Have I mentioned my yoga addiction? No? Okay, well…let me explain. Over the last year or so, give or take a month or two, I’ve practiced yoga at least four if not five times a week. I prefer to practice in the comfort of my own home, that when I fall over or accidentally fart (it happens, as you well know if you yoga,) I can blush in the embarrassing privacy of my bedroom floor. When I do get brave enough to venture out in to the world of yoga classes, I enjoy practicing Bikram, which for those of you who don’t know, is yoga that is practiced in a room of 95 degrees or higher. So basically…you blink and a Niagara Fall-like sweat begins to pour. The postures in this style practice are designed to open your body, in preparation for the next posture – I am absolutely obsessed with this style. It feels like going to church with the most intense personal trainer that makes you sing while you work out; that’s how I feel when I leave any way.
There are two studios in the CenLa area that offer this style of yoga class: Yoga Ya-Ya in Alexandria, and Vogue Yoga in Pineville. I have practiced at both and loved each experience.
I first visited Yoga YaYa in the spring of 2014. I’d been nannying for a few yoga instructors in New Orleans, which included free studio perks: free yoga and spin classes, close proximity to Whole Foods and great coffee shops; the whole set-up was great. I liked what yoga was doing for my body so much, I started practicing at home a bit and studying the different styles a bit more. I kept reading articles about, “hot yoga,” and how it was becoming the way to get your body in the best shape; what the articles didn’t say what was it would for my soul.
I showed up at YYY, conveniently located next to my favorite boutique in Alexandria, Her Closet, and hurried inside. I’m never late for anything, but I was driving from Pineville and trying not to speed. Nine a.m. comes early on Saturday mornings! I signed my waiver and paid the $12 drop-in fee (a reasonable price, most places charge around $16) and walked in to the room where the session would take place. I scanned the room for a moment and happily found a place in the back in the corner. “Okay, phew. No one I know.” I was already worrying about falling or…well, you know (it’s called “wind releasing pose” for a reason.) Before I even unrolled my mat I was sweating. “Okay, “I thought to myself, “This is going to be a challenge.” WAS I EVER RIGHT? During that first session, I released more sweat than I knew my body could produce. I thought I was going to pass out at one point. But the instructor knew exactly what to say to keep me going; to keep breathing and flow through the postures. I focused on how my body was feeling. I focused on the tranquil music and how I felt practicing with my eyes closed, breathing all the while. Before I knew it, the class was over and a giant, toothy grin was plastered on my face. I’d never left a class feeling so satisfied and happy. I’m not sure if it was the heat or the way the class was structured, but I completely lost myself in those seventy-five minutes.
My experience at Vogue Yoga was equally as rewarding, but completely different. I chose an evening class since it fit my schedule better on this particular day, even though I prefer a home-practice for the evenings. – There’s just something extremely soothing to me about unwinding in your own space.
VY offers your first class free so you can check out the studio. I signed my waiver and walked over to the giant wall where storage cubbies are hidden behind a large curtain. The space itself is super cool. It’s a simple, giant, bright turquoise room with black flooring and open ceiling; a spacious place to practice. I was happy that I found a spot in the front (gasp! I know. I’ve finally removed the fear of being in the front of the class from my brain,) and got my mat down. The class filled up quickly! The instructor called our attention to the front of the room, signaling class was about to begin. I was concerned at first because I didn’t hear any music playing – we know my love for sweet tunes by now. Everyone was hanging out in downward facing dog for a few breaths before Megan Trainor’s, “All about that Bass,” came blasting over the speakers. “Oh my!” I thought. I’d never done yoga to any sort of pop music. I listen to weird stuff while I practice, and pop is never my go-to. I will say this now, loud and clear: YOGA TO LOUD, BASSTASTIC POP MUSIC IS SO FUN! Obviously the flow felt completely different from that at YYY but I had a blast, semi-shaking it during our asanas it for the next sixty minutes, and to all the songs that play on the radio that I never admit listening to (and I know every single word.) VY allows you to have fun while you practice – disproving the common misconception that yoga is for serious students only. Jerri Grafton, owner and instructor at Vogue Yoga makes it abundantly clear that it is more than okay to smile and enjoy yourself while moving through the poses, “it’s okay to laugh at yourself!” – and it is.
I know that the area has amazing facilities to work out like the Louisiana Athletic Club, the Courtyard and all of the Cross Fit gyms, but if you’re looking for something a little different to change-up your routine, grab a mat (and a towel, or two) and head to Yoga YaYa or Vogue Yoga for some seriously awesome, sweaty yoga!
this blog was originally written January 28, 2015
all of my food/music reviews can be found on Lieux.