Venue: Aman Suria, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Class: Yoga (Beginner)
Website: www.suryayoga.com.my; www.mysuryayoga.blogspot.com; www.facebook.com/suryayoga
Elisha from Surya Yoga buzzed me a few weeks ago (ok, that’s a stretch, I meant 2 months) about doing a review of the studio. With travel and Chinese New Year (more excuses!), I only finally managed to hit up a class on Friday – I was on leave and could squeeze in an evening class. Plus point – it was a beginner level class (or so I thought, more about this later).
Headed over to Aman Suria on Friday and really it was just a 10 minute drive away; unfortunately Elisha had a last minute appointment and I met Jo (owner/principal) instead. I was greeted warmly by her little boy who so cutely bowed and showed me the way in (that's him the the pic above!). Jo showed me around the studio; they have
a) 2 studios, both facing the main road (they’re 1 floor above the shoplots)
b) Shower and toilets in the adjoining studio (or 1 of them)
c) Juice & Salad Bar in the reception area (check for opening times)
Basically a very nice, homely set up.
Righto, onto the class. We were lined up against the wall and kick started things with a few moments of quiet time before a few rounds of Surya Namaskar which worked out quite a bit of sweat for me, just like how it’s supposed to be. James then briefed the class that we’ll be working on a lot of backbends and we proceeded to stretch it out with the aid of props eg rope, wall.
At one point, the poses got a tad more “demanding” when James wanted us to do the modified King Pigeon with the wall as a prop. Ahah! Quad stretch with the left/right shin against the wall, other foot in a lunge position and you’re to stretch and throw your back/head back and “attempt” to reach the wall and your foot/toes with your hand. Well, some of us were more successful than others. It was demanding but nothing not do-able. That’s when James commented: beginner level classes doesn’t mean it’s easy! That comment stayed with me the whole weekend; yoga or even running isn’t easy, it’s just as tough for a newbie or a seasoned athlete depending on your goals and it’s really as simple as doing the best you can at that particular day and time. One side is more flexible than the other; one day is “easier” than the next or last week. Most importantly, just go out and do it, let your body decide what’s best for you at that time.
A couple more poses and soon it was time to close the class with a short focused breathing session.
Pros / what I liked:
a) The homely feel of a small studio where everyone knows one another; most of the students were from the neighbourhoods of Tropicana, Aman Suria, Taman Mayang etc. It’s nice to have a place to de-stress and tune out after work – it gives you a break between the office and home.
b) The ever bubbly Elisha – I could actually feel the happy vibes oozing from her as we emailed each other over the course of a few weeks. She was also very helpful with information and directions to the studio. I only met Jo on Friday and again, like Elisha, she was very welcoming. Go ahead and email the gals at Surya Yoga if you need any information.
c) Surya Yoga is opened 7 days a week with a variety of classes from yoga to Pilates; weekday classes run till about 9pm while only morning/afternoon classes are offered on weekends. Also there are numerous levels of difficulties to suit most schedules. The opening times and schedules should work fine for most of you; I’ll probably try one of their weekend classes one of these days. There are also classes for babies, kids and those expecting mommies. The gals also run retreats and workshops now and again – do have a look if you’re interested.
d) I like studios that are bright and airy which was the case in Surya Yoga; mirrors are to the front of the class rather than surrounding the room. That’s why I could never get used to the studios in the Mid Valley gym – place feels too gloomy with the dimmed lighting and hence the claustrophobic atmosphere. On the mirrors, I grew up, learnt that mirrors aren’t necessary the best thing because with them, you tend to check out yourself rather than concentrating on and getting into the pose. On the other hand, I do see their purpose in helping students correct themselves. Your thoughts?
e) Online presence where you can find all the information you need including studio, classes and Juice & Salad Bar opening times. Also the packages on offer.
f) Plenty of street parking.
Cons / what could have been better:
a) If you notice, there are 3 links to the studio; I had initially surfed the main website until Elisha and Yvonne (colleague, fellow run blogger and another reviewer) pointed me to their Blogspot address. Perhaps they could assimilate the blog into the main website?
b) This is class specific and your experience may vary. I didn’t think I enjoyed James’ class as much as Richard’s, Volker’s or Shilpa’s. He gave out a lot of instructions and they were helpful but I noticed that he didn’t go around the class as much and when he did, he gave out instructions on how to correct the pose. Most instructors I know will assist to re-align your poses. Hmmm, like I said, this could be an individual style of teaching.
c) At times, the music drowned out the instructions – mainly at the beginning – which made it tricky to hear James’ instructions.
d) Been reading up on some the materials and pamphlets Jo/Elisha passed to me and scrolling through their sites over the weekend. It seems to me that there’s a fair bit of emphasis on the outer body, getting fit and toned, losing weight, rehabilitation etc which is a common theme for most yoga studios. I would like to see more studios, not just Surya Yoga, take on a more holistic approach and include less dynamic classes eg Yin Yang Yoga, Pranayana, meditation or integrate these into their existing offerings although this may mean extending the class hours beyond 1 hour. Really 1 hour is too short a time.
Signboard from the street
Trudge up 1 level (it’s not that much of an exertion!) to the studio
Just before the start of the class
Note: Although Surya Yoga provided me with a free pass for the class, the opinions here are strictly my own views.