By Scott Carlson
I’m a newcomer to yoga, this physical and mental discipline that everyone else seems to have tried long ago. My excuse for being late to this practice doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that a meditative yogi would say: I’m really busy.
Every day, I get up, help get the kids out the door, plow through some work, help with dinner, run errands, and try to reserve some time for sports or socializing. Stretching out, chanting “om,” and contemplating my place in the universe just didn’t fit into my busy daily schedule.
That is, until Ken Wong started his late night classes at Sid Yoga, across from the Towson library. Ken cuts my hair at Balance the Salon, and he has been hounding me for years about trying yoga. Ken pitched his class — 9:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 6:45 pm on Fridays — as something that can appeal to busy people. It convenes after the workday is over, after the kids go to bed, and, on Friday, after the week is done. When I got my last haircut, I gave some lame excuses about being busy or forgetting about his class late at night.
“Look,” he replied, “I’m just going to text you the day of practice and get you to show up.” I’m glad he did.
Sid Yoga’s location is close to home and the space is clean and beautiful. I took off my shoes, walked in, and paid a donation. (Sid Yoga usually asks for $10 to $25 per session, but at Ken’s “no limits” class, you pay what you can afford.) I got a rental mat, changed into clothes that could get sweaty, and then walked into a warm, wood-floored room where people were finding space to stretch out. They were yoga moms, Towson students, working-class folks, and intimidated newbies like me. Ken put on some ambient electronic music, and practice began.
Sid Yoga specializes in “Power Yoga.” (Before going to the studio, I knew only that Bikram is the “hot” one.) Power Yoga is a Westernized athletic version, practiced in a warm room, but Ken tells me that the various teachers at Sid Yoga have different approaches and levels of intensity.
His class kicked my butt. I’m a fairly athletic middle-aged guy who does judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at a local martial-arts club, but after more than an hour of planks, Upward-Facing Dogs, and Warrior poses, my shoulders and legs were burning and I was drenched with sweat. I’m normally about as flexible as a 2×4, but I could feel myself bending lower and lower as my muscles stretched out.
During class, Ken acted as a coach, DJ, and spiritual leader. He would walk through the room, calling out positions and helping newcomers adjust to these odd forms. He would crank the music during the most intense moments. Later he would turn down the lights and switch to more ambient sounds, imploring us to pay attention to our breathing and let our minds find focus.
I hope to try other styles of yoga at some of our local clubs, like Yoga on York, but Ken’s class was, for me, a welcoming introduction.
Sid Yoga runs classes from 6 am to 10:30 pm on weekdays, with shorter hours on the weekend. Get a class schedule and sign up for sessions at sidyoga.com.
Scott Carlson is a Towson resident and staff writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education.