Paris Yoga Studios

I was able to visit one yoga studio in Paris during my time there but I hope to be back since I loved the city and will add more studio reviews in the future! Unlike the San Francisco Bay Area, working out (putting on exercise clothes and going to do an activity where the only goal is to sweat) is not a big part of the Parisian lifestyle and fitness studios are difficult to find. There is a smattering of yoga studios and teachers throughout the city. I visited Rasa Yoga and loved it.

Rasa Yoga Rive Gauche

21 Rue Saint-Jacques, 75005 Paris
Monnaie Neighborhood

I took a morning Ashtanga 1/2 class and there were 2 other Americans amongst a group of 10 or so French yoginis. As with traditional Ashtanga practices, the practice begins with a set of Ashtanga sequences and then diverges based on what the teacher wants to work on that day. The teacher (I believe her name is Anais) offered many hands on adjustments and demonstrations throughout the class. At the request of one of the Americans, she also included some English into the practice. The skill-level of this class is accurately advertised as a 1/2 class but the skill-level of the participating yoginis was generally a 1 so the teacher didn’t lead that many advanced poses–just a few, geared towards about 2 of the yoginis. The studio itself is quite nice: It is clean and they offer mats for you to use for free and mat cleaner (although the cost of a yoga class is about $25 / 22 euros–interestingly, I found the yoga classes in Europe to be more expensive than the yoga classes in the Bay Area.) Like many apartments in Paris, the studio is located inside one of the building complexes that has a code to unlock the door (the studio doesn’t face the street.) I didn’t know the passcode to enter (I think it may be buried somewhere on their website but I didn’t find it.) Luckily, another yogini was exiting right when I needed to enter so I didn’t need to enter in the code. The studio isn’t that well-marked (see picture below to help you identify its location,) but Google Maps does take you to the right location if you follow it precisely.

Pros
1.) Clean studio, large retail interior for hanging out, changing rooms (bring your own locks)
2.) The one class I took seems to indicate they have high quality teachers–she was good at mixing the right amount of demonstration with hands-on adjustments

Cons
1.) The building’s courtyard is currently undergoing renovations (as of June 2017); that means there is loud sawing and hammering noise that permeates into the yoga studio during your practice
2.) It’s pricey for yoga–for the same price, about $25, I was able to go to Barry’s Bootcamp in London. For those who haven’t been to Barry’s, the workout space offers many amenities including spacious and clean showers, shampoo, body wash, toiletries, and towels. For $25, you get much better amenities at Barry’s Bootcamp (which is usually $32/class in the San Francisco Bay Area and in similar metropolitan cities in the US.)

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London Yoga Studios

Yotopia

13 Mercer Street, London WC2H 9QJ
Covent Garden

Upon the recommendation of a local yogi friend I met at a Wanderlust yoga festival, I took Dharma Yoga (Asana 2+) (L2) with Emi Tull at Yotopia. This class is full of yogi regulars. All of them are serious about growing their yoga practice and some are professional dancers. That meant Emi could teach the class at a very advanced level and this was one of the most phsyically challenging yoga classes I had ever been to. We aren’t supposed to compare ourselves to those around us in yoga class but I was definitely one of the lousy students in the class and I have been practicing for 8 years. Handstands are common between transitions and you are expected to know scorpion pose or can modify with forearm balance easily. Emi, who has a “just do it, don’t complain, fall and get up immediately” attitude, flawlessly demonstrated some of the more advanced yoga poses and transitions like Peacock Pose (Mayurasana.) She also offered many hands on adjustments throughout the practice to help move you into more advanced sequences and challenged you to stretch further and hold your pose longer.

Pros
1.) The classes billed as “advanced” or “L2” are actually advanced (at least Emi Tull’s class is)
2.) The teacher (Emi Tull) offers many hands on adjustments to help you into or out of poses that you can’t practice by yourself
3.) Studio practice space is conveniently located near food, Lululemon, shopping, and a train station; it is clean and has showers but you must rent towels

Cons
1.) Emi’s class is packed so you must sign up online and you are side-by-side next to your fellow yogis (the studio space itself is not that big so there were about 26 students in the class and the teacher still has time to help everyone out)
2.) The practice is a bit fast so unless you are extremely advanced, there may not be enough time to get into poses or gracefully transition (I fell once when transitioning from wheel back to downward dog)
3.) There is a lot of chanting (this class was 2 hours long and about 25 minutes of it is singing and chanting) so if you aren’t into singing songs in a different language than your native tongue, it can be a surprise

