Yoga Farm, Lansing NY – Studio Review

A few weeks ago my husband new husband and I took a week long trip across New York State for a mini-honeymoon. We drove to Ithaca and the Adirondacks in the height of the beautiful fall leaves to hike, bike, kayak, and do yoga, of course. In fact, our first stop on the trip was to the Yoga Farm in Ithaca and boy am I glad that this studio was on our itinerary. Yoga Farm is welcoming, in the middle of nature, and is sure to provide an experience for students in which they do more than the physical postures, they evolve to know themselves better as a person.

The Saturday that we drove to Ithaca the Yoga Farm was hosting a workshop called ‘You’re Personal Key to Fulfillment & Connection‘ which is a snipet from their larger Radiance Course which is a five month program.  The Saturday workshop that I attended was two hours long, included no physical asana practice, save some minor tension relieving neck and shoulder work, but rather included a lot of self reflection and guidance by teachers and studio owners, Christopher & Daniela.

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Christopher & Daniela are founders and owners of Yoga Farm and emanate a depth of warmness and sincerity to their students. They both instantly give acute attention to each and every student that walks through their Yoga Farm door. And once in the door, you are welcomed by not only the teachers but also a hominess of the studio. At Yoga Farm there is a student library, a water dispenser that gives cold or hot water and tea and mugs for students to make tea, and for our workshop, all of the props were set up before the students arrived so that we could find our seats and begin right away.

Their studio has an abundance of props, and you know I am a prop fanatic. They even have little floor chairs for students to lean back in which is a benefit to most of us who cannot sit for two hours in a crossed legged position without our lower limbs going numb and feeling as if they might fall off after 10 minutes.

After encouraging us to get as comfortable as we possibly could with bolsters, meditation cushions, and blankets, the workshop got started which included some meditation and group discussion with the intent of finding a guiding force to lead us to clarity of our true self and to guide us away from negative reactivity to daily stressors. I found the workshop to be personally insightful and I took away from it a personal resource that I have the opportunity to utilize daily. As mentioned the workshop was a teaser from their longer Radiance course that is a multiple months endeavor.

The studio offers a variety of workshops and courses that, for the Radiance Courses specifically, fall under their  ‘Pay what is honest and in integrity for you’ philosophy. When I saw this information on their website I read further, which you can do here. Before attending my two hour Radiance workshop at the Yoga Farm, I had decided to pay a typical fee for a weekend yoga workshop, regardless of what I took away from the workshop because I am a yoga teacher who earns a supplementary portion of my income from teaching yoga, so I wanted to pay a respectful sum for their work and effort. I assume that most students follow a similar payment choice when deciding how much to leave for the workshops. What I love about this unique payment option is that it opens the doors of the studio to people who might otherwise be limited to not being able to attend classes due to financial difficulty such as unemployment or disability, and finding Radiance within ourselves shouldn’t be restricted to only those who can afford it.

I was curious and intrigued by the Radiance open tuition, so I emailed Daniela and we set up a time to have a phone call and talk about it, from that conversation I will write a separate post to come soon.

If you would like to attend a Radiane workshop you can find the schedule on their website. On top of two hour workshops they also offer two upcoming weekend workshops that are day long courses but are not residential, so are more readily available to locals of Lansing.  One weekend workshop is right around the food-coma-corner, happening the Saturday immediately after Thanksgiving, Saturday, November 25th, 3-5pm, titled ‘Discover Your Inner Voice’ and the other over the weekend of New Years – Saturday, Sunday, & Monday, December 30 through January 1st.

If you are looking for an asana practice as well as or instead of a self reflection course, then look no further because they also offer yoga classes throughout the week. I attended a class the week I was visiting which was a Slow Flow class that left me with the ubiquitous yoga bliss afterwards. They have an array of classes on their clanedar which you can find updated on their website. Unlike the Radiance Courses and Workshops, there is a set fee for yoga classes at the studio. They cost: Drop-In Class prices: One for $18, Three for $45, Eight for $96, Unlimited for $95/month.

