Archive of ‘yoga’ category
Crash Course: This, my friends, is a full-body cardio and weights class masquerading around in sassy yoga pants. It smiles and whispers “namaste” while challenging you to a full throttle push up contest. And let me tell you…it is awesome. There’s loud music. Yelling. Jumping up and down. Burpees. Bicep curls. Puddles of sweat. And a little bit of vinyasa flow thrown in for good measure. Visit the CorePower Yoga website for a full schedule of their yoga classes at locations in DC and across the country.
where: 6800 Wisconsin Ave. Suite #300/Bethesda Metro
bring: towel, water
perks: showers, free parking, rental mats, lockers
sweat score: 10 out of 10
wear: less is more, it’s hot!
cost: $20 drop-in, membership available
Full disclosure: I’m a hot-yoga-induced-adrennaline-rush junkie. If you know me well, it’s not entirely surprising that I absolutely loved the Sculpt class at CorePower Yoga. It’s a fast and furious combination of many of my favorite things: hot yoga, mid-workout dance parties (more on that later), random bursts of burpees, energetic instructors, and free weight reps that make my arms want to fall off. So when Nanci at the Bethesda location reached out about crashing a class at her studio, I found my SmarTrip card and across the DC line I went.
This particular studio is literally a stone’s throw from the District border and is 100% metro accessible. But if you want to keep things closer to home, CorePower Yoga also has locations in Georgetown and a new one opening in Glover Park next month. The Bethesda location is in a strange strip mall complex, nestled in with a CVS, PetCo, and Mattress Discounters <insert joke about strange bedfellows here>.
If you drive, parking is free. Just remember to have your ticket stamped at the front desk. Make your way to the third floor and follow the stream of yoga-mat-toting folks down a long hallway leading to the front door. And enter the calming, spa-like oasis that is CorePower Yoga.
I have never in my life been to such a beautiful yoga studio. There’s no musty yoga smell. Plenty of space to move around in. The lighting is bright and upbeat. Things appear to be impeccably clean. Everything has its aesthetically-pleasing place. Be still my heart.
Yes, I think that’s a fireplace. See what I mean? Who wouldn’t want to cozy up to some crackling embers while browsing through adorable yoga merchandise and sipping eco-friendly filtered water?
I’m not going to lie. I was blown away by my first impression. It’s just lovely. And if your heart can’t be won with filtered water and racks of fresh Luon, just wait till you see the locker rooms.
Bright. Clean. Roomy. Lots of little amenities in case you forgot a hair-tie or need some mouthwash. Can I move in?
And five showers. Five. I didn’t use one but walked in fully-clothed to have a look-see. Sparkling clean with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash built in. What a lovely way to rinse off after sweating your brains out in class.
I had to literally tear myself away from the locker room and all of it’s splendor. I’ve been to many a gym in this city, and I can count on one hand the spots where the digs were this nice. Well played, CorePower.
Now…on to class.
There are two yoga studios at this location. Both look very similar, so what you see above is what to expect. Gleaming clean floors, fun lights, and lots of windows. I’m a big fan of the natural light. And of the fact that I wasn’t walking through sweat puddles or musty air to get to my mat.
I grabbed two sets of free weights, a block, and settled in to enjoy the proverbial calm before the storm.
Nanci led us through a few warm up yoga poses to kick things off. The music was thumping. Her upbeat voice carried well. And you could tell we were in for a wild ride.
From what I could tell, the class follows a very specific sequence of moves. There’s a leg, arm, and glute series. Each involves a few yoga-inspired moves like chair pose or warrior two, but made enormously more challenging thanks to weighted reps. For example, imagine sitting low in chair pose. Now imagine pulsing in chair pose. Now imagine pulsing in chair pose while doing overhead tricep curls while Miley Cyrus is blaring and sweat is pouring into your eyes. Now you get the picture.
I’ll be honest, this class is really tough. I had to take a few breaks. My arms and legs were shaking. Some positions needed modification just so I could get through them. But everyone in the room was in the same boat – so hear me out: do not feel any pressure to keep up. Be smart about the workout. It’s hot in there people.
The most interesting thing about the Sculpt class, in my opinion, is the mid-workout cardio segment. I’m not entirely sure how long it lasts (about the length of one song), but it involves any assortment of high knees, squat jumps, mountain climbers, and running in place. In other words, it’s a spastic dance party on your yoga mat. While easily the heart-pumpingest portion of the workout, it was also the most fun. I couldn’t believe the energy Nanci had – she was bouncing all around the room, shouting out commands and dancing to the music.
You know who else was laughing?