Fierce Grace

200 Regent’s Park Rd, London NW1 8BE
Primrose Hill / Chalk Farm

Fierce Grace is a hot yoga studio chain in London. I visited Emma Croft’s class at the Chalk Farm location on a Saturday, since she was listed as a senior teacher and I had high hopes of what I could learn. Fierce Grace is not for the lighthearted yogi–it’s heated to 38 degrees Celsius / 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the room and you will sweat just sitting there, motionless. This type of hot yoga is not for me (especially because I went during a week when it was 85+ degrees every day in London) but also because I find it difficult to work on the physical aspects of your practice when the room temperature is higher than 85 degrees–you are far too sweaty and slippery to do anything other than sun salutations. To add salt to the wound, I was next to a gal who reeked when she sweat and that was quite unpleasant. A quick heads up for Americans: You will get very sweaty and want to shower immediately after. There are 4 showers in the ladies locker room but the caveat is that you must not be shy; the showers don’t have dividers and it’s just a trough with 4 shower heads so you shower butt naked right next to the other ladies. I have never seen this type of shower set up at an American yoga studio. The studio provides some general purpose body wash but you have to rent towels for about a pound. Note that you may also want to bring a lock since the lockers don’t have locks on them and it’s a bit precarious to bring your cell phone into the 100 degree practice room (I did, but only after turning my phone off since I feared that it would overheat.)

Pros
1.) Convenient locations with many classes available each day
2.) The heating mechanisms in the yoga rooms are quite nice (there are no exposed metal grates that turn red, as I have seen at some other hot yoga studios)

Cons
1.) The practice isn’t advanced and contains a basic sequence of poses
2.) The room can feel suffocating or too hot, if you are not used to or do not like hot yoga or it may be a bit smelly
3.) The teacher (Emma) doesn’t offer any hands on adjustments

Boston Yoga Studio Reviews

When it’s cold in Boston, warming up with yoga is the perfect way to beat the winter blues!

Exhale
8 Arlington St, Boston, MA 02116
Back Bay (Public Gardens)

This is hands down the nicest yoga studio in Boston. When you enter, you are greeted by a relaxing and well-kept retail store, selling everything from candles to yoga mats. Because the studio also serves as a spa, it smells wonderful and there is free tea and fantastic amenities. The amenities remind me of those at SoulCycle or Barry’s Bootcamp–showers, shampoo and soaps, towels, bathrobes, shower sandals, hair dryers, all in a very spacious locker room which is shared by the spa’s clients.

Pros
1.) Cleanest, nicest yoga studio in Boston when it comes to amenities and facilities
2.) Free yoga mats (you don’t need to pay $3 to rent one) and they clean the yoga mats after (you don’t just put them back in the stack of yoga mats–there is a dirty mats bin and they take care of it so it’s clean for the next person and not stinky)
3.) The yoga room is beautiful. It faces a gold buddha at the front of the room and the room is downstairs which means you don’t care anything during practice–no sounds of cars or of the Barre class happening upstairs.

Cons
1.) I went to Scott Troppy’s Exhale Flow yoga class and David Magone’s PranaVayu flow class. In both classes, the flow sequence was very basic: A series of sun salutations, a few twists, tree, then followed by some stretching. If you are new to yoga, it is great for understanding and learning the alignment of certain poses but if you are more advanced, you will probably be bored. Since the class was so small, I also wish Scott and David offered more hands on adjustments.

YogaWorks
364 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116
Back Bay (Public Gardens)

This studio is a bit hard to find so leave yourself a few extra minutes to figure this out for your first visit: The studio is hidden on the second floor of a long building and there isn’t a big sign on Boylston Street that points to the door you need to go into. If you put the address into Google Maps, it leads you to the right area on the block and from there, you’ll have to look carefully into each of the doors to find a standing black easel sign that says YogaWorks (I think this sign sits outside in the summer but they take it in during the winter months.) There are actually two doors marked as 364 Boylston Street and only one leads to YogaWorks so look for this YogaWorks sign.

Once inside, you have to check in for every class with the receptionist. I find this to be a slightly unnecessary bottleneck since many people sign up online but they don’t have a self-service check in for those who pre-paid. The space has two yoga studios, called Moon and Sun, so make sure you confirm the room with the receptionist.

