aUM Yoga opens studio on South University Avenue

Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - 7:02pm

No longer will students have to twist themselves into a knot to find a yoga studio on South University.

aUM Yoga opened a new studio at South Forest Street and South University Avenue, above Bubble Island Coffee and Tea. Throughout Labor Day weekend, the studio offered more than 20 free yoga classes and, by the end of Monday evening, more than 1,000 students had attended class since the promotion started on Friday.

University alum Jessie Lipkowitz, the owner of aUM, opened the studio’s first location at 715 North University Ave. in September 2013. Now, with the addition of a new location, the North University studio will exclusively house yoga instructor training and meetings for the Michigan Yoga Club. Lipkowitz said the space will also be available to rent out for private events.

Lipkowitz, who earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University in 2011, said the South University studio will be more convenient for undergraduates because residences have become more condensed in that area over the past few years, particularly with the addition of several new high rise apartment buildings.

“With all of the sororities being in the Washtenaw area, and with Arbor Blu, Zaragon (West) and (University) Towers and all of that, it’s going to be very convenient,” Lipkowitz said. “I think it’s an exciting place to be.”

The new aUM is the only yoga studio near South Campus. Other popular yoga studios near campus — including Center for Yoga, Detroit Yoga and aUM’s North University Avenue location — are condensed near the South State Street business district.

Business junior Jordan Davis, founder of the Michigan Yoga Club, said he is excited about the new studio because it is in a prime location on campus. Though the Yoga Club will hold sessions at the original aUM location, many of its members will also likely frequent the new studio.

“It’s in the nexus of campus,” Davis said. “It’s an even better location just because of the foot traffic for kids walking on South U every day as compared to North U.”

Davis said when he asked aUM to partner with the club about two years ago, Lipkowitz jumped on the opportunity. aUM hosts and instructs all of the Michigan Yoga Club’s classes.

The new second-floor studio features two large yoga rooms — one with a floor-to-ceiling window — and a reception area. Davis said every class has been at capacity.

“It’s by far the nicest yoga studio on this campus,” Davis said. “I’ve been there all weekend, all the classes have been filled and it’s really cool to see.”

A huge aim of aUM, Lipkowitz said, is to create a sense of community and fun. She said she hopes to demystify yoga, in part through the studio’s approachable instructors and funky class names.

“Just coming up with things that are out of the box makes yoga more relatable to people,” she said.

Class names include: “F*** This is Hard,” “All Yin, No Yang” and “Damn! This is Sexy and Slow.”

“I’m a little flamboyant in my ideas,” Lipkowitz said. “I don’t necessarily have a filter.”

Davis said aUM has played a pivotal role in facilitating a strong community of yogis across campus. He said aUM’s instructors are the most attentive of any he has experienced in Ann Arbor and that he feels a sense of belonging when he is at the studio.

“I walk in the door and really feel like I’m part of an amazing community,” he said. “You get a lot out of aUM because you get that sense of community, and belong to something that’s a great place to meet other really cool students of all different ages, all different backgrounds.”

Kinesiology senior Sam Jackson said she felt the classes she attended over Labor Day weekend were too crowded. She has been a member of aUM for the past two years, and said she prefers the smaller classes, though she noted that the classes will likely be less packed now that the promotion has ended.

In addition to opening a new studio, Lipkowitz has also become a Lululemon Ambassador.

By partnering with the athletic clothing chain, aUM will offer two yoga scholarships every semester for the next two years. Students can earn the scholarship by filling out a sheet that asks what yoga means to them. Winners earn a semester package at aUM — a $350 value.

“I do my best to help people either financially or logistically in as many ways as I can,” Lipkowitz said.

To finish off the grand opening of its new location, aUM hosted one last free class Monday night: “Yoga in da Club” — a blend of yoga and dance. The class had a line out the door, and the yoga room was so packed that a few students were turned away.

Lipkowitz said this session, which is offered monthly, creates a space for students to dance without feeling any pressure to drink.

“I think it’s really cool that we have events like this where you can come and you can dance and you can sweat and you can be a part of a community,” she said. “It doesn’t have to always have alcohol involved.”