If you find yourself in Lansing, NY which is itself beautiful and a short drive from the college town of Ithaca, NY I would highly suggest checking out a class or workshop at the Yoga Farm. As implied in the name, the studio is located in a beautiful landscape not far from Cayuga Lake, one of New York’s Finger Lakes. The studio is inside a refurbished barn and sits on many acres of land. Practicing at Yoga Farm is a step beyond a city studio, they have created their own little yoga paradise in a beautiful landscape; you won’t regret a visit.

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Review: Flying Tree Yoga Studio, Medellin, Colombia

Do yourself a favor and visit Flying Tree Yoga Studio if you find yourself in Medellin. This intimate studio is well worth the 20 minute warm up walk from Estadio Metro Station, address: Transversal 39a #71-85, Medellín, Colombia.

Please note, I did not receive any incentives for this post; it is pure observation and opinion. Some content was provided via email with the studio. 

Class Review – Yoga Flow

Unfortunately, my schedule only allowed for one class at Flying Tree during my time in Medellin. But, boy was it a class to remember. I attended a Friday evening, English “Yoga Flow” class taught by yogi Elodie Huart. Along with five other students, Elodie guided the class with vigor and flair, through one of the toughest yoga classes I have ever taken.

My understanding of what to expect from the class occurred as we rested in child’s pose at the start of the hour-long class. At which point Elodie gleefully stated, “this is the only child’s pose of the night”, translation: “get ready for boot camp style yoga.” The class had me pushing boundaries, overheating, and there may have been a point of quietly cursing on the inside, but I loved it! The class covered a few advanced poses (think, head stand to side crow) and included pilates influences (high plank ab work). With such a manageable class size and practiced students, Elodie was able to work individually with each student according to unique needs.  It was clear she wanted to boost each student’s confidence while guiding with her expertise and talent. In fact, after the end of the class she stayed late to work longer with me on my head stand, further proving that she’s dedicated to her students’ growth.

By the end of the night I was beaming with confidence in my practice and strength. I left with an abundance of energy and felt the repercussions for about four days, a good thing. The class was more advanced that I had expected. Therefore, I would not recommend this class to someone fresh to yoga. On the other hand, please get yourself to one of Elodie’s classes if you are itching for a powerful session with a talented teacher.

More than Your Average Yoga Studio

Flying Tree offers a range of classes in both Spanish and English, which immediately drew me. For a drop in single class you’ll pay $20,000 pesos (under $7 US dollars). But if you are around for a week or more you can up your visits and save your pennies by buying their 4 class pass (must be used within 30 days) for $65,000 pesos (about $5.50 US dollars per class) or a monthly unlimited pass for $120,000 pesos ($40 US dollars). Monthly schedules can be found at their attractive website. Classes are offered in three levels: Beginners classes are taught in the gentle style, Relaxing Yoga classes are yin and restorative based, and Yoga Flow classes are for those looking for a challenge. Another bonus of the studio is that they provide mats, straps, eye pillows and bricks for students without any additional charges. This is always a plus, but is especially appreciated by travelers – hallelujah.

The studio is more than simply a yoga space. The teachers lovingly host events to encourage local and international community. The week I visited they had hosted a “Brownies & Fruta” (brownies and fruit) night after their Wednesday evening class (two things I love!). Other ways they build community are through events such as: teas, potlucks and workshops. To me, yoga is community and an extension of the self, a way to give inner peace to those around you. It’s fantastic that Flying Tree Yoga embraces their ability to encourage communal well-being. A listing of upcoming events can be found via their site.

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The studio also runs an internship program for budding teachers. The program is a month-long commitment (I completely recommend a month in Medellin) in which experienced staff work with interns to find their voice as a teacher. During the four weeks attendees take part in: a two-week Spanish language course designed for yoga to expand their student base, plan and teach classes to the Medellin yoga community, participate in workshops and nurture the self. Check our www.yogainternships.com for full details. An attractive opportunity for teachers looking to grow and travel!

As if all of this wasn’t enough, the studio offers reiki and a variety of massages, additional information can be found via their site.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I was really impressed and happy with Flying Tree Yoga. The space is calming, the staff friendly and their community based work is what the world needs more of. Beyond the links offered in this post, you can find the studio on Facebook and Instagram at, www.instagram.com/flying_tree_yoga/ and www.instagram.com/yogainternships/.