The quality of the classes are fantastic–I have visited 5 different teachers and they all have a “get down to business” style of yoga. These are some of the most creative flow classes I have taken; teachers string together sequences that you wouldn’t normally think to put together so it feels like a dance on your yoga mat. Contrary to Ashtanga or Bikram yoga practices, the practice at YogaWorks rarely follows a pre-defined sequence of poses and you are sure to encounter new sequences and new variations on poses during each class.

In particular, I thought the Hip Hop Yoga was a fun usage of widely accessible music. Each instructor has his or her own playlist and you flow through a vinyasa practice to Jay Z, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, etc. I have always liked music in class and was happy when teachers also played music during the the Vinyasa Flow classes. The Hip Hop Yoga classes are held in a slightly warmer room (the room called the Sun,) but none of the classes fall under “heated yoga” or baptiste yoga since the heat is turned on only ever so slightly–it’s more to make the room feel comfortable because it’s often raining ice pellets outside. You will break out in a slight sweat in the Hip Hop Yoga classes since it is a faster paced class in a warmer room but I don’t think a hot yoga towel is required. A hot yoga towel isn’t going to be helpful for the Vinyasa classes since those classes are usually held in the room called the Moon, and it’s not heated higher than room temperature. You will get a workout but you won’t sweat much.

About a year later, I returned to YogaWorks in Back Bay and took a Vinyasa flow class with Renee LeBlanc. She has so much control of her body–it was beautiful to watch her demo. Even though this wasn’t her advanced class, she was teaching straddle handstands and one legged crow. I can’t wait to return and practice in her advanced class the next time I am in Boston.

I think my favorite part about the classes at YogaWorks is their varying styles. Each teacher feels at liberty to teach his or her own class and throw in fun and novel twists to challenge and humor you. At each class, I have felt challenged in some way. My favorite new pose thus far has been a tricep workout: Lay down on your belly, put a yoga block on your butt and lift your chest and your legs. Then squeeze the yoga block with just your palms (no fingers) and lift, lift, lift. Repeat. This aligns your spine and works out your arms. If your triceps don’t hurt tomorrow, it’s because you are squeezing or lifting the yoga block with your fingers–don’t use your fingers; palms only.

I would recommend YogaWorks to yogis who have gone to a few yoga classes before. The practice is within reach for all skill levels but sometimes, the yoga teacher will ask you to complete sun salutations on your own or queue slightly more complicated sequences that require a basic foundation of yoga first.

Pros
1.) Clean facilities and great location right by Arlington green line train station; showers available (lockers that require your own combination lock used to be available but have since been removed as of 12/26/16–you can bring your valuables into the practice room and store them in the cubbies.)
2.) Wide selection of classes to attend each day.
3.) Hip Hop yoga classes offer creative transitions, tuned to songs you want to sing along to.

Cons
1.) Changing area is outdated; not much bench space.
2.) Classes can be quite large even during the December holidays; I thought the rooms were full but the teachers kept saying, “spread out now that you have space” which makes me think that non-holiday classes are extremely packed, mat to mat.

Barre & Soul
36 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Harvard Square

This is the perfect studio for those who are new to yoga and those who are traveling. For one, it is conveniently located in the The Garage “mall” at 36 JFK Street, right off the Harvard Square red line MBTA stop. I also love that the studio offers everything you need for your practice: The studio has high quality and new Manduka yoga mats (no charge!) which is amazing–studios always charge at least a few dollars for a yoga mat rental and it’s usually not as nice as a Manduka mat. Their mat cleaner smells amazing so you don’t have to worry about a stinky mat that might be covered in someone else’s germs and sweat. Their classes are pretty fundamental and easily accessible by people of all backgrounds; actually, most of the students in the three classes I stopped by were current Harvard Undergraduates and college students generally are beginners because very few people practice yoga in high school (they usually discover it in college and grow their practice post-graduation when they have more money to spend on expensive yoga classes.) Barre & Soul has two rooms: One is a yoga room and the other is a Barre studio. As with most other Barre studios, they offer everything you need for Barre class (weights, mats, props, etc.) They offer quite a few yoga and Barre classes each day so you can schedule around your busy schedule. The yoga studio space is also one of the prettiest spaces I have practiced in with a chic turquoise piano at the front of the room (that they don’t generally use for class.) Even though the classes are pretty basic, I plan to return here in the future.

