Bikram yoga, in which instructors teach 90-minute classes from a single memorized script in 105-degree heat, has monopolized the hot yoga scene for years. Now, one alternative is gaining steam: Modo.
How hot is it? This may be the most successful Bikram breakaway to date. Currently, 64 Modo studios span the country, and another 15 are scheduled to open next year, according to the New York Times. And it all started because two Canadians didn't put carpet—a Bikram imperative—in their studio.
Ted Grand, a Toronto-based environmental activist, and his partner Jessica Robertson, replaced the required flooring with sustainably harvested cork. It seemed natural, given their environmentalist principles—not to mention that, as any hot yogi knows, sweat-soaked carpets stink.
Modo's Manhattan location, which features recycled-tire floors and recycled-denim wall insulation, opened in the West Village in 2012 (originally as "Moksha Yoga"). While the eco-factor definitely plays a role in its popularity, the biggest draw for models, fashion icons, and performers (including Russell Simmons and Katie Holmes, who have both been spotted in the studio), is its more flexible approach to the art of bending.
For instance, while music is forbidden from Bikram, it's played in roughly half of Modo's New York classes, sometimes even performed by the studio's co-owners, who play the violin and cello. Classes range from vinyasa flow to yang-yin balance, plus "traditional" Modo, which has 40 poses, compared to Bikram's 26.
But most important is the heat: "The temperature is flexible and usually stays around body temperature (just under 100 degrees) to avoid overheating," says Guillaume Brun, Director of Modo Yoga NYC. "Students can take breaks whenever they need to, and most importantly, [they can] stay hydrated throughout the class." (In Bikram, students are discouraged from water breaks—or breaks of any sort.)
"We provide a lot of modification in our practices. Our classes don't have assigned levels to make it more accessible for beginners, yet very challenging for seasoned practitioners," says Brun, who notes that many of the studio's practitioners hail from other forms of yoga and often come in with injuries.
Ready to take your practice up a level? Find the nearest class at ModoYoga.com.