Here are 4 out-of-the-studio yoga experiences to try in Utah

First Published      Last Updated May 02 2017 10:49 am

Sun salutations on an urban rooftop, downward-facing dog around a water fountain or lunges near a shark tank: Out-of-the-studio yoga experiences are flowing along the Wasatch Front and beyond.

Beginners and experienced yogis can find unusual classes, from the Main Library and The Gateway mall in Salt Lake City to the Living Planet Aquarium in Draper and the Homestead Resort in Midway.

"In my eyes, there's no place you can't practice yoga," said author and national yoga instructor Jessamyn Stanley, who will be in Salt Lake City on May 12 to kick off the Main Library's 2017 Rooftop Yoga series. Now in its third year, the series is popular — attracting up to 200 people per class.

While in town, Stanley also will sign copies of her memoir and how-to-book, "Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, and Love Your Body." (See box for details.)

A self-proclaimed "fat femme" with an irreverent sense of humor, Stanley has built her career encouraging those who are overweight, insecure and uncomfortable with their bodies to give yoga a try.

When she started teaching, Stanley offered many free classes in parks. "I wanted to make it as accessible as possible," she said. "I thought I could get people to come and it would be more attractive than a 'stick-up-your butt' studio."

That's why she hopes women and men of all shapes will attend her Salt Lake City class so they can see that you don't have to be a size 2 or know all the poses to practice yoga.

"You're also not expected to know how do to all the movements right away," she said. "It's about putting a keen focus on breathing and really making a connection to yourself. Once you start from that place, it gets easier."

Micah Scholes, founder of Scholé Yoga Salt Lake, agrees. Scholes will lead the new yoga classes by The Gateway's fountain on Sundays starting in May. Each class will feature a live DJ spinning modern music. No previous experience or flexibility is needed. "All you need is a mat and a willingness to have fun," Scholes said.

While the Living Planet Aquarium may be bustling during the day, it's peaceful after hours, making it a perfect place for yoga meditation, says Amanda Jones, owner of Yoga Experiences. She teaches the classes next to the large shark tank in one of the aquarium's banquet rooms as well as in the second-floor rainforest room with exotic birds of South America.

In the shark class "you get to experience the animals the way they should be, in an observatory state," she said. The smaller rainforest classes offer a different experience, "because it's a total immersion of senses, the sound of water, birds flying and the humidity."

Jones, an adjunct professor at Salt Lake Community College, says she prefers these unique locations to a fitness studio.

"Yoga means union and connection with the world," she said. "In a studio, you're really drilling down fitness. When you're doing yoga out in the world, you're really connecting with your environment."

For those looking for such a connection, here are four yoga experiences to consider:

Rooftop relaxation

The rooftop at the Main Library is one of the most scenic places in Salt Lake City. No wonder these free classes, which accommodate up to 200 people, fill quickly.

When • Second Friday of each month at 7 a.m., and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m., May through August

Where • Salt Lake City Main Library, 210 E. 400 South

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Yoga for ‘Every Body’

Author and yoga instructor Jessamyn Stanley will sign copies of her new book, “Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, and Love Your Body” ($16.95, Workman Publishing).

When » Thursday, May 11, at 7 p.m.

Where » Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City