Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bikram Yoga (Hot Yoga) in Seoul

I finally made it to class at Pure Yoga in Apgujeong. I had to e-mail the Seoul Global Center for directions and the schedule because the website is written mostly in Korean and you need to log-in to view the most relevant information like schedule and price. The schedule varies each month and there are currently four teachers: Christina (her name is written in Korean on the schedule), Helen, Jason and Katie. Christina is the owner and taught my class today. She speaks perfect English. Helen, Jason and Katie do not speak English. I need to ask when and why people choose Western names. It makes sense when you are catering to an foreign clientele, but the clientele was all Korean except me and maybe one other woman might have been Japanese because Christina was speaking English to her. It is probably a style thing. She taught the class in both English and Korean. The receptionists do not speak English at all (well, maybe a few words). They were embarrassed because they couldn't communicate with me. I told Christina to tell them that they should not be embarrassed that they can't speak English in Korea, I am embarrassed that I can't speak Korean. Yoga this month. Korean next month. Must learn Korean.

The studio is located on the 4th floor of a white building across from the Galleria East. There is valet parking available. You have to tip 2,000 Won (about $2). I took a cab today to get the driving directions because there was no time to metro. I made it in the nick of time. After class, I took a cab to the main gate to get the reverse driving directions and then I had to walk to get Ian. It was an all-day affair to go to a 1 hour class because it took an hour to get to the daycare using public transportation, then 20 minutes by cab to the class, 20 minutes by cab from the class and an hour to get home. If I take public transport instead of the cabs from the base to the studio that would add in a lot more time, so I need to get brave quickly and drive to the base and studio. I have a couple days to get up my courage because tomorrow Ian has a modeling gig and Curt leaves for Georgia so I won't be able to go this weekend, but I have a daycare reservation for Monday so I will have to do it then. I may practice this weekend. There are beautiful locker rooms with showers. The lockers are big and you get a locker key after you swipe your class card. There is also a small lounge-y area that might be a juice bar, mats and yoga clothes for sale and a "consultation room", maybe for spa treatments or alignment, I am not sure.

Though the program changes each month, there are classes on the following schedule:

M-F 6:45-7:45 10:00-11:30 12:00-1:00 3:30-5:00 5:30-7:00 7:15-8:45 9:00-10:00
Sat-Sun 10:00-11:30 12:00-1:00 2:30-4:00 4:30-6:00

Note that some classes are 1 hour and some are 90 minutes. I took a 1 hour Hot Yoga class today at 12:00pm. They did the Bikram sequence but eliminated the some of the repititions. The room was hot enough to make me sweat like crazy, but was not nearly as hot as it was at the studios in DC. Christina was a very attentive/hands-on teacher and made corrections and helped the students deepen stretches. Even though this studio is not convenient for me to get to, I am looking forward to trying the different classes.

They teach the following classes:
Hot Yoga/Bikram
Forrest Yoga

There are several current price structures:

To take class 7 days a week for 1 month, the cost is 297,000 Won
For 3 days a week for 3 months, the cost is 656,000 Won (I think they might have changed this price, but this is the quote I got from Seoul Global Center)
For 2 days in the weekend for 3 months, the costs is 438,000 Won

For a 10 class card: 300,000 Won
For a 20 class card: 550,000 Won
For a 30 class card: 660,000 Won

They do take credit cards, but I paid in cash because I wasn't sure and also to avoid the credit card transaction charge. It is definitely more expensive than DC, especially since I have to pay for babysitting, but I am going to do it as much as possible this month after Curt gets back and then maybe go down to three times a week or the weekend passes.

My ideal situation would be if Pure Yoga teachers would be willing to come to the base to teach. Of course, I have to look into how that would work, but I think it should be allowed. People would have to register for the class and pay probably to make it worth the teacher's while to come, but it would be so much more convenient to me. There are free yoga classes on the base but they are not that frequent so I hope people would sign up for it.


Jess said...

Hey - thanks for this. Superuseful. :)

Rebecca said...

Hi. My name is Rebecca. I used to live in Seoul. While I was just doing some research on the effects of doing hot yoga while breast feeding and came across your blog. I was in Korea for three years and as a yoga teacher myself always wanting to keep practicing and learn from other teachers I was constantly looking for English classes in the city. I also did hot yoga at Pure Yoga for a month and wasn't very happy with it. Although the studio is nice it was a bit of a pain to get to...I would take the 143 to Apgu and then walk the couple of blocks. I was coming from Itaewon...traffic as you probably know can be terrible on that route. Anyway, perhaps you already know, but the yoga ex-pat community has grown considerably since I left in March. A friend of mine Fumi Hill and another Rebecca Cant have a few classes going for very reasonable prices and in a few different locations. I am passing on the website where you can find the schedule for both.
I hope this is useful. Namaste. Rebecca

Mama Seoul said...

Thanks, Rebecca. I met Fumi when she taught on the US Army base. I only went there once, though because the times/babysitting just didn't work out for me. I really liked her, though. The last I talked to her (last year) all of her classes were in exclusive locations so they were not open to the public, but I will definitely check it out to see if it had changed.

Pure Yoga worked for me because I drove and they had valet parking. I took mostly with Christina (the owner) because I was pregnant.

Now I am doing the Yoga Instructor training with Ron and Magic Pond in Yeouido (I wish he was still in Itaewon, much easier for me). It is very intense and focused on the philosophy rather than exercise.

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