My experiences with yoga in my 28 years of existence have been somewhat.. trying.
#1 – Bought a 20-class hot yoga package at Pacific Plaza, right down the road from where I used to work, valid for 3 months. Usage = 2 classes before the package expired.
#2 – Inspired by visions of myself as a banking yoga, bought a 1-year unlimited yoga membership at Causeway Bay, just 2 streets down from where I used to live. Usage = 2 weeks of daily yoga while I was in between jobs.
#3 – (Current) Inspired by visions of myself as a hippie self-employed yogi, bought a 30-class yoga package at Kate Porter Yoga, just 10 minutes from where I live. Usage so far = 4, not bad. Dare I dream I will actually utilise them all?
From what little I know, there are 2 types of yoga studios: the minimalist, urbanite type; and the hippie, tie-dye type. The former tends to focus on calorie burning, and their instructors are all the ex-banker-turned-yogi sorts, with very nice hair, very nice clothes, very nice bodies.
The latter is something I’ve never really experienced until my first class at Kate Porter Yoga which was an eye-opener Rather than selling sexy Lululemon yoga attire, it sells incense and tie-dye loose yoga clothing. It has a book exchange to encourage thought sharing among yogis. Its classes have a theme to it every month to break the momentum of seemingly-repetitive sun salutations (I really like this, since boredom is my middle name; this month’s theme is twisting). It holds seasonal workshops (this weekend’s workshop is 108 sun salutations to end the year with), like how retailers run seasonal campaigns to keep customers engaged. It organises yoga holidays – for both yourself and your non-yogi friends. Its instructors are comparatively less goddess-like, and convey a much deeper focus on breathing, meditation and reflection. Its slogan is “Yoga for Normal People”.
Here, I am reminded of yoga and its restorative purpose, rather than the cool, urbanite hobby everyone seems to have. Not to say it doesn’t force you to work – my body is a constant state of ache – but it also incorporates more of the meditation and breathing of a traditional yoga practice. The mental chasm to project my perception of yoga from studio to somewhere in India is considerably narrowed here.
I like it, and for anyone who hasn’t had a good experience with type 1 yoga studio, maybe you should give the hippie type a chance 😉