Karma Yoga Studio
Cambridge, Harvard Square
For my Yoga Midterm I attended a class at Karma Yoga Studio in Cambridge, in Harvard Square. The class I attended was weekly Sunday Evening Karma class, Vinyasa Flow Yoga. This class is based on a contemporary yoga style, with a requirement of knowledge of the basic yoga postures. The class “leads through a series of breath-synchronized postures which are linked to one another through a flowing movement- thus “flowing” into one another and inspiring the style name, Flow Yoga.” My class was instructed by Lindsey, however she does not instruct every Sunday she is on a three-week rotation with two other Yoga instructors. Lindsey doesn’t just practice at Karma Yoga Studio, but also at other studios in Boston. Lindsey’s style of teaching Vinyasa may be very different than with the other two teachers, because everyone does it their own way.
Going to a yoga studio was a new experience for me and I didn’t know what to expect. I figured it was going to be a mixture of our Yoga Class, and unorganized yoga classes I have attended in the past. Walking into Karma it truly was a beautiful “sanctuary” as they call it. The environment was very peaceful, and it was easy to become relaxed right when you walk through the door. In our class the lights were dim and not too bright. The temperature in the room was about 72 degrees, because it was a non-heated class. We had three materials we need to get right when we got into the room, two blocks, a towel, and a strap. We had used the blocks when we were doing lunges and needed support, or when we needed to be higher to get a better stretch. She had mentioned that being up higher was easier and sometimes felt better then being flat on the ground. The towel was used when we were doing breathing exercises; this again helped us from not being completely on the floor or on top of our yoga mats. The strap was used to stretch out our legs and rotate them. All of the materials were definitely necessary and had a purpose.
The class was unlike any other class I have been to before. It was very fast past, and very little meditation. She was going around helping people and fixing their poses, along with talking, and going through the moves quickly. I was curious that this was the case because it was a all levels class, and a more intermediate class would be different. Even though it was very fast pace, it didn’t feel like we were in the room for an hour and a half. Also, even though it was a fast class, we were able to focus on all of the things she said we were going to; which were, breathing, hamstrings/legs, abdominals, and a few arm strengthening moves.
The history of Karma Yoga Studio was very challenging to find. It is a private company categorized under Yoga Instruction. They opened their doors in December 2001, and have been going fairly strong ever since. Since I wasn’t able to find historical facts about Karma, I looked to see what the ratings have been over the past 12 years. Over the past years Karma has had their great reviews and their poor reviews. Starting with the poor reviews, they have been struggling with poor management and not keeping their costumers happy. They also seem to struggle with their packages that they offer, and are not very clear about the rules and regulations, therefore customers feel as if they are losing money. There has only been a few reviews were instructors were the issue, and when they were they were known to be rude and full of themselves. More on a positive note, Karma has had great reviews for the great environment that they offer. Along with having a gym upstairs it is useful and convenient. Classes that aren’t over $10.00 is a huge attraction, and very affordable. Even though some of the yoga instructors were focused in the bad reviews, they were also highly recognized as great instructors in the positive reviews. According to the history that Karma Yoga Studio has so far, I am sure that they will keep growing in the future.
Karma serves a variety of different people. There are classes for people at all levels. Beginners, and intermediate, along with pregnant women! They have about 30 different classes that focus on multiple different things; therefore you can choose which one you want to attend. Prenatal Yoga is a new class at Karma for pregnant women. This is class where they can tune out the rest of the world and tune in to the amazing creation of both a baby and a mother. Being able to serve a variety of different people brings in more people to the studio.
Not only does Karma serve people, but also “Human and Animal Rights.” Over the last nine years Karma has raised over $150,000. During Karma Class on Sunday evenings, entire proceeds go to local animal rescue projects. Donations are set at $7.00 minimum, however most people give more. When I was there for the Karma class on Sunday, the receptionist told me that most people donate at least $10.00. There were about 15 students in my class, therefore if everyone donated $10.00 that night they made $150.00. That is a great amount of money for one night and they do this every Sunday for a great cause. I think that serving another organization really gets your name out there and that is great for business. They advertise a lot that they raise money for this organization; therefore it will help the studio in the long run.
The practice of Yoga at Karma Yoga Studio is influenced by culture in many ways. They focus classes on a variety of yoga styles, Chi Kung, and other mind-body practices. They don’t just limit the practices to American culture, which is a fast moving yoga, power, focused on losing weight or strengthening muscles. Nia is a class they offer which is a mind-body-spirit workout, very low key, nothing like the American culture. Also they offer Chi Kung, which is the Chinese equivalent to yoga. Karma also has an eco-boutique offering environmentally and socially conscious yoga/fitness gear and gifts from around the world. They bring in other cultures, because yoga is everywhere today. Having instructors who are from other cultures also brings in the different cultures, because they will instruct a class differently then someone else will. Students will get that first hand culture diversity by learning from someone who has learned it from somewhere else. It is important to have different cultures in a practice because all different cultures practice yoga.
According to American Yoga Association there are a couple different theories about yoga. “The whole system of yoga is built on three main structures: exercise, breathing, and meditation.” “The word Yoga means “to join or yoke together”, and it brings the body and mind together into one harmonious experience.” Karma shows these theories by the setting in their studio. Which is calm, peaceful, and sanctuary like. By the setting that they have placed they are able to join the body and the mind together, before even doing the practice. Once in classes Karma follows the three main structures of Yoga, exercise, breathing and meditation. They show this by having multiple different types of classes to fit the need of everyone, but also in each individual class. No matter which class is being taught exercise, breathing and meditation is being practiced. I believe that this is a great theory of Yoga because those three main structures is what Yoga is all about. Without the three main structures I think that Yoga would be missing the true meaning of Yoga, and wouldn’t be able to truly join together the body and mind into one harmonious experience.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Karma Yoga Studio. I received the lived experience and feeling for the style of yoga that was taught. I really got to experience how they brought in different cultures to the practice, along with experience a new yoga class in general. If I were to go back to a Yoga Studio, I would chose Karma because the instructor I had was great, and to me that always brings customers back. I would recommend Karma to anyone, because of the different types of people they serve, from beginners to intermediate levels; there is a class for everyone!