 

Grace Studios, Free Outdoor Yoga Class, Silver Spring MD

I recently visited my lovely twin sister in Washington D.C. for a few days to see the monuments and museums, but before any of the tourism we attended a free outdoor yoga class near her work in Silver Spring, MD. The class has been running weekly throughout the summer and into September. Luckily my trip caught the second to last class, but my sister’s been attending regularly.

A Silver Spring studio hosts the classes which are held quite literally downtown. I envisioned doing the class under a tree in a small green space so was a little surprised when we turned the corner of the main pedestrian strip downtown and saw the stage set up to do yoga right in the middle of the street. We laid our yoga mats down right in front of the stage and had a seat to wait for the class to begin. By the time 7 o’clock hit there were around 15 people set up all around us, a pretty good number of students.

 

The class was taught by a teacher named Susan who guided us first through some breathing exercises to ground us for the changing of seasons and then quickly picked up the pace with core work and flows. Personally for me it was just what I needed. Since returning to North America I haven’t been able to attend a single yoga class, so this was my first in three months – a new record I think (one that I hope stays as it is – I need to get back into my home studio again!)

Back to the outdoor yoga class experience, practicing smackdab in the middle of the main shopping and dining area of Silver Spring was slightly uncomfortable at first, but by focusing on deep breathing and dristi (staring or focus of the eyes,) I was able to keep my mind on my mat, consumed by my practice, able to ignore the passer-by-ers all around.

Doing a yoga class as a student in public was a learning experience, seeing as I’ve taught a lot of beach classes but haven’t been a student at many. I was able to feel the vulnerability and shyness that some might feel at outdoor, public classes, and with that will remember to focus and ground my future students the next time I get the opportunity to teach a public class. All in all it was a really nice yoga class. The flow was challenging, yet fun and most of all I was very happy to be able to attend a class with my sister, something that hasn’t happened since 2014.

Unfortunately this post is being written too late for most Marylanders to get to a free community class in Silver Spring, seeing as the last one is tonight, but if you find yourself in the Silver Spring/Takoma Park area and are looking for a nice flow class I’d recommend visiting Grace Studios. I must be honest though and say that I have never personally been to Grace Studios, but my twin sister has and she has really enjoyed the classes there. In fact, she even rented the studio out for a private group birthday class taught by a teacher that she favors. That alone is enough of a good reference for me to tell you to visit.

 

Yoga at Ohio City Farm, Cleveland, by Vision Yoga – Class Review

This past week, from July 18-21, a handful Americans convened on Cleveland for the Republican National Convention (RNC.) Events of the RNC for me included some great live music, witnessing protests and stepping in to participate here and there, and at the end of the week a much needed outdoors, community yoga class.

There was a lot of stress and disbelief for me as a newly repatriated American. Tossed into the heart of Cleveland for the RNC was a little overwhelming, the most being hatred, homophobia, racism, and guns. It was an atmosphere that required deep exhalations.  Countless cops from all over the U.S. in the middle of tension on all sides. There was also a some good happening – people protesting and opposing the hate.

The whole thing had me shaking my head in confusion and disbelief which is why I was ever so grateful for a community class at Ohio City Farm . The class was the day after the convention ended (thankfully,) on Friday afternoon at lunchtime. At first I wasn’t sure if I’d attend since temperatures and humidity were high, but the class was in a far off corner of the farm, under a large, shady tree, in view of the Cleveland cityscape,  with a gentle breeze made the heat bearable.

The class was taught by a teacher from nearby studio, Vision Yoga, which is just a block away from the farm. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to visit the studio, but saw the storefront after grabbing a much appreciated post-class burrito. Based on their website, they have a lot of classes going on and are even offering a great new student and locals deal of 4 weeks at $40.

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Vision Yoga Studio 1861 W. 25th Street Cleveland, Ohio 44113

Getting There

The farm is easy to get to and is located just a short walk away from the historic West Side Market. Both are located just of of West 25th Street. The Ohio City Farm’s address is:

Stone Ct, Cleveland OH 44113

Follow this link for more detailed directions on how to get to the Ohio City area.

