I’ve been working hard to develop a solid home yoga practice. It’s going pretty well and I’ve been drawing inspiration from yoga DVDs and workouts on OnDemand from Comcast (actually not a terrible selection in there!). However, nothing will ever take the place of a beautiful studio yoga class. There is just something about being in the company of other yogis, in a space that is specially reserved for practice, and having a trained teacher there to lead you through a great sequence and push you to find you intelligent edge. I discontinued my membership at The Studio DC after the move to Arlington because the studios were just not convenient enough anymore to make the membership fees worth it. I tried to go it alone for several months, but I think it’s time to start looking for a new studio. Not that I intend to become a member at one, but perhaps purchasing a class package to supplement my home practice. My home practice is good but it’s not as advanced as my studio practice was. I miss exploring new postures and the feeling of elation when you finally get into a pose you’ve been working towards.
[an old picture of me playing around with koundinyasana – still one of my favorite arm balances!]
So I guess that was just a really long winded introduction to this post. I decided to give Epic Yoga off Dupont Circle a try last night after work. I had actually intended to go to a class at Yoga District on I Street but when I went to sign up this morning it was already full! This also happened to me last Friday, so I guess I’m going to have to sign up at least a day in advance in the future? Oh well. Epic Yoga was offering a hot yoga class (the website says the room is heated to approximately 95 degrees) at 6 pm. Perfect. Why not give it a shot?
[Source – DC Fit Crasher]
They have a good first-timer special where you can get one week of unlimited yoga for $20. I grabbed it, figuring I could try out a couple different classes and teachers before making my final decision. Overall, I’d say it was a very positive experience. When I arrived at the desk to sign in, the instructor, Abby, was incredibly friendly and welcoming. Upon learning it was my first time at the studio, she took me on a tour of the facilities. Facilities that are definitely pretty impressive for an urban yoga studio. There are locker rooms with showers, several studios, and best of all complementary towels!! I was totally sold. The hot yoga room was nice too with exposed brick walls and lovely mood lighting. They class wasn’t too full or crowded … added bonus!
Here were some things I really enjoyed about the class and the studio:
- She started with a dharma talk. I love me a good dharma talk and learning more about yogic philosophy is one of the reasons I go to studio classes. Today we focused on the idea of fear and learning to embrace situations where we were afraid as an opportunity to grow.
- The warm up was great. It was super cold outside so Abby started class with a good core warm up and a bunch of sun salutations to build some inner fire. Definitely helped since it’s positively glacial in DC right now.
- We spent some time practicing uddiyana bandha (which is the abdominal wall lock that yogis employ to move safely through practice and do challenging poses like inversions). Pranayama (breath) and bandha practice is definitely something I don’t see enough in yoga classes… A+ for that!
- We all explored handstand at the end of class. When I first started practicing in 2008, I went to a studio that would teach basic moves and offer advanced variations like arm balances or inversions but only “if they were in your practice.” I was always curious… how do they get in my practice if I never learn how to approach them? I really appreciate when an instructors takes time to teach a pose and encourage everyone to attempt it to the best of their ability. Even though I practice handstand regularly, I even took some good pointers from her demo!
Here’s where I have some concerns:
- The studio wasn’t really hot, even though it was billed as a hot class. I barely sweat, which is one of the things I love about hot yoga. That being said, it’s like 15 degrees outside so I’m willing to overlook it for now. It was at least warmer in there than it was outside.
- I was hoping for a slightly more advanced class. I really don’t want to sound like a snob, because that is not it at all! I just have a great practice at home. So if I’m going to pay to go to a studio, I’m really looking for a class that’s going to push me outside my comfort zone and allow me to work in the advanced postures. While I thoroughly enjoyed this class, Epic Yoga only offers beginner and mixed levels classes. Mixed levels can be pretty hit or miss depending on the instructor and the modifications / variations they choose to offer. The only advanced class available is The Rocket. I’ll probably try that one out if it works in my schedule but I don’t LOVE a set format class. Just a personal preference though!
