By Emily G. Peters
Heat, breath and movement: Santa Anita Hot Yoga Studio combines all three to intensify the benefits of traditional yoga. The blend allows yoga students to stretch further, plank longer and grow stronger with a little help from extra-warm muscles.
It all began in 2010 when Kayla Stra, a professional Thoroughbred jockey from Australia, discovered hot yoga as a way to relieve the toll that horseracing took on her body. Though relocating to Arcadia made sense for racing, access to hot yoga was another story. “I just couldn’t find any studios in the area,” said Stra, who ultimately decided to found her own. By 2014, she completed construction, secured her certification as a yoga instructor and opened Arcadia’s first hot yoga studio.
The studio classes span a range of experience levels regardless of age or gender. “Yoga Med” (medication and meditation) is low impact and relaxed, “Yoga Sculpt” incorporates weights to really get you sweating and some classes even take place by candlelight. Stra’s well-trained staff is as diverse as her class offerings, with instructors hailing from Turkey, Austria, Korea, France, the Philippines and the US.
Stra has also carried her love of hot yoga overseas, establishing a studio in her hometown of Aldinga Beach, Australia to improve the health of her mother. Its successful open is a testament to her mother’s memory and Stra’s belief in yoga’s ability to alleviate pain and stress. “My staff is from all over the world, and they’ve expressed interest in helping others by teaching yoga back home,” said Stra. “I’d love to open studios around the world; not just in big cities, but anywhere we can bring light to others.”
That sharing mentality has shaped Santa Anita Hot Yoga Studio’s collaborate with Arcadia’s Natural Selection Healthy Grill, providing nutritious organic juices to students to refuel after workouts. The studio also offers weekly yoga classes for kids at neighboring Arcadia Rock Climbing gym. “Parents can join their kids, take some time to rock climb or head to our studio for an adult’s yoga class, knowing their kids are taken care of,” said Stra.
Though other hot yoga studios are cropping up nearby, Stra sees them as community instead of competition. To equip the next generation of yoga instructors, Stra and her team offer a 200 hour Yoga Alliance certification course for aspiring yoga teachers. Classes cover everything from training techniques to the business side of yoga to prepare students for success as instructors.
No matter what brings a student to the studio, Stra’s ultimate goal is to reward others with the same gifts hot yoga has given her. “The best is seeing people come in stressed but leave happy,” she said. And as we emerge from the holiday havoc, that sounds like just the ticket.
Santa Anita Hot Yoga Studio is located at 290 Rolyn Place in Arcadia. Enrollment for its next yoga instructor certification program is open until January 20. Learn more about ongoing yoga classes and events at 626-701-0678 | www.SantaAnitaHotYoga.com | firstname.lastname@example.org and follow online via Facebook @SantaAnitaHotYogaStudio and Instagram @SantaAnitaHotYoga.