Four Reasons Why I Love CorePower Yoga. ~ René Cousineau

Via elephant journal
on Jan 23, 2011
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I just might love yoga more than I love cookie dough… depending on what kind of cookie dough.

I’m new to yoga, or at least it feels that way. I’ve been at it for about seven months, three times a week when I’m good about it, which still makes me a complete novice. Sure, I’ve gained what I recognize to be an abundance of flexibility. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. Just a few days ago, I put my jeans on and went right out the door without having to do 20 sit-ups in them first to loosen the waistband. My anxiety used to be so bad that I had to pop Xanax like they were tic tacs but, not anymore. All thanks to a measly three-times-a-week-(when I’m good about it)-regime of yoga.

Yoga is changing my life, without changing who I am. It simply motivates me to be a better version of myself, and gives me the confidence to know that I am capable of doing so. Sappy right? I sound like I’m writing my wedding vows. But, all jokes aside, I’m very comfortable admitting that my relationship with yoga is slowly taking the form of any other intimate relationship that I share with human, animal, hobby or food (I have a religious experience every time I encounter movie theater butter).

This relationship would never have come to fruition had it not been for Corepower Yoga. The awesome thing about being new to yoga in Boulder is that you can get your first week or two greatly discounted at many studios, and some even let you get your feet wet for free! Corepower falls under the latter category and, after taking my newbie turn at a few other local studios, I decided to cash in my free week. Since then, it has become “my” studio and my experience there has never been anything other than absolutely awesome.

It has come to my attention recently however, that Corepower has gained a bad rap with some as being the “Starbucks” or the “McDonald’s of yoga.” Many people seem to be concerned with the “corporate” or “commercialized” aspect of the Corepower model, as there are many locations in several cities across five different states. A few friends of mine have even gone so far as to say that it isn’t even yoga at all. This accusation in particular is popular on the review sites I’ve trolled to see what everyone else is saying about Corepower. There are a few statements about how the classes at Corepower are more of a good workout than anything resembling yoga.

I can’t say whether or not this is the popular opinion. I have friends that love Corepower and, previously unbeknownst to me, friends that hate it. But as these less favorable points of view begin to pop up around me, I have found myself with the urge to lay out exactly why it is that I personally love Corepower so much.

1. There are several locations that each offer many classes a day.

Some people see this as one of Corepower’s negative traits, that its multiple location set-up is too similar to a franchise like Starbucks. I wouldn’t even be able to do yoga if it wasn’t for Corepower’s wide offering of class times and locations. As I mentioned earlier, I dabbled in a few other studios before deciding to stick it out with Corepower, and while I’ve never had a flat-out terrible experience at any of these other places, their schedules were simply incompatible with my own. Between working 40 hours a week at multiple jobs, making time to read, write, eat and sleep… I’m not left with a lot of options as far as where to squeeze in the yoga. So, for me, this aspect of Corepower is a total plus. Not only am I almost always able to find a class that can fill any random lull in my day, as a non-driver, Boulder’s three separate locations also make it easy for me to get to one or the other depending on where I might be during that lull.

2. Yes, it is a good workout.

I’ve heard it said that “Corepower is more exercise than om.” I won’t deny that the classes at Corepower provide an excellent workout, but for me, it’s still something completely different than going to the gym or an aerobics class or for a run. I usually just want to scarf a butterfinger after all of those things and pass out without showering. After a class at Corepower, yes, I feel sweaty and like I’ve been worked over a little–but I also feel more connected to my own body. I feel like my mind and my body just spent an hour working together for my benefit, instead of feeling like my mind had to overcome the weakness of my own body to get the work done. And I’m invigorated, ready to carry on my day with poise and confidence. This is the same way I feel after a class at The Yoga Workshop (which I’ve had the pleasure of venturing to once a week of late). The classes I take at Corepower are definitely more fast paced, but I feel that the work I’m doing during, and the benefits I feel after a class at either establishment are so similar that if one isn’t yoga, then the other isn’t either.

3. There is diversity among the students and the teachers.

It’s no secret that the classes at Corepower are well attended. This seems to be another problem for some Corepower nay-sayers, “The classes are too crowded.” I’ve heard this even from my fellow fans and devotees. Well, whatever. It really, really doesn’t bother me. In fact, it makes me more comfortable to know that so many other people have shown up to the same class, on the same day, at the same time as I have, to do the same good for themselves. I also take comfort in knowing that I cannot possibly be the only novice in the class when there is such a wide range of attendees. On the other hand, there is probably an equally comforting number of people who have been at this for a while, and whom I can draw inspiration from along with the instructor.

I also enjoy the fact that I can take my basic, level one class from an array of different teachers on any given day. Of course, there are instructors that I favor, and I do my best to attend their classes as often as possible. I find it beneficial though, that even while the level one class is generally the same sequence every time, each teacher finds a way to put their own personal twist on it. I can stay comfortable in my level one class, but still experience variety.

