Crash Course: Put on your yoga pants and get ready to move like the karate kid, young grasshopper. Red Sun Yoga blends the moves of vinyasa yoga, martial arts, tai chi, budokon, and capoeira into a fun, challenging class. It pushes you to find strength in flexibility and grace in speed. How very yin and yang. Click here to see when the next class is offered at Epic Yoga.
where: 1323 Connecticut Avenue, red line/Dupont Circle
perks: showers, lockers, wifi, free mat rental and towels
sweat score: 5 out of 10
wear: something comfy
cost: drop in rate is $18, first week is $20*
instructor: Emma Saal
Naming your studio “Epic Yoga” in a city full of Type A fitness fans is a bold move, to say the least. I remember reading all sorts of exciting things about the studio before it opened, and if Yelp is any indication, the studio is living up to its name during its first year. So I was extremely excited when owner and instructor Emma Saal invited me to come crash at her studio. According to its website, Epic Yoga is:
a passionate group of individuals, who truly love life and embrace the adventures that lay ahead…Back in the summer of 2011, we laid the groundwork and path to create a workout experience unlike any other. Our name, Epic, embraces our vision. We hope you’ll follow us down this path, join us on our journey, and reach your goals…an Epic adventure that is our Yoga Studio.
The studio is located on the top two floors of a fully renovated historic Dupont Circle building. It’s up there on my list of most beautiful studio spaces. Think wall after wall of exposed brick, rich hardwood floors, skylights, and large windows. Hello gawgus. Epic Yoga is so “epic,” in fact, that it has three separate spaces for their classes: a hot yoga room, a yoga room, and a barre studio. Here’s the barre studio:
This is the yoga studio, located just behind the barre area. You won’t be breathing down your neighbor’s neck in either of these enormous rooms, which are actually connected in the middle by a sliding door. Like the cavernous Stroga ballroom, this space just begs for rollerskates, cartwheels, and dance parties in socks.
Up one small flight of stairs is the hot yoga studio. It wasn’t suffocatingly hot and offered a cozy, comforting, and beautiful space to practice in. The addition of the tea lights along the floor boards for the evening class (not shown here) was an awesome touch…what a lovely detail to greet you when you walk in.
In addition to the ample seating room in the front lobby, Epic Yoga also has a recovery room where students can hang out before and after class. You’ll also find a mat storage rack, clean mats in the corner, and two bright restrooms. The ladies restroom had hair elastics and other amenities in case you forgot – win!
And here’s a look at the women’s locker room. It has plenty of clean showers, stacks of dry towels, and two rows of lockers. It’s pretty basic, but having the option to shower and change after class is an enormous perk in DC. All in all, with free showers, towels, lockers, and mats for a drop-in rate of $18…this is by far the best bang for your buck in DC that I’ve found so far.
One thing to note: I’m sure it’s just the weather and the fact that Epic Yoga is in an old building, but this locker room was an ice box when I visited. They have space heaters going on full tilt, but you may want to bring socks to wear on the cold floor.
After admitting my new love affair with budokon and having a longstanding obsession with hot yoga, I was psyched to try Emma’s 8 p.m. Red Sun Yoga class because it sounded like it would be a good mix of the two. It definitely echoed of budokon and the class spent a lot of time practicing the rolling wave vinyasa that’s so characteristic of the budokon style. I like it because it forces you to rethink and rewire your entire yoga practice – like starting over again fresh.
The sequences were simple enough to follow along with for a first timer like me. Oddly enough, they were also challenging enough to keep me on my toes the entire time. I’ve never done tai chi before, and really enjoyed the influence of that practice into the movements. The martial arts flare came into full force later in the class, when we practiced “floating” into and out of fighting position.
Emma made it look effortless. Me? Not so much. But I imagined I was floating like a feather and put on my best game face. Just don’t mind the crashing sound in the back of the classroom as I land on my mat. Note to self: I’d make the worst ninja in the history of ninjaness. Best to stick to Red Sun Yoga.
Between the heated room and the difficult moves, we were all sweating by the end of class. You try squating in this position for a few minutes and you’ll break a sweat, too. Ouchers.
We closed the 60 minutes with a savasana pose typical to yoga classes. With the tea lights twinkling off of the exposed brick, the soft music purring, and Emma walking around giving mini shoulder massages with eucaliptis oil…I zoned out into total yogic bliss and may have even fallen asleep for a hot second. With a good sweat behind me (and possibly a micro nap), I left feeling totally restored.
Things I would change:
- Tiny nit pick: the pace of the class could stand to be a bit faster. I realize it must be hard to balance teaching the new moves and then practicing them, but a faster class would help make it a more vigorous workout. Just my two cents!
Emma is the owner of Epic Yoga and teaches many of the classes offered throughout the week. (Note: I’ve heard through the grapevine that her barre yoga class is a rocking good workout.) She’s a classically trained ballet dancer and has studied extensively under various yoga, pilates, barre, and budokon teachers.
I found her to be extremely personable, approachable, and passionate about what she does. Her verbal cues during class were excellent, her voice was loud enough to hear over the music, and that end-of-class massage is hard to beat.
What other classes should I crash at Epic Yoga?
*Epic Yoga waived my walk-in fee, but opinions are entirely my own.