Candlelight Vinyasa 1 at The Little Yoga Studio, 2525 Arapahoe Ave., E-42, Boulder, 303-444-4950, littleyogastudio.com
Instructor: Alex Berger started yoga to enhance his skateboarding and snowboarding, eventually abandoning those pursuits for yoga. He has been teaching yoga for four years and has his 200-hour and 300-hour yoga certifications.
What is the workout? Vinyasa flow with the lights turned down low. Cue the soft music.
Berger mixed several yoga styles together in this class. Parts were flow yoga, taken from the ashtanga style, while others pulled more from iyengar and kundalini yoga. It varied from more rigorous sequences to poses that were held longer.
"I try to integrate the parts of yoga that I find are most useful to people at a general level," said Berger.
It's a level one class with poses and sequences accessible to anyone, although the rigorousness of the class and the poses change.
"It varies from class to class depending on where the moon is in its cycle," said Berger. "I like to follow the cadences of the moon and work with the natural seasons."
The crux of the class is turning inward to focus on more personal practices and reaching a meditative state.
"It's always going to be about creating a body that's supportive to meditation," said Berger.
What's different? Other than a smattering of candles and soft lights on the floor, the room was dark. There was enough light to see Berger dimly at the front of the room. He relied on verbal cues to move students through the poses.
"For me it's about creating a space for people to practice that allows them to go within a little bit more, hence the darker space," said Berger.
The darkness isolates students in their own practice so that it's just you, the mat, your thoughts and your movements. While turning the lights down is a small change, it has a significant effect on the mental aspect of yoga.
Cost: $10 for a single drop-in class, $40 for two weeks unlimited and $95 for a 10-class punch pass.
Level: Beginners to the practice of yoga will struggle with the verbal cues in a dark room. Familiarity with the poses and the structure of yoga classes is helpful. Anyone with prior yoga experience could take this class without a problem. More advanced students can take the time to enjoy the meditative elements of the class.
When: 5:15-6:15 p.m. Thursdays.
What to prepare: Bring a yoga mat and water, they provide all the other props. Wear comfortable clothes that are easy to move in.
Muscles worked: This class targeted the bigger muscles in the legs and hips, as well as abs, back and shoulders. Like most yoga, it's muscle conditioning.
What I loved: I couldn't see myself — and nobody could see me with any clarity. It's impossible to compare yourself to others when you can't see what they're doing. Instead, I could only focus on my own practice.
The other major bonus of a dark room is that if you happened to drink too much dairy and find you're a little gassy as a result (hypothetically, of course), you can't see the glares from your neighbors.
What I didn't like: Despite Berger's talented cue giving, I still got lost a few times. It's the sacrifice of the dark environment, but it didn't bother me.
How I felt after the class: I was seconds away from falling asleep on the mat. Driving home was a struggle, but at least I was relaxed.