Namaste! That should give you a clue that I’m going to be talking about something I hold very dear to my body and soul: *drum roll* You got it: Yoga. Nothing calms me down better after a long day than a yoga session, and I am sure I am not the only one. The practice of Yoga started in India more than 5000 years ago and has now gained fame in the 20th century. Fans of Yoga swear by the art and claim that it not only helps them un-clutter their mind, it also promotes various health benefits such as improving flexibility, blood circulation and even weight loss. With such immense benefits, it comes as no surprise that Yoga studios have sprung up in every corner of our little red dot (like Pokemon Trainers in Punggol Park!). You might be spoilt for choice for where to go to continue your practice. Fret not – here’s a handy guide to help you make that big decision. Firstly, let’s talk about the bigger chains – True Yoga and Real Yoga Photo Credits: True Yoga Facebook True Yoga is a part of the True Fitness Group and has 9 outlets islandwide – ranging from the CBD all the way to heartlands like Ang Mo Kio. They pride themselves on having teachers from India as well as very comfortable facilities. It’s very first outlet is the one in Pacific Plaza, which is a 5-minute short walk from Orchard Station. The studio at Pacific Plaza is spacious, spanning across two levels and offers both hot and non-hot classes. I attended one of the Hot Yoga classes by Rajib on Friday, after work. The class was gender neutral and while it had plenty of mats (more than 40), I still found it a little cramped as I could not really see what Rajib was doing. That was a shame as it was evident that Rajib was very experienced and was giving good instructions. Minor point but I would have preferred if he demonstrated more of the poses rather than naming them. I cannot deny that True Yoga does have an advantage in terms of location as well as class size intake. However, the latter can work both ways and it boils down to your own preferences. I have a friend who adores True Yoga for its large class sizes but for me, I always prefer small classes as compared to the larger one. However, if you are an individual who prefers practising yoga with a large crowd and an almost guaranteed mat space, then I would recommend True Yoga. After all, they do offer a complimentary free trial that you could check out! Rating: A humble 3 out of a gracious 5. Photo Credits: Real Yoga Facebook Real Yoga is another household name in Singapore. It opened its first outlet in 2008 and even though it does not have as many outlets as True Yoga (Real Yoga only has 5 outlets), it definitely does not fall short on quality. As compared to True Yoga, Real Yoga is more of a boutique studio where class sizes do not exceed 25. I attended classes at the Tampines Outlet (Easties, take note!) and tried out both their Pilates classes as well as their Hot Slimming Yoga class. I personally preferred Real Yoga as the classes were smaller and the attention was more individualised. I especially enjoyed the Pilates class by Amanda on a Monday evening as she was very humorous but not losing focus and dedicated to her teaching. Other popular classes in Real Yoga also includes their Hot Vinyasa at noon, which apparently is very popular with the working crowd. Having said so, it is comparatively harder to book mat spaces in Real Yoga, compared to True Yoga. Convenience might also be slightly compromised as they only have 5 outlets; nevertheless, they have an outlet in Centrepoint, smack in the middle of town. If you prefer a more step-to-step approach, then I believe Real Yoga will be the one for you. P.s I’m not sure if they offer a free trial. They do offer promotions on Groupon, the last i checked where 5 classes retailed for the price of $25. It is great for value, especially for first timers. Ratings: An impressive 4 out of 5. Both True Yoga and Real Yoga are close competitors in terms of their pricing system and it is arguably most worthwhile if you sign up with 18-month package with them. This sets you off to around $25 for a class, depending on how many you choose to attend in a week. However, as this is a long-term commitment, I would strongly recommend exploring all options, asking as many questions as you need before you go on to sign a package! Having reviewed the bigger chains, here’s my choice pick for the smaller studios! Boutique Yoga Studios are Singapore’s new “in” thing especially after a few local celebrities have bought in on this trend.