That guy. I swear the Buddha statue in the corner of the room was silently cracking up as all of us lept, repped, and sweat all over the place. Yoga? I’m not so sure I buy it. This class was a lot more “ommmmm(g)” than “ommmm.” But it’s a crazy challenging and fun workout that no doubt will whip you into great shape, no matter your fitness or yoga goals.
Would you call this class “yoga”?
Crash Course: The Hatha/Iyengar Inspired class on Sunday afternoons is a level two playground for students who want an expressive, inquisitive, no-holds-barred deep dive into their practice. Be prepared for just as much mental stretching as physical – you’ll be asked to move the lower inner left back of your kneecap away from the outer upper right back of your kneecap at the same time. Figure that one out while still tying to keep your balance and you’ll have an idea of what to expect. It’s a wonderful academic approach to yoga and a breath of fresh air from the more ubiquitous vinyasa approach. Hatha places greater emphasis on longer held poses and the Iyengar bit means you’ll be using blocks, straps, blankets, and even the wall as you move through the class. Check out the Georgetown Yoga site for a full schedule of classes.
where: 2603 P Street NW
perks: free mat rental, filtered water, small class sizes
sweat score: 4 out of 10
wear: anything you like
instructor: Kristen Krash
cost: drop in rate is $17 and $10 for students*
Georgetown Yoga is one of the most recent additions to the DC yoga family. It sits half way between the hubbub of Georgetown and Dupont, just across the street from Rose Park. The easiest way to get there sans car is to bike or walk from the Dupont metro. There are no close-by bikeshare stations, so I left mine at the Dupont metro corral and hoofed it about 10 – 15 minutes to the studio.
Eli – one of the owners – me outside with an iPad. There is no sign in desk or reception area in the studio, so the check-in process is done entirely via mobile device. When you walk in you’ll see why. The studio is a one room wonder. No merchandise table, no computer desk, no changing rooms. A modest, bright, clean space dedicated solely to the task at hand and a stark contrast to every other yoga studio I’ve visited. I loved the simplicity of it.
There is a small back room to store your belongings and to collect props. You’ll also find a bathroom, filtered water stand, and yoga mats to borrow.
That’s the full tour! Class sizes are intentionally kept small to maintain the relaxed atmosphere. Eli explained that he really prefers students to have a few inches of space to work with before they run into their neighbor’s mat. There’s just nothing zen about having someone’s foot in your face, he said…and I have to agree. From the wide open studio room and the lack of extraneous clutter to the space between the mats, the entire philosophy behind Georgetown Yoga goes something like this:
We try to keep it simple. It’s not about how much you sweat, how far you can twist yourself, or if you chant ‘om.’ It’s about great yoga. And great yoga teachers.
Can I get an amen? Another refreshing detail I noticed was in the students themselves. At least today, there was no hint of “keeping up with the Joneses” in terms of gear, clothing, or accessories. All too often yoga studios feel a bit like runways as opposed to centers of wellness and exercise. Today the rule was: wear whatever you want, laugh when you fall over, and just enjoy the simplicity of being yourself in the moment.
Now, let’s get down to the business of the class. When I first signed up, Eli reminded me this was a level two class. “Oh that’s okay,” I chimed. “I’ve never tried this type of practice but I’ve been practicing for years. Everything should be fine.” Famous. last. words.
Yoga has a funny way of pulling the mat from under your feet and reminding you of the humility you so desperately deserve.
I followed along with the instructor at the start of class as she rolled a blanket into a tight ball. This is interesting – never seen this trick before. “And then,” Kristen said calmly, “lay on top of it so it presses firmly into the pit of your stomach. And breathe.” Three minutes into this class and I’m already toast. There I lay, suffering through a self-inflicted and persistent punch in the gut, wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into. This was not like anything I had ever done in all my years of practice. This was uncomfortable, strange, and made me want to run out the door. As if a sign from the great yogini from above, I glanced over and caught a glimpse of the message on my block.
Real funny, block. How is one supposed to keep calm and practice on with a ball of blanket pushing and squishing her innards in every abnormal direction. But you know what? A few moments later we were out of the pose and I was reminded of the entire purpose of yoga: to be in the present moment, because nothing is certain and nothing lasts. The ah-ha moment was worth every second of that uncomfortable blanket pose. Now, I’m not saying the rest of class became any easier. There were moving handstands, partner camel poses against a wall, a series of standing and seated splits, and a few other moves that brought me to my edge and back again time and again.
