Thursday, February 4, 2010

Free Flow Yoga at Lululemon: Judgey McJudgerson Rears Her Ugly Head

Ah, the Marina.  Much like Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, just saying the neighborhood's name conjures up images of tools in striped collared shirts skeezing on drunk girls in designer knee high boots.  Crowds of them.  Unlike Rittenhouse Square, however, the Marina is situated way up in the north of the city and is very easy to avoid, which is why I’ve lived in San Francisco over a year but have been to the Marina exactly twice. 

But a friend who works there sent me an email about a free flow yoga class taking place at a Lululemon store, and suggested we try it.  Keeping an open mind, I hopped on the 45 bus and cautiously made my way north.

Lululemon itself is simultaneously fascinating and gross.  They sell workout gear (“yoga-inspired athletic apparel”) for absurdly sky high prices.  Sweatpants for $90"Apres Yoga" jackets for $160??  Women rant and rave on yelp about how the pants are so worth it because they make your butt look so amazing, and they offer padded sports bras(!) for those of us "less endowed in the northern region." Okay, maybe this is just me, but I don't look cute when I'm working out, whether it's the stairmaster or a yoga class; I look messy and sweaty and no $60 padded sports bra is going to fix that situation.  Also, the one and only time I've tried to shop at Lululemon, everything I tried on gave my ass a smushed sausage-y muffin top look. While at Marshalls and Ross, I can buy shorts for $15 and there’s no sausage muffins involved.  Clearly, I've never understand the Lululemon appeal (although just saying the word makes me smile, mostly because of this video).

Anyway, this post is not about my judgemental attitude towards Lululemon, it’s about YOGA!  So moving on:  the class (taught by guest instructor Allison) was described as such:

“Allison views yoga as a spiritual and mental journey which connects to the authentic self, and as a means for attaining inner peace. She teaches a challenging yet playful flow class that encourages students to move through life with grace and compassion.”

That’s right, a spiritually focused class in the middle of a chain store.  There were 30 or so people crammed into the small space, about 80% young women and a few straight guys here and there, mostly boyfriends and guys who read that yoga classes are a good way to meet hot chicks.  We did a few “Om’s” and were off to the races!  

Surprisingly, there seemed to be few beginners – if anything, I was the beginner, since Allison rapidly escalated the speed at which we were doing poses, and I knew, at most, a quarter of them.  When she announced half moon pose, for example, I though “woo hoo, I know this one!” but we weren't moving into this, but THIS.  But she repeated several sequences and it was easy enough to watch the room and use classmates as a guide.

The most frustrating element for me was that there were little to no pose adjustments or suggestions.  When she said “now if you like, go into a backbend” I was torn because sure, I can go into a backbend, but we don’t do these in Bikram and I’m not sure if my hands and feet are in the right place, if I should be pushing up or back, what muscles to loosen or tighten, etc.  Maybe I’m overthinking it?  But isn’t this how people snap their necks and die?

Allison did throw in a few little new age nuggets of spirituality throughout the hour-long class, and we did a few more “Om’s” at the end, but for the most part she just called out poses and told us when to start and stop.   She also played music throughout, which I find distracting, especially when it’s music I know and/or own because I mentally sing along.

I finished the class well stretched, a bit sweaty, but honestly kind of nonplussed (and irritated at show off headband guy next to me…dude, if you’re going to show off, at least do something marginally related to the pose everyone else is doing).  My yoga friend felt similarly.  But hey, it was free, so I can’t complain!  She and I are trying another Marina yoga class this Sunday – this time in a real studio – so maybe I’ll try harder not to be Judgey McJudgerson this time around.  We’ll see…


Lululemon Athletica – Cow Hollow/Marina
Vinyasa Flow (only on Wednesdays, 7:30PM – 8:30PM)

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