YogaStudio: A First-person Review

YogaStudio was a welcoming, calm place for writer Art Allen’s first attempt at this demanding yet rewarding exercise.

Published in Plymouth Magazine, July 2011.

Let me first say that when my editor approached me to take my first yoga class and then write about it, I was hesitant. I have many friends who do yoga on and off, and every time they go “on” again it’s three days of complaining about overly sore muscles and how every inch of their bodies scream with that wonderfully awful next-day pain. Still, I had never done yoga myself, and I figured this would be, at the very least, an interesting exercise (pun intended). I will also note that I waited until the day after my visit to the yoga studio to write this piece so as not to have my account unfairly colored by the endorphins attained from the strenuous stretching.

“So,” you ask, “how was it?” As I type this, it has been 24 hours since I left YogaStudio’s Pigs Fly class. My body does ache, I have not lost the 15 pounds I intend to lose this summer, I am not super lean and chiseled, nor am I instantly at peace with the universe. But boy was that something else, in the best way possible.

My only impression of yoga going into this class was that it was sort of a stretching meditation. And this is sort of the case, but it’s also a bafflingly rigorous workout. When I think of working out, I think of moving my body across great distances, lifting impossibly heavy things like boulders and big earth-moving trucks, being speedy and otherwise very active.

Yoga is the exact opposite.

Yoga moves your body several inches up off the ground and then makes you sit there for close to a minute. That sounds like the most banal, harmless exercise ever, but lying on my belly and lifting my head and my feet at the same time, known as the bow pose, was a fascinating feat of strength. If you search for bow pose online, you’ll see people grabbing their feet. Don’t worry, no one attending this class was nearly that flexible.

The room was as relaxing as you might expect in a meditation atmosphere. The air was warm, as it is in all yoga classes, but not as hot as some (see a much-more-experienced yogi’s rendition of Bikram yoga). Calm music played at just the right level, and the instructor’s voice was audible, but not jarring. It was also reassuring to see everyone else was having as tough a time with some of the poses as I was. My classmates were readily using the wall to balance themselves for some of the more top-heavy poses, such as the shooting star pose, which requires the participant to stand on one foot, point the other foot away from the body, and stretch the arms, keeping your shoulders aligned with your hips. I should have taken a hint from my classmates, as I kept toppling over in this pose.

When I came home, I was definitely sore, but I was still limber enough to run after and catch my neighbor’s cat, whom he lets run around in the hall of our apartment sometimes. A cat is a nimble creature, so this is a testament to how not-destroyed all my muscles were. I do feel the aches of getting back into the swing of rigorous exercise, but this only serves to encourage me to get my butt back out there and do it again.

This particular yoga studio is also very active in the local community. Owner Mary Anderson offers pay-what-you-can classes and a volunteer program with Cool Youth, which helps high-risk youth in Minneapolis. What’s more, the walls of YogaStudio are lined with food-shelf donations, which are brought to a local food shelf every week.

The commitment to the community is also manifested in several green initiatives, including all sorts of recycling, using rechargeable batteries and sending packaging back to companies so they can reuse it.

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For first-timers, YogaStudio offers a one-week pass for unlimited drop-in classes for $20. After that, 60 minute classes are $14 ($11 for ages 65-plus), 75–90 minute classes are $18 ($12 for ages 65-plus), and the Pigs Fly class, which I attended, is $10. There are also multi-class packages at a discounted rate.

YogaStudio is located in the Cottonwood Plaza at County Road 9 near 494 at Vinewood Lane. Parking is in the rear. 3900 Vinewood Ln.; 763.557.8626