When we visited Varkala in India I was very keen to try out some different yoga teachers! (There is still no way of persuading Joshua to try yoga …) There are numerous Yoga Schools in Varkala that you can find online, and if you walk along the shop fronts of Varkala beach you’ll be bombarded with flyers for Yoga classes. So where do you start? Here’s some feedback about the classes I tried. Reading online reviews or emailing schools didn’t get me very far. Reviews were mixed, and very few Yoga schools responded to email inquiries. So in the end, I tried two places that were recommended to me by people in Varkala. I am particularly interested in Ashtanga Vinyasa, so that’s the style I went looking for.
I had the best experience with Amanda, who currently teaches Ashtanga Vinyasa at MK Gardens. Amanda is from Colorado, completed her teacher training in India, and has been traveling for several years learning and teaching different styles. Here favorite style is Ashtanga Vinyasa, but she is also a certified Hatha yoga teacher. She teaches a wonderful flow, and most importantly, she offers lots of variations for people of all levels, so you can find something that works for you, while still getting to see what you are meant to be working toward. She also allows for time during the class where you can work on postures of your preference and she will help you with adjustments, which is awesome. Her one hour classes were 300 rupees and the rooftop is a great spot for the morning and evening classes she offers. During shavasana, she gives everyone (who wants) a little massage with lavender oil, which was a very relaxing touch (terrible pun, but yeah, great idea). There were usually 2-3 other people besides me in the class, so it was a very intimate setting.
Amanda also runs private classes, which at the time cost 500 rupees. I wanted to learn some breathing techniques to improve my yoga practice and, in particular, to help me cope with managing stressful situations, so I took a private lesson to learn some pranayama breathing techniques. It was a great experience, and I suggest you try these out and learn them from a good teacher – they are harder than you might think, if you do them properly! I definitely recommend Amandas classes, and at the price, the private lessons are amazing if you want the teacher’s full attention for adjustments and advice. Amanda is great to work with and I felt very much at ease with her. By the sounds of it, Amanda is still looking to travel a bit more after this season in Varkala, so you can keep an eye on her whereabout by following her via the following sites:
Facebook: Amanda Dovel
Besides Amanda’s classes, I had also tried an Ashtanga Vinyasa class at the Namaste Aryuvedic Mission. I took one 1.5 hour class on their rooftop with an Indian instructor – unfortunately I don’t remember his name. The view from the rooftop was amazing, and the atmosphere during the sunset class was wonderful. The teacher was definitely a capable yogi – he was incredibly flexible and graceful while running me through a mix of Suryanamaskara A and B, and some intermediate series positions. It was an interesting experience, but his variations were very advanced for me. For the positions I didn’t know yet, no variations were taught, and even though I was the only student there, the teacher seemed somewhat frustrated by my inability to do the advanced positions that were straightforward to him. I didn’t return to a second class here, because I was worried I was going to hurt myself by trying something that I just wasn’t capable of doing without support yet. For someone advanced, this might be a more appropriate class, but you’d be equally challenged as an advanced yogi in Amanda’s class. For me, the key thing is that I want to learn from a teacher that will keep my safety in mind and help me modify positions to my level.
If you’re looking for Yoga classes in Abu Dhabi, check out my article about Tina Bock, who teaches here on and off, or check out classes offered at BodyTree or the Hot House. I’ve attended classes at both and was always very happy – unfortunately, the prices for yoga classes in Abu Dhabi are quite high.