Hooked: Budokon Inspired Yoga at STROGA

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Crash Course: This class is yoga on crack. It’s all of the most fun and challenging yoga poses–with a dash of martial arts–wrapped into a 60-minute extravaganza of continual movement. Think inversions+arm balances+core burners+vinyasa yoga+tai chi. Oh, and did I mention you get to act like a wild animal too? Embrace your inner child and fitness freak and make it work, people. If you want to add a little turbo to your yoga, this is the class to try. There’s no need for prior experience with budokon; if you have a working knowledge of yoga poses and a healthy dose of curiosity, you’ll be able to follow along just fine. A listing of all bodukon yoga classes can be found on the STROGA website. (Tip: call before you go. I showed up at 1 p.m. and was told the class had been moved to 2 p.m. Not cool.)

[line] [left]where: 1808 Adams Mill Road, Adams Morgan

bring: yoga mat, water

perks: changing room, showers, mat rental

sweat score: 6 out of 10[/left][right]wear: something you can roll around in

cost: walk in $18*

instructor: Mimi Rieger[/right][line]

I had been hearing whisperings of how cool budokon is for years. Shame on me for just getting around to it now. It’s an amazing mix of strengthening poses, intense stretching, and meditative movement. I think it’s safe to say the class is the best of yoga paired with the best of martial arts. It also happens to be quite the workout. I was sweating within minutes and left feeling totally energized. Needless to say, I’m hooked and already scheduling my next visit.

The STROGA website nails it with their description:

Get ready to sweat during this hour long power flow practice that will deepen your yoga practcie and whip you into amazing shape. Budokon explores the body’s full range of motion with particular emphasis on building core strength, flexibility, and balance. This calm but intense practice is a must for any yogi, functional training enthusiast, or martial artist interested in having more control, more balance, and more confidence in their movement.

Studio

STROGA is located in a renovated Adams Morgan three-story mansion. With the sweeping staircases, crown molding, and stained glass windows, it has an old world feel unlike any other gym I’ve visited.

A co-ed changing room is located behind the staircase and past the front desk. There are lockers, changing stalls, and a mat-cleaning station. It also looks like you can store your yoga mat at the studio – a huge plus for those coming and going from work/school and don’t want to tote rolled neoprene around town.

The Budokon class took place in the grand ballroom located on the second floor. The beautiful widows and soft color palate gave the space an open and airy feel. Definitely an awesome vibe for doing any sort of moving meditation. I think you could fit two times the number of people in this studio than other places in DC and still have room to do a cartwheel.

I am also mildly obsessed with the ceiling. Can we take a moment to look at how cool it is? It’s worth trying those upside-down poses just to check it out.

There are storage cubbies in the back of the classroom, or keep your belongings outside the studio in the lounge area. I love that there’s a large space with ample seating room for folks to hang out before and after class.

Class

I went into this class blind. I knew it had something to do with martial arts and something to do with yoga, and that was good enough for me. For a total newbie, I had no problem picking it up and following along. So don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from trying out this seriously cool workout.

This particular class was part of a teacher-training course, so we had the benefit of someone at the front of the classroom demonstrating all of the poses. It was extremely motivating to watch a pro float through the movements and balances like they were a walk through the park. I mean seriously, can you see the height that girl has on her handstand? It gave me the courage to attempt a few of my own. The result was very different and very ungraceful, but I had fun trying. That’s the most important part, right?

If I had one word to sum up my Budokon experience, it would be that: fun. Despite the challenging moves, I had the best time giving them a shot. Arm stand? Sure, why not. One leg balance? Bring it on. Oh you want me to use my arms to float into a low squat? Alrighty then. All of the sequences demanded intense focus, strength, balance, a touch of grace, and a boatload of good humor.

You will fall. You will shake. But I promise it’s worth it.

This brings me to the end of class, when we were instructed to “get raw” and act like animals. There is an entire slew of budokon moves called the “animal series,” where students mimic different animals and how they move. We leapt like gazelles. We tumbled like monkeys. We hopped like frogs. It sounds like something straight out of kindergarten class, but it was ridiculously hard. And ridiculously entertaining. What an awesome energy boost and stress relief!

This video gives a better example of some of the animal moves. This one is a good representation of the first half of class.

Instructor 

Mimi Rieger led my class. She became DC’s first certified budokon instructor in 2005 and has been rocking the scene ever since. Mimi teaches a take-no-prisoners class, often making us do sequences again if she felt we cheated and rushed through the movements. I don’t know about you, but I love that, especially when taking a class for the first time. I’d rather take the time to learn the moves correctly than fake it.

She is also a master at cuing the class to upcoming poses as we moved through the sequences. You won’t feel lost in translation. If you do, she’s typically an arms reach away to help out. She also used a lot of “you’ve got this” and “you know how this works” to encourage us through. When you’re trying to float your feet above your head, this is a must.

I’d definitely go back to her class again.

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Have you tried budokon?

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*STROGA generously waived my fee for this class; however, all opinions are my own.

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