Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yoga in NYC: Isn't Sonic a burger joint?

Not long after I moved to NYC, a friend pointed me to a clever video posted by a New York studio. It was amusing enough to get me to check the studio website. It was pretty solid, aside from the advertising for their teacher training, which seemed to promise riches to anyone certified. It's true, yoga can make you wealthy - if your name is Bikram.

Fast-forward to a month ago, when Living Social offered a deal at Sonic, $30 for a month of unlimited yoga. Even though I was satisfied with my current studio, my pocket liked that number, so I bought the deal.

Sonic offers, at last count, 50 classes a week. A small number of these are meditation or introductory courses. Most courses are hatha or flow, ranging in difficulty from 1 (introductory) to 3 (advanced). I had to extrapolate the 3; in fact, there are only two 2/3 courses. The labeling of the classes is misleading; all of the classes include advanced poses such as inversions. I found little correlation between the label and how hard the class was. Even at a "fundamentals" class, which did a lot of prep and breaking down headstand, crow pose was a part of the flow.

Under "things that trigger my irrational prejudices" I should note that the studio is guilty of Rachael Ray-style yoga-speak: The descriptions of these classes tend to use words like "yummy," "delicious,", and "juicy." Excuse me while I go eat the plums in your icebox …

… Where was I? Oh, yes. Sonic's classes. "Yummy" is for food. Not yoga.

On the plus side, the instructors give lots of adjustments. The teacher training program is a help here, because some classes feature a second student teacher aiding in adjustments. Also a plus is that Sonic has a definite sense of community; students seem to know each other and teachers are generally friendly.

Overall, I didn't like the direction of the studio, though. I felt the classes I attended pushed students into advanced poses - the kind that are showy (like handstand) rather than those that take practiced flexibility (like lotus) - and then into teacher training. (I found myself wondering where all these teachers could possibly work.) I actually would recommend against beginners taking class here; if you're an experienced yogi, Sonic will give you a good workout, and I wouldn't presume my reaction to the studio's vibe would be yours.

No comments: