Under a forget-me-not-blue August twilight, the yoga students eased into mindful meditation — the better to feel the wind on their skin, hear the crickets chirping and notice a faint smell of grilled meat wafting from below.
“It was beautiful,” said Snjezana Arthur, 39, as she walked out of a Vinyasa class held on East Side Yoga’s rooftop.
She added, “I also felt the mosquitoes bite me.”
Though they come with their share of pesky annoyances — bugs, sirens and sudden rainfall — rooftops have emerged as the next-level setting for outdoor yoga. And in recent years, several hotels, gyms and studios in the region have picked up on the trend.
After opening East Side Yoga this year in a building formerly inhabited by the historic Finley’s Gym boxing club on Capitol Hill, Alia J. Khan decided to redesign its rooftop patio to accommodate classes in the warm months.
“There’s something about doing yoga in nature that’s really beautiful. You just feel a deeper connection,” Khan said. But a secluded rooftop space, she added, really gives yogis the chance to feel “transported.”
So Khan softened the concrete with rubber tiles and spruced up the exterior with aromatic plants, wood pallets and Mason jar lanterns. “It should be a full sensory experience,” she said. “I want to make them feel like they’re not in D.C. anymore.”
Some yogis are drawn to the cityscape, while others are attracted by the sunset views from the roofs of local condominiums and hotels.
“It’s just so nice to look up and really see the sky and be completely unencumbered,” said Lauren Berkey, who organizes a Facebook group called Rooftop Yoga DC. “There’s no plaster ceiling that you’re staring at and wishing it would be something prettier.”
Two summers ago, the real estate executive was yearning for “some sort of a networking event that’s healthy.”
She began organizing rooftop yoga sessions for other women in her profession, partnering with Alexandria’s Zweet Sport studio and several Northern Virginia buildings eager to show off their sleek spaces.
Rooftop Yoga DC is now open to all (just like the Facebook page). And, though classes have slowed down this summer, as Berkey had to care for her newborn baby, she hopes to scale them up next year.
But there’s still time to catch some early-fall rooftop yoga sessions in the region. (Be sure to check with the gym or studio in advance; some don’t have concrete end dates for the season.)
Balance Gym Thomas Circle
1111 14th St. NW
Yoga classes and boot camp balance workouts are occasionally carried out on the gym’s rooftop. Varying days and times. $20 for a day pass.
East Side Yoga
518 10th St. NE, second floor
Khan plans to keep rooftop classes going until temperatures drop below 65 degrees. Most weekdays 7-8 p.m., Sunday 6:30-7:30 p.m. $18 for drop-ins.
Epic Yoga at Embassy Row Hotel
2015 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Classes taught atop the Dupont Circle hotel’s recently renovated rooftop will last until Sept. 30. Tuesday 7:30-8:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 9-10 a.m. $18 for drop-ins, free to Embassy Row guests and Epic Yoga members.
1351 H St. NE
The retail shop, restaurant and bar space opens its rooftop to weekend yoga warriors. Classes are taught by Yoga Heights instructor Steve Abate. Sunday 10-11 a.m. Free.
N2Shape at RiverHouse Apartments
1400 S. Joyce St., Arlington
Once a week, the gym organizes rooftop yoga sessions on a Pentagon City apartment complex. Wednesday 6:30-7:30 p.m. through the end of the month. $25 for drop-ins or $59 for three sessions.
950 F St. NW
Break a sweat as the sun sets. Rooftop offerings at the studio’s Penn Quarter building include yoga as well as “Sculpt 360” full-body workouts and yogalates, and will last until the fall. Yoga: Sunday 7:15-8:15 p.m. $20 for drop-ins. See Web site for other rooftop classes.
11594 Old Georgetown Rd., Rockville
The club’s yoga classes are occasionally held on the gym’s 1,200-square-foot terrace, particularly now that the summer heat is wearing off. Varying times. Membership preferred, $20 for one-day drop-ins; schedule a visit online or by phone: 301-245-3908.
YMCA Anthony Bowen
1325 W St. NW
The U Street neighborhood’s YMCA takes its yoga, tai chi and Pilates classes to the roof whenever weather permits and the mood strikes. “It’s kind of special,” said Victor Price, the gym’s assistant group exercise director. “Because D.C. summers here are so hot that some days you want to be outside, and some days you don’t.” Rooftop sessions usually take place between May and November. Varying times. YMCA members only.
Yoga Heights at the Swift Petworth
3828 Georgia Ave. NW
Catch some of the Georgia Avenue studio’s classes on the rooftop of the neighboring apartment complex before it’s too cold out. Owner Jess Pierno said they’ll keep them going “as long as we possibly can.” Tuesday 6:15-7:15 a.m.; Friday 6:15-7:30 p.m. $16 for drop-ins.
Clozel is a freelance writer.