The History of Yogahour

Did you know that Yogahour, the style of yoga, is taught in yoga studios around the globe?

Yogahour was founded in Tucson, Arizona at YogaOasis, a studio owned by Yogahour founder, Darren Rhodes. Below is an excerpt, written by Darren, from the Yogahour Teacher Training Manual:

“In 2006, YogaOasis (YO) studios faced a financial challenge. Our financial advisor summed up our situation this way: “You are like a ship that is slowly sinking. You have about three months to turn this situation around.” At the time, failure seemed more likely than survival, let alone success. We learned the hard way that challenge can promote positive change. When failure seems inevitable but one refuses to give up, pivotal and lasting transformations can, and often do, take place. Without the pressing possibility of failure, what would push us to discover our true capacity?

Around that time, one of our students gave me a card with this quote: ‘What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?’ An even more interesting question to me is: ‘What would you do anyway, even if failure seemed inevitable?’ Full of determination, intention, and creativity, a small group of us decided to fight the good fight for YO. It was during these weekly meetings that the concept of Yogahour® was born.

This was all happening during a period of economic turmoil around the globe. We realized that people needed a way to relieve stress and strengthen their bodies without breaking the bank. We decided that this was an opportunity to create a new type of yoga class experience. Our goal was to remove as many of the obstacles as possible for people who wanted to practice yoga. The classes needed to be both accessible to new students and engaging for longtime practitioners. We would need to offer expert alignment instruction while drawing from a difficult-but-doable palette of poses for our flow-oriented students. Lastly, the classes needed to be affordable.

The Yogahour class itself started with just four slots per week on the YO schedule. Two years later we had built up to 25 classes. By our third year, many of the Yogahour classes became so popular we had to offer overflow classes. Standby teachers taught the overflow students in an adjacent room to avoid turning students away. When even the overflow classes started to overflow, we decided to open an additional studio on the east side of Tucson, YO | east. On January 22, 2010, we opened our third studio, YO | downtown.

Yogahour was thriving at YO studios in Tucson, but we had a growing number of out-of-state practitioners who wanted access to the practice on the go and in their hometowns. During this time, my longtime friend and collaborator Milo (Michael Longstaff) came up with the idea of creating a Yogahour App and gave me the task of creating a Yogahour set sequence and a class script as the basis of it. At first, second, and third I protested because I didn’t think I had what it took to articulate alignment cues effectively. Milo said, “Do it anyway.”

The first draft of the script for this one-hour class took me nearly two hours to recite! Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention, and I realized that a pithy vernacular was the only option. Creating this sequence (Yogahour set sequence 1) and writing the succinct script that went along with it set the foundation for what Yogahour is today. Both what I call the sutra-style vernacular used in Yogahour, and the set sequences we have today, were modeled after this initial project.

In 2012, several studios around the country started offering official Yogahour classes. This was sparked by a week-long yoga training intensive I was teaching with Christina Sell at YO. We had Yogahour classes directly following these training sessions. Brigette Finley, now Yogahour director, took note of how big these classes were (often 50 students or more!). She and her husband Alexis, who together owned Southtown Yoga in St. Louis, MO, took me to coffee to tell me two things:

1. Yogahour was worthy of becoming a distinct style of Hatha yoga.

2. She and Alexis wanted to start offering Yogahour at their local studio.

In just a few weeks, Yogahour became the most popular class at their studio. This has become the story of many local studios around the world. This points to the very purpose of Yogahour: to support and help sustain the local studio and longevity of practice. Yogahour will only ever be as big as the local studio. As you well may know, there is nothing like the community connection born out of the local studio. Since its inception, many others have evolved Yogahour way beyond my initial expression of it. For that I offer you my Namaste, please stay.”

Today there are over 300 certified Yogahour teachers and 11 official yogahour studios around the world, including Hibi Yoga in Fukuoka, Japan, Open Yoga, in Groningen, The Netherlands and MokSana in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada as well as other studios stateside such as Tough Love Yoga in Atlanta, Georgia, Namaste Yoga in Grafton, North Dakota and Balancing Monkey in Hilo, Hawaii. Check out the official yogahour website for more information about certified studios, teachers, and teacher trainers:

One of the great things about Yogahour is that it not only supports and sustains the local yoga studio, but also that teachers and students of Yogahour are supported by a larger community of yogis from whom they can continue to learn, grow, and expand. We are stronger together.

Article submitted by Teagan Schweitzer.

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