This could be a sign:
I’m not one to make rash decisions or pronouncements (that’s a lie) but I am stopping talking about bikram yoga from now on. I won’t talk about it, I won’t social network (yeah, that’s a verb now) about it, I won’t encourage my friends to try it, I won’t give it any credit or credence at all when I receive compliments or get asked what I’ve been up to. As far as I’m concerned from now on the official story is that I go horseback riding after work every night. In fact, I might even start a back-lash whispering campaign so that everyone knows what a thorough waste of time and constant disappointment it is. I’m not even kidding. I’m so worked up about this I just opened a packet of chicken breast cold cuts with my teeth. TOO MANY people are doing bikram. Studios are TOO CROWDED. Stop publicising it, delete all the hashtags. Today. As in: now.
How busy was the studio, Caz? Well, thanks for asking, let me tell you. I got to the studio half an hour before class in order to register as a newbie at that studio and buy my intro deal (£35 for 20 days). I was met at the top of the stairs – it’s a basement studio – by an unfeasibly happy and smiling young man who was like unfeasibly happy and smiling. Can you imagine someone being sacked from the Disney Store for being too upbeat? Good, you’re there. Had I booked online? No, I was a newbie. Ah, well we’re fully booked, would you like to be on the waiting list, we’ll get you registered and keep fingers crossed. No problem, I’ll go on the waiting list.
Go downstairs, de-shoe, de-sock, complete form. Sit and wait. The teacher, an utterly brilliant teacher called Sanjay who I have practiced with before (and the reason why I picked this class) is at the studio door taking numbers off students. Literally, when you confirm your online booking you’re given a giant red laminated number and that gets you past the double doors into the studio. No number, no practice, cowboy. This, it strikes me, is inspired. It’s so good. It’s a perfectly simple system and it gives the teachers more face time before class. Awesome. Why don’t all the studios do this? Because, to be candid, they’re not all as good as Hot Bikram Yoga London Bridge. For real.
Finally I get called over, I can go to class. I get a number. I am number 81. I’m just going to leave that one there.
I get in class and I am last to arrive (as far as I noticed) and the first thing that strikes me is the sheer amount of mirror I am surrounded by. Secondly I am struck by the pleasing elephant grey carpet. But wait, a couple of steps in I realise this isn’t carpet, this is mats. The mats are already all laid out, not only squished up side by side like floor tiles but in some cases actually overlapping. Sanjay is already going through injuries with people so I just effing PICK a mat and kneel. The class was awesome. Truly and genuinely. That’s for another post though.
At this point (I mean right now writing, not in class. Woah! Fractured timeline. Call J J Abrams. So meta.) I take a deep breath and stop reacting because when I say the studio was busy – and it clearly was – it was totally FINE. Like, actually really lovely. For one, it’s easily the nicest studio I’ve been to (in the UK, which is still pretty big as comparing it to ground floor studios with an unobstructed view of the sunset/moonarc over the Rocky Mountains just isn’t fair). There are maybe three pillars which obstruct the view of the teacher from certain vantages but they are clad in mirror so it’s kind of ok. And the sound system is great. In fact it sounded to me almost the whole time like Sanjay was behind me (I couldn’t see him) which was a nice feeling. Even though it’s a basement there is much natural light, and it has windows that shjshjshjshjshjshj open and shut like a Miami beach house. And even though there was some brushing of thigh and elbow getting in and out of posture (there may have been a slight nose on calf muscle incident also) it was totally ok as everyone seems to accept the compact nature of the practice and the two neighbours were very sweet and smiley. In fact the atmosphere in the room was much different to the one I’m used to at my old studio. Different in a good way. It was chilled and not competitive or smug at all. And I’m already looking forward to going back.
However, and this is what made me a LITTLE fricking fractious, the changing room was an utter nightmare. I’ve never had to queue to get OUT of a changing room. It’s madness. Like, properly gridlocked. I’m not one to exaggerate (that’s a lie) but even if I were (which I am) I’m not right now (I’m really not). I have been turned upside down in mosh pits, I know what I’m talking about. It’s still the nicest studio I’ve been to in the UK, though.
When I managed to chin my way out of the changing room, as primally charged as the last person on the last chopper out of Saigon, my friend from before asked me how I got on. I said, that changing room is insane. And he smiled and said “I know, right?” Yeah, I guess it is what it is and now I know. I said I would be back tomorrow for Nicola’s class and he said to come at 9pm it’s a nicer and quieter class. So maybe that’s what I will do. Make a plan, stick to it, baby steps, do what you love, I can’t do this but I’m doing it anyway, it’s all good, breathe, smile, soften your gaze. Maybe breathe some more just to be on the safe side.
Conclusion, I wasn’t prepared for how busy it would be but I loved the studio and fully endorse it. Although, clearly, bikram is complete balderdash, Emperor’s New Clothes, license to print money – and you should be doing rock climbing instead.
I’m not sure if that this wasn’t more of a freeform organic venting than a studio review but I promise I won’t let that happen again (that’s a lie).
This is how close Hot Bikram Yoga London Bridge is to the Shard, I took this standing just outside the door that leads down to reception: