A new yoga studio opened in Manchester City Centre a few months ago and I thought it might be nice to give it a try at somepoint. They do offer "hot yoga", but not of the Bikram variety and they also do pilates (hot and cold), pilates reformer and cold yoga.
A deal came up recently for £19 for 10 days access so I thought I'd give it a go.
My main thoughts were on how different the studio and the practice was to Bikram. I have not yet decided if its different in a good or bad way!
The first thing I noticed was the difference in the venue. My Bikram Yoga Studio is in a basement in the Northern Quarter - you go downstairs to access it and there is no natural light in the studio. At Yoga Lounge you head up two flights of stairs to access the studio and it was lovely to be able to exercise with the sunshine flooding into the studio, they threw open the windows at the end of the class to dissipate the heat and let some cooler air in.
However the large windows also meant that there was more ambient noise in the area. I was aware of the traffic noise and people noise outside and found it a slight distraction to my practice.
I also noticed that the heat was very different. Bikram Yoga has strict rules as to the temperature and humidity that the practice room should be and as such has a complicated system to keep it at those levels (one of the reasons its in a basement is to make it easier to maintain the temperature and so it can be highly insulated to reduce heatloss / increase energy efficiency). The Hot Yoga studio uses a different form of heating system, personally to me it felt not as warm as Bikram and less humid, but David thought it was hotter, so who knows!
A lovely difference was that the showers at the YogaLounge were LOVELY! Huge big rainwater shower heads. The showers at the Bikram Studio are of the school shower variety - push a button for a set period of water and you have to keep pressing it.
The practice itself was also very different. Bikram Yoga uses always the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercise, on the basis that its designed to work every single muscle and joint in your body so there is no point chopping and changing. The class we went to at the new studio changes week by week. The tutor even said at one point "Hmm, so what shall we do today". It felt like a good work out, but who knows if it has the same full body effect that Bikram has?! David liked the possibility of variation, I'm not yet convinced.
I also noticed that the whole ethos of the place was less strict. Bikram is all about routine - no drinking while other people are in postures, water only in the studio, mats placed in the designated spots (so everyone has a view of themselves in the mirror). At YogaLounge people were putting their mats wherever they felt like it, one girl has brought a can of coca cola into the studio to sip. My slightly OCD self LIKES the strict discipline of Bikram. It helps my focus and concentration to know that we are going to do the same 26 postures, in exactly the same order. The routine and the rules of Bikram are all about removing distractions as much as possible and helping focus. Its this meditative aspect of Bikram I find helpful and I didn't leave YogaLounge with the same feeling of peace, tranquility and slight euphoria that I get after a Bikram Session.
However I did like that the session at the yogalounge was 60 minutes, the 90 minutes of Bikram can feel like an eternity and if you take into consideration getting to the studio and getting home again afterwards a trip to the Bikram studio eats a large chunk of time.
I have another 6 sessions at the new studio, taking in a variety of the classes they offer, so it will be interesting to see how I feel about it in 9 days!