Woweewowwow....the last time I nearly blacked out I was likely to have been doin something not entirely legal!
Given it was my first time and it was a long way to the ground there was a few pitstops, but a great class otherwise; the instructor was great and made sure us newbies didn't try anything too ambitious.
The changing rooms are tiiiiiny, not good when you wanna get sorted after 90mins of perspiration; minus point.
Water water water, the name of the game. Recovery akin to a serious circuits session, but I'll be back!
I understand that Bikram, or yoga for that matter, isn't for everyone - some love it, some hate it. However, to go for one month and call it 'an hour and a half of stretching and shifting from one pose to another' is so incredibly ignorant and clearly comes from a reviewer who is a beginner that never bothered to listen to her instructors or push herself to achieve the challenging workout she claims to crave.
I've practiced at several Bikram studios - LA, NY and here. London City is not my favorite for a variety of reasons: the counter people aren't particularly friendly, the spaces outside the dojo, including the entrance and the changing rooms, are ridiculously cramped and the classes can get packed to the point of absurdity (which is why it gets 4 stars, the practice itself would get 100).
Despite these petty irritations, I fucking LOVE Bikram yoga. And despite my lack of love for the studio itself, the best Bikram teacher I've ever had is at City. His name is Raj and if you're lucky enough to have a class with him for the love of God, listen to what he is saying, he will take your practice further.
Yoga requires patience. It requires you to listen to your body and to push yourself. It requires you to quiet your mind and to focus on your breath. If you work at it, you'll grow from it. Additionally, the 1.5 hours or holding poses, breath work and pushing yourself will build strength, drop weight and change your body in ways you can't imagine. And it'll happen fast.
I can't say enough good things about it.
So I went through a phase recently of doing Bikram yoga four or five times a week and oh, how my body thanked me.
The Old Street Studio is one of three across London - about five minutes walk from the Old Street tube station, it's tucked away in a residential street. Staff are super-friendly and helpful, and the studio itself is large, clean and well-ventilated (a must with Bikram!). There's a great communal area which offers free herbal tea and a place to sit and re-group after your session.
Now, Bikram is not for the faint of heart - it's pretty much like doing 1.5 hours of yoga in a sauna. But, go down, have a go, and see how amazing you feel afterwards. The after-work classes can get pretty packed, so if your work schedule allows, try to go during the day when you'll get a LOT more space!
The studio has an amazing deal for new-comers: £29 for one month unlimited. Take advantage! You won't regret it.
It's difficult to rate a yoga studio because the practice is such a personal thing...but I'm going to give it a go.
To begin - a caveat - I used to practice yoga in DC and figured it was Bikram because it was done in a heated studio, but I was very wrong. The type of yoga I fell in love with is known as power vinyasa yoga and was pioneered by Baron Baptiste. It is a quick flow of poses with serious strength builders thrown in (like holding yourself in a low press up position). This is very different than Bikram, which leads you through 26 poses in the 90 minute session, but you return to a sort of "starting position" before each one and don't quickly move directly from one to another as you would in vinyasa. This isn't to say it's Bikram is easier, it's just very different.
Okay, now to the review of Bikram Yoga City. When I was signing all of the paperwork saying I didn't have any serious health problems, I heard people saying the studio was much warmer than usual. I didn't think anything of it because I am used to yoga in a heated studio - but as soon as I opened the studio door I was hit with an intense wave of heat and a smell that reminded me of lemongrass soap and a waft of Indian food.
Bikram Yoga City lets you use their mats for free, but I brought my own because I am particular (crazy?) and need to know when the mat was last cleaned. Luckily I was able to snag a place near the back of the room that had a little bit of air flow so I had a bit of respite. I unrolled my mat and couldn't believe the floor was carpeted. I would think that if you're going to open a yoga studio that is heated and humid, you'd want hard floors that can easily be mopped and disinfected. People literally drip with sweat during those 90 minutes!
I had arrived early so I tried to relax and get in the yoga zone but couldn't help looking around at the other people in the room. I was shocked that out of about 40 people, I was only one of three with a reusable water bottle and I felt like an enviro snob for letting it bother me, but come on, people! Spend a few pounds to take it easy on the landfills. I also noticed some people were wearing bikinis, which is just weird.
The instructor came in and perched on a podium in front of the room. She led us through some breathing exercises and I realized that my springtime allergies and Bikram do not mix. I couldn't breathe. I wanted to run out the door and feel the cold London breeze on my face, but the instructor kept saying that we needed to stay in the room even if it was uncomfortable. I spent a lot of the class just sitting on my mat, trying to catch my breath and about 45 minutes in, a girl collapsed. People from the front desk came in and carried her from the room.
I stayed in the room for the entire 90 minutes and felt terrible for the rest of the day with a pounding headache that no amount of water, sports drinks or coconut water would fix. I didn't want to return, but I had purchased a one month unlimited pass for £30. Drop-in sessions are £14 so I figured I could easily go three times and it would be worth it. I managed to go a second time, but that was it. Bikram Yoga City isn't for me. The smell and the carpet just turned me off.
I've done Bikram in San Francisco, so I only have one other studio to compare Bikram Yoga City to.
I like Bikram Yoga City--especially since they don't charge for use of mats so I don't need to lug mine to class every day.
The teachers do a good job with the dialogue--they have really personalized the Bikram script. In my studio in San Francisco they could have had a tape-recorder on.
I am not convinced though that this studio meets the heat requirement, or maybe my old studio exceeded it. I don't find it as hot.
The changing room can be quite chaotic between classes and the low ceilings in the changing room make changing with tons of people around you even more difficult. Also, you have to get dressed quickly or else you end up walking through the next class.
