Best Of 2010: Yoga Studio

For four years, the first four since the Indy created the Best Yoga Studio category, CorePower reigned supreme. But in the most loving, kind and gentle manner, Pranava Yoga Center has unseated it this year, settling into a comfortable lotus position atop our scene.

What makes Pranava different from our other local studios, in founders Mike and Charlotte Matsumura's words, is a more spiritual component with a focus on all eight limbs of yoga: "The asana [physical] practice is just one part of yoga," says Mike. "We also practice pranayama [breathing], meditation and the other limbs."

Both Mike, 39, and Charlotte, 40, teach almost daily, along with 13 other regular instructors and occasional guest educators. All combined, the studio offers nearly 40 classes a week inside of five primary styles: Ashtanga, Dharma, Jivamukti, Vinyasa and gentle yoga.

Since it opened in January 2009, Pranava has enjoyed steady growth in student numbers that just last month spawned establishment of a necessary third practice area in their building's basement. It's a newly renovated, freshly trimmed space that holds 45 mats; their other rooms only hold 28 and 14, guaranteeing a relatively low teacher/student ratio.

"Our students are the best part of this," says Mike. "We meet wonderful people — this is their studio, too. It's a community."

You can read more about Mike, Charlotte and all the instructors and styles on the outfit's website, but not the whole story about how hard the couple has worked to make Pranava a reality. In addition to teaching nine classes a week, Charlotte works full-time as a mortgage processor for a local bank. Mike teaches 11 to 12 classes a week and has worked tirelessly to create and certify Pranava's 200-hour teacher training program; the first class will be welcomed in January 2011.

Some more fun trivia about the two: After falling in love in 2006 in New York City, where renowned yogi Sri Dharma Mittra had just initiated Mike as one of his disciples, Mike followed Charlotte to Colorado Springs, where he worked in room service at The Broadmoor for a stint before deciding to open Pranava. Prior to their time together, Mike was Al Pacino's personal assistant, home chef and property manager for 16 years. Yes, that's Al Pacino, the A-list actor of A-list actors. (FYI: Mike's reserved about discussing it at length, so don't ask him about it before he puts you in a headstand.)

Yoga's future in the West and the Springs: "It's going to get bigger," says Charlotte. "Once you take a class and get hooked, it tends to be something you stick with." According to Mike, "Every studio here is important to help make us a yoga town, like Boulder. The Springs could be the next big yoga town, just like how when people think about a spiritual town, they mention Crestone." — Matthew Schniper



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