Something seriously funky is rattling a small studio on 7th Street just north of McDowell Road. Here, groups of youthful, bendy urbanites are dancing and stretching their way through “Rhythmic Funkamentals,” which combines yoga with funk choreography. This is a regular occurrence at SuTRA Midtown Yoga, which is redefining the stuffy, pretentious vibe most yoga studios throw off.

“We began exploring the concept for SuTRA back in 2006. It seemed the cost of health and fitness was getting more and more expensive and many studios were simply trying to make a buck and provide nothing more than a social hot spot,” says owner Matthew Fritz. “We noticed a gap. We noticed the need to build a community. We noticed that students desired an environment that could bring to joy, fun and freedom with alternative forms of exercise. This gave birth to the concept of ‘Yoga Fusions’ and fabulously fun fitness! Fusing various forms of movement into yoga and exercise — such as martial arts, dance, and fitness — cater to the health-minded without the need to conform.”

Indeed, this Sheridan Square studio has created a niche, along with other modish, independent-minded businesses such as Lisa G Café and Wine Bar, MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain and Drip Coffee Lounge. The fresh mindset of businesses here made for the perfect spot for SuTRA.

“Coronado and the Midtown area have always felt like a neighborhood to us,” says Fritz. “We have been residents of Coronado for over six years, and although it has been exciting to watch the outlying areas evolve and grow, there has always been a strong neighborly community thriving behind the high-speed traffic of 7th Street.

That sense of community seems to be building. Fritz is quick to point out that participants don’t need experience in yoga or dance to enjoy themselves. They can quickly drop their guard and enjoy a fun, healthful experience.

The “fusion” approach branches yoga into some uncharted territories, including ballet, tango, kung fu, Pilates and various musical styles such as reggae, funk, soul, rock and more. SuTRA even offers a unique style of massage that combines tranquility with good old therapeutic pain relief.

“The word ‘sutra’ in Sanskrit literally translates to ‘the thread the binds,’ and this was our intention: to provide a setting that is safe, comfortable and free of judgment, where forward-thinking, inventive personalities could enjoy yoga the way it has always been meant to be enjoyed — with liberation,” says Fritz. “We opened SuTRA to be more than just another yoga studio — SuTRA represents creative expression through lifestyle, mindset, attitude and movement; without ego, without drama and without rules.”

“Without rules” could be an understatement at times. Friday evenings at the studio are an ever-revolving mix of events, while “community jukebox” Saturdays are an adventure in spontaneity and free thinking.

“This class is our gift back to the community so everyone has the opportunity to experience the joys of yoga and the benefits of fitness,” Fritz says. However, there is a catch. In true SuTRA fashion, we have added our own little twist — we don’t reveal the class style until students arrive. Sometimes the best way to be introduced to a new experience is when you’re not able to plan for it.”

For more information on SuTRA Midtown Yoga, head over to 2317 N. 7th Street, or call 602.253.9525. The studio is also available to book any “no shoes” events you may have in mind.

All photos by Ali Jalili