The Shala Opens its Doors

On Friday January 17th I had the opportunity to sit down with Laura Gorham-Huon, owner of Lawrenceville’s new yoga center, The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga Yoga. Just up the street from LC’s office at the Ice House, Laura has transformed a bank on Butler Street into a beautiful center for Ashtanga yoga, the first yoga studio in Pittsburgh dedicated exclusively to this practice.

As Laura and I enjoyed our coffee, I was blown away by her passion for the practice and her desire to share it with others. She has been practicing yoga for more than 12 years. After moving to Pittsburgh and being unable to find an Ashtanga yoga studio, she practiced and began to teach other forms of yoga. After a few years, she felt like she was plateauing and began to crave Ashtanga. She found a DVD and never turned back.

Years later, after many workshops, countless hours of practice and over 300 hours of teacher training, Laura’s passion drove her to open her own studio. Laure has wanted to open a studio for two years, and knew that she wanted a space in Lawrenceville. “It’s a fantastic community,” she says, “I knew Ashtanga would thrive here.”

the Shala

“Shala” means home/studio. The logo Laura designed represents the home with the lotus flower, symbol of enlightenment, comfortably within the home.

A bit about Ashtanga Yoga and what makes it unique…

  • There is no added heat in Ashtanga yoga. The goal is to create your own heat, a practice which, according to Laura, makes you more aware of your own body.
  • The practice involves calling out the Sanskrit names of each posture.
  • Ashtanga is a set of series. Each series can take years to master. You start with the first and once your teacher deems you ready, you move on. There is a very intimate relationship between teacher and student with this type of practice, a fact that became evident as Laura emotionally explained her gratitude toward her own teacher, Tim Miller.
  • Because it is a set of series, the practice is repetitive, but there is always room to progress.
  • Ashtanga honors the moon days. This means there is no yoga on the full moon and new moon of the practice.
  • There’s no music. The focus is on the breath and the heat the body creates.
  • And lastly, Laura made sure to point out that Ashtanga is one of the few yoga practices that isn’t just about the physical study. A study of the sacred texts and the practice’s history becomes a crucial part of the practice.

The Shala opened on December 8th and while Ashtanga yoga may look intimidating to a new comer, Laura and the other teachers at the studio make it approachable for beginners. In fact, students have arrived to the studio without ever touching a yoga mat before, only to return again.
The Shala will be holding an Intro Workshop on February 1st. The workshop will include 3 hours of instruction plus 3 weeks of unlimited practice at the studio for only $55. There will also be a Sun Salutation Workshop on February 15th. For more information about these workshops, classes, and Ashtanga yoga, visit The Shala’s website:

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