It took longer than I wanted to get this part 2 up, but I have a lot of info for you. 3 teachers, 3 studios. We’ll go in order of attendance.
Pranoga with Maday Bu:
Last Wednesday night I had the pleasure of checking out “Pranoga” yoga studio, located in Doral, for an evening Vinyasa class taught by Maday Bu. The studio itself is easy to get to, right off the highway, ample free parking and it’s a very nice, clean, new looking studio. Nothing to complain about (although maybe turning off the A/C during practice would have been nice).
The class I took had mostly beginners, first time yogis, myself being one of only a handful that were not new. Maday started the class in seated meditation where she immediately go us connected with our breath. As an experienced yogi I already know to do this, but I like that she took time to explain the importance of proper breathing and help the new students discover Ujjayi breathing. I’m going to keep the review a little short since we have a lot to cover. The key points were that Maday led a very simple but effective vinyasa class that flowed very well. She covered a lot of different poses and options, strengthening and lengthening the entire body. She covered a great core sequence, which she workshopped with the class and new students, having each student participate and introduce themselves. It made us all feel more that we were part of one class instead of a lone yogi in a group of many.
The best part of taking Maday’s class is definitely her energy and massage. You could feel her energy as soon as you step in to the room and you finish the class feeling like she has taken you on a thorough journey inside yourself and back out. Massages in child’s pose, down dog, and savasana were a great touch. Will definitely be going back for more when I’m in the area.
H2-OM at the Standard Spa with Cristal Gould:
On Friday night, I took a class at the Standard Spa in Miami Beach. If you are not familiar with their “H2-OM” series of classes, I HIGHLY recommend grabbing some friends and checking it out. It’s an 8pm class every Friday, led by a different guest teacher, with a different theme. The best part is, after the 2 hour class, you have the next 2 hours to enjoy the spa amenities and outdoor pool and fire pit. It’s a complete experience in itself (Note: Take an Uber, parking is valet only and expensive).
I have never taken Cristal’s glow in the dark class (her theme on Friday) but have been wanting to for some time. The class was packed wall to wall, about 40+ students. It’s been awhile since I have taken a class packed like this before. You really have to go in with no expectations because if you are looking for your normal flow, and complete comfort, you won’t be happy. In all honesty I spent much of the first 30 minutes avoiding being kicked in the face by the yogi in front of me who, while she was clearly an experienced practioner, took no regard for avoiding my face as she extended her leg back. This was especially frustrating when she would go off to do her own thing (which I am not against…just make sure this doesn’t include extending your leg back at someone not ready who is inches behind you….).
Ok so I get past that, enjoying the class, have my glow sticks around my wrists. The flow was simple and easy, very beginner class, but I did indeed get my sweat on. Cristal has an interesting way about her teaching. Her words are soft and sounds good, and seem to come from a place of good, healing energy, but there is something about her tone that almost makes it seem like she just woke up from a long nap and isn’t fully awake. Don’t get me wrong, her class is great, I am just trying to point out the few things , good and bad, that differentiate one teach from another. I had a chance to speak to her after class, and I could a much better sense of who she was as a person, and her voice became more familiar and not as unfamiliar as it did during the class. So I would recommend talking to her before class, get to know her, and then you will feel more comfortable listening to her queues during class.
The class was 2 hours, simple Vinyasa flow, but a full experience, including a long, deep savasana, and healing sound bowl meditation. I was slightly uncomfortable at this part as I was caught off guard with savasana and was not able to obtain a bolster in time to not disturb the class. Since I have lower back issues, I never take savasana with straight legs, so I bent my knees and my feet were flat. This became uncomfortable after a few minutes. Remember, this is a chronical of my experience so yes, these are hangups that I had, that others shouldn’t experience.
Talk to Cristal ahead of class for a few minutes, come with no expectations, grab your props ahead of time, take an Uber, and bring change of clothes and a plan to enjoy the spa services, etc, and you will have a fantastic experience!
Skanda with Ken von Roenn:
Sunday was the day I was waiting for. I was excited for the other other teachers, but admittedly a little more excited for Ken’s class as he is one of the only teachers in this review who’s class I have taken before. Over a year ago though. I had expectations going in (always a bad idea) of crazy inversion stuff and lots of interesting hand placements. Well my hand placement expectation was satisfied, but the inversion part not (that’s what I get for having expectations!).
The studio itself is nice and quaint, next to the Juice Spot in the Brickell area. The parking was a little frustrating as I had to pay $4 for valet with no other options, when there was 2 dozen open paring spots….I walked in talked to Ken (don’t think he remembered me, he blamed it on the beard, but that’s ok, its been awhile and I’ve only met him once). He gave me some pointers on my wrist issue and helped me try some athletic tape instead of my usual gloves.
We started class with some silent meditation, connecting with our breath, and then chanting the studios opening prayer, which Ken provided myself and other newbies a copy of ahead of time. We then immediately began our asanas, focusing on lots of small alignment cues. When I say that Ken’s class is for advanced yogis and teachers, I don’t mean in the physical sense only or not, but inclusive of everything. It takes a strong yogi physically, and mentally who is experienced in all aspects of the practice to really enjoy Kens class. If I had gone in there when I first started practicing, I may have been scared away from yoga for good. Ken calls out the poses, advanced poses with no beginner variations, in a way, and with a tone that just tells you, “ok this is where we are going, lets go”. And the teacher trainers in the front row and other advanced students just fly in to the pose or variation as if it is nothing at all. This was great for me as a teacher and a practitioner of many years, but yes, definitely this is not for everyone. There were plenty of things I tried that I usually don’t do that were fun, and extremely challenging. There were of course some that were outside my reach (no problem, as a teacher I know what my other options are).
My favorite part of Ken’s class was stopping half way through, all meeting in mountain pose and taking 1 minute of silent meditation to reconnect with our breath and intention. The class was so engaging and fun that by the time it was over my mind was completely blank. I wasn’t thinking about what we did or didn’t do. I wasn’t thinking about this review. I wasn’t thinking about anything. My body and mind had been stretched and worked to the peak, and savasana was a welcoming friend that I sunk in to.
You can expect a unique and engaging experience at any of Ken’s classes. I highly recommend him for any teachers out there who want a challenge.
Ok, that’s it for today. I know its long, but we covered 3 reviews. Tonight we have The Equinox with Pablo Lucero, and tomorrow Dharma Studio in the grove with Cat Haayen. Stay tuned!!!