Bridesmaids bond through downward dog

Stephanie Steinberg,

WASHINGTON – After a private Epic Yoga class in Dupont Circle, bride-to-be Amanda Merrill and her 14 friends sat on the studio’s wood floor, dining out of Whole Foods lunch boxes and celebrating Merrill’s surprise bachelorette party with champagne and cupcakes.

The women stretched, bent and balanced the day after Merrill’s bridal shower during a wedding weekend in August.

“The class really allowed me to be in the moment during a weekend that was so emotionally overwhelming,” says Merrill, 26, of Lancaster, Pa.

Drinks, dancing and an unforgettable night on the town may make for a typical bachelorette party. But more bridesmaids in the District are trading miniskirts for spandex and dance floors for squishy mats as they bond in downward dog. Warrior poses and sun salutations also help reduce pre-wedding stress and tone muscles bridesmaids want to show off in strapless dresses.

“(Yoga) is a really great alternative to going out and overeating and overdrinking when everybody is really trying to be healthy and lose weight before the wedding,” says Live Beyond the Mat yoga instructor Rebecca Bly, 31, of D.C.

Besides hosting yoga bachelorette parties, more brides are seeking yoga instructors to lead personal classes for themselves and their bridesmaids.

Saba Quereshi, a yoga instructor at Vida Fitness in D.C., says wedding yoga classes are a hot new trend in the capital.

“It’s a big thing in New York that’s starting to catch in D.C.,” she says.

Quereshi, 29, is teaching private yoga classes for bridal parties in weddings next spring and fall. During the winter, she says she’s going to focus on poses that target the core and arms