Home away from home: Bikram Yoga Burlington

I know Burlington is a small college town. Like every other Montrealer, I’ve been there a million times, and grew up doing the cross-border diaper run back when everything was much cheaper in the US, so I assumed it would be easy to find my way to the Bikram studio there. In a way, it definitely was, but when I arrived at the place where the studio should have been, there was a floor covering store instead. Turns out the studio was around back (across from a really neat little art supply store), and I just have a knack for finding Bikram studios with hidden locations and entryways.

The studio itself is much bigger than it appears from the outside, but still relatively small. The lobby is more of a throughway than a communal space, so, despite the warm welcome everyone gets from the front desk, no one really hangs out there. The change rooms are reasonably sized with cubbies to stow your stuff and the usual things you’d expect (mirrors, hair dryers, etc.), but the toilet and shower rooms are unisex.

That’s right.

Unisex toilets and shower rooms. It’s not as bad as what you’re imagining – they’re still individual showers with curtains, and they’re all inside their own cabins with doors on them, like what you’d see in a public toilet (only with a shower inside instead), so you still get a bit of privacy to dry off and get dressed. That said, it seems as though most students just wipe off their sweat and shower at home. I don’t know if it’s the unisex thing or that because you have to dry off and dress in the shower cabin, the wait time for a shower is theoretically double what it is in Montreal so it would just take too long, but only a few of us showered at the studio and, barely twenty minutes after class ended, I was one of the last to leave. So, plus side: No wait for the shower; downside: A lot of really stinky people walking around Burlington.

Luckily, the heat in the practice room is pretty close to perfect, so those stinky people are at least not dripping sheets of sweat behind them everywhere they go. I have to admit being surprised at just how nice and not overly humid the practice room was, since it’s basically a small box with high ceilings, wood floors, and just a great big exposed electric heater running across the ceiling, with a couple of ceiling fans here and there. I don’t know if that’s just a surprisingly efficient setup or if it was the instructor’s skill at managing it, but at no point did I even think about it, which is always a good sign. Another good sign was that the two ladies in front of me, one pregnant and the other with a heart condition requiring a cardiac monitor of some kind, did the full class with no breaks. The instructor was also great, sticking to the dialogue for the most part, giving gentle corrections and lots of encouragement, and giving us a nice talk about not letting ourselves be distracted by the people around us, not letting anyone steal our peace, and reminding us that the point of the practice is ultimately to still the mind (“And how do you still the mind? By locking the knee.” Sometimes Bikram teachers crack me up).

Overall, this is not a bad studio at all, especially given its size. If you go, I would say to give yourself a few extra minutes to find the door, and to bring your own thick beach towels – you’ll want one to get out of the shower area faster with, and the other because practicing on a regular mat and towel on a wood floor is really rough when you’re used to a nice, thick carpet underneath your mat (especially in fixed firm and floor bow).

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