4. As I said before, without Corepower, I wouldn’t even be doing yoga.

I never considered myself to be the yoga type. It took a lot for me to step out and give it a try. Some of the classes I attended before going to Corepower were way outside of my comfort zone, and almost scared me off completely. I’m bashful about chanting. I’m not horribly spiritual. I’ve never really had the desire to meditate. I had no real interest in yoga until someone told me that it was a great way to lose weight and relieve stress. And it is. And now I love it. But I don’t think I would have gotten to this point, to the point where I’m actually becoming a lot more at ease with all the other stuff that comes along with the physical advantages of yoga, without Corepower.

It’s a great place to get acquainted with the movements, and the basic nature of yoga, without getting overwhelmed. I am in no way saying that Corepower doesn’t incorporate the language of yoga, or the spirituality of it into their classes, because they do (and even still I resist!). But they’re gentle about it, which is extremely important for us reserved folk that aren’t ready to dive-in head first. I believe that an individual should be able to practice yoga in whatever way is comfortable and suitable for him or her, and Corepower encourages this idea. I never used to feel like yoga could be for everyone, but it can and it is. Corepower Yoga helped me understand this by making yoga accessible, even for an apprehensive, cookie dough wolfing novice like myself.

René Cousineau was born and raised in Glenwood Springs, CO. She currently lives in Boulder and is a student of fiction writing and Russian literature. She spends her time reading, cleaning, hiking, dancing, and slinging cupcakes at a local bakery/coffee shop.


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17 Responses to “Four Reasons Why I Love CorePower Yoga. ~ René Cousineau”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Les Elephants, Red Fox. Red Fox said: Four Reasons Why I Love CorePower Yoga. ~ René Cousineau […]

  2. Excellent review, Rene. I hope we'll be hearing a lot more from you.

    How would you like to review the movie "The Last Station" for Elephant?

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  3. René Cousineau says:

    My gosh it would be an honor. I'll get right to it! Thanks for the positive feedback Bob!

  4. AMO says:

    René I think you're on to something here. The people who say CorePower "isn't yoga" are confused. They have fallen victim to the old truth pointed out by Schopenhauer, “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world…”
    They can only see one way to do yoga so they believe there is only one way, when in fact there are many ways to do everything, yoga included. They also don't realize when they do this that they frighten and alienate people with their zealotry. It makes people who've never tried yoga afraid that they might choose "the wrong studio" or "the wrong practice" or teacher, or whatever, that yoga is so PRECISE a science that you can get it WRONG, which simply isn't true. I abhor zealotry in any form and especially in a practice that teaches balance, flow, openness, flexibility, peace. These wonderful gifts of yoga, which you are experiencing, are less available in the presence of rigid view points. I celebrate that you are going to more than one studio too, more yogis would benefit from doing that, opening their minds and their bodies to new teachers and new ways of being receptive to the yoga….

  5. René Cousineau says:

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I honestly couldn't have put it better. When I first decided to try yoga, I was extremely nervous, I felt like I was about to enter into a fraternity that I just didn't belong to. And then when I became comfortable at Corepower, and began hearing these criticisms, I definitely had those moments where I felt like I had made some kind of rookie mistake or something. But, it makes me feel great so I'm taking a stand! Thank you, again, for having my back, and so eloquently!

  6. Valerie says:

    cpy is vinyasa power yoga, hot sweaty detoxing moving breathing full-body meditation. When you have a teacher who knows what she/he is doing, is a fantastic yoga experience. May I recommend that you introduce an alignment based practice (like Iyengar or Anusara) into your regime. Even if it's once a month or so, I promise you it will open your body and flow in vinyasa beautifully.

  7. René Cousineau says:

    Thank you for the recommendation Valerie! I know that they offer Anusara classes at Om Time, maybe I'll check it out! Is there anywhere else you would suggest?

  8. Erma says:

    I used to be a student at corepower and did my first yoga teacher training there, where I learned how to memorize a script and what the "right downward dog" looked like.
    I was practicing for about a year with a very slanted downward dog (due to scoliosis and a blind spot) and furthur injuring my knee. I may as well have been practicing with an arrow sticking out of my back and due to (often) poorly trained teachers and overly crowded classes, nobody said ANYTHING to me, for A YEAR until I went to a different studio, then it was the very first thing the teacher talked with me about.

    Healthy living starts with the big toe, the feet, the arches, the toes and fingers are SO crucial to maintaining a healthy posture, and having gone through the Corepower teacher training, this was not taught at all.

    Corepower yoga was good for me when I was just starting out, but the 1 minute shivasana's are a joke (that's the most important part of practice) and it takes very little understanding to memorize a script and become an official teacher.

    What is yoga? As Isness. Sure there are some good teachers at Corepower, but you have to wade through a lot of corporate shit (and teachers are fired who get to experimental and veer off script) to find them.

