City Yoga, formerly located on College Street in Columbia, offers outdoor, Zoom and recorded classes.
Dubbed the “Best Yoga Studio” from 2012 to 2020 by the Free Times, City Yoga has been a place for people to come together and look inwards since 2003, when it was founded as the "first full-fledged" yoga studio in Columbia by owner Stacey Millner-Collins.
The College Street building closed as a result of "financial pressure put on the business due to COVID capacity restrictions," according to Millner-Collins, but the website will continue to provide information on Zoom, outdoor classes and events and the PBS website for "Yoga in Practice."
Since starting her own yoga practice and traveling the world to gain a better understanding of the practice's roots, Millner-Collins' life has been affected in “every way possible.” Helping students have their own “aha moments” has been a rewarding part of her career, she said.
Just a few of the classes City Yoga offers its students include yoga 101, basic yoga, meditation, vinyasa flow, slow flow and chair yoga. Whether the class is online or face-to-face, students should expect to be taught by warmhearted instructors.
Millner-Collins said students, even beginners, should approach yoga with an "open mind" and look into specifically structured classes, such as adaptive yoga for disabled yogis and office yoga for busy yogis. The “no judgement” atmosphere, student Diana Pretz said in an email interview, makes City Yoga an appropriate place for students of all levels and mindsets.
Jan Smoak, USC alumni and instructor, said she found her passion for yoga upon returning to USC as a faculty member in 1998. She was hooked on City Yoga as soon as she started taking classes from Millner-Collins in 2003. She received her yoga teacher training in 2010 and has been teaching at City Yoga ever since.
Smoak said yoga is a “spiritual practice first and, really, a physical practice second” and she loves teaching busy college students to "become more aware" of their physical body.
Pretz has been a student at City Yoga for at least 15 years. The teachers, students and peaceful environment keep her coming back, she said, in addition to the "alignment based instruction" and daily intention setting.
Each class presents students with insight about themselves and their lives off the mat. Pretz said her favorite events offered by City Yoga are the yoga retreats, where students get to travel the world with their “kuala," or community.
Although COVID-19 has pushed her studio’s classes online or outdoors, Millner-Collins said people need yoga “now more than ever” and can still get a fulfilling class without going to the studio.
Not only does Millner-Collins own City Yoga, but she also leads the national PBS show, "Yoga in Practice." Her show of three seasons teaches the foundations of yoga and emphasizes the spiritual aspects of the practice.
City Yoga is offering a paddleboard yoga class on Sunday, Sept. 20 and 27, in addition to Millner-Collins’ class at Market on Main on Saturday, Oct. 3. Smoak teaches a basic yoga class on Tuesdays at 7 p.m.