Saturday, July 17, 2010

Yoga class - Bangkok

 Today I went to my second vinyasa class at Elements studio in downtown Bangkok. The traffic in Bangkok can be nightmarish but not so bad on a Saturday morning before 10. I have about a 45 minute drive from my apartment in Nonthaburi, north of Bangkok, even without heavy traffic.  It's a little bit of a hike but the studio is very conveniently located near the expressway I take into town and there's parking in the building so that helps. There are studios in my neck of the woods but their schedules don't seem to match with mine - most of the classes at convenient times are Hot Yoga, Bikram based if not slight variations. I don't mind sweating but hot (typical hot classes are conducted at 105 degrees Fahrenheit) is not my thing. So I had seen this place on the internet and then met someone who takes classes there who highly recommended it. So that clinched it for me.

Bottom line: I like the place. The studio is on the 23rd floor of a building and they have two practice rooms. The one we were in is very nice, fairly large with large windows on three sides that were open; the walls are white and the ceiling, also white, medium high. It has nice dark wood floors. It is quiet and conducive to practice. There are no other buildings close by so there is plenty of light. The room is not air-conditioned and it's always warm in Bangkok - mid 80s to mid 90s this time of year but towards the lower part of that range at that time in the morning. There is one floor fan which helps with air circulation and last Saturday there was a nice breeze blowing. This morning it was slightly overcast and so cooler - relatively speaking - outside but more humid and there was no breeze so I sweated a lot more this time although the class seemed less vigorous. The class last week had about 16 students with plenty of room to spread out. This week there were 12, a blend of Westerners and Asians (at least of one of whom was not Thai). Studio staff and students are friendly. It's also very clean with lockers and showers. The class was an hour and a half and the individual class cost is $15.63. There are packages that take the cost per class much lower but I can't get there often enough to take advantage of them due to time limits - for example 30 classes over 3 months.

The teacher is a Westerner, a Canadian named Mark, probably in his early 30s. He has good energy and is humorous in an understated way. He gives good adjustments and leads a strenuous class - at least for me. Some of the variations on the asanas that he suggests are almost beyond my reach, which is good. It's nice to be pushed in a class, especially when you're only taking one a week. It gives me direction for expanding my home practice and tells me what I need to work on. Last week's class was based loosely on the Ashtanga primary series which I am partial to. I haven't practiced a full Primary series since April 10 when I hurt my ankle - since recovered - but I haven't had the urge (or discipline) to do a full primary at home. This was by no means a full primary but enough of one, with some side trips into second and third series variations (at least I was told some were third series, I've never come close to the third series), that I was sore the next day. I haven't been sore from yoga in a long time. It felt strangely good because I knew I had worked areas that needed attention. This week's class was focused on hip openers, primarily external rotation, better in a sense for me - I have more trouble with internal rotation. I'm sure I will experience some soreness or stiffness tomorrow. I sweated profusely and felt energized and mindful at the end. And that's carried through the day. It was that kind of class. I'll certainly go back.

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