This summer I've been exploring Eco Communities and Ashrams in Central Italy, and I'm actually surprised of all the offer I found.
- Citta' Della Luce, Senigallia: it's an eco community based Reiki principles. located aroind a traditional Italian country house on top of a hill, and surrounded by olive trees and sun flower fields. Gorgeous and very inspiring. They offer regular workshops such as Usui Reiki, family constellations, and permaculture. They also offer Yoga classes every week, for guests only. Communal meals, delicious abundant food.
- Tribe Wanted Monestevole, Perugia: it's a 40 hectare farm working to become completely self-sufficient, they offer excellent hospitality options in terms of dining, lodging,and atmosphere. They invite all their guests to get involved in the activities of the farm and in the kitchen. They offer regular Yoga classes and workshops as part of their program, but for guests only. Communal meals, delicious abundant food. Very inspiring.
-Ananda Ashram, Assisi. On top of a hill behind the town of Assisi, this Ashram follows the teachings of Yogananda, who was the first great master of yoga to make his home in the West, coming to the U.S. They offer a regular program of yoga, meditation, kirtan, and satsang for guests staying few days. The Yoga classes are very gentle and meditative. Communal meals, delicious abundant food. Very inspiring.
As a newcomer to Shanghai, and one whose Chinese vocabulary does not span much further than “Ni hao,” I was in a bit over my head trying to navigate the huge city when I first arrived. Within the first week, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there is a very friendly, welcoming English-speaking expat community, many of whom are eager and active yogis. I would quickly find out that there are tons of yoga studios scattered all around Shanghai, the vast majority of which offer classes in Chinese, English, and mixed languages. As a result, I decided that a great way to explore the city and meet more of these English-speaking yogis would be to embark on a free trial tour of Shanghai’s numerous studios.
During my tour, I have come across a number of fascinating people and classes. Of the studios I have tried out, my favorite have been Red Door, Y+, and Yoga Space.
- Red Door yoga is a tiny studio that offers only Ashtanga classes, all of which are taught by the studio’s owner, Rob. While Red Door might be a bit pricey, the classes are tons of fun and Rob is a great guy.
- Y+ has three separate locations across Shanghai, and each one is very nice. The Y+ studios are probably the biggest in Shanghai, fully equipped with spacious locker rooms and multiple studio spaces. While Y+ has arguably the best facilities in Shanghai, it is also among the most expensive.
- Yoga Space: this is my favorite studio in Shanghai, maybe because I have spent the most time there, so my opinion might be a bit biased in that regard. Taking advantage of a new promotion aimed toward increasing the number of male members, I was able to prolong my free yoga tour of Shanghai with a free month at Yoga Space, and it was fantastic. Although the facilities are not as big as Y+, which causes classes to feel a bit cramped at times, the quality of the classes is always high due to their wonderful staff. But beyond the classes and the teachers, Yoga Space also offers a beautiful little lounge area outside the classes where it is common to find everyone sitting, or laying, as they sip tea and chat with their fellow yogis. And if you are not lucky enough to have a free month offer at your disposal, membership prices are very reasonable.
But while Yoga Space might have been my favorite studio, there could very well be another one out there for you. What is important to know is that Shanghai, with its vast array of yoga studios and enthusiasts, has all your yoga needs covered. And if you play your cards right, you might not even have to pay for it.
Thanks to Jon Saft for this great contribution to The Yoga Trail!
Tenerife is an island with a lot of different landscapes, microclimates, and vibes.
The south of Tenerife is the mildest during the winter and the most developed. Los Cristianos and Las Americas are the main towns and are very popular among seniors, especially during winter: warm weather, walking friendly, no cars, a lot of stores, safe and quiet. I haven't found much yoga for the general public around here, it's mainly offered within hotels, but the wide open sandy beach offers the perfect setting for your own practice... and for The Yoga Trail classes!
- There is one nice studio in town, Alma Zen Yoga. It's a nonprofit association offering all kind of spiritual and conscious practices, from Yoga (Hatha, Jiva Mukti, Vinyasa) to martial arts (Aikidoand, Chi Gong), Reiki and Shiatsu massages. We'll offer here several Reiki Yoga workshops in Jan 15.
- 15 minutes by car from Los Cristianos you can also relax at Hacienda Cristoforo: an ecological and spiritual center that provides a place of peace and retreat, honoring Mother Earth, and offering the opportunity to meet like minded people and receive new inspiration. We'll offer Reiki Yoga here as well.
There is a ton of yoga in CR, often pretty high end and expensive but let's start with Nosara.
I visited the Yoga Institute in Nosara, they have a beautifully landscape piece of land, with yoga pavilions immersed in Nature and some with beautiful views. They offer classes and YTT.
2015 Update! Also The Harmony Hotel in Nosara offers a full schedule of classes including aerial Yoga! $15/ class. Beautiful, clean, immersed in Nature and with a great juice bar next door: not to miss!
MUMBAI. I didn't see any yoga offers in the centre- Colada or Fort - but I checked 3 places:
- K I Yogic Health Centre, along Marine Dr: they don't offer drop in classes, only a complete health program lasting several weeks, and including Ayurveda. Facilities are not so clean.
- The Yoga Institute, near Santa Cruz, again no drop ins, only long term students/ patients.
- Iyengar Yogasharya: excellent! $3 drop in class, and as expected a great focus on alignment. 20 min cub ride from centre, near Lower Parel Station. Their main ashram, where he lives, is in Pune. I may go there later on my way back.
SOUTH GOA.There's a lot of yoga offer, more pricey, more touristy.
Agonda Beach. I was sick and I didn't practice but
- there's a Christian institute that offers ashtanga n vinyasa drop ins for $8, and a YTT.
- Vinyasa yoga classes on a platform in front of the ocean, $7 drop in.
Palolem Beach. At Bakti Kutir Resort there's a Swami teaching Hatha Yoga 3 times a day for different levels, he's good n funny with his Indian accent. $4 a class.
Patnem Beach. Hatha Yoga with Swami Shivananda: excellent. He was trained by his guru in the forests of the Himalaya. Beautiful mantra chanting, nice easy flow but still challenging, pranayama, meditation, and satsang. He does not adjust, he practices with you. $7 drop in.
Also Ashtanga Shala offers $6 drop in vinyasa classes, week long workshops for $250, and monthly YTT for $1200. The Shala also offers accomodation and it seems nice, clean, and western friendly.
HAMPI. Across the river from the temples is where you want to be. Hatha Yoga classes are offered on a platform among rice fields and in a studio close by, both behind the main road. $3 drop in, look for the signs along the main road. The morning I went the teacher was sick and cancelled the class so I taught instead!
TIRUVANNAMALAI. Here there's everything you can imagine and more: hatha /vinyasa/ashtanga yoga, sufi and spiritual dances, kirtan chanting, satsangs in cafes, pujas, Ayurveda. Some are donation based, some about $3 drop in. Look at the billboards in cafes and restaurants and you'll find all the info. Nice locations on rooftops.
MYSORE. This is the land of Ashtanga, but very few schools accept walk-ins and most renown ones also require reservations in advance and week or month long commitment. Nevertheless I found my school and I loved it: Mandala Mysore Shala. They offer excellent walk-in classes of Ashtanga $10 and Hatha Yoga $8; the teacher has been trained by BNS Iyengar, and in his classes I found myself easily getting into postures that I thought I was 2 years behind... Very good energy there! The other great schools that require more long term commitment are Patanjala Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, and of course the Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute.
ADITYA AYURVEDA HOSPITAL, KERALA. A pretty good teacher is available every day for gentle but very interesting yoga sequences. The treatments make you tired, and vigorous asanas are not recommended. Savasanas were heavenly thanks to his pleasant lead auto-suggestion. $10 total for the group class.
KOCHI. There are Hata yoga and sitar meditation classes at the Kathakali Centre, $7 each, early am.
SIVANANDA ASHRAM, TRIVANDRUM. The ashram, $16 a day all included, has pretty strict rules and regulations, which you may or may not enjoy - see the blog- , but the yoga is pretty good: great focus on breath work and pranayama, both beginners and advanced classes are offered and mandatory twice a day, optional coaching classes with teachers to practice and improve the asanas that are challenging for you. Obviously Sivananda asana sequencing is very different from Ashtanga and regular Vinyasa or Hatha classes, but I still enjoyed a lot.
VARKALA. There are several yoga offers along the main road along the cliff and inside Ayurvedic centers. I took an advance class at Vasudev's Yoga Shala, $6, 1.5hrs. It was a Sivananda inspired class, not too challenging, but it felt good overall. The shala is very nice, open air, with a ceiling covered with colorful saris... and right across the shala there's a all you can eat breakfast buffet for $4! Very Yogic! : )
Note: I found the average quality and cleanliness of the yoga mats available in the schools very poor so I would definitely recommend a thin mat to use as a top layer. I've been using one by Manduka that is so thin you can actually fold it and perfect for traveling. I definitely recommend it!
Ananda Ashram, Monroe, NY
This is my Yoga home.
I fell in love with Yoga and I took my teacher training there.
In addition to the fantastic Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga classes twice a day, to the Sanskrit classes and fire ceremony, there are always great workshops and live music performances.
It's a Nature sanctuary where you can meet like minded people, find silence and peace in the forest, and eat tasty vegan meal!
Jai Yoga Arts, Brooklyn, NY
I teach here every Tuesdays at 8:30pm when in NYC.
I love this studio because in addition to the excellent Yoga offer, it has become a lovely community of creative, smart, and eco-conscious people. The hot tea and nice chats after class are really priceless! Jai also offers a Teacher Training Program for anyone seeking to become a teacher, or a stronger practitioner in a familiar and comfortable environment!
3 Weeks for $30 for new students!
Solstice in Times Square:
Athleta Mind over Madness Yoga
Anyone can find tranquility on top of a mountain.
