I can't claim to be a dedicated yoga practicioner -- I tend to use it as low-impact cross-training and injury prevention for other activities -- but I've taken my fair share of classes at studios in Seattle, LA, and New York, and I have a strong sense for what I like (steady pacing, strong flow from position to position, balanced work for all parts of the body) and what I don't (too much chanting or psuedo-medico-philosophical "discussion" about my chakras -- or anybody else's for that matter).
This past weekend I was visiting my brother in Park Slope and at his suggestion we dropped by for a 90-minute Vinyasa class at Park Slope Yoga on Union (in the same block as the Food Co-Op). Here's my take on the good and the bad of my experience at this studio:
First, the good.
- At $10 a class (plus $1 mat rental fee), a drop-in class here is a great value.
- The studio was reasonably clean and pleasant to be in.
- The instructor -- once she got past the chanting part of her program -- put together a great series of poses with excellent pacing and continuity.
- The other students -- with just a few notable exceptions -- were respectful of the instructor and their fellow-students.
Now, the less-good:
- This studio is affiliated with another in Manhattan (a small local chain?), and the drop-in registration process included a scripted spiel, including "required" reading about discounts for signing up, and a demand that I check back after the class to give feedback on my intent to join as a member. This felt a little jarring at a yoga studio, and could at least be more gracefully handled (if not dropped altogether).
- Too much chanting in languages that - I'd be happy to wager - not one person in the class actually speaks or understands. I always enjoy the collaborative series of "om's" at the beginning and end of class -- no matter what health or spiritual benefits it may offer, it sounds really cool -- and it's hard to argue with a little 'namaste' now and again (apart from Dick Cheney, who doesn't believe in peace?). But to sing for 5 minutes (I'm not joking) a song to which nobody knows the words, just to establish our cred as serious yogis, strikes me at so much my-chakra's-bigger-than-your-chakra posturing.
It may be that Vinyasa is just a bad choice for me, given the nature of my objections. And despite the minor annoyances detailed above, I think Park Slope Yoga Center offers a good class at a great value, and I'd go again next time I'm in town. But if you're allergic to yoga-related sales pitches and would rather skip the chanting altogether, it may not work for you.