Pros
1.) Convenient, clean, and well-lit (with natural sunlight) practice space with all the props you need (don’t underestimate how important this is if you are coming to and from work; you might not want to lug around a heavy yoga mat with you all day.)
2.) Efficient check-in processes and spacious studio hallway space allows you to feel calm from the moment you step into the space to the moment you step back out on the streets.
3.) Two types of classes in one studio allows you to have variety in your workout routine and the numerous daily classes fit in with most people’s schedules.

Cons
1.) Instructors don’t seem to have practiced for very long (e.g. 10+ years); the yoga sequences don’t vary very much (basic vinyasa poses) and teachers don’t switch up the flow amongst their classes (so if you go to the same teacher multiple times, you’ll wind up doing the same practice as I did.)
2.) The floor is tilted; most buildings in Cambridge are old and this one is no exception. The floors are oddly tilted in random spots, making some of the one-legged balance poses harder because you aren’t used to the floor being crooked. It is good practice for balancing though (because it makes it harder to balance.)
3.) No showers or changing rooms–just two bathrooms. I didn’t sweat that much in either the yoga or Barre classes here but it would be nice to be able to shower or change here. You can change but you have to wait for one of the two bathrooms.

IMG_20160206_084137-2Yoga studio room at Barre & Soul

Karma Yoga Studio
1120 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Harvard Square

I didn’t use the Karma gym or get tea here but it seems like a great spot to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Harvard Square. I only attended a vinyasa flow class here over Memorial Day Weekend. The class wasn’t full (there were about 7 yogis.) The class wasn’t technically challenging and the teacher offered minimal adjustments so it was a great location to do a drop in class if you are in the neighborhood but probably wouldn’t become my go-to yoga studio if you wanted to grow and challenge yourself. This class seemed better suited for beginners since the instructor focused more on alignment, especially towards the beginning when she was teaching proper chaturanga alignment.

Pros
1.) Very convenient location, close to many shops and eateries in Harvard Square
2.) Yoga studio is a part of a gym and you can get a yoga + gym package, which can save you a lot of money

Cons
1.) Low-tech studio (you cannot sign up online and their credit card machine was down the day I went to the studio)
2.) The studio doesn’t offer advanced classes for more seasoned yogis

Karma Yoga Studio
(Third Floor) 338 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02115
Back Bay

It was the Tuesday after Christmas and I was the only person who showed up to Cara Harley’s 12:15pm class. And it was wonderful–I got a private yoga class for $10! Cara asked me what I wanted to practice and I said handstands so she taught a Vinyasa class with some special handstand practice tricks to get me more used to putting weight into my hands & wrists and more aligned / less like a banana (yogis know what I mean by banana back.) Cara isn’t the most advanced yoga teacher I have practiced with (in terms of being able to do advanced yoga poses) but I did love that I got so much attention. She watched every single transition and adjusted my alignment, even if I was just a hair off–I really appreciated this. When you are a more advanced yogi or you are in a big class, you can feel a bit neglected because the teachers are focused on those who are confused about the next pose or they don’t have time to fix everyone’s alignment. Because I haven’t been to a full class here, I can’t comment on what a “normal” class with 10+ students feels like so I’ll stick to the facilities in my pros / cons report.

Pros
1.) Enormous facility (see huge practice room below); clean and airy feeling; individual changing stalls are available.
2.) Great value: $10 for a 1-hour long class and $15 for any class greater than 1-hour is a good price; at other nice yoga studios, 1-hour classes usually start at $18+.

Cons
1.) Small waiting area so if you show up early, there isn’t much room for you to hang out (there is a bench inside the sign-in area but there is also a sign in the stairwell before the sign-in area that tells you not to enter between classes.)
2.) There aren’t any showers (so if you get sweaty, you can’t fully clean up before heading to brunch or dinner on Newbury Street.)

Los Angeles Yoga Studios Reviews

I have been to several yoga studios in LA but only recently decided to include them in my blog posts. There are so many fitness options in Los Angeles so if you are in the area, it’s very easy to keep up your workout routine or to try something new. Celebrities are also interested in these public studios so while I don’t review non-yoga studios, I will say that I had a very fun SoulCycle Survivor class in Hollywood where Vanessa Hudgens biked on the bike the instructor usually occupies and the teacher walked around the class instead.

The Yoga Collective
512 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291

I took a class with Danielle Zuccarelli (who was substituting for Travis Elliot.) The class wasn’t too packed (although it was the Thursday before Labor Day weekend,) and the practice offered a good mix of inspiration and “working out.” I found the class to be more basic. We also spent 10 minutes or so repeating Warrior I and the teacher did the “go ahead and repeat this sequence of poses for several minutes” thing, which some people don’t like.

