As I was leaving Shapiro’s Cafe a few weeks ago, falafel in hand, I noticed flyers offering “30 days of yoga for $30 at Charm City Yoga.” I grabbed one and put it on the counter where I vowed not to throw it out until signing up. I’d tried yoga before, but often found classes too expensive or inconveniently scheduled. This place was two blocks from my downtown Baltimore apartment, and when I went to their website I found an online discount for a $25 monthly trial. The next day I walked over for Friday morning beginner yoga with Bianca Paterakis. The studio is located in a gorgeous brick building on E. Preston St., with a sign outside that reads, “Yoga is for everyone.”
I walked in and immediately noticed a growing collection of shoes. “Keep our studio clean,” another sign requested, “Please remove your shoes.” I kicked off my Brooks and walked to the front desk. The woman behind the desk smiled kindly as I told her my name. I asked which room the class would be in and added under my breath, “I just signed up for the trial membership.” She smiled even brighter and said, “That’s great! Our class today will be in the Earth room on the first floor.” She pointed out cubbies where I could put my coat and suggested I get blocks and a strap. I blushed as I thanked her and walked into the studio. Chairs and couches made it feel welcoming, and there were lotions and essential oils as well as mats and attire for sale along the walls. A sucker for free samples, I tried one of the hand lotions. It felt and smelled excellent, but ended up hindering my grip during downward facing dog. The Earth room was easy to find, and other people were inside beginning to set up their mats. I unrolled mine near the front of the room, hoping to have a decent view of the instructor. After joking with the girl next to me about our first run after the holidays, I felt better.
Bianca’s class was a perfect fit for my skill level. She suggested modifications and improvements for our poses, and explained our movements and taught us why each breath was important. I broke a sweat, but Bianca instructed us to take breaks in child’s pose enough that I didn’t push myself too hard. After the class she thanked us, seeming truly happy to have spent her Friday morning there. I went back home in a better state of mind, and woke up the next morning sore in places that I knew were getting stronger. I returned last Monday and had a lengthier, more intense class with a male instructor who was also a good teacher. I spent the day shopping and it left me feeling materialistic, like I was going against my resolution. It was a hollow feeling, and though I was still sore, I decided to go back to Charm City Yoga. This time though, I was going with meditation as my goal. Marina, who usually teaches at their Towson location, was excellent. Her instruction pushed me physically, and she made a point to make the class focus on our intentions.
—Follow Sarah Grace McCarthy on Twitter: @birdy_grace