Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bikram Yoga Philadelphia & Bikram Yoga Chelsea: The Traveling Yogi

So earlier this month Mission Yoga decided to throw their first Fall 30-Day Challenge, in which one must complete 30 classes in 30 days, typically conducted in the Spring.  One is allowed to do two classes in one day if they skip a day.  Despite the fact that it was a busy month and I’d be out of town for five days when my little brother was getting’ hitched, I still decided to do it…because I am crazy, and because without the triathlon to train for (San Diego’s been cancelled, can you believe it?) I was in need of a new challenge.  And what a challenge it’s been!  I've done at least eight doubles this time around...crazy.  Thankfully, Steve23 and Juicy had said it was all right to take a few classes back East and count them towards my challenge...so when scheduling my visit to NJ - NYC - Philly - NJ and back home over the course of a mere five days, I made sure to squeeze two yoga classes in.  Thus begins the tale of the traveling Bikram yogi...

Bikram Yoga Chelsea:  This was one of the NYC Bikram locations that came highly recommended by Steve23 (the others were SOHO, Lower East Side, and "any of the ones in Brooklyn").  Getting here was, in and of itself, my greatest challenge. I had google-mapped the place and planned to attend the 10AM class.  I showed up at the door of an old office building (which, ahem, had a sign out front reading Bikram Yoga Chelsea) at 9:30 sharp, and the directory sent me to the 3rd floor.  Where I wandered aimlessly for a few minutes, dragging my suitcase behind me, finally figuring I must have misread the directory and going back down to the first floor.  Nope, 3rd floor.  Figuring I must have missed it (did I mention I was running on two hours of sitting-up-in-the-plane sleep?) I went back up to the 3rd floor.  Nope, no studio in sight.  So began my epic series of phone calls with one Byron the Yoga Teacher:

Byron the Yoga Teacher: Bikram Yoga Chelsea, can you hold please? He tells someone where the locker rooms and towels are.  The studio clearly exists.  How can I help you?
Me Dragging Suitcase: The sign says you’re on the 3rd floor, but I can’t find it?
BYT: No, we’re on the 4th floor.
BYT (five minutes later): Bikram Yoga Chelsea, how can I help you?
MDS: I can’t find you on the 4th floor?  You’re at 150, right?
BYT: No, we’re at 250.  On the 4th floor.
BYT (five minutes later): YES?
MDS:  Um, this is an apartment building.  And the guy living on the fourth floor is very nice, but not running a yoga studio out of his apartment.
BYT:  We’re at 250 West 30th, not 250 West 26th, sweetheart.

So it took me nearly 25 minutes to actually get there (turns out they had recently moved locations).  Byron in person was a doll, very friendly and forgiving, even waiting for me and a few other latecomers before starting the class.  He also had the most amazing Bikram yoga butt that, if I were a gay man, I would totally lust after.  I noticed that most people were over by the window rather than the wall, but I thought nothing of it and cheerfully set myself up in the far corner, right in front of the mirror.  Big mistake – I was directly under the heater and man, that place was HOT.  I couldn’t tell if, as I left the class, the other people in class were staring and smiling because I was an unfamiliar face, because I’d had a really good toe stand…or because they’d never seen someone so damn sweaty. 

Anyway, this experience confirmed for me some of the astonishing benefits of Bikram – before class I felt tired, drained and with no clue how I was going to get through a day of hopping around Queens, SOHO, Williamsburg…but after class I felt like I had just had a full eight hours sleep and was ready to go!   I also asked Byron to write a note to Steve23 & Juicy on a Bikram Yoga Chelsea flier to prove that I had been there – a little tongue in cheek, but Byron took it very seriously, noting the date, the time, the place, his full name, my full name.  Adorable.  Gay men living in NYC, y’all need to hit that.

Bikram Yoga Philadelphia:  Admittedly, I’ve been here before – In fact, turns out I have TWELVE classes purchased in my name from three years ago when I was living in Philadelphia, which I am slowly redeeming at a rate of about one per year.  But for some reason Bikram Yoga Philadelphia never hooked me like Mission Yoga did.  The studio itself is very grand, with shiny hardwood floors, high ceilings, beautiful murals, large windows, even some stained glass images of yoga poses.  The class is just the right temperature, and the owner Joel is a quirky, welcoming fellow who took the time to chat with me and write a stream of consciousness series of phrases as his “note” to Steve23 & Juicy (including “Hare Krishna” “NMF” (a reference to these t-shirts sold at Mission Yoga), and “Pet the Dog for Me”).  Bikram Yoga Philly is a great place, no doubt, with skilled students and talented teachers…but for some reason just not quite the same as Mission Yoga (though Joel decreed “I guess you’re pretty enough for Mission Yoga.” I’ve decided to take that as a compliment).

However, a warning…I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – don’t eat a lot before class. If you can help it, don’t eat at all.  I shared a wonderful lunch with my dear friend Karen at Giwa right down the street just before class, feasting on fried kimchi pancakes and bibimbap with big chunks of tasty tofu.  As a result, I sat out at least two or three poses, talking myself out of vomiting all over my soggy towel.  Gross, and lame.  I did not satisfactorily represent Mission Yoga with a tummy full of Korean food…what was I thinking!?

So those were my two East Coast bikram adventures, sandwiched in between meals, drinks, adventures…and possibly one of the most extravagant, amazing weddings I have or ever will attend.  My brother has just married into a family that REALLY knows how to throw a party…but can they take jumping shots like these?  I think not.


Bikram Yoga Manhattan: Chelsea
$20 for the first week of unlimited classes.
Bikram Yoga of Philadelphia
$20 for the first week of unlimited classes.


  1. funny and you are CRAZY!!
    wedding receptions and wringing sweat sessions
    Love, mom

  2. Oh no, I almost bimbimbopped you out of a foward fold.