Pros
1.) The teachers interweave in spiritual aspects of the practice
2.) They provide free mats
3.) Studio is next to lots of restaurants / centrally located in Venice Beach

Cons
1.) No showers; only one bathroom so can be annoying if you have to wait in line but you have a class that is about to start
2.) Studio space itself is old so the ventilation isn’t good; it gets warm in there but the air system isn’t as sophisticated as some newer hot yoga studios are so it can feel “stifling”
3.) The practice didn’t feel challenging enough for seasoned practitioners

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The Yoga Collective in Venice Beach, LA

Yoga Asanas & their Sanskrit Names

Yoga asanas with their English and Sanskrit names ordered by when they would generally appear in a yoga class.

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana - Forearm Wheel
Dwi Pada Viparita DandasanaForearm Wheel
  • Mountain PoseTadasana (tada = mountain)
  • Prayer Pose – Samasthiti (sama = same, equal; sthiti = to establish, to stand)
  • Hero’s PostureVirasana (vir = man, hero, chief)
  • Breath of Fire – Kapalabhati (kapal = skull; bhati = shining)
  • Four-Limbed Stick Pose – Chaturanga Dandasana (chatur = four; anga = limb; danda = staff, stick)
  • Downward-facing Dog Pose – Adho Mukha Svanasana (adho = downward; mukha = face; shvana = dog)
  • Upward-facing Dog Pose – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (urdhva = rising or tending upward)
  • Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana (bhujanga = serpent)
  • Warrior I/II/IIIVirabhadrasana I/II/III (virabhadra = the name of a fierce mythical warrior)
  • Chair PoseUtkatasana (utkata = awkward)
  • Extended Side Angle Pose – Utthita Parsvakonasana (utthita = extended; parsva = side; kona = angle)
  • Child’s Pose – Balasana (bala = young, childish)
  • Revolved Side Angle Pose – Parivrtta Baddha Parsvakonasana (parivrtta = twist, revolve; baddha = bound; parsva = side; kona = angle)
  • Extended Triangle Pose Utthita Trikonasana (utthita = extended; tri = three; kona = angle)
  • Revolved Triangle Pose – Parivrtta Trikonasana (parivrtta = to turn around; tri = three; kona = angle)
  • Intense Side Stretch – Parsvottanasana (parsva = side; ut = intense; tan = stretch)
  • Standing Forward BendUttanasana (ut = intense; tan = stretch)
  • Extended Hand-toe PoseUtthita Hasta Padangusthasana (utthita = extended; hasta = hand; pada = foot; angusta  = big toe)
  • Eagle PoseGarudasana (garuda = a fierce bird of prey)
  • King of the Dancers Pose – Natarajasana (nata = dancer; raja = king)
  • Tree Pose – Vrksasana (vrksa = tree)
  • Downward-facing Tree Pose (a.k.a. hand stand) – Adho Mukha Vrksasana (adho = downward; mukha = face)
  • Half Moon PoseArdha Chandrasana
  • Wide-Stance Forward Bend – Prasarita Padottanasana (prasarita = spread; pada = foot; ut = intense; tan = to stretch out)
  • Camel Pose – Ustrasana (ustra = camel)
  • Squat – Upavesasana (upavesa = sitting down, seat)
  • Crow Pose – Bakasana (baka = crow, crane)
  • Side Crow Pose – Parsva Bakasana (parsva = side)
  • Eight-angel Pose – Astavakrasana (ashta = eight; vakra = crooked)
  • Figure Four Pose – eka pada utkatasana
  • Peacock Pose – Mayurasana (mayura = peacock)
  • Feathered Peacock Pose (a.k.a. forearm balance) – Pincha Mayurasana (pincha = a feather of a tail; mayura = peacock)
  • Scorpion Pose – Vrschikasana (vrschana = scorpion)
  • Supported Headstand – Salamba Sirsasana (sa = with; alamba = the on which one rests or leans; sirsa = head)
  • Posture of the Root Lock – Mulabandhasana (mula = root, foot; bandha = binding)
  • Staff Pose – Dandasana (danda = stick, staff)
  • West Back Stretching – Paschimottanasana (pascha = behind, after, westward; uttana = intense stretch)
  • The Great Seal – Mahamudra (maha = great, mighty, strong; mudra = sealing, shutting, closing)
  • Head-to-Knee Pose – Janu Sirsasana (janu = knee; shiras = to touch with the head)
  • Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose – Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (parivrtta = turning, rolling; janu = knee; shiras = to touch with the head)
  • Half Lord of the Fishes Pose – Ardha Matsyendrasana (ardha = half; matsya = fish; indra = ruler, lord)
  • One-Legged Royal Pigeon Pose – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (eka = one; pada  = foot; raja = king, royal; kapota = dove, pigeon)
  • Bow Pose – Dhanurasana (dhanu = bow)
  • Upward Bow Pose (a.k.a. wheel) – Urdhva Dhanurasana (urdhva = upward; dhanu = bow)
  • Sage Vasistha’s Pose (a.k.a side plank pose) – Vasisthasana (vasistha = a sage)
  • Locust Pose – Salabhasana (salabha = grasshopper, locust)
  • Boat Pose – Navasana (nava = boat)
  • Four-footed Tabletop Pose – Chatus Pada Pitham (chatur = four; pada = foot; pitham = stool, seat)
  • Upward Plank Pose – Purvottanasana (purva = front; ut = intense; tan = extend, stretch)
  • Seated Wide-Angle Pose – Upavistha Konasana (upavistha = seated; kona = angle)
  • Turtle Pose – Kurmasana (kurma = turtle)
  • Reclining Turtle Pose – Supta Kurmasana  (supta  = reclining)
  • Cow-Faced Pose – Gomukhasana (go = cow; mukha = face)
  • Monkey Pose (a.k.a. splits) – Hanumanasana (Hanuman was the semidivine chief of an army of monkeys who served the god Rama. Hanuman once jumped in a single stride the distance between Southern India and Sri Lanka and this split-leg pose mimics that famous leap)
  • Bridge Pose – Setu Bandhasana (setu = dam, dike, bridge; bandha = lock; setubandha = the forming of a bridge, dam)
  • Belly Twist – Jathara Parivrtti (jathara = stomach, bellow; parivrtti = turning, rolling)
  • Fish Pose – Matsyasana (matsya = fish)
  • Supported Shoulder Stand – Salamba Sarvangasana (salamba = with support; sarva = all; anga = limb)
  • Plow Pose – Halasana (hala = plow)
  • Ear-to-Knee Pose – Karnapidasana (karna = ear; pidana = squeeze, pressure)
  • Bound Angle Pose – Baddha Konasana (baddha = bound; kona = angle)
  • Reclining Bound Angle Pose – Supta Baddha Konasana (supta = resting)
  • Lotus Posture – Padmasana (padma = lotus)
  • Easy Posture Sukhasana (sukha = comfortable, gentle)
  • Adept’s Posture – Siddhasana (siddha = accomplished, fulfilled, a sage)
  • Auspicious Posture – Svastikasana (svastik = lucky, auspicious)
  • Corpse Pose – Savasana (sava = corpse)

