Saturday, September 21, 2013

Funky Buddha heats up the West Michigan yoga scene

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Rapid Growth Media
September 19, 2013

Larissa Link, a director at Funky Buddha (Photography by Adam Bird)

After opening its hothouse doors in December 2010, the Funky Buddha has grown from two teachers at a single yoga studio to 11 instructors at three locations. Find out why downward dog is trending up in West Michigan. Zinta Aistars has the story. 

Your work day began knotting itself up at the base of your neck and straining across your shoulders since your long morning commute. From there, the knot tossed threads up to your temples during a frustrating meeting with the boss. Midday, a tension headache pounded inside your skull. By end of day, your spine had stiffened into a broomstick.

The cure? Walk into Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse at 1331 Lake Dr SE in Grand Rapids, or 12330 James St. in Holland, and you’ll soon feel the stress and tension of the day melt away. On November 2, a third Funky Buddha location will open at 820 Forest Hills Ave SE in the Forest Hills area to meet growing demand for yoga classes in greater Grand Rapids.

Yoga dates back more than 5,000 years, but the ancient practice is making a remarkable resurgence both nationally and locally -- arguably alongside the surge of stress in contemporary society. Harvard University neuroscientist Sat Bir Khalsa has been researching the ancient art and the therapeutic role it plays not only in alleviating stress, but also helping with sleep disorders, anxiety, diabetes, HIV, cancer, and many other health issues. Yoga is even being incorporated into military training. Is yoga the old magic pill made new again?

“People have become more mindful about health,” says Larissa Link, director of Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse in Holland. She, like most of the Funky Buddha teachers, travels from one yoga studio to the other to accommodate class schedules. “We don’t just think about diet anymore. We think about overall health, and the need for stress release is huge today.”

Funky Buddha is the brainchild of Kerri and Chris Reinbold, Grand Rapids natives who moved away to Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin, for some years, but then returned to Grand Rapids in 2009 to raise their sons. With Kerri’s yoga expertise and Chris’s entrepreneurial skills, they combined their talents to create a studio not unlike those they had enjoyed in the bigger cities. 

“When you first walk into the studio, it feels like a warm hug,” says Link. “That’s because we keep the temperature at 95 degrees.”

The body’s musculature, Link explains, is like glass. The more heat, the more malleable the body becomes. The more malleable, the more flexible, and the more flexible, the less prone to injury.

“Working out in the heat feels really good,” Link says. “Think of it as something like a sauna. I don’t like vacationing in Florida, but this is different. Once you’re in it, you forget about it—the body adapts. I’ve fallen in love with it, although I still won’t vacation in Florida.” Link laughs.

The Grand Rapids location is ...


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