Final Summation: If you’re a DC area yogi OR looking to get into yoga… I’d definitely suggest trying out Epic Yoga. Their facilities rock and everyone was really helpful for me as a first-timer. I dug the vibe in the studio too. There was definitely plenty of Lululemon represented but there was just a great mix of people, bodies, and attitudes in the room that made it feel approachable and friendly. Sometimes yoga studios can be snobby to the max. Bleh. The newcomer specials (they have 1 week for $20 or 1 month for $50) make it really easy to try out the studio before need to make any commitments. I will most DEFINITELY be going back. They offer a yoga / barre hybrid class that I’m going to check out on Thursday.
Hope you found this review helpful!! If yes, I’ll do more reviews of studios I attend. If no… well then I won’t!
If you’re a yogi… what do you look for in a yoga class or studio?? Do you have a home studio that you always go to or do you switch it up?
Fear not loyal blog readers (HI MOM), this post isn’t as grave as the title might suggest. I am currently falling out of love with my yoga studio. This is very upsetting to me. In the interest of internet safety, I’m not going to identify which studio I attend, but I have been a member at this particular studio since August 2010 and we’ve developed quite a relationship. Elsa was already a member when I joined so I had a great built in yoga buddy, and they had two locations, one close to my apartment and one close to my office. I meannnn how could this be better? Plus, they offered heated classes. I started practicing yoga in 2008 at a Baptiste studio, so I did want a heated room. The staff were also SO nice, and they all made a point of remembering your name / face and making you feel like you were a part of a community, as opposed to an anonymous face in a crowd (that pays a lot of money for a monthly studio membership). The instructors were amazing and my practice soared at this studio.
But recently… I’m not really feeling the love there anymore. Elsa moved away to Boston… bye bye yoga buddy. Also, many of my favorite teachers have moved on or are teaching much more reduced schedules. I’ve been trying out different teachers, but some of them I just downright don’t enjoy. There is one instructor who teaches many of the advanced classes, but I’m not feeling her! She’s not super engaging with the students, and we never practice any advanced moves like arm balances, binds, or inversions. Instead, we literally do 100 million vinyasas. I find that BORING, and it feels more like boot camp than yoga class. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some boot camp, but when I’m at yoga, I want to practice yoga.
My studio has also developed a large teacher training program since I joined, which I think is really wonderful in a lot of ways, but is also starting to diminish my experiences as a student. The teacher trainees are really cliquey with each other, which is really wearing on me. I understand it’s natural for them to develop a special bond, and I’m certain I would feel the same way if I was one of them, but sometimes it’s tough. Without my yoga buddy, I’m always at class solo, which I really do not mind. But then you have all these teacher trainees who are just like yip-yip-yiping to each other in all the common areas, in the studio before class, they all have to set up together and practice together. And now that many of them have completed their trainings, they’re dominating the schedule too. I completely understand the need to train new teachers, but one of my favorite things about this studio was the instructors were all trained with different backgrounds. Every class felt different and unique. Now every single instructor has been trained by the two people who own the studio, so every class feels EXACTLY THE SAME. I took Baptiste for years… my interest in a set format class has diminished.
So what should I do? I pay a lot of money to belong to this studio, and I’m not getting my money’s worth right now. I love yoga but all of a sudden, even when I have the free time, I don’t want to go. I’ve been reevaluating my workout schedule recently (I’ll write more on that later), but I do still want to practice yoga 1 – 2 times a week going forward.
Have you ever gone through a slump with a fitness related location (gym, rec center, yoga studio, etc.)? How did you handle it?
Here are the options I am considering:
- Take a set amount of time off from yoga and see how I feel. Perhaps all I need is to reignite my passion
- Try out some different studios and see if there is a different one I like better
- Stick with my current studio by try altering my expectations and mental approach
Here’s what I think I’m going to do. Next week, I’m going to try #3. If I still don’t feel good, I’m going to put my membership on hold and do either #1 or #2. Sound like a plan? Ok? Ok! I love me a good plan 🙂