Also, the teachers don't do much personal correction and the classes are large.
Overall, I like it--I don't think any Bikram yoga studio is perfect--they each have their individual querks.
Kicked my ass! But I loved it! I've only been once as a busy schedule's kept me from returning but I do indeed intend to.
The great thing about yoga is that you can take it all your own pace. Whether an inflexible, out of shape novice or a spry and bendy yogi, the lasting benefits of feeling revitalized are real.
I found hot, sweaty birkam yoga to be much more enjoyable than I imagined it would be. Hard work but worthwhile.
Note: the reason for the four stars rather than five is due to the icky, smelly carpet in the studio. That was a real turnoff for me. Still, not so bad to be kept away. Everything else (price, location, instructor, pace) was perfect.
It's really difficult to put me off, but this yoga place discouraged me from practising once for good. As a new person to Bikram yoga, I thought maybe it's always like that - smelly and disgusting, but reading the other reviews I see more experienced yogers also see it this this way.
I had a Living Social Deal in January for 10 classes for £20 valid for a month. After the first one I got a very bad cold, due to which I couldn't attend the classes for 3 weeks. When I came the next time, I explained the situation and asked whether maybe I could at least use half of the unused classes I've paid for, but it was impossible. Fair enough...
Despite the unhelpful staff during my first visit, smelly mats and room and a pool of water on the floor in from of the changing room, I enjoyed the class. The teacher was great, the group was fairly small (Tuesday noon). For my second (at the last) visit I chose Sunday evening and it was disaster! There were so many people that every possible piece of the floor was covered, mat to mat, we were literally like sardines in a tin, it wasn't fun at all. They should really introduce some quota on the number of people they let in to the room at once and sort this place out.
right - i've been called out here, as being "ignorant" and an aspring yoga-holic who "never bothered to listen to her instructors" by a yelper who gave this particular yoga studio a 4-star rating, and NOW, just NOW... after sticking with yoga and having found a few A-MAZING yoga instructors.... that i see just how *underwhelming* this version of yoga is.
a *good* yoga instructor is attentive... a *good* yoga instructor DOES challenge you and makes you mindful, and pushes you, and you feel the entire experience worth your while...
so, take this when a grain of salt (since it's been a while) - but i've become a yoga convert and nothing about being herded into an overcrowded smelly room did *anything* to make me appreciate yoga.
yes, yoga can be yogasmic. but you need a suitable trainer/environment for that to happen. pretty sure this isn't it.
After reading the review from here, I have now also joined the Bikram club!
Today I am having my first-after-yoga-day, which means I can hardly walk. Uhh! The experience was overwhelming and HOT, but I am hooked! Wow, the 1,5 hour class was proper exercise. It really feels like being in a sauna and at first it was hard to get used with the hot air and the sweat. YES, you really do sweat and there is no point drying it up as it just goes on like a never ending river!
The only thing I am moaning about is how packed the class was. We were all practically clued to each others and you could not relax as you normally in yoga do, when you had to watch out that you don't hit someone with your leg, or vice versa. Also they had only one person on the counter so it was very slooow..so be there on time to avoid the queues.
But I am a member of the fan club and for the next 29 days I will be stretching my poor body in that sauna and trying to spot the Yelper that recommend the place..
I used to climb more often than fish swim; you could say I got a touch excessive turning down Friday nights on the lash so I could perfect my sit starts, making sure I got my work done by the evening so I could try the latest punishing overhang route suggested by my K, my 'climbing dominatrix'. Then disaster struck: by the name of the dreaded Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; and against the advice of my doctor I headed straight to my local Bikram Yoga centre to see if that would help (well Google suggested it, so it MUST be true!).
So now, my new home away from home is Bikram Yoga City: a spacious studio a few minutes stroll from Old St tube. It's got an intimate, minimalistic and stylish chill-out room where you can catch your breath after class before braving the (comparatively) cold world outside; the world's best-tasting coconut water and staff that make you sigh with relief it's not like one of those snooty yoga places full of Patsy and Edina-alikes; despite the studio's achingly cool reputation.
Now for the classes: I have always described the Bikram practice generally as reassuringly hardcore: as much as I would like to think that I'm a spiritually integrated person (maybe I am after a few drinks) I don't have time to search for enlightenment - I want to look and feel fantastic NOW goddammit! And that you shall: As a 90-minute class, consisting of 26 Hatha yoga postures performed in blood-boiling 40 degree heat and 50% humidity; you'll stretch muscles that you never knew existed with surprising ease and sweat so much that you're essentially cleaning your body from the inside out. I'd advise you to dress scantily; there's nothing worse than lugging home trackies that feel like they have been left in an un-drained washing machine. The studio also offers a great range of class times, so there's no excuse for missing out, unless you work 14 hour days for an investment bank; or something equally gruelling.
What I love most though is the constant stream of pro-Bikram propaganda delivered during the class by the instructors; sentences such this massages your parathyroid gland which speeds up your metabolism (this is true: I eat more than a pack of wild horses and still haven't broken the size 10 mark); and so far it's worked miraculously for these wrists of mine. A guide to London's climbing walls will be forthcoming when I am fully recovered. This I swear!
It is true that this studio does not have a great interior - the changing rooms are cramped (with no lockers), the showers are communal, studio gets super packed (and I was there "off peak") and the carpet in the studio is a bit gross - and it is for these reasons that I can't give more than 3 stars. However, I was able to overlook all of that because the yoga is great. Actually, it's fantastic. I didn't think I would like it as much as I did. I thought the heat might be too oppressive or overwhelming. It wasn't either, so long as I eased myself into it and just got used to it. Give it a go.
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