Three years ago, I made a big move from the yoga-rich San Francisco Bay Area to Charleston. This is one of the most beautiful cities I'd ever visited with old buildings, cobblestone roads, romantic gardens, and some of the most amazing beaches. It's also got some of the best restaurants and a thriving art culture. When Charleston was named the Top Destination in the World by Conde Nast Traveler 2012 Readers' Choice Awards, I wasn't even a little bit surprised.
But how does the Charleston yoga scene stack up? As a yoga teacher and former online editor for Yoga Journal magazine, I've done a lot of yoga in a lot of different places, so you can believe me when I say Charleston is one of the best places to get your Om on. Here are just a few of the reasons.
1. Lots of Studios, Lots of Teachers. I've heard a rumor that the Charleston area has more yoga students per capita than anywhere else outside of New York City. I have no way to confirm this rumor, but there are indeed TONS of studios offering nearly any style of yoga you could want (including at least five new studio locations opening just this year!). I'm a notorious yoga studio hopper so I've tried most of them—and they are all pretty fantastic!
Kathryn Budig in Elephant Journal
2. It's a Destination for the Pros. Since I moved to Charleston, I've been able to take workshops with Kathryn Budig, Cora Wen, and Jason Crandell (three of my most favorite yoga teachers of all time). I've recently missed workshops by Baron Baptiste, Desiree Rumbaugh, Briohny Smyth, Dice Iiada-Klein, Doug Swenson, and Chrissy and Kenny Graham. Because this town is SUCH a celebrated destination—and because we have such a thriving community (offering the best in Southern Hospitality, ya'll)—top-notch teachers want to come here. Lucky us!
3. Community Events. There are plenty of yoga-friendly events in Charleston. From the annual yoga marathon to benefit Louie's Kids in Marion Square to the Green Fair, there are plenty of opportunities for yoga students to come together to celebrate the practice and the lifestyle.
4. Yoga Adventures. Want to try something new and exciting? Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga? Check. (I'm even teaching a SUP Yoga class Wednesday nights on Shem Creek this summer.) Arial Yoga? We've got that, too. In fact there's a new studio dedicated to this art opening in West Ashley in July. (Hooray!) Beach Yoga? Oh yeah! (Check out Charleston Community Yoga's Pop Up Yoga offerings on the beach.)
Arial yoga in Essefit
5. Healthy Lifestyle. It's true. Charleston, SC is steeped in Southern culture. And that means sweet tea and deep fried foods! But Charleston is a pretty progressive city with a lot of healthy options for local, organic foods as well as active pursuits—both of which are pretty important for a thriving yoga lifestyle.
Have I convinced you? Tell me about your favorite places to do yoga in the comments section!
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