Have fun at your next yoga class!

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One Legged Wheel – Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana

Tokyo Yoga Studios

Working out in Japanese is a curious activity: If you are from a major city in the United States, you are used to people jogging on the sidewalks and seeing workout studios and gyms everywhere. With the exception of the path around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, you won’t find people exercising and working out. People generally get their exercise by walking to the subway or to their destinations so it was challenging for me to find yoga or exercise studios.

YogaJaya
2nd Floor, 1-25-11 Ebisu Nishi, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo, Japan, 105-0021

I didn’t actually get to take a class here but this was my first choice yoga class in the Ebisu neighborhood, mostly because of their English language website, large number of classes each day, and their easy to read Mind Body Online schedule. Having practiced yoga for almost a decade, I wanted to go to an “Experienced” level class because most beginner classes aren’t as interesting. I saw that on their website, they said you could not progress to higher levels without starting at level 1 as a part of their “BASEWORKS” leveling system. However, I dismissed that consideration, thinking that it would be fine and maybe “BASEWORKS” was another optional program that people signed up for. I was wrong; if you are new to this studio, they will not let you take anything but a level 1 class. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or if you are a yoga teacher–the Japanese are generally very rule abiding and don’t make exceptions so I was not able to get into this class. Because I got rejected from this class, I went on a quest to find other yoga studios in the Ebisu neighborhood.