The Class

The farm class as mentioned before was taught at the far end of the farm, so be sure to give yourself about 10-15 minutes to find the spot and to fill out a waiver form if you haven’t been to Vision Yoga classes before. The class time is 12:15-1PM, just in time for a lunch break practice for those working nearby. It is a community class, or in other words, a donation class, so pay what you can and pay happily knowing that your money is going to a non-profit doing great things.

Community classes at the farm are every other Friday, so pay attention to Vision Yoga’s schedule to be sure that a class is taking place on the day you wish to attend. An organizer that I spoke to mentioned that she wasn’t sure if the classes would continue beyond August, but she and I hoped that classes would continue through September, as long as the weather cooperates.

The Refugee Response

The class that I attended was sponsored by The Refugee Response, an organization that works to help refugees settle into American life by offering English tutoring sessions; and something else that’s really cool – they employ refugees on the farm to work the land. Refugees from all over the world get to share their skills and gain a sense of purpose in their new community of Cleveland.

This is an awesome organization; if I were in Cleveland I would love to volunteer and get involved with them. If you’re local to the 216, then follow this link to find out how you can volunteer and help out. Maybe you can do your part by attending the next Community Class at Ohio City Farm.

 

Yogaspace, Prague, Czechia – Studio Review

 

Yogaspace is very centrally located in Prague. It is near to the main plaza of New Town Square, and according to their website they offer English yoga classes four times per week. Two classes on Tuesday, one Thursday and one on Friday. Times and specifics can be found on the link above. I attended the Tuesday evening Vinyasa Yoga class with Ivana at 6:45pm.

The class was a good pace for the students who attended, and it was well attended. In fact, I nearly didn’t make it in the room it was so packed; it was only due to a “no-show” that I was able to take the last mat space available. In order to secure your spot in a class, be sure to send a message by email or text. Contact information can be found at the bottom of the schedule page linked above.

Their website makes it clear that reservations for drop ins must be made ahead of time, but I guess I was so focused on directions that I overlooked it. It’s completely my fault that I was so close to not getting it, so I’m really grateful for the guy who didn’t show so I could squeeze in (thanks, guy!)

About Yogaspace

  • The Studio – Is average size and fits around 20 students packed in tightly mat-to-mat. When you first walk in you see the changing rooms which are equipped with large lockers with keys for you to secure your belongings during the class. Connected to the entrance way is the studio. It’s long and narrow with windows making up the entirety of the back wall. There are mats for use and mat spray for after class.

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  • The Class – The Vinyasa class was great, just as the class description said it was dynamic and sweaty (the description didn’t say it’d be sweaty, I’m adding that in myself.) Since the classes are listed with levels you’ll be able to find a class that’s right for you. Although my class was jam packed the teacher sill managed to get around and adjust most of us, which I was grateful for.

 

  • The Cost – A drop in class costs 220 CZK (about $9 USD) – again, remember to email or text ahead of time. If you’re in Prague for some time you can purchase an entire course of your choosing. Specific costs of each course is listed on the link and range from 1,680-1,820 CZK ($70.50-$76.50 USD.)

 

  • The Location/Getting There – As noted above, the studio is very central, great for a weary traveler to pop in and unwind after roaming through the big crowds of tourists and vendors in Old Town on those incredibly uncomfortable cobble stone streets! If you’re taking the metro the stop is Mustek (Museum,) exit out of the most eastern (or furthest to the right) exit that points towards New Town plaza. Then follow these directions:

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A Note on Getting There !! This is what the outside of the building that the studio 20160510_201704.jpgresides in looks like (with a lost tourist standing in front.) The main sign is for a salon, but if you enter the hangover of the building there is a large sign on the left that has the names of all of the businesses inside. You’ll see Yogaspace listed there. Enter the building, there’s a security guard, but the door was unlocked when I went. Inside the building is where it became like a maze. I was almost super late to the class because I ran up the wrong staircase (twice) and then took an elevator to the wrong area. Only after walking through a hallway to the left of the main elevator did my boyfriend and I find another tiny, hidden elevator at the back  of the back of the building that took us to the 3rd floor where the studio is. It’s as confusing as I’m making it sound, so make sure you give yourself about 15 extra minutes just to find the studio once inside the building.