Can you find it in the middle of Times Square?
Every Summer Solstice you can Join the challenge!
Attend one or more of the 5 yoga classes throughout the day from 7:30am to 7pm: it will be a unique experience!
A lot of energy and a lot of new different new perspectives: it was great laying down and looking up at the Times Sq. buildings, and at the same time feeling the earth trembling under you for a train passing.
Highly recommended: I do it every year!
Jet Lag Festival
Within Jet Lag festival there is a camp dedicated to workshops, yoga, healing, live and electronic music, chill out area, hookah lounge, and body painting.
In 2012 I led a workshop dedicated to the Chakras, their psychological and physical aspects, and how to activate them.
The location in the shade under the trees with birds singing around us was priceless!
COLOMBIA YOGA: opportunities for teachers!
- Playa Blanca, Cartagena. Prana Yoga with Vanessa on this beautiful beach at 5.30pm every day. Bring your towel but be ready to get sandy... you'll enjoy ever more jumping in the sea afterwards!
- Gambhira Ashram, Santa Marta. Enjoy the Ashram life in this Eco- Village: eat organic vegetarian food, chant mantras, learn about Vedic culture, and meet truly nice people. I taught few classes of Vinyasa Yoga in their nice open temple, they have poor asana practice at the moment and they are actually looking for a resident Yoga Teacher. Anybody interested?
- Finca San Sebastian, San Jeronimo, Medellin. Practice yoga on a wide porch with beautiful view on mountains and enjoy the friendly hosts, including the little adorable kitty Mila! I taught few classes here and they are currently looking for a resident yoga teacher.
- Atman Yoga, Medellin. Sivananda centre, they organize classes outdoors in several location in Medellin, including the Orchideorama in the Botanical garden and the Presidencia Park in El Poblado. Free donation. I had a class with Gina: good breath work and inspiring conversations after.
-108 Yoga, Medellin. I had a fantastic Vinyasa Flow Class with Angelika: creative, challenging, invigorating but still relaxing. Great attention to the breath. Highly recommended. First class is free, then it`s a lil expensive.
- Playa La Miel, next to Sapzurro but in Panama. I led a warm-up class on the beach in preparation for Acro-yoga with Andy from Mistic Roots. It was the first time for me doing Acro Yoga and it felt great! He`s now in the process of starting up his own yoga center in the area: watch out!
- Hostel Marlin, Capurgana. I led few Vinyasa flow classes on the rooftop. They are very interested in having yoga regularly but there's no teacher in town at the moment... opportunities!
Magnolia Inn, Casco Viejo, Panama City.
Do your own yoga in their beautiful breezy ballroom with 270 open view of Panama roof, ocean, and church domes. They would like a yoga teacher to start regular classes there... anybody interested?
Isla Iguana, San Blas Archipelago.
I tought a Vinyasa class to fellow travelers: sound of the ocean, sand, wind... and rain just in time after the final mantra! Thanks Universe! ; )
Laguna Apoyo: San Simian Eco Lodge
Do your own yoga on the peaceful dock in front of the lake at sunrise.
Granada. Treehouse Poste Rojo
Do your own yoga on an unfortunately not so peaceful deck, up on the jungle canopy, with fantastic views and possibly monkeys joining your practice.
Ometepe. Inanitah Community
Enjoy the lovely Hatha yoga classes offered daily along with inspiring spiritual and ecological workshops. Recommended, even if it's a hike to get there!
Ometepe. Finca El Zopilote
Enjoy the daily 8.30am yoga classes offered by the resident instructor on the yoga deck of this inspiring permaculture farm. Recommended. Don't miss their Pizza night and daily fresh bread!
P.S. They are looking for a new yoga teacher to start at the end of Feb: contact them if interested! I wish I could do it myself but can't do everything!
Ometepe. Finca Venecia
Do your own yoga under the open palapa in front of the lake.
Islas Solentiname. San Fernando, Albergue Celentiname.
Do your own yoga on the tranquil dock surrounded by birds fishing.
Islas Solentiname. Mancarron, Hotel Viacam.
Do your own yoga on the wide open deck right outside your room, view of lake in front of you and hummingbirds flying around.
Little Corn Island. Sara is starting to teach at Cafe Desideri and Leo is teaching at Karma Yoga for $8 per class.
Do your own yoga on the beach, I found a great spot under an open cabana next to Elsa's.
Playa El Gigante. Papaya Wellness. India has been teaching in El Gigante for few years already and now she has just opened her own wellness center, which is a basic covered platform inland where she offers good yoga - Vinyasa inspired by Asthanga- $5 per class, and several different classes including pilates, bootcamp and hiphop. I took a nice vinyasa flow class and awler monkeys were looking at us from the trees around.
San Juan del Sur. Zen Yoga. The studio is behind a flower store in town and you enter thru a little jungle, what a nice combination! I took an excellent Vinyasa Flow class with Vanessa. $8. They also offer Hatha and restorative Yoga, and massages.