Sumits Yoga and its brand of hot yoga seemed like a good idea for a pulled muscle in my back. I figured the heat would help, along with the stretches. They also had a “Two Weeks for $20” deal, so I showed up, yoga mat in hand, and signed up. I found that this offshoot of Bikram yoga (which is a specific type system – Sumits varies from it, and even from class to class) had a few other things to offer, even for someone who has practiced yoga off-and-on since 1998. Here’s what you need to know about Sumits Yoga (and check out my Hot Yoga University review for more hot yoga info):
1. Be ready to sweat. The temperature is about 105 degrees. Show up with very cold water, and maybe even a sports drink. I have a 32-ounce H2O bottle and a 10-ounce bottle of Cytomax half-frozen, and topped off with their respective liquids.
2. Dress right. I’m a dude. I skip the shirt and just wear shorts. My winner: any shorts from tasc Performance. They make perfect hot yoga gear. I’ll bet they make good stuff for women, too.
3. Bring towels. The studio sells these fairly pricey towels that keep you from slipping on the mat. I like them a lot. But I also have a regular towel to mop the sweat off myself.
4. All the instructors are excellent. Four Sumits Yoga classes so far, and each instructor has been knowledgeable and likable That helps! I’ve picked up different helpful bits from each of them. They offer individual advice and are generally pretty easy to understand. Any miscommunication is probably down to the fact that I’ve been sweating like crazy, I’m low on electrolytes, and I’m having hallucinations of a giant ham floating in front of me. The overall sequences varies among the instructors, and is one of the factors that separates Sumits Yoga from the locked-in Bikram yoga system.
5. The first class is going to work you into the ground. Don’t feel bad about going into child’s pose to recover. I promise, it will get better in a hurry. I’ve practice various types of yoga for nearly 10 years (in stops and starts, naturally). And my first class took me apart. It wasn’t even pretty.
6. The classes are based on a system. Except for some minor variations, each class is pretty much the same. You don’t need to do a zillion poses. The system seems to use a fairly small number of poses, but the heat and the pace between each pose is what adds the more challenging element. It doesn’t seem to take long to see some results. My back problem is gone gone gone, and I’m just feeling better in general.
7. There’s only one thing I’d change about the classes: Less music, and definitely no pop music (especially U2, the most hackneyed, trying-to-be-deep-and-worldly collection of instrument-toting charlatans on the planet). Music with lyrics and a steady beat totally runs counter to my ability to follow my own breathing pattern. They also need to turn it down a few decibels so the students can hear the instructions better. It also runs counter to the idea that you should be focusing on your practice – when one of the classes had a Journey tune, I thought “Hey, my drummer would love this!” I shouldn’t be thinking that. Music is, overall, just a distraction that doesn’t really add anything.
8. It’s not cheap. After the two weeks are up, per-class prices run anywhere from $15 to $12 per class. Is it worth it? It depends. I’m a multisport person between running, yoga, CrossFit, cycling, etc. I think lower costs would encourage more people to practice, and that benefits us all. Hot yoga is a good thing, but I need variety. And that need makes Sumits Yoga less cost-effective for me.
9. They have showers. Seriously, you’ll need one after class.
There you have it. I’d have to give Sumits Yoga an A-, with the minus coming from the music. It’s neck-and-neck with my other favorite studio, the unpretentious, high-quality New Metta Yoga. I also like A Desert Song quite a bit, and they have some really unbelievable instructors (if it wasn’t for Meg and Heidi, I probably never would’ve done a head stand, much less a handstand – still not great at those, but not as bad as before). Unfortunately, their classes are really crowded.
Sumit definitely has a good thing going. I plan to keep going, especially in the winter months. I won’t be able to go the recommended five times a week – I am still, after all, deep into my other recreational pursuits and there are only so many hours in each day. But I’d bet a session there a week, plus my own individual practice, will do me some good.