Taipei Series: Yoga Studio Review

A screen cap of the feature story I wrote few years ago

This is the first post of my "Taipei Life" Series that I aim to blog in the next couple of months. I thought of writing about where to find this and that, how to go about things, and my general reflections on Taipei life to help fellow expats/readers know more about this little island I call my second home.

Tomorrow marks my second month with Pure Yoga. It's been two months of joy and pain! I'm grateful that every day for at least an hour, I get to be at peace with myself, not worrying about anything, and just focusing on my breath and balance (although sometimes I think of what to eat after class). There are frustrating days when I dread the pain of maximum stretching, but I love pushing myself and knowing my limits. My yoga instructor Robert would often say "Indulge your muscles! Invite every emotion, feel the pain, the joy!"

Yoga sparked my curiosity in 2012 after stumbling upon a magazine write-up discussing its health benefits. I started researching about yoga in Taiwan and came across a blog written in Chinese, which contained all the things I needed to know about yoga in Taipei. I benefited so much from that blog even with my then limited Chinese reading ability (a little less limited now haha!), so I would like to return the favor by writing an English version of my own experiences.

Royal Yoga
Royal opened in 2012, during the period of my heightened interest in yoga. I bought Groupon coupons (when Groupon was still operating in Taiwan, they closed down last year) worth NT$400+ for four classes. I was impressed then because it was very new and the lockers were spanking clean. They have 3 studios in total, 2 regular and 1 heated room. Classes are conducted in English with Indian teachers (but some do try to mumble in Chinese), and Chinese with Taiwanese teachers.

I signed up for a one year contract. I had one favorite teacher, an Indian named Master Sun, who taught very well and would always try his best to guide each student. I also frequently attended the classes of other Indian teachers, who were all okay. Master Sun left after several months and it was never the same again.

I cancelled my contract mid-2013. I did not enjoy it the way I used to, perhaps because I lacked motivation, and the studio was looking a little unkempt. Maybe they were too busy attracting students that they forgot to maintain the studio. I'm not sure how it looks now, but they opened another branch along Roosevelt Road.

How to get there:
2F #150, Fuxing North Road, Taipei (MRT Nanjing Fuxing Station)
B1 #91, Roosevelt Rd Sec. 2, Taipei (MRT Guting Station) 

Hatha Yoga Taipei
While contemplating if I should sign up for a gym membership or another yoga studio, I ended up trying Hatha Yoga Taipei because of their pay-per-class system. You can try one 90-minute class for NT$500, an 8-class pack for NT$3000 (good for 6 months), or one-month pack (one class daily) for NT$3500.

They only offer Bikram classes- hot hatha, for 90 minutes. They have one spacious studio with infrared heating, but very few showers which can be a concern to those who want to take a bath right after a crazy hot Bikram session. I think I tried their class once or twice and found 90 minutes in a hot atmosphere a little too much for me so I didn't get any of the packages. The classes I attended were in Chinese, although you can tell them if you're more comfortable in English.

How to get there:
3F #33, JinShan South Road Section 2, Taipei (MRT Dongmen Station)

Pure Yoga
After more than a year of yoga hiatus, of constant slouching, sluggishness and almost close to zero physical activity (save for some evening brisk walking around Sun Yat Sen Memorial), I decided it's time to get back on the mat... and to get back in shape. I went to Pure's free trial class after our two big events November of last year and signed up for a one-year membership.

There are two Pure Yoga branches in Taipei- I go to Pure Tower. I love this studio. It is very well maintained even after several years in business. The staff are very courteous, and the teachers topnotch. Quite a number of them are foreigners, so the medium of instruction is not a problem.

Among my favorite teachers are TJ, Una, Jun and Robert. TJ is a Taiwanese who grew up in the US. He teaches really well. There is always an interaction between him and the students, maybe because he is also a doctor by profession? He likes using props like belts, bolsters and blocks which makes the class really fun. Una is Taiwanese and a former dancer. Her classes are very entertaining but challenging! Jun on the other hand is more strict than the rest, but her classes although a little strenuous, are very engaging. She has a beautiful voice too and sings/chants for us during final shavasana.  Robert from the US has his own "touch" when teaching. He pushes you until you can no longer stand and motivates you to focus and never lose balance. I don't know how he does it, but even if I feel like dying after his class, I get out of the studio happy and full of energy!

How to get there:

3-9F, #151 Zhongxiao East Road Sec. 4, Taipei (MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station)
4F, #1 Qingcheng Street, Taipei (MRT Nanjing Fuxing Station)

Other yoga studios in Taipei:
True Yoga #563 Zhongxiao East Road Sec. 4 (MRT Taipei City Hall Station)
Space Yoga #27 Anhe Road, Section 1, Taipei (MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station)

Most yoga studios offer free trial classes, but expect a "sales talk" right after your ommm session. Don't be too gullible though. I told the sales person in charge that I needed some time to think about it and he respected my request. You can also ask if you can take additional one to two free classes to help you decide. I think it is important that you enjoy your classes and you like what your yoga studio offers before you read thoroughly and sign the membership contract. Hope this helps! Drop me a line using the "Contact Me" box to your right if you need more information!

UPDATE (2/2019) After 12 years of operation, Pure Yoga Taiwan closed its doors on January 25, 2019. 

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