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December 15, 2018

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Las Vegas venture’s twist on yoga is gaining steam

Guests participate in a Silent Savana session at Red Rock Casino

Mikayla Whitmore

Guests participate in a Silent Savasana session at Red Rock Resort on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015.

Silent Savasana

Guests participate in a Silent Savasana session at Red Rock Resort on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. Launch slideshow »

Steps away from the dinging slot machines, a serene silence fell over 200-some people sprawled out on yoga mats inside a Red Rock Resort nightclub Sunday morning.

Brightly colored yoga attire and mats lit up the wood-paneled space, which opens into the pool area, where more yogis congregated — donning sunscreen, of course. It didn’t matter if the yoga instructor, Dray Gardner, was beyond their sight of vision. They all wore glowing-blue, wireless headsets streaming soft tunes and Gardner’s melodic voice as he guided them through various yoga moves.

“Head toward me, feet toward pool,” Gardner said, as he surveyed his students from atop a stage. “Yoga is a union — mind, body and spirit. You’re never too broken, never too sick to do yoga.”

For the next 75 minutes, a sea of limbs twisted in unison to emulate poses such as the “downward dog,” “fallen angel,” “battered crow” and “F-16.” Participants’ skin glistened with sweat and their legs occasionally wobbled, but no one uttered a word except Gardner.

That’s the point of Silent Savasana, the new yoga concept that debuted four months ago at a Summerlin park: Listening to instructions and music through headphones helps yogis get in the zone without the distraction of ambient noise around them. In essence, it gives the illusion of a private yoga session.

“We basically took traditional yoga and gave it a new operating system,” said Gardner, a certified yoga instructor, who partnered with Las Vegas residents Kyle Markman and Adrian Selby to launch the venture in April.

The trio has offered several free Silent Savasana events at local parks, Red Rock Resort and Green Valley Ranch Resort since then, Gardner said. Participation has quadrupled — and that’s without a finished website or aggressive marketing campaign. They’ve largely relied on word of mouth and social media.

Yoga mats covered nearly every square inch of floor space Sunday. Before the class started, Kelli Groskopf, 32, settled into a spot near the stage for her third Silent Savasana session.

“I like that it’s something different,” she said. “It brings people who don’t necessarily practice together in the same room.”

Gardner discovered yoga in 2006 while recovering from back surgery. After his first class, the pain subsided and he stood up straight, he said. The experience led to a career teaching the exercises rooted in mental and physical health at studios and private sessions across the Las Vegas Valley.

Silent Savasana has gained popularity quickly, he believes, because people are looking for inner peace and an intimidation-free environment to practice yoga. Participants have ranged in age from 8 to 83 years old, Gardner said. The class music, crafted by deejay Tony Alexander, includes everything from peaceful melodies to upbeat songs from the likes of Madonna and Michael Jackson.

“No class will ever be the same,” he said. “Yoga parallels life. It’s about balance; if you fall down, you get back up.”

The next free Silent Savasana event is 7:45 p.m. Thursday at Green Valley Ranch on a grassy area near the pool. Participants should bring a yoga mat, towel and water.

Future events at local parks will cost $15 to $20, said Markman, one of the business partners. The owners hope to release a Silent Savasana schedule soon.

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