I loved my first studio Solace Yoga, partly because I enjoyed the variety of classes, but also because by the time I graduated I really felt like a part of the community (not to mention that the studio itself is gorgeous and has the most pristine, beautiful locker rooms I've seen in a studio yet). I really liked that I could go to a Vinyasa class one day and a Hot Power Yoga class the next. I assumed that once I was back in the D.C. area I would be able to find something similar, but I've determined that the studios here are significantly more specialized.
In my search for a class that I liked I enlisted the help of the resource that knows all - Yelp. Plug in what you're looking for and where are in brings up a list with reviews and star ratings. I love technology.
The first class I decided to try was a Bikram yoga class. I gave it a try because it was a) close to my house b) a hot yoga class and c) free. While I knew this 90 minute class in a 105° room was going to be tough, I wasn't expecting it to be like this. I thought I knew what 105° felt like since I thought the other hot yoga classes I had done were just about that hot, but in fact I was wrong. The hot yoga classes I had done in the past were between 95° and 97° degrees, and those ten degrees make a hell of a difference.
Seriously. A 105° yoga studio was a manifestation of what I imagined hell to be.
I chalked it up to a success because I only almost passed out once. My knees were dripping with sweat before we had even begun the practice, and about twenty minutes in, I was feeling pretty lightheaded. But being the competitive person I am, I tried to push through, and I went into balancing chair pose (on my toes). The next thing I know, the instructor is holding my arm while I am stil in the pose and he says to me, "You can sit down whenever you choose throughout the practice. Yoga is supposed to be healing". I realize that I had passed out and still held the pose. I sat down, took a quick break and a sip of water, and then met the rest of the class in crescent lunge.
I made it through the entire 90 minutes, but upon leaving class I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be going back to a Bikram class. The whole 90 minutes is composed of the same rotation of standing poses, so there are no sun salutations or chaturangas which are my favorite part. I felt like I was in the room sweating for the sake of sweating and not because I had done any work to get my heart rate up. And I could really go without seeing another overweight guy in lime green spandex shorts. Once was definitely enough.
In hopes of finding a class that I like a bit better, I Yelped again and came across Dancing Mind Yoga - a Baptiste Power Yoga affiliate studio in Falls Church, VA. While my first class wasn't free, it was much more fulfilling than the Bikram class. The room was still heated, but it was only 95°, more like what I'm used to from Solace. It was also a 90 minute class, but the last 30 minutes are only stretching and savasana and the other 60 minutes are a serious power vinyasa class.
The Awesome Parts:
1) Teachers - I've had four teachers for four classes and I've liked them all. I also really dig the fact that each class has an assistant who doesn't give pose or breathing cues, but walks around and helps with alignment and stretching. I'm sure some people hate being touched when they are in down dog, but sometimes it's really helpful to have someone guide your shoulder blades down your back or help you open up in extended side angle.
2) The studio - while the lobby is small, the studio itself is great because there are great big windows and no mirrors. There are times when I think mirrors can be ver helpful, but I think they can also be distracting, especially when I'm trying to stick my warrior 3. The assistants make sure that you are not going to hurt yourself with bad form, and then you are just able to do the practice.
3) $50 unlimited first month - pay $50, and you can take as many classes as you want for a month. That beats a membership or $18 drop-ins any day.
The Not-So-Awesome Parts:
1) Door to door, it takes me about two and a half hours to take a class. Depending on what time I take class, I have to give myself half an hour to get to my 90 minute class because the traffic can be so bad. I mean, I like yoga, but it's not the most efficient use of my time.
2) While there is some variation in each class depending on the teacher, All the classes are almost identical. I love half pidgeon, but I'd like to do some different stretches at the end at least.
3) Did I say that it takes forever? This is when I miss my 30 minute "I need a workout" runs.
So now that I've found a studio that I like, I'm on the hunt to find another studio that I'll like in Madison. Maybe Kenz will do some research for me before I get there! Then we can go to yoga together like Laverne and Shirley 2.0.