The large sign listing all of the businesses of the labyrinth of a building. This door is near the second, far away elevator that will take you to the 3rd floor of the yoga studio.


Yogaspace is a nice studio to relax and stretch out in after walking the streets of Prague all day. It’s not always easy to find English speaking studios, so to have one right in the center of the city is a luxury. Just remember these two key things: Book in advance and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Read my other post on tips on Prague here.

5 Elements, Krakow, Poland – Studio Review

After leaving my course in India my daily self practice sadly dropped significantly, from at least twice a day to only here and there. Backpacking around Europe – getting lost in countries where I can’t even say hello – makes for a chaotic schedule in which my yoga practice has been shuffled around to whenever time can be made. Fortunately, however, while staying at an Airbnb in Krakow, Poland I found an English speaking yoga studio and went for a much needed yin class.

The studio that I found – 5 Elements, is not downtown, but is accessible by public transport (directions linked below) and in my case was a 20 minute walk from my Airbnb.

5 Elements is my kind of yoga studio. Here are the reasons why practicing at 5 Elements was worth the wait.

  • English – When traveling it’s not always easy to find an English speaking studio or class. The finding part is sometimes the most difficult. When I choose a studio in a new, foreign city, I choose it based on it’s website and whether the site is in both the native language and also in English. Obviously I can navigate the site much better if it’s in English as opposed to translating the entire site with google. An English website also implies that the class may be taught in English or some degree of English, a bonus for sure. 5 Elements had both an English website (well designed) and an entirely English taught class.

 

  • Yogic Philosophy – After a thorough read through of the website which included class descriptions, Ayurveda, and a mentioning of yoga and the ego (my kind of philosophy,) I knew that it was a good fit for me, not simply a “workout” place.

 

  • Atmospheric-  I like a studio to have soft lighting 20160427_192521.jpg(bonus points for candle lit studios,) Sanskrit and Hindi gods on the wall, pillows on comfy seats, and incense a-burnin’. 5 Elements ticked all of those boxes. There was even an incense burner located outside the main entrance of the studio – literally outside on the doorstep. It was a welcome, homey feel on a cold and rainy Wednesday night.
    • However! – The studio itself was pretty small and had very blue tinged lighting (LED I think) which isn’t great to practice a night time yin class in in my opinion, but it didn’t take away from a good practice, I’m just making note.

 

  • Props- If you’ve ever taken one of my studio classes at Kaizen, or maybe through reading other posts here, you probably noticed that I am a big supporter of props (pun intended.) During the yin class that I took at 5 Elements we used blocks, straps, and eye pillows – lovely! And necessary to find comfort in those long holds!

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How to Visit 5 Elements

Directions: Like my Airbnb, 5 Elements is not actually in the center of Krakow, but is in a residential suburb. Luckily it was walk-able for me (doubly so since I wasn’t so sure on how to even use public transportation in Krakow) but you can follow this link to get directions.

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Cost: Drop in classes are 35 Polish zloty, but for your first class there’s a special rate of 20 zloty (about $5.) 5 Elements offers an array of different packages that will suit any schedule. They can be found here, which also has the class schedule.

NOTE, Must Book Ahead: As mentioned, the studio practice space is small, which is great for an intimate class, but for this reason you must call ahead to book a spot. The phone numbers to call, both fore English, are listed in the link found directly above.

Kaizen Korea, Busan – Studio Review

There has been plenty of mention in my writings of my good friend and mentor, Mindy Sisco, who has been running the only English language yoga studio in Busan, South Korea since 2012. She works as a team together with co-owner/teacher, Simon Kang. During my two years in Busan I had the good fortune of learning from each of them, practicing an array of classes at Kaizen.

Whether you’ve recently moved to Busan as an English teacher or are visiting a friend for a short time, you should make time in your schedule to get to a yoga class at Kaizen, and here’s why.

NO SMOKE & MIRRORS 

Yoga has a tendency to get frilly-la-la/hippy-tastic, which is nothing bad (I’m sometimes found guilty of drifting into that lotus-flower field,) but don’t expect so at Kaizen. Their yoga classes jump right into the deep end of the physical practice and stay there through the end. There might be some om-ing to end class, but it’s yoga – it’s expected.

