Posts tagged #travel yoga

Traveling Yogi: Where to Practice in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, my hometown, is also known as Cidade Maravilhosa or the Wonderful city... And the name is not a mistake. There are so many amazing things to do and see there... Seeing the sunset from Ipanema Beach, watching the sunrise from a morning run in the Aterro, admiring the city from the Christ the redeemer mountain,  doing stand up paddle board at the Praia Vermelha at sunset... But, if you are a yogi and visit Rio, make sure you add to  to your to do list a morning practice with Dany Sá ( Dany Sá is an advanced practitioner of Ashtanga that regularly visits Mysore. She is authorized to teach the primary and secondary series. Her demeanor is calm and light and she is a gentle, but make no mistake: she is also a thorough teacher.

Practicing with her made my yoga practice blossom. She was the first teacher to tell me that "inhaling is everything" in yoga. Years practicing and no one bothered to tell me that before... Through her detailed driven instruction I was able to reconnect with my core after having a c-section. I learned to inhale when jumping through and going up in more challenging poses. She calmly took her time to show me each of the vinyasas correctly. She really changed my yoga practice. And for that, I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

Dany teaches at oito tempos in Ipanema every morning. The place is very easy to find because it is across from the General Osório subway station in Ipanema. So, even if you are staying elsewhere in Rio, all you have to do is catch the subway, get off in General Osório, cross the street and you are there. You don't even need a mat, they provide you with one if you need it. If you are a tourist in the wonderful city, or just a local aiming at going deeper in your practice, add her class to your list of to do things while in Rio! 

Traveling yogi: Practicing when visiting the Las Vegas strip

I recently went to Las Vegas and had the challenging task of finding a good yoga studio near the Las Vegas Strip. I could practice Ashtanga in my hotel room, but I prefer practicing in a group setting because I love the energy of a group (what that really means is that I am prone to giving up and leaving class early and need other people to frown on me to prevent myself from doing so). Upon a Google search, I found Vegas Hot - which according to their website is the closest studio to the Vegas Strip. I packed my mat and towel and off I went in a cab. Upon first look, I was not impressed. The studio is located in a weird strip mall meet fake Greek Parthenon type of a building.

The premises of Vegas Hot are fragmented, in that each strip mall's store became a studio. The premises felt very strange to me. I have to confess I was not a big fan. On top of that the employees don't inform newcomers of the studios protocols when you first come in, which caused me a bit of confusion. Before the class even started, I had to go up and down the stairs back and forth between the studio and the front desk 3 times. The first time I went up, I thought I was going into the studio. However, they don’t allow you to bring your bags inside. Therefore, I had to returnto the front desk to borrow a lock. Once I made my way upstairs to the locker room and back to the studio, I found out I had to return a second time to the front desk to get a slip to be able to attend class. Only on my third ascent from the front desk, I was finally ready to get into the class… But, now I was late to class.

I took a class in the Venus studio. The studio had a strange plastic carpet and was really hot. I am guessing the temperature was about 105F. That in conjunction with the stereotypical bikram poses led me to think that it was a Brikam class, except it wasn't. The class was a copycat version of a Bikram class. It used a lot of the Bikram poses, but also incorporated asanas that were not part of the traditional Bikram series. I am not a big fan of Bikram, I think of it as torture... But, having grown up in the Brazilian heat, I always respected the guy for bringing the heat component to the studio and making yoga more mainstream. However, knowing we were copying another class really bothered me. If I wanted a Bikram class, I would just walk into a Bikram studio. So, throughout the whole class I was not only bothered by the 105F temps, I was also bothered by the whole copycat situation. Talk about setting an intention for class… Mine at that point was not walking out.

Upon the end of the class, I called a cab company to have them come get me. Except they didn't. In fact, they didn't pick me up till 2 hours after the class ended and after 4 phone calls. I felt trapped and even though the studio advertises itself as "the closes yoga studio to the Vegas strip", I couldn't get back without a cab. It was way too far...  The only silver lining that day was trying some amazing raw vegan fare at Fresh Mamma, the studio's cafeteria. I loved the food, but still not worth the two hour wait for a cab, and the horrible class. Bottom line is, if you are visiting don't bother going to this place. You are better off doing your own thing in the comfort of your own room.

The next day, I was ready for a better yoga experience. I was convinced that a place like Vegas, with all its glory would have an amazing yoga class. Due to my traumatizing two hour wait from the day before I was determined to find a place to practice on the strip. I called the Wynn's concierge service and asked them to find me a yoga class close by. They didn't have a yoga class on the premises till a few days later, so they recommended the yoga class at the Mirage hotel. Off I went to the Mirage hotel for my much needed world class yoga experience.

The Mirage hotel offers a popular yoga class, but I didn't know until I got there that the class experience involves dolphins.... Yes - live Dolphins. The whole class takes place in this room which has a viewing window into a dolphin tank. The class itself was pretty good, however the whole watching the dolphins thing really bothered me. Yes, they are cute. Yes, they are adorable, but why in the world would you keep them in captivity? Talking to the yoga teacher, she had all sorts of excuses for the yoga with dolphins... They were there strictly for research (but then she wasn't really sure what kind of research nor who was the funding agency, nor which university the Mirage worked with), they were there because they were all born in captivity... Blah blah blah. Bottom line is... No matter the entertainment value, yoga is not supposed to hurt others. The principle of Ahimsa is quite clear. I am not even sure why someone that has a yoga teacher gaining certificate would teach this class. 

The verdict is: If you go to vegas, save yourself some trouble and practice Ashtanga in your own room. If you don't know the Ashtanga sequence,  bring a dvd. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find anything worth my time in the Vegas strip.

Posted on October 6, 2015 and filed under Travel Yogi.