Yoga Lava
〒150-0013 Tokyo, Shibuya, Ebisu 壱 番館 2F, Tokyo, Japan

I think this studio is a chain since I have seen Yoga Lava studios in Singapore and several Yoga Lava studios in Japan during my Tokyo yoga Internet research. They offer exercise classes (which I am interpreting as Pilates,) and heated yoga classes. One thing I noticed is that people in Tokyo like their yoga classes hot. Yoga Lava is likely a female-only studio. Compared to the United States, Japan has very distinct gender roles and yoga is strictly a woman’s exercise; for example at the Sheraton Miyako, the yoga studio is inside the women’s locker room (so no men allowed) and the weight room is inside the men’s locker room (so no women allowed.) I didn’t practice at this studio since the next available class that day wasn’t a yoga class but it seemed like a nice studio and the ladies were very helpful and directed me to the next yoga studio.

Bali Hot Stone Yoga – Allure
〒150-0022, 1 Chome-2-11 Ebisuminami, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0022

Bali Hot Stone Yoga is the Equinox of hot yoga in Tokyo. The address listed above is one of their 3 yoga studio locations. I stopped by this one but their next class wasn’t a yoga class so I went to the Jinja location across the street near the Ebisu Shrine (this Allure location is on the 4th floor of a multi-purpose complex with restaurants at the bottom.) The studio has plenty of amenities including lockers, showers, towels, and you don’t need to bring your own yoga mat–the studio provides them although they are of cheap quality and slip on the floor (high quality yoga hasn’t really made it big in Tokyo yet, although there is a Lululemon in Shibuya and Manduka has a Japan website) but very few people actually wear brand name America yoga wear here. The coolest thing about this yoga studio is their hot stone floor; if you are into hot yoga, this is the studio for you, although you have to really like hot yoga because they heat the studio to 39 degrees C / 102.2 degrees F, 49% humidity. The studio was beautiful and the staff was wonderful, the issue I had with this studio was that while I went to an Intermediate Level class, the yoga was so basic that I didn’t feel like I got a workout at all, despite sweating profusely. The most advanced pose in this Intermediate class was Warrior II–there were no standing twists and instead, a lot of basic stretching. It was more like a spa experience than it was a workout experience. It’s important to note that there is a large women’s locker room but there isn’t a men’s locker room and there wasn’t a single man in the class (all the staff is female) so I don’t think men are allowed at this yoga establishment. All in, I recommend checking out this yoga studio if you are curious as to what yoga in Japan is like because it was taught 100% in Japanese and it has an amazing first-time drop-in rate of 1,000 JPY (equivalent to about $10 USD,) which includes a bottle of water; after that, it is 3,000 JPY / class.

jinja1
Allure at Jinja (4th Floor)

 

Puerto Vallarta Yoga Review

The Yogi Bar
Paseo de la Marina 3 | Local 7, Puerto Vallarta 48335

The Yogi Bar in Puerto Vallarta
The Yogi Bar in Puerto Vallarta

I was recently in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and decided to go to a local yoga studio to experience yoga in a different way. Major caveat: Everything in Puerto Vallarta is geared towards tourists–there are Americans everywhere and almost everyone speaks English. However, at the Yogi Bar, I was able to take a yoga class from Miguel who spoke half Spanish and half English throughout the class (plus the Sanskrit yoga poses.) This was the “international yoga” experience I wanted (I didn’t want to be led by a teacher who emigrated from the US.)

Pros
1.) Good teacher with extensive yoga experience (teacher was very flexible and emphasized flexibility as a part of the practice.)
2.) Conveniently located spot if you are staying in any of the hotels nearby; close to other restaurants/spas.
3.) Amazing prices ($5 US dollar/class is amazing); fresh juices and smoothies are both enormous and very reasonably priced at $3 US dollar/drink (about 70% cheaper than anything you will find in San Francisco.)

Cons
1.) There is a wide variety of experience levels in the class so it’s not as strong of a Vinyasa Flow as I would normally like.
2.) If you aren’t somewhat familiar with the basic Ashtanga yoga poses, then you might feel lost since the class is taught in English and Spanish. I personally really enjoyed this part of the practice but some novices may not.

Now if you can get on the water in Puerto Vallarta, the water is quite warm (by North American standards–I would guess 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit,) grab a standup paddle-board and try some yoga moves on it (it’s really hard to balance on the open ocean!)

Paddle-board splits
Paddle-board splits
Downward-facing dog
Downward dog is hard on the water