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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Spence

The Crazy thing I experienced in the city where Crazy Rich Asians was filmed

With a personal history of quirky relatives, dealing with jealous socialites (in my past) and navigating endless hours in high end malls with my shopping obsessed ex-husband, I’m certainly grateful to say I don’t have to deal with a disapproving mother-in-law-to-be in my world. But traveling to Singapore wouldn’t be complete without mentioning what Crazy Rich Asian thing I experienced. Crazy, and totally unnecessary.

Arriving in Singapore with limited expectations of the yoga community, I felt compelled to check out a yoga studio created by a man that I interviewed for my book. This post is in no way reflective of him personally yet my connection to him needs to be stated up front because I believe his intentions to bring great yoga to his community is still in line with the core ethics of yoga principles. The studio is Pure Yoga.

Pure Yoga Suntec Mall, Singapore

With studios in Singapore, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, and New York City Pure Yoga is no small enterprise. As always, I plan my visit without indicating to anyone that I will be writing about the studio. Each yoga community I visit around the world allows for special considerations based on local culture, attitudes, and lifestyle demands. That’s the complicated answer. The simple question I keep asking myself, though, is “Isn’t yoga essentially supposed to be something that anyone can do?”

Yoga at Pure, though, is exclusionary. Why? The price. As I arrived and said I wanted to buy a week of classes, the receptionist stated that the smallest way I could buy a package was six months. I explained that I was shopping for a new studio (which makes incredible sense that I would walk in considering the studio is in the Central Business District mall with countless high rises in the area). Stressing that I really wanted to try the studio out before I committed to a long-term contract I asked for a one time drop in. Hesitating, she quoted the fee of $65 (Singapore dollars). I thanked her and left, stating that I would return that evening for the class.

As we explored this vibrant, intriguing, incredible city with countless cultural and fun experiences that day I contemplated not returning to try a class. In fact, the idea of passing on my visit was distracting me all day. Why? Because I fundamentally believe that yoga should be available to everyone. Not just the rich. Should good health (mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) have a high price tag? I think not. Historically the wealthy have had better access to healthcare, yet money alone does not buy you good health (think Steve Jobs).

I did return, though, because I contemplated the idea that perhaps they had figured out a way to offer something that every other studio I had visited had not. So, I went. As I registered, though, a red flag appeared when I filled out the less-than-standard -ooking waiver sign in sheet. It was an exhaustive sales tool clearly leading to a salesperson calling to try and upsell the class.

The person who checked me in was different than the person I had met earlier. She charged me $56 (which roughly translated to $45 US Dollars). The most I have ever paid for a drop-in class in the United States is $25. My expectations were huge. I valued my expectations based on the fee I paid.

Was the studio clean? Yes. Was there the standard studio-chain juice bar and ability to purchase yoga clothes? Yes. But, I thought, there’s still the teacher…

The teacher was good, but not great. That was disappointing. The class was an hour. It was billed as Ashtanga but condensing the Primary Series into an hour doesn’t allow for everything (and there were no adjustments). I still continue to yearn for hour and a half long “traditional” yoga classes that don’t cram more into less time because it continues to feel like yoga (in studios like this) are becoming gym classes with movements that look like yoga poses. And I thought, wrongly, that this was only a problem in the United States.

The next day I could not get this out of my mind. I asked myself “What was really missing for me?” The feeling that I was being welcomed into a community. I felt like I was visiting a hard sell Bally’s Gym back in the 1070’s joining based on being the first chain to really make a go of big box fitness concept. Funny to think that my most memorable experience at Bally’s was working out with Farrah Faucet next to me (in full makeup of course). It was Houston, Texas y’all.

Seriously, though, I can’t help but wonder with every gym in America now offering yoga classes why anyone is going to join a so-so yoga studio that doesn’t offer all of the other incredible amenities and opportunities a full-blown health club does? That, clearly, is another article waiting to happen. Stay tuned.

My recommendation; it’s crazy to pay crazy prices for a less than epic yoga experience when affordable great yoga is nearby.

Based on a quick search online, I found a great article simply by typing in “Affordable yoga in Singapore”. Based on the number of editorial pieces I found, I wasn’t the only one thinking I was taking crazy pills.

I selected Yoga+ not based on the price in the article but this:

“…Yoga+ also aims to expand its students’ experiences beyond the yoga mat following the ‘three-pillar’ experience, which is designed to teach them mindful living, inspire creative expression, and raise social awareness.”

For my review of Yoga+ stay tuned…

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