THE STUDIO

The same can be said for their studio, which is minimal in nature, but has all the props a prop-aholic like myself could want – blocks, straps, eye pillows, and more blocks. There are cubbies for you to keep your personal items and mats for borrow (ask which are public and which are private first, since some students store their mats there long-term.)

THE TEACHING – They Know Their Stuff!

Mindy & Simon have done their fair shares of trainings and there’s no sign of slowing down. Teaching yoga is what they do, and they are good at it.

12983453_10156683111315567_662446499601727085_oMindy teaches Ashtanga-Vinyasa classes that bring in elements that feel like physical training. It’s never the same old, same old sun salutation warm ups in her class – she switches it up to work different muscles and prep students for what’s to come. As a fellow teacher, I highly appreciate the design details that each class has and I truly learn from classes, instead of just being guided through poses. The sign of a good yoga teacher.

Her teaching style is creative and unique. Students leave having worked their muscles, often in partner exercises which are an extension of the playful and challenging acro yoga classes that Mindy also teaches. If you thought I couldn’t compliment Mindy’s yoga teachings anymore, then you were wrong because her acro classes are an equally fun way to learn more about yoga, yourself, and yourself through yoga. You can read more about my Kaizen acro experiences here and here, oh, and here (I told you I went to a lot of her classes.)

Simon, the other half of Kaizen, has a background in body weight training which comes through in his classes that push students physically, but most importantly safely. Simon’s other trainings (he also teaches jui-jitsu) aid him as a teacher of yoga and therefore benefit the students by giving them a well rounded practice from start to finish.

His Handstands Club class for example, is a four-week series that works on form, Simonalignment, and technique. Rather than just having students hop up into handstand against a wall, Simon works the areas of the body necessary in the advanced pose, and he works on them for the full four weeks. It’s a continuous series, and while the goal isn’t to perform handstand in four weeks, which is very unrealistic, he will get you pointed in the right direction to maybe one day to master the pose.

DIRECTIONS

Take the green line of the subway (Line 2) to stop #212, KSU (short for Kyungsung University) or 경성대학교 in Hangul. Go out Exit 5 and walk straight. Take your first left directly in front of Artbox. Walk two and a half blocks until you see a boutique called Zebra on your left (on the right is a yellow cafe [of course – there are a gazillion cafes in Busan] called Compose Coffee.) Walk into the building entrance which is just left of Zebra, and take the elevator to the 6th floor. There is no sign for Kaizen in the elevator, look for Man to Man Fitness in Hangul on a red sign for the 6th floor, which is what the studio was called before Mindy and Simon took over.

 

COST

Since classes at Kaizen are designed and taught in four week series it is best to buy a month’s pass. You can buy a 4 class pass to cover a specific class, say Simon’s Handstand Club, or you can buy a bigger quantity, or you can get a one-month-unlimited-membership pass which covers all classes. Visit this page for details on pricing. Drop in classes are 20,000 won (roughly $18.)

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Mindy and Simon of Kaizen, Busan.


Disclaimer: The reason that I have not written my Kaizen studio review for so long is because I was a stand in substitute teacher at Kaizen when trainings and workshops took Mindy hopping around the globe. Teaching at Kaizen then became a regular class in my teaching schedule. I felt it unprofessional to review the studio while teaching there, so am writing the review after my Busan departure.

 

Bhavana Yoga Center, Athens, Greece – Review

My time in Athens is short, so I’m happy that I was able to find a  community class at a centrally located studio right in the hustle and bustle of the old city. Bhavana Yoga Center  is easy to get to (directions below) and hosts frequent classes throughout the week.

The class that I attended was a Saturday noon-time community class. You can find specifics about community classes, like who’s teaching and what style it is, and all other classes (they host an array of styles and list level specifics) on their website under Weekly Class Schedule.

Directions

Bhavana Yoga Center is located on a popular pedestrian street called Aeolou, which you’ll likely find yourself on as you explore Athens. It’s not far from the Acropolis and is home to lots of cute cafes and restaurants. There are also two Greek Orthodox churches on Aeolou Street which are good landmarks to use to find the yoga studio as it is situated between them, so if you pass both of them then you’ve gone too far.