Despite my see-sawing emotions of panic and relief about being in over my head, I was so deeply concentrated on every tiny micro-movement Kristen was cuing that I didn’t have much time to think about how improbable the pose seemed. She teaches an enormously academic and thought-provoking class. I will never, ever look at down dog the same way again. There were times when I had to really stop and think, “now, what ten things am I supposed to be doing in this pose?” But it was a much-needed jolt from any anticipation I had to turn on autopilot and flow through the poses. She demanded we be fully present, fully engaged, and fully aligned. And, as she warned at the beginning of class, I definitely left feeling like a piece of pulled-out taffy.
If you are looking for a no-frills, simple, non-competitive atmosphere to practice in, I’d check this tiny space out. And if the Hatha/Iyengar level two craziness seems a bit extreme for your taste, they offer a variety of other styles so just check the schedule to find something that works with what you need.
Have you had any humbling yoga moments?
* Georgetown Yoga generously waived my drop in fee for this class. This review and all opinions are my own.
Crash Course: extendYoga is located in northern Bethesda, a little off the beaten path from the hustle and bustle of the city’s downtown area. The studio offers heated and non-heated yoga classes for all levels. I crashed the Saturday morning hot power flow class, which according to the extendYoga website, focuses on linking conscious breath with a vigorous and mindful flow. For a full list of classes, click here.
where: 12106 Wilkins Ave., North Bethesda
bring: mat, mat towel, towel, water
perks: free parking, mat/towel rental, $5 friday classes, new students receive two weeks for $20
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: clothes suited for working out in the heat
cost: drop in rate is $18*
extendYoga is a bit farther outside the DC area than I regularly go for my crashes, but it was worth it to find this little gem of a studio. It is not metro accessible and a bit tucked away – if you look in the middle of that “Parklawn” sign off the side of the road you’ll see a blue lotus. That’s where you should turn in.
There is plenty of free parking outside, which is a huge plus for this city girl. If I have to drive to a crash, I typically circle around the neighborhood for a good 15 minutes before finding a spot. It was so nice to not have to worry about it this time – particularly at 9 a.m. on a Saturday!
Step into extendYoga and you’ll be instantly transported to a schwanky city yoga studio, except with much more space! It is beautiful inside, with shiny wood floors, bright windows, and spotless studios. The front desk area also has a lounge space and yoga-centric merchandise to browse.
You all know how much I love the little details studios include to make guests feel at home. At extend, they have a bar area with cold lemon water, hot tea, cookies, and crackers. What a great spot to grab a treat before or after class!
I love that the owners framed their first yoga mats and used them as art in the studio. What a great idea!
The changing area, two bathrooms, and the heated studio are located the back of the building. Everything is very clean and bright – my favorite combination.
This room is a combination coat room, shoe storage area, and changing space. I love the yoga wall decals – aren’t they fun? It can get a little bit crowded, but I had no issues finding a spot to lay my belongings without feeling jostled or rushed. Those curtains section off a little area where you can change into your yoga clothes. If that’s not enough privacy, head to one of the two bathrooms.
This photo isn’t the best quality, but I wanted to test out the panorama function on my camera to give you a full glimpse at the hot yoga studio. You can see how bright and airy it is – it’s almost impossible to think this gleaming room can reach up to 101 degrees. Sizzle! Not pictured to the right is an area with blocks, straps, bolsters, and mat cleaning supplies.
This is the non-heated studio, located in the middle of extend’s floor plan. It’s just as spacious but has no windows. You wouldn’t know it though; the bright hanging lights and high ceilings give the entire place a very open feel.
The hour-long heated power yoga class I crashed was…in a word…hot. I have been taking hot power yoga classes for about eight years, but the scorching temperatures in this class were above and beyond anything I had experienced before. Well, except for in a Birkam class. How hot, you ask? The temperature hovered around 101. It didn’t help that I happened to be right in the path of one of the heating fans, but judging from the sweat dripping from everyone around me, it was hot no matter where you put your mat. I mention this because some people like heated yoga, and some people like hot yoga. You decide if this kind of heat is for you. (Note: extendYoga also offers plenty of non-heated options…so check out their schedule to see what works best for your needs.)
Allison taught a very accessible, flowing class. The pace was slower than I am used to for a power yoga class: this is great if you want a gentler, more available hot yoga option, but not ideal if you are looking for a butt-kicking, extremely athletic practice. She used creative pose combinations, had very helpful cuing, and walked around the room to make adjustments. For an hour-long class, we worked just about every major sequence and I left feeling like everything had received a very good stretch. And the very best perk? That little rock you see in the photo above. During vinyasa, Allison passed around these smooth stones – which had been refrigerated in lavender water – to place on our foreheads. So simple, but it made for such a wonderful treat after the hot and sweaty class.
