Crash Course: Hold on to your yoga pants ladies and gents, because this class is one heck of a ride. Ninety minutes of power vinyasa flow in a heated room packed to the gills with sweating, exhaling, bending yogis. Come through the door knowing that you will be pushed to your limits physically and mentally. Hate other people sweating on you? Not big on trying new things? Like to look fresh after working out? Then I suggest you go somewhere else. Down Dog is a rocking experience that will leave you in a pool of your own sweat, exhausted, elated, and wondering when you can come back to do it all over again. Sign up online and come early, the classes fill fast. Click here to see the schedule.
[left]where? 1046 Potomac Street NW, Georgetown
bring? towel, sweat bands, extra set of clothes
perks? changing rooms, mat/towel rental
sweat score? 11 out of 10[/left][right]wear? less is more; be prepared for leg lifts
how much? walk-in is $18
instructor? tanO [/right]
I first discovered Down Dog Yoga in college. It was a short walk from my cramped apartment and offered a reprieve from the dull whirling of the gym. It kicked my butt from the very first class and still does so today, eight years later. Honestly, it’s one of the main reasons I keep going back to Down Dog; the instructors are consistently good and I never leave feeling like it was a workout wasted. In the studio’s own words:
Down Dog yoga is a challenging practice. But, our method, no matter your age or experience level, will push you to healthy edge and pull more out of you than you ever thought possible. All you need is the willingness to take a leap of faith and a desire for a lifetime of good health.
The Georgetown studio is Down Dog’s flagship location. It’s a small building located at the end of the cobblestone alley next to Dean and Deluca. Your best best is to follow the streams of folks with yoga mats rushing to get a space in line.
Speaking of which: evening classes fill up fast and the line is often out the door. I’d recommend getting there at least 20 minutes in advance, and prepare for a bit of jostling and stress as you squeeze through the droves of spandex trying to secure their spots. The class is oh so worth it, but the pre-class rush is enough to spike anyone’s blood pressure.
Once you make it inside, head to the back to find changing rooms, storage cubbies, and a bathroom. Perk alert: the bathroom is stocked with makeup removing wipes and extra hair ties.
The studio itself looks sparse when empty, but cram 60 or so bodies in there and you’ll be happy for the blank wall space.
Blocks, straps, cleaning solution, and a separate bathroom are located in the back of the classroom.
Class starts and ends with three ohms. If you’re me, this may cause you to awkwardly laugh. My advice? Giggle…and then try it.
The 90 minute class is similar to bikram in that it begins with standing poses and then moves on to floor poses. It’s very different from bikram in that it flows quickly from pose to pose without a regimented sequence. There’s a powerful momentum that takes hold around the 10 minute mark and doesn’t let go until the final resting pose.
See those mats? This is how close you will be to your neighbor. You may as well make the best of it and introduce yourself!
The main focus throughout class is on the breath. Down Dog works with ujjayi breathing – a fancy word for breathing through your nose. You will hear a lot of “inhale, exhale” from the instructors. It seems like a no brainer, but when it’s 96 degrees and you’re twisted in three different directions and the guy next to you is projectile sweating…a reminder to breathe is helpful.
The instructors move throughout the studio during class. They will step on your mat. They will adjust your hips to a whole new level of “sensation.” They will say things that make you laugh and wonder and think (and think again). The intensity of the workout is often matched with the intensity of the overall experience. Hang on for the ride, I think you’ll end with a smile on your face.
As with all yoga, the poses are only as intense as you make them. Some days I go in and bang through the poses like a yogic rockstar. Other days I spend 45 minutes in child’s pose dreaming of ice cubes and dry clothes. You never know how your body will respond to the heat and the intensity of the workout, so try not to get discouraged if you’re down on the mat more often than not.
TanO has been with Down Dog for a few years now, and his classes are some of the most popular. For a good reason. He delivers a crazy challenging class with heavy dose of thought-provoking tid bits. Some of my favorites from today were “you have to get through it to get to it,” “you’re your best yoga teacher, I’m just the guide,” and “you don’t think you’re a yogi? You’re here, aren’t you? It’s time to own it.”
So if you come by Down Dog in Georgetown, make sure to say hello to TanO and all of the other instructors. If there’s one you swear by or avoid like the plague, I’d love to hear about it!
What’s your preference: bikram or hot vinyasa flow?