The address is: 43 Aeolou St. & Kolokotroni                     20160402_141723.jpg
105 51, Athens – Greece

 

The Studio

Is beautiful. I couldn’t stop thinking how beautiful it was while I was having a look around before class began. Everything about it is warm and homey with sprinkles of humor thrown in (a handmade sign on the cork bulletin board read: “Warning: yoga causes health and happiness.”) The entrance way invites you to remove your shoes straight away and silence your phones. There’s a changing room for each of the sexes as well as bathrooms and showers. They have lockers which you can lock up if you bring your own lock. There are mats to borrow as well as props.

Be sure to arrive 15 minutes before your first class to fill out a student form and get changed. There’s a comfy lounge area with a couch and yoga books to browse if you arrive a bit too early. Directly in front of the check in desk is merchandise to buy like mats, straps, and teas. 20160402_141201.jpg

The yoga studio is long and open with windows all along the front. There are a lot of yogic relics like Hanuman and Shiva around that made me feel homesick for India and that add to that warm feeling. The community class I attended lasted an hour and 45 minutes. The teacher was a visiting teacher from Germany and the class was taught entirely in English, which is not always the case I was told afterwards. Classes are taught in the native Greek as well, but with some Sanskrit knowledge and peeking while in poses classes can be taken anywhere in any language. (Side note – the studio and their website were one of the most English friendly, and therefore tourist friendly, that I saw while searching for a studio in Athens.)

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Cost

The cost of Saturday community classes are 8€. If you try a mid-week class and it’s your first class at the studio, then the cost is also the same low 8€ with regular drop-ins costing 15€, not too bad for a European capital city.

More detailed information on pricing can be found via their website here.

 

Bhavana Yoga Center, in my opinion, is a must for a travelling yogi or yogini in Athens. All in all it was a great experience visiting the yoga center and I left ready to start my Saturday touring Athens with much needed energy and warmth.

Radiantly Alive, Ubud – Review

Bali won me over, but after spending two weeks there in January with my boyfriend, we decided to head east for Lombok beaches and diving in the Gilis.  We managed to take a few yoga classes in that part of the country – one at Ashtari on Lombok and two at H2O Yoga on Gili Air – but our time over there was mostly spent in the sand or under water.

Kuta yoga

view from Ashatari yoga studio in Kuta, Lombok

Once I was back on Bali in February, this time solo, it was time to hit the mat and fall fully into the Ubud lifestyle again. While my first time there was dominated by classes at Yoga Barn, I decided to branch out during my second visit and check out Radiantly Alive, a smaller studio across town. I bought a three-class card for about $22 that I used over my four-day return trip.

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Balinese Hindu temple

The classes

My first class was pilates with Acacia, a former dancer and yoga teacher from Canada whose energy and enthusiasm for movement lift up the entire room. The class reminded me somewhat of a barre workout, with small pulses within yoga poses to challenge the muscles. We moved in and out of poses quickly, doing a lot of ab work to strengthen the core.

The next morning, I took Daniel’s RA vinyasa class, a class offered only a few times a week. Daniel is the founder and director of the studio and teaches the class in addition to running workshops and hosting yoga teacher trainings.

He began the class by asking about our relationship with time. Is it a positive relationship or a stressful one? Is there never enough time? Are we always worried about what time it is? Ubud may be one of those places where time doesn’t matter, but for most of us, our lives are dominated by schedules and timelines. It was an interesting way to begin the class, and I find myself  – a month later  – still wondering about my feelings towards time.

Physically, the class was dynamic and demanding. The room was crowded and sweaty, and the day’s heat was in full swing already at 9 a.m. After core work, we played around with half moon pose, practiced going deeper and opening up more, losing our balance, laughing and trying it again. This led to the final challenging pose of the class – pincha mayurasana, aka feathered peacock pose. The inversion practice began by placing our forearms on the mat, walking our feet in and raising one leg. From there, we practiced little hops, floating our standing foot up just a few inches as we put weight into or arms. With practice, those hops become higher until the full inversion is reached with both feet overhead.

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practicing pincha mayurasana, working towards the full inversion

 

Daniel related learning to balance in pincha mayurasana to learning to walk on two feet. We’re afraid of falling, but bit by bit, with continual practice, we can find our balance. The body knows how to fall, he said. We recover and try again.