Because I’m always looking for heathy ways to refuel after my crashes, I popped into MOM’s Organic Market to grab a fresh juice and grain bowl. It is located about five minutes from the studio, has plenty of parking, and even has a few charging stations for those of you with electric cars. I had never been to a MOM’s before and was very impressed with the quality and extent of their products. Think Whole Foods meets Yes! meets local farmers market.
There is a little spot inside the store called Naked Lunch where you can purchase fresh salads, sandwiches, grain bowls, home made kombucha, and juices. Everything is organic and made to order. I went with a carrot, beet, cucumber, ginger juice and the Moler Bowl, which had a combination of farro, quinoa and barley with all sorts of delicious veggies mixed in. The entire thing is served warm and was absolutely, ridiculously delicious. I can’t recommend it enough. If you are near the Rockville MOM’s and looking for a quick and healthy meal…this is the spot for you.
What’s your favorite spot for a healthy post-workout meal?
*extendYoga generously waived my drop in fee. This post is not an endorsement and all opinions are my own.
As the snowflakes began to fall on Saturday afternoon, I cozied up at Off Road DC for their Inner Core Pilates/Yoga workshop. The studio is best known for their spin, TRX, and boxing classes, but they occasionally use their beautiful U Street space to host other special events to bring their clients a little something extra. Colleen – who regularly teaches spin class – led the yoga portion, and Jillian kicked things off with mat Pilates.
I really liked the combination of the precision of Pilates and the zen of yoga into one, core-burning 90 minutes class. I can’t say I broke a sweat during the session – which is completely a-okay – but I woke up the next morning with the acute sensation that I had worked quite a few neglected muscles to their max. The core and outter thighs, to be exact. Colleen and Jillian, I salute you for the sneak-attack workout that I’m still paying for. Loved it!
After class, V from Goûter, came by with a few tonic samples for us to try. I was so excited to see her again and loved hearing about how her business is bustling and growing all over DC. Hooray Goûter! I had the pleasure of reviewing a number of Goûter products back in December and was pumped that V brought Stretch – a tonic with tumeric – and a Mexican “hot” chocolate melk made with cashews, cayenne, and cacao. Delicious!
Of course I had to bring a few of these babies home with me. It tastes like a creamy milk chocolate shake with a cayenne kick. Definitely makes for a filling afternoon treat or something to sip after dinner in lieu of dessert. I love the idea of vegan “melk” and can’t wait to see what V and Steve come up with next.
Sunday was a day reserved for running. It was time to complete ten miles, so I made my way over to Rock Creek Park to join the DC Tri Club for their weekend group run. My friends Jenny and Joe are members and invited me to join in the snowy fun. I’m so happy they did, because the miles flew by and before I knew it, we were finished! No fuss, no stopping, no big deal. It’s not every day ten miles just flies by…but for today, I’ll take it!
Big thanks to Jenny for keeping me on pace and totally distracted with talk of wedding planning (and food, and running gear, and blogging, and puppies, and life, and anything else that came up over ten miles). She and Joe recently got engaged (hooray – congrats!) and I’ve taken it upon myself to offer all my best advice from watching one too many episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Bridezilla.” Regardless of my reality tv habits, I’m taking this official blog opportunity to extend happiest wishes to my best running buddy.
After warming up at home for a bit, I drove over to Union Market for some much-needed brunch. Something about long runs makes me insatiably hungry all day long, and this spot is every foodie’s dream come true. It’s essentially a big open space full of vendors selling every delicious thing you could imagine. Crusty fresh bread, smelly cheese, pastries, pickles, green juice, oysters, wine, fountain sodas, lattes…catch my drift?
First on the menu: caffein in the form of a hand-crafted soy latte from Peregrine Espresso.
Second on the menu: smoked hummus and avocado sandwich on a whole wheat everything bagel from Neopol Savory Smokery. This, my friends, is the most decadently scrumptious sandwich on the face of the planet and is currently number one on my list of favorite things.
A few other shots from the market:
It was a most awesome weekend. Tell me about yours!
Crash Course: Jivamukti is a type of hatha yoga that incorporates flowing vinyasa sequences, sanskrit chanting, meditation, hands-on adjustments, and yogic teachings set to uplifting music. Be prepared to begin class with chanting along with a harmonium, and for the yoga sequences to come with a heaping side of philosophy. Music ranges from current hits to Krishna Das. It was a deeply insightful, thought provoking, interesting class – and the yoga was great too. Click here for the full schedule of classes at Flow.
where: 1450 P Street, NW/Second Floor, Logan Circle
bring: mat, towel
perks: mat rental, mat storage available, free tea and cookies offered
sweat score: 5 out of 10
wear: something you can go up-side-down in
instructor: Krista Block
cost: drop in rate is $18*
Flow Yoga Center is located in Logan Circle next to the bustling Whole Foods Market. If you don’t see it right away, look for the sign for Best-In Liquors and then look up. The studio is located in the second floor loft of that building, up a steep flight of stairs.