(Sandra Riley Tang from The Sam Willows anyone?) Boutique studios can be more affordable and are often smaller in size – but nevertheless, packing a punch as well. Being an eastie, I have tried out both Updog Studio and Lava Yoga, located along the stretch of East Coast and Katong Road. Photo Credits: Updog Studio Updog studio strikes me as a cosy, yet admirable studio. It is located right above Zaffron’s Kitchen, so you know where to grab your fix of Naan and Pratas right after the session. What I liked about Updog Studio was the fact that it was well-lit and airy, an immediate respite from the hustle and bustle outside. There is only one studio, but fret not – the teachers are extremely friendly and they too offer a variety of classes ranging from pre-natal Yoga all the way to Hot 101 (which is one of their most popular classes). I attended one of their Hatha Yoga classes on a Saturday afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The pace was set right for both beginners and regulars alike, with clear sets of instructions and demonstrations given. If you live near the area, feel free to drop by the studio for a free trial! They even have Lululemon merchandise in their store, which you can always add on to your collection of cute yoga tops and tights. Ratings: An impressive 4 out of gracious 5. I’m not sure if you have personally tried Hot Yoga, or otherwise known as Bikram Yoga, where one practises in a heated room between 39-40 degree celsius. It is said to replicate the conditions of India during summer. On top of all benefits of Yoga, this form of practice also helps to remove toxins by sweating, making it the perfect detox session. Photo Credits: Lava Yoga Facebook My first exposure to hot yoga was a couple of years back, where I started off as a newbie with Lava Yoga. It is an all-female studio located on the top level of i12 Katong and they specialise in Hot Yoga. Lava Yoga is also one of the biggest Yoga chains in Japan and its unique selling point lies in the fact that it incorporates music into every session. I personally appreciated that as it really helped me wind down after a long day. I mainly attended the Lava Basic classes and benefited immensely from it. Classes are also kept small and the instructors are extremely passionate about their art. They make it a point to go around correcting every student’s poses and even stay on after classes to help you clarify your doubts! It might take you awhile to get used to the temperature, but trust me – it is definitely worth it. Unfortunately, Lava Yoga does not offer complimentary trials but their drop in rates are priced at $20 a lesson and $58 for an unlimited one week trial – which is extremely affordable. If you are looking for a studio to kickstart your Hot Yoga routine, do give Lava Yoga a try! Ratings: A wonderful 3.5 out of a gracious 5 Photo Credits: Yoga Movement Facebook Yoga Movement (YM), fondly known as YM among its fans, the studio is the brainchild of Singaporean songbird, Alicia Pan. Comfortably housed in five different areas, YM is easily accessible regardless of whether you are coming from Town (the Orchard studio is a 5-minute walk away from Dhoby Ghaut Station) or the heartlands (they have a Tiong Bahru studio). I like YM because it is bold. They have a unique Hot Monster class, which is a hot Yoga class that is meant to push your limits.I have tried it before and it is definitely a love-hate relationship. I love how healthy it makes you feel, but to be very honest with you, it is not an easy class. It challenges your body and pushes you even further than what you thought you can do, which is oddly satisfying as well. Their other classes are good for the soul as well – on days where you feel like you need to sharpen your practices, go ahead and try out their Yoga Basics class. I always leave that class refreshed, having learnt new things! Bear it in mind that the studio does charge for water and towels, priced at $1 each, so be sure to bring your own! Unfortunately, they too, do not offer free trials and drop in rates are at $25 a class. Ratings: An impressive 4 out of gracious 5. Photo Credits: Yoga Inc Another studio that has struck a deep impression on me would be the Yoga Inc, which has three studios nestled in Guillemard Road, Punggol Safra as well as Yong Siak Street. Designed in a comfortable and minimalistic manner, this studio offers you a welcome break from your daily life, something most of us would appreciate. Yoga. inc offers a wide variety of classes for you to choose, from the regular Hatha Yoga to even Yin Yoga. The teachers are all well-trained and patient which means that they offer to demonstrate poses and walk around to correct students! Their studios are also not air-conditioned – yes, you heard me right! But that’s fine, Yoga Inc has installed fans and take my word for it, you won’t be breaking out in a sweat storm! Yoga Inc also has an extremely cute PR manager by the name of Ah Bui. Ah Bui is a Shih Tzu mix who never fails to break out in a run every time he sees you. Ah Bui is also one of the main reasons I manage to drag myself out for a 9am Sunday Class. The owner of Yoga Inc is also very friendly and makes it a point to check in with her clients, which makes this place even more special. Even though a handful, these are 6 studios that can offer you a great experience and a glimpse into the Yoga scene in Singapore. Look out for our next article, on what’s the best thing to wear to Yoga!