Inside Zephyr Cove’s Svadhyaya Yoga Studio, a handful of students move to the calm direction of instructor Jenay Aiksnoras.
“Exhale. Bring that energy down to your heart. Inhale. And reach to the sky.”
The room is decorated with pictures of rainbows and sailboats, dogs and smiling babies. The light is dim. Thick canvas curtains keep outside noise from breaking the calm within the space.
Svadhyaya is one of a growing number of yoga and Pilates studios around Lake Tahoe. Alongside a national boom in yoga, the area is seeing more studios, more teachers and more people practicing yoga. Increasingly, visitors to the area are including yoga and Pilates practices in their vacation plans.
“I’d say it’s a combination of being a beautiful place and having a very active community,” said Laura Green, a yoga teacher at Truckee’s Tahoe Yoga.
Instructor Crissy Jory, who opened The Studio in Meyers on the South Shore a couple years ago, has seen growth in both local clients and visitors who stop by for a session whenever they’re in town on vacation.
“I have about 20 percent of my clientele that come back regularly, whether they’re here on vacation or live here for just part of the year,” she said.
Nationally, the yoga industry has seen around 8 percent growth for the last five years, according to market research company IBISWorld. There are now nearly 25,000 businesses around the country dedicated to the practice.
Aiksnoras has had groups in Lake Tahoe for bridal showers, anniversaries and family reunions hire her for private yoga sessions. One of the reasons visitors often include yoga in their plans is because it’s accessible to almost everyone, she said.
“Yoga is known for being gentle. It’s for everybody,” Aiksnoras said. “When you have a bridal party or a family reunion going on and you want everybody to participate, it affords a unique opportunity that something like waterskiing or hiking or mountain biking doesn’t give you.”
Incline Village Pilates and yoga instructor Patrice Abood believes the region’s natural beauty and the variety of yoga that’s offered at the lake draws people.
“It’s a beautiful place and a beautiful place to do yoga,” she said. “In the summer, there are a lot of opportunities to do yoga outside.”
Hot yoga, paddleboard yoga, yoga on the beach, yoga for babies and aerial yoga are just a few of the many types and styles offered by studios around the lake. On top of the variety, several special events have ramped up Lake Tahoe’s reputation in the yoga world.
Wanderlust Yoga and Music Festival was founded in Lake Tahoe in 2009. Since then, the festival has grown into a series of events across the country. The initial event was held in Tahoe because of the area’s beauty and the community, said Wanderlust co-founder Jeff Krasno.
“We just found it to be an incredibly inspirational place in terms of its natural environment,” Krasno said “That is a huge element of the festival.”
Though less publicized than Wanderlust, visits from prestigious instructors to Lake Tahoe are not uncommon. Leading child yoga expert Shakta Khalsa visits the South Shore in early May. And famed practitioner and author Doug Swenson will host two teacher trainings in May and June.
Yet, with the plethora of studios and instructors, Lake Tahoe has a ways to go before it’s considered a real yoga destination, Aiksnoras said.
“I think when people think Tahoe, they think casinos,” she said.
Still, many believe Lake Tahoe has all the right ingredients to become celebrated for its yoga scene.
“We have so much to offer here,” Jory said. “You can go hike up Tallac and do your practice up there. Then you’ll understand what mountain pose is really like.”