By Rachel Jones
Photographs by Michael Fornataro

To say Pittsburgh’s yoga community is booming would be a vast understatement! Everywhere you look, studios are popping up and neighbors are finding the best classes to fit their needs. At the One WHIRL Yoga Fest + Healthy Lifestyle Expo, we’re inviting everyone who is curious or passionate about yoga to join us at Point State Park on July 26. From sunrise to sunset, our third annual event will host dozens of classes for all levels, and introduce you to local vendors who are making Pittsburgh a happier, healthier place to live.

Here, we asked our ambassador studios’ teachers to pick the place in Pittsburgh that means the most to them and practice yoga there. Their choices of location are as diverse and wonderful as they are!

For tickets and more information, visit

Leta Koontz of Schoolhouse Yoga, photographed in the Strip District.

Leeta Koontz, Schoolhouse Yoga, Pittsburgh - WHIRL Yoga Fest 2014 ambassador

“I chose this location because it’s the view from our Strip District school. I also don’t have a fear of heights!”

Kristie Lindblom, photographed in Frick Park.

Kristie Lindblom, Pittsburgh - WHIRL Yoga Fest 2014 ambassador

“Frick Park is a sanctuary for me, and I have so many amazing memories here. I love the way the light shifts with each season and the bubbling sounds of the creeks.”

Stacey Vespaziani of South Hills Power Yoga, photographed at the Dormont Pool.

Stacey Vespaziani, South Hills Power Yoga, Pittsburgh - WHIRL Yoga Fest 2014 ambassador

“Dormont is where I live, work, and play!”

Zeb Homison of Bikram Yoga Pittsburgh, photographed on the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

Zeb Homison, Bikram Yoga PIttsburgh - WHIRL Yoga Fest 2014 ambassador

“You get a 360-degree view of the rivers and the city from here. It’s pretty powerful.”

Hayley Worthman of BYS Yoga, photographed on Mt. Washington.

Hayley Worthman, BYS Yoga, Pittsburgh - WHIRL Yoga Fest 2014 ambassador

“Not only does this view give me chills, but the individuals in this tight-knit community make it my home. We must not underestimate the power of the Mount!”

Dominique Ponko of Yoga Flow, photographed at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Dominique Ponko, Yoga Flow, Pittsburgh - WHIRL Yoga Fest 2014 ambassador

“My beautiful instructor Heather Cunningham suggested the Aquarium, and it made perfect sense. The endless movement of the fish reminds me of Yoga Flow’s style of observing students in their own dance with the postures. Just as a fish, each yogi is unique and colorful, finding their way through this thing called life.”

Kate Kill of Himalayan Institute of Pittsburgh, photographed at Phipps Conservancy and Botanical Garden.

Kate Kill, Himalayan Institute of Pittsburgh - WHIRL Yoga Fest 2014 ambassador

“I chose Phipps because I think it’s important to recognize and celebrate the beauty around us in our lives. Phipps has a lot of beauty to offer, obviously with the plants and flowers, but also in the way they incorporate ‘green’ design and their programs for children.”

Jennifer Ferris-Glick, photographed on the North Shore docks with her son, Olliver.

Jennifer Ferris-Glick, BYS Yoga, Pittsburgh - WHIRL Yoga Fest 2014 ambassador

“I spent my entire life on the upper Allegheny river. The waters, specifically Pittsburgh’s rivers, hold a particularly special place in my heart because when I am near them or in them, I feel authentic. I really tap into a child-like wonder and joy, not just for the water, but for life. I feel truly at home.”

Paul Richards of BYS Yoga, photographed in Tunnel Park.

Paul Richards, BYS Yoga, Pittsburgh - WHIRL Yoga Fest 2014 ambassador

“Growing up in its valley, the ‘Mon’ has always been a part of my life. Its twists and turns, muddied depths and turbulence, but generally calm flow are metaphors for life. My yoga practice has become a vessel, which keeps me afloat and allows me to travel that river of life with a sense of balance.”

LA Finfinger of, photographed at Kennywood Park.

LA Finfinger, Pittsburgh yoga - WHIRL Yoga Fest 2014 ambassador

“As a West Mifflin native, I grew up with Kennywood in my backyard and some of my most carefree Pittsburgh memories are there. I think it’s impossible to be unhappy on a roller coaster!”

Don’t miss One WHIRL Yoga Week — July 18-25!

To gear up for the big day, Yoga Fest ticket-holders will receive special perks at our Ambassadors’ Studios when displaying their tickets at the door.

Click here for the complete list of events and locations.
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