Hot Box Yoga embraces the heat

Hot Box Yoga opened its doors on Main Street in Manayunk last Saturday. The studio is heated at a toasty 95 degrees, and for those who care to try a class and see if they can handle the heat, Hot Box Yoga is hosting donation-only community classes this Friday, July 15 from 6 to 7:15 p.m., led by its owner Brad Young, and another on Sunday morning, July 17 from 10 to 11:15 a.m.
Sweating and breathing are the human body’s main functions for detoxifying, says Young, 30, a Pittsburgh native who now lives in Manayunk.

The sweltering temperature at Hot Box Yoga relaxes joints quicker for better stretching, Young says, and the movements build core strength and muscle tone quicker as a result. “It really suits people who like staying physically active,” Young says. “There’s a lot of dopamine flowing through you, and you get so strong. It’s incredibly toning.” Young says he immediately recognized Manayunk’s potential for Vinyasa Yoga when he moved to the neighborhood last year, because it’s an active community of people with healthy lifestyles.

He plans to contribute to this community with his Yoga studio by offering frequent donation-only community classes for the casual practitioners, with proceeds eventually going to local and global charities. And Young says he also selected staff members who are involved in community causes outside of the studio. “Good people surround themselves with good people,” Young says. Hot Box Yoga instructor Maura Manzo, of Ambler, raised $20,000 for the charity ‘Off The Mat and Into The World,’ which connects Yoga practitioners to global humanitarian efforts. She volunteered with the organization on a humanitarian effort with AIDS patients in Capetown, South Africa in February. Yoga has helped Manzo steer through tumult as well. In 2006, a fire gutted her entire apartment in Ambler, and Manzo says she lost every possession in her apartment but the clothes she wore. So she began Yoga to help her relax and deal with the stress. Manzo says she found the Vinyasa style especially appealing because she is a former competitive gymnast, and the movments push her to the physical limits and also clears her mind. “It’s a little more aerobic,” says Manzo. “You’re moving at a little more of a faster pace as opposed to holding poses for a long time.” Prior to opening, Young fitted the floors in his two-story building on Main Street with bamboo composite and added cork counter tops. On the second floor where the studio is held, Young knocked down a mezzanine that blocked part of the window wall overlooking Main Street, so class attendents can catch the sunrise and sunset. The grand opening class on July 9 drew 35 people, says instructor Lauren Foster.

“Manayunk is ready for this,” Young says. “It’s filled with people who live a healthy lifestyle.”

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