  9. René Cousineau says:

    Erma, I am so sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. And, as the article suggests, this is not the first negative review I have heard. I agree that sometimes I am left wondering if I'm hitting a pose correctly, and if I should be adjusted but am just… not getting noticed. I have found more times than not, however, that many of the instructors do take the initiative to pay attention, come over and realign me. Perhaps it has been a blessing that you, and others like you that have had this bad experience, are voicing your concerns with Corepower. I'm sure that they are wising up to these concerns and, hopefully, implementing the necessary changes. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  10. René Cousineau says:

    I'm glad you enjoyed the article, Angela. Thank you for your positive feedback!

  11. It's great that you found an introduction to Yoga that feels safe and comfortable to you. I hope that as your practice grows you will explore different styles and see what you might be missing out on and what other traditions have to offer. There are both skilled instructors and undertrained instructors in every lineage. I'm sure there are many teachers at CorePower with a great understanding of alignment who can make sure their classes and students are safe just as there are instructors who can be less that mindful in their instruction of any style. I personally had a very bad experience (herniated cervical disks) from a well trained Iyengar instructor but I recognize that was the attentiveness of the instructor, not an inherent flaw in the tradition of Iyengar Yoga or it's teachings (as some people seem to be suggesting of CorePower in their comments). You might also find that what works for you now isn't what you need a year or two from now.
    Even though my training and personal practice is very traditional I teach classes in a fitness facility and minimize the spiritual side of the practice for those particular classes. Krishnamacharya believed that to effectively teach we should meet the student where they are at. If where they are at does not involve meditation or chanting then we should teach what they are ready to learn instead of judging or imposing our expectations on them. I hope you find delight, health and peace in your practice, wherever and whatever it is.

    And this article has nice tie-ins to the current discussions going on on Gita Talk!

  12. René Cousineau says:

    I checked out Gita Talk and agree entirely. Thank you for directing me over there! And thank you for the positive words, and for acknowledging the fact that, regardless of where an instructor may be working at the time (be it Corepower or elsewhere), the responsibility is in the hands of the individual and is "not an inherent flaw in the tradition." Very thoughtful words.

    I am also impressed by your approach to teaching yoga. Starting off, I was actually surprised to find that there were many people like myself, feeling apprehensive about not the physical act of doing yoga, but the other traditions that go hand-in-hand. I'm glad that you are able to respect that some of us would rather ease into it a bit slower. Thank you for the well wishes.

  13. […] yoga practice took on more of a life-saving role, and I then discovered Core Power yoga. Burning and sweating through intense Vinyassa felt so good on my aching muscles, and I left class […]

  14. Cschi says:

    Thank you for this article! My town just got CPY and I am in LOVE! I have been practicing for 10 years, I have a spiritual preceptor, a meditation practice, a home yoga practice that includes chanting and pranayama, and now I have CPY! I feel complete. I love the heat, the sweaty detox, the pop music, the great workout. It's so fun and such a breath of fresh air. The studios are so clean and convenient as well.

  15. Monika says:

    Great post! Thank you for sharing. Nothing is perfect and we all find what works for us at different times of our lives, but humans are prone to judgement, as a rule. Your piece is well articulated. And yoga was never about perfection, it's a practice! I'm not all that excited about Starbucks use of GMO soy nor that they joined Monsanto to sue the State of Vermont, (they know better) but you know what, overall, they are making good strides. Such as this yoga co-operative an stand for same sex marriage. We just need to concentrate on moving forward!

  16. Julie says:

    HI Rene!
    great article. Like Erma, I have been a student and done training. Let me start by saying Corepower has something other places don't. They are welcoming! It is part of the reason people stay. The places I have worked that are not corepower have copied the business model as much as they could see and they have been, you guessed it, successful in the areas that they opened. Yoga by Degrees in Illinois opened 3 total. Unheard of in the area since corepower rules that area.
    Corepower does a great job at being welcoming…. something I rarely find at other studios. Sad yes? Sad too because some studios are so great but then don't care about being open to new students and the "mystical" sense of yoga that turns some off.
    With that said, Erma is right and the more corporate corepower becomes the worse her sentiments will and have already become. They are concerned with making money and are now owned by the same company as edible arrangements. fyi.. so they are as corp as corp comes. And unlike starbucks, they dont offer some nice perk to employees like insurance to even part timers.. or like mcdonalds who is so big they at least have charities they give to… corepower has no "giveback" program to the community. They have also raised prices 5 times in the last 3 years. the membership has gone from 99 to 155 in 4 years.

    I just had to say it so we understand what corepower is and has become and what it is. They fire teachers often no matter how good or how great their following is. The training format was a good thing but now it is lead by teachers fresh out of training?! (senior teachers have told me they won't lead programs for the fact that they demand so much and pay so little, like less than their own class rate) In addition, the training programs are going downhill because of this. Less knowledgeable people leading.. blind leading the blind. So be very aware of who you find as a teacher and support them and the studios that support them.