I intended for acroyoga to be the final class of my Ubud experience, but a cancelled class meant signing up for something I never had any interest in – yoga dance. Again taught by Acacia, the class was packed with yogis who came for acro and ended up playing together in a completely different way. We began the class with a free dance – no mats to contain us – closing our eyes and moving to the beat of the music in any way we felt. Once we got a little loose and more comfortable, we started learning the 3:39 minute dance that Acacia had choreographed.

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Acacia (front center) leads a small group of us after class

Yoga dance incorporated yoga poses, like standing forward fold, seated twist, and downward facing dog, with quick dance moves. The class was full of laughter, and Acacia’s encouragement carried us through to the end of the 90-minute session. Check out the embarrassing but awesome video of a few of us practicing the choreography one last time after class, here.

Facilities

Radiantly Alive has one main open-air studio with a gorgeous jungle view. Drinking water is available at the front desk, and the studio is equipped with mats, blocks and straps.

Anywhere from two to seven classes a day are offered, with 15 different classes throughout the week as well as yoga teacher trainings and workshops. Visit radiantlyalive.com for more info.

Pricing

Radiantly Alive offers just about any option to suit your stay in Ubud, from single drop-in classes at $9.50 to 180-day unlimited passes for $495 – and everything in between.

Directions

The studio is conveniently located across from Bali Buda, a fantastic restaurant with a neighboring natural foods market. For detailed directions, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

The Yoga Tree, Chiang Mai – Review

Introducing guest blogger, Amy Steele for http://www.karabemisyoga.com, welcome Amy!

Hidden in an industrial area of Chiang Mai’s old city, at the end of what appears to be a deserted alley, sits The Yoga Tree, a shaded oasis of a chilled-out yoga retreat.

In September, in the middle of a trip to Thailand that brought me over from South Korea and my mom from Alaska, we dropped into The Yoga Tree for a 90-minute yoga foundations class with Gernot Huber. These particular classes explore a common theme every week – with classes currently held Monday, Wednesday and Friday – each one building on the next.

The Wednesday session we attended was a hands-on workshop-style class, with a focus on engaging the muscles between the shoulder blades and aligning the head and neck to improve posture. It was a small class of five people, which allowed each of us plenty of personal attention from Gernot.

Gernot taught a very hands-on class, giving adjustments to us through downward-facing dogs, planks, lizard poses and inversions. In each pose, he would gently push our back muscles into correct alignment, followed by helping us align the head and neck with the spine.

My mom and I agree: One of the most memorable poses was the partner exercise in L-shaped handstand, or half handstand. My mom received an adjustment from Gernot and was able to access the pose carefully, yet confidently, knowing the support was there.

I talked to my mom about the experience after returning from our Thailand trip. “The overall impression is a lasting one,” she said. “Several times a day since the class, I am checking my back and pulling in the muscles to bring my neck and back into alignment. I appreciated [Gernot’s] hands-on approach and his gentle pointers.”

My Mom & I in Thailand

How to get there

The Yoga Tree is a bit difficult to find if you’re not familiar with Chiang Mai. Trust me; we went up and down the west side of the old city several times until we finally asked a local how to get there. Don’t be like us; find detailed directions, in English and Thai, at their website, here.

Address: 65/1 Arak Road, Prasing, Muang, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Screen shot The Yoga Tree Map

Additional information

The studio is well-equipped with mats and props, including bolsters and blankets, which were essential for my mom’s titanium knees. Water bottle refills are available at the smoothie bar outside.

A regular 90-minute drop-in class at The Yoga Tree is 250 THB, or about 7 USD. Passes are also available. View The Yoga Tree’s class schedule here.

In addition to teaching at The Yoga Tree, Gernot teaches at Wild Rose Yoga Studio and offers private classes at his studio in Chiang Mai, Yoga Mind Yoga Body.


Amy SteeleAmy Steele has been teaching English in South Korea since 2013. On the side, she volunteers as a copyeditor and occasionally writes for a local expat magazine. She hopes 2016 will bring her the good fortune of continuing her yoga practice across Southeast Asia.