The stairs will take you to the main floor of the studio, which was crowded and bustling with students when I arrived. I’m sure it depends on the time of day, but just be prepared for tight quarters if you happen to go during a busy spell. Take off your shoes and store them in the cubbies on the landing, and sign in at the front desk. If this is your first time to the studio, they will give you a short tour of the two-level space. Another perk: mat rental is free for your inaugural class.
Directly across from the front desk is the colorful student lounge. There are a few couches and benches where yogis can enjoy complimentary tea and catch up with friends. When I came in for the 4 p.m. class on Saturday, it was absolutely packed!
Be sure to check out the fireplace in the lounge – it serves as an impromptu kitchen space with complimentary tea, filtered water, and a few small cookies. Relaxing with a warm cup of tea – especially during the cold winter months – is a lovely way to slow the mind and press the pause button for a few moments before or after class.
Also on the first floor are the changing rooms. There’s additional storage in this room directly across from the changing area, in case the cubbies in the lounge are full.
Flow has a total of three studio rooms: one on the first and two on the second floor. The second floor is also home to a smaller lounge area and an additional bathroom (this is good to know if there’s a long line for the one downstairs!). Check out the hilarious sign put on the hand dryer. I knew I was in a fun place when they tape yoga-jokes in the loo.
This is the second floor landing, where there’s a small area to sit and wait for classes.
To the left of the stairs is the larger of the studio’s three rooms – isn’t the exposed brick great? When I popped in, the room was being used for teacher training (hence all of the mats and notebooks), but of it gives you a good sense of just how many yogis they can squeeze into this space.
To the right of the stairs is a small and cozy studio, which they told me is often used for private instruction. The fireplace, exposed brick wall, and plants gave the room a very grounded, earthy feel.
The jivamukti class was held in the downstairs studio – located all the way in the back of the building. The room was much smaller than others I have practiced in, and held about 30 students for our session. We all had enough space to work with, and like the set up at Embrace Yoga, the room is split down the middle with each half of the room facing the other. The teacher weaved between our mats or demonstrated moves in the middle of the room, so you could see her from any spot. She also gave excellent verbal cues, so there were no awkward moments when I felt like I was hanging out waiting for guidance.
I had never taken a jivamukti yoga class, and had to do a little bit of research before heading into the room so I knew what to expect. I’m glad I did, because I think the Sanskrit chanting would have totally thrown me for a loop if I didn’t know it was coming. I’m used to belting out a few “ohms” at the beginning of class, but trying to sing along in a foreign language took the giggle factor to a whole other level. It helped that Krista played the harmonium along with the chanting, which was loud enough to
drown smooth out most of our off-key efforts. The instrument’s name is Mona, in case you were wondering.
The rest of the class was very much along the lines of a typical vinyasa flow practice. We did a number of advanced variations and were encouraged to play around and give them a try. Every advanced variation, however, came with a corresponding modification, so there was a range of options to choose from for practitioners of all levels. I appreciated the casual atmosphere Krista created – it helped make the embarrassment of toppling over onto my face while trying to put my left leg over my head a little bit more tolerable. This is a great class to try if you want a challenge, a shake up, or are hoping to learn a few new poses – and an excellent class to attend if you have a more advanced practice and want the opportunity to let loose and go big.
An essential part of the jivamukti practice is the introduction of philosophical discussion into the class, and today’s topic centered around using yoga and meditation to cultivate super powers. Yes, real super powers. Krista even wore her supernova patterned yoga crops to prove it (oh how I wish I had gotten a photo of those, they were amazing!). Whether you super powers are real or not is a debate for another day on another blog. Just know that it’s an awesome feeling starting off a yoga class with a teacher assuring you that you are whole, complete, where you need to be in this moment…and full of super powers.
Which brings me to Krista herself…this girl is a yoga superhero. I had so much fun in her class and am excited to be able to follow along with her off the mat through social media. She posts pictures of herself on Facebook and Instagram in crazy, awesome, mind blowing yoga poses and they never cease to make me want to get out of my computer chair and give it a try. She also has a series of time-lapse yoga videos on her website that are mesmerizing to watch; this one called the “Yoga Rave” is my favorite, possibly because it showcases the supernova tights!
What’s your favorite kind of yoga to practice?
*Flow Yoga generously provided this class at no charge. This post is not an endorsement, and all opinions are my own.