Last summer, despite paying a monthly fee for unlimited classes, I was burnt out on Bikram Yoga. I could not bring myself to go to a class, and wasted the last three months of my studio membership (which ended last September). For the rest of 2012 I did very little stretching. At the start of this year, I decided that I needed to resume the practice. But I still was not up to going to a formal class.
What can I say?
+ I hate having to get to a class 20-minutes early just to get a spot... + I couldn't take classes that were so crowded that my mat had to touch the next person's sweat mat... + And the monotony of 90-minute Bikram classes got old.
It was all just too much.
Practicing At Home
So since January 1st, I have been doing yoga workouts at home using GaiamTV, Hulu, and even Comcast On Demand.
My First Class In Nine Months
While visiting Arizona I discovered my cousin Jenna recently started practicing hot yoga. She was excited to have me take a class at her studio with her, but I was all, "meh..."
But she claimed that her hot yoga studio didn't practice Bikram. Say what? Hot yoga that wasn't Bikram?! I was intrigued, and the next thing I knew I was attending my first formal class nine months.
Her studio was very inviting and spacious. Everyone staggered themselves so that each person could see themselves in the mirror. This blew my mind! The instructor didn't even have to ask people to do this AND there was plenty of room for it!
I laid my mat out with my towel on top of it and arranged my yoga blocks next to my mat. Unlike Bikram Yoga, they allow you to use yoga blocks and straps.
When I was situated, I sat down to wait for class to start but everyone spraying their towels puzzled me. When I asked what they were doing I was told that they were spraying water on their towels so that it would stay in place. I was confused. The towels were about to be drenched in sweat; didn't they want them to stay dry for as long as possible? I was curious and gave it a try. It worked - my towel never moved at all! Learn something new every day!
The class started with a warm-up and music. Yes, they played music in this yoga class! And not "om" kind of music, but music (some pop!) with lyrics. I loved it!
The rest of the class was filled with a mixture of traditional Bikram poses (same dialogue but in random order), lots of Vinyasas, and Pilates core work. It altered between fast-paced sequences, and slower, recovering ones.
Not only that, the instructor kept the fans on, and walked back and forth across the room alternating opening the front and back doors. Though it was still hot, there was a lot of fresh air circulating through the room.
This class was basically my dream yoga class.
I enjoyed it so much that I didn't even glance at the clock until we were an hour into class. I was so excited and thought, "only 15-minutes left! But apparently the instructor was running behind schedule. Every time I thought we were winding down to Savasana, she would have us to do another strenuous sequence. At that point things went downhill for me - real fast. The class ended up being 90-minutes long - the same as a Bikram class. I was so annoyed.
But after class I felt the familiar feelings of clarification and rejuvenation that I always felt after a Bikram class. My joints and muscles felt relaxed and limbered.
I went to a second class while I was there. It was taught by a different instructor who was absolutely fantastic and finished on time in 75-minutes.
Finding A New Yoga Studio
I left Arizona feeling a renewed enthusiasm for yoga classes. When I got home I googled yoga studios in my area, hoping to find a non-Bikram hot yoga studio. Unfortunately the hot yoga studios in my area only practice Bikram. I'm not quite ready to recommit to that yet.
But in my research I found a Hatha yoga studio close to home - Butterfly Yoga.
It looked fun and inviting. The schedule offered a variety of Hatha classes, plus Restorative, Yin and Pilates-infused classes. I love Pilates and would love to take classes but Pilates studios are even more expensive than yoga studios. So the fact that this studio offered mixes classes piqued my interest.
The class schedule also suits my schedule so I decided to give it a try. I signed up for the 30-day introductory offer and attended my first class this evening.
The studio was very clean and warmly decorated. It had a peaceful ambience. The flooring was padded, which made some of the poses feel really comfortable. The class I attended was called "Gentle Hatha Yoga" which perfectly addressed my legs that were sore and tired from my weekend mileage.
The best part of the class was that there were only TEN (!!!) people in class. Not only was there plenty of room, but the instructor (who was very good) could give each of us individual attention.
I left class with looser leg muscles and a relaxed mind, ready to take on another week of marathon training.
I'm really glad I discovered Butterfly Yoga. I feel like I found a studio that can feel like home. And I intend to spend a lot of time here in the near future!