga in Summary

Yoga is an age-old exercise that works on improving physical, mental, and even spiritual wellbeing. Many people get into it for differing reasons, for their motivations may be to improve physical fitness, to recover from an injury, or, to experience a sense of calmness and tranquility.

It is a systemic practice that requires the participant to incorporate physical exercise through bodily poses, perfecting breath control, and in some circumstances, mediation.

Some of the principles associated with yoga include:

  • Enhancing techniques to manage and purify oneself
  • Developing posture techniques to develop physical and mental balance
  • Adopting breathing strategies to support an internal balance
  • Working regularly to enhance concentration levels.

There has been a wealth of research to support the holistic development one can experience from regular and committed yoga practice. And such developments have seen a rise in popularity across the country, from New York to Philadelphia!

Traditionally, being a student of yoga was a lifelong and committed practice, as they devoted their whole self to a disciplined way of living.

Now, since it's popularity has spanned across the West, it is now seen as a more casual exercise in which people who wish to participate can often head down to their local studios and are more often than not able to partake in drop-in sessions on the same day.

Yoga Classes

A yoga instructor performs a yoga pose.
From yoga studios to outdoor yoga groups - there are a wealth of options to choose from across the city. (Source: Visualhunt)

Not every studio offers drop-in sessions and enquiring is usually done so most effectively by visiting a companies website.

Most yoga studios across Chicago have an electronic schedule on their websites and this allows users to pick and choose classes that are conducive to their often busy schedules.

Many studios offer early morning classes as well as evening classes for those that work during the day. There are different ways to take part and these are outlined below:

Drop-in Sessions

Although it is advised to check the website/call-in to enquire about sessions that are taking place that week, many studios offer drop-in sessions in which students have to book.

The only potential downside to this is if you are going at a popular time, you may visit when a class is fully booked! To prevent this from happening, it is better to stay ahead of the game and get classes booked in advance to save disappointment.

Introductory Offers

To incentivize customers, some studios across Chi-Town offer reduced prices for those looking to join.

Ritual Hot Yoga, based on Franklin St (just off Chicago's main subway station), offers a range of cut-price deals for newcomers! They also do offers on groups of lessons; the more you book the less you'll have to pay in the long term!

Monthly Memberships

This tends to be the most popular option. Studios often provide their customers with a membership option, which, if the student is committed to partaking in regular sessions, can be a financially effective method.

SatNamYoga has a range of long and short term memberships to choose from, these include:

  • Unlimited membership
  • Livestream membership
  • No strings membership
  • Premium pillar membership (annual basis)
  • SSS memberships (Servants, Seniors & Students).

Each comes at different prices and they are mostly on a no strings attached, month-to-month basis.

Virtual Classes

Online classes have become increasingly popular due to the convenience of partaking in structured yoga sessions at home, relieving the need of travelling to and from the studio.

SatNamYoga offers a monthly package of yoga lessons that can be completed at home and other studios across the city are following suit!

Virtual memberships tend to be a little cheaper so it is certainly an avenue worth exploring.

Yoga Retreats

For those looking to get away for a while, yoga retreats are a great way of rejuvenating oneself and leaving the stresses of work at home.

Also phrased as yoga breaks or yoga weekends, these are opportunities for participants to spend time away from home, usually in a nature orientated environment a little out of the city.

Students meditate at a retreat.
A quick search on google will provide you with a number of retreats that take place out of the city. (Source: Visualhunt)

The Temple of Kriya Yoga

The Temple of Kriya Yoga is one of Chicago's most well-known places that offer yoga lessons.

Similar to cities like Los Angeles, Houston and Boston, the city is home to a temple that is inspired by the traditional establishments located across Northern India and Tibet.

Coupled with an emphasis on mindfulness and meditation, the temple offers opportunities for newcomers and experienced yoga students to partake in daily sessions via their home site.

Recently, they have also started online lessons in which students can 'join' online.

As well as yoga activities, the temple offers meditation sessions and runs courses for those that are looking to qualify as aspiring yoga teachers.

They have an online newsletter that anyone can sign up to and within this, you will receive regular updates of the goings-on at the temple, as well as a list of upcoming classes and activities.

Yoga in Orland Park

Located 25 miles Southwest of Central Chicago, Orland Park is filled with coffee shops, restaurants, and parks, and a high proportion of the residents commute to Central Chicago for work.

So, for those who are a little out of the city, you needn't worry for there are still opportunities to get involved in yoga activities without having to travel great distances to get your exercise fix!

There are over 12 establishments that offer yoga classes across Orland Park so there isn't any need to travel into the city.

From Bikram (hot) yoga to yoga with an emphasis on mindfulness, there are several studios across Orland to choose from!

Some places incorporate Tai Chi, an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both physical and mental well-being, as well as learning self-defense strategies.

Again, analyzing your personal goals and motivations is an effective way to establish what environment will be most suited to the individual.

Particular yoga studios and institutions will have particular focuses and styles of yoga available, and some may even incorporate other health and wellness principles into their practice.

Identifying from the start what it is you wish to achieve is the best way of tracking and analyzing personal growth and accomplishments.

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Christopher