Things are heating up at Hella Yoga

A yoga studio doesn’t have to be quiet, subdued and entirely calming. Just ask Kelly Johnson, co-owner of Hella Yoga Berkeley, where the aesthetic is electrifying, to say the least. Think of an experience on the yoga mat that’s more akin to Studio 54 than a spiritual awakening.

“I wanted to create a rave party without the drugs and the hangover,” Johnson said. The self-confessed former “party girl” has taken her love of pulsating lights and music and turned it into a business now luring locals to invigorating hot yoga and Pilates classes. These days, the loud sounds in a loud scene are all in the name of healthy living.

Hella Yoga Berkeley is located a block from Downtown Berkeley Station and will celebrate its one-year anniversary in September. Together with Lynn Whitlow, creator of previous big yoga names like Funky Door Yoga, Johnson has opened up a space whose mission is to “ignite, excite and inspire people to get healthy, happy and look great naked. What happens at Hella stays at Hella.”

Hot Yoga

Photo courtesy of Rudrani Ghosh Photography

Another fun standout remnant of Johnson’s clubbing days? The sign on the front window that stops almost every passerby reads: "NOTICE: Must Be 21 To Enter Or Have A Valid Fake ID."

Once inside, hour-long Bikram Yoga, Inferno Hot Pilates, Yin Yoga and Buti Yoga classes take place in a boldly painted and heated room that holds up to 60 students. Here, your backbends are met by ever-changing bending lights. As your limbs stretch across your mat, moving colors stretch across the walls with dance music and a disco ball keeping things high-energy. Even when you’re in slow flow mode, there is a soundtrack playing.

“Pilates is the most in-your-face sweat drippin’, beat bumpin’, hard flowin’ class we offer, followed closely by two Buti Yoga classes...and Yin Yoga is the most chill,” Johnson noted.

Tips for the newbie: “Just show up and be ready to sweat, have a great time and feel fantastic,” she said. Also, she advised students not to eat a couple hours before class and come 15 to 20 minutes early to sign up and get in the zone. For the ill-equipped, yoga mats and towels are available to rent.

“We want to thank the community of Berkeley for supporting Women-Owned Businesses,” Johnson said, before adding that the studio really does welcome all. “We love dogs. Cats are okay too.”

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