Health & Fitness about 1 year ago by Liz Adams

Chicago Workout Review: Zen Yoga Garage

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Hi, everyone! Carolyn here, back with our latest Chicago workout review. I’ve talked about spin, boot camps and running recently, but I figured it was about time we created some content for all you yogis out there. I do feel like I need to start this post off with a caveat—though I have gone through phases where I’ve practiced yoga pretty consistently (3x a week), I’m by no means a regular yoga class attendee. I know how to do most of the major poses, but I’ve never done a headstand, and I’m not sure if I ever will. I guess I’m saying all this so you know where I’m coming from in terms of yoga fitness; i.e. no current yoga fitness. I love yoga, and I’m always motivated to practice yoga more regularly when I do take a class, but I don’t prioritize it. I know that’s bad to admit—yoga is insanely good for you and helps you build up the strength to support all your other life activities—I always just default to higher intensity classes. However, I really have been trying to make more room for yoga in my life lately, especially after a visit to the amazing Zen Yoga Garage in Chicago. Here’s what it was like!

The workout: Zen Vinyasa 2 at Zen Yoga Garage

Quick description: 60 Minute vinyasa flow yoga at 85-95 degrees with a mix of fast flow, deep stretching and arm balances/inversions

Price: Zen Yoga Garage is free for your first week or you can pay $22 for a drop-in class (it’s also available on ClassPass for 5 credits). You can find various other packages and pricing options here. I signed up online ahead of time, my friend (Lauren again!) signed up when we got there. I was coming to class from running errands all day, so I rented a mat for $1.

My experience: When you first walk into Zen Yoga Garage, you truly get the impression that it’s a space dedicated to yoga and mindfulness. I know that sounds silly—a yoga studio all about yoga—but it’s a different feeling than the yoga classes at my big city gym or even some of the chain studios I’ve been to. There’s a big comfortable seating area, plants everywhere, and candles and incense burning that make it smell like a spa. A class had just finished before ours, and lots of people were still hanging out and chatting—you really got the impression that Zen Yoga Garage is a community. 

Lauren and I found a space in the classroom, which was already packed—everyone fit, but our mats were all right next to each other. (If you prefer some personal space, you might want to choose a less popular time.) The room was hot but comfortable…it was one of those chilly Chicago May days, and it actually felt really good to feel warm and loosen up a bit. Our instructor, Alison, noticed we were new and came up and introduced herself right away. I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous about trying out a more “serious” yoga studio, so it meant a lot to have Alison be so nice and welcoming. I told her I was having some trouble with my IT band, and she gave me some dedicated stretches to try during the class.  

Sometimes yoga classes pass slowly (for me, at least), but this class flew by! We began with a series of grounding chants and then moved through a series of sun salutations that started out slowly and then got faster after a few rounds. Per the class’s request, the session was focused on opening up the shoulders and hips, so we did several poses that targeted those areas. (Ahhh). We finished the class with savasana and breathwork (I would seriously go back to Zen Yoga Garage just to learn how to do those breathing exercises, they were so relaxing), and then left to enjoy the rest of our Monday evening, feeling infinitely more aligned and at least two inches taller. 

Overall impression: You know how I told you that one yoga class always inspires me to go to more yoga classes? That’s exactly what happened with Zen Yoga Garage. It was the first class I had been to in a long time that felt like a true yoga class—one where your mental state benefits just as much as your physical fitness. The gorgeous facilities and the kindness of everyone working there were just the cherry on top. I can’t wait to go back! 

Thanks, as always, for following along, and let me know if there are any other yoga studios I should try in Chicago! 
xo, Carolyn 

Ps. While we’re on the subject of fitness, I have to mention how inspired I was by Liz’s fitness update yesterday—talk about motivation to put in some work! #NoExcuses

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