Finding your way through the Yoga Jungle

By Martina Reinbold

Yoga teacher & Wellness Coach at Udara

When I was asked to write down descriptions of the Yoga classes here at Udara last year, I realized how many different Yoga styles we offer and that it really needed an overview for people to find out what the classes are about. Hotel guests and drop-in participants can join 5 to 8 classes daily in various Yoga styles. There are about 20 different classes on the schedule ranging from Hatha to Vinyasa, Happy Healing Flow to Healing Pranayama, Yin to Aerial Yoga and more. The teacher team is a mix of local and western Yoga instructors with lots of experience. This is a great opportunity to get to know each teacher’s flavour and understanding of Yoga.

Writing down the Yoga class descriptions was an interesting task for me as a teacher, as I was attending many classes lead by other teachers, practiced Yoga styles that I wouldn’t usually be drawn to and got to read what the teachers themselves wrote about their way of teaching. I realized how confusing it can be as a newcomer to Yoga what style and which teacher suits best for the own body, personality and intention of the practice.

Why are there so many Yoga styles?

The basic way of practicing Yoga in India was to stay with a teacher for several years and to learn from a certain lineage of teaching that was handed over from one teacher to another. The various styles of Yoga, especially in the West, have grown exponentially in the last decades. This change has happened for a good reason in order to meet the needs and interests of the people living in this age, to make Yoga popular and accessible to anybody. On the other hand, it also gave way to a development where Yoga became a big business, a platform for various glamorous Yoga teachers to put their own stamp (or trademark) on Yoga, and fancy new styles have been invented which some traditional Indian Yogis might not even recognize as Yoga any more.

What is Yoga anyway?

The common definition of Yoga is union – bringing body, mind and soul back into unison. Yoga can be a physical practice to stretch and strengthen the body, mainly with body postures (asanas). But it can go much further than that and become a lifestyle and practice for personal and spiritual growth which aims to bring us long lasting health, happiness and freedom. Breathing techniques, meditation, cleansing practices, study of scriptures and listening to the teachings of a spiritual teacher can fall under the umbrella of Yoga.

My own definition of Yoga has changed greatly over the years. It indeed started as a gymnastic exercise and has now become a big part of my lifestyle. I am glad that I met inspiring teachers on the way who showed me that Yoga goes way beyond the physical level. To me, Yoga is an invitation. And invitation to connect to the core of your being and to connect to something much vaster than yourself – call it the divine, God, universe or source.

How to find a suitable class?

As a new student, ask yourself the following questions before you head out on your quest to find a suitable class: Why do I want to practice Yoga? Is it just to become fit and to have a lean body? Am I more interested in the holistic aspects of Yoga including meditations, philosophy and knowing how the wisdom gained through Yoga can translate into my daily life? Do I have certain injuries or physical conditions that could limit my practice? Is the teacher well qualified, do I like the way he teaches, do I feel safe in his class and do I trust him? Does he live what he teaches?

The best way to answer these questions is to try out various classes with several teachers, to ask fellow students about their experiences, to inquire with the Yoga teachers, consult your doctor if necessary (especially if you have any injuries or medical conditions), to read about Yoga and to use your common sense.

If you wish to have an active, dynamic practice, then Vinyasa, Ashtanga or Flow classes might be the best for you. A well rounded practice is usually the Hatha Yoga with a moderate pace and breathing exercises (pranayama) or meditations to complement the physical postures (asanas). Yin or Restorative classes are a great way to slow down and focus on long held stretches, especially when you have a very active lifestyle. These are just to name a few styles and of course there is much more on our schedule to explore. Have a look at our class descriptions on this page:

You are welcome to practice Yoga with us

Udara’s Yoga classes are open for all levels of practitioners. If you are new to Yoga, let the teacher know in advance to make sure he will have an extra caring eye on so you feel safe and welcome in the class. And what is better to dive deep into your yoga practice when you look at and hear the ocean in front of you from one of our amazing Yoga shalas!

Udara is a great place to have all kinds of Yoga styles in one place and to meet various inspiring teachers. You can spend your whole day practicing Yoga from morning meditation to evening candlelight Yin Yoga. And the good thing is that when your body needs a well deserved rest, you can float in our warm water pool, go to the Sauna or Steam room and book a nurturing massage treatment in our Sky Spa on the third floor. As a drop-in guest you can buy a Spa day pass and also refuel in our Organic Ocean Restaurant with health and delicious meals and drinks.

How different Yoga styles have enriched my own practice

I see very good reasons to stick with one tradition in order to go deeper and to be guided by one teacher who sees your progress and gives you the right tools to explore higher levels your practice. On the other hand it is also very valuable to keep your practice fresh by attending different classes, to learn other techniques, poses and ways of doing them, to get new inspiration and stay committed to the practice, especially when you have been practicing for some years. If you are used to practice a very active, dynamic style of Yoga, why not complement it with a Yin Yoga class regularly, where you hold the postures for several minutes in stillness. If you are used to sit in silent meditation, why not try the Osho Kundalini Meditation, in which you include movement of the body (shaking and dancing) as a tool to clear your mind.

Teaching and taking classes at Udara have brought me lots of new inspiration for my own practice. I love the fact that Yoga can also be playful and fun – it does not always have to be too serious! Hanging upside down in the Aerial Yoga hammock for example or doing Yoga in a 35 degree warm water pool allows me to move my body in different ways and brings more lightness and joy into my practice as well as into my teaching. I love joining classes of other teachers and being a student again. Even after being a Yoga teacher since many years now I enjoy the fact that I will always continue learning and that Yoga will be part of my life no matter of how old I am.

Why is Yoga such a jewel?

That’s the beauty of Yoga – you don’t need to bring your leg behind the head and you can do it regardless of your flexibility and age. A good teacher should respect all the different intentions why people come to class and offer various options to modify the practice if needed.

In my teaching I wish to share that Yoga can be a valuable tool to bring more balance between body, breath and mind, which ripples out into your life off the mat. Sometime you may realize that the jewel of Yoga reveals its beauty in ways you have never imagined before when you stepped on your mat for the first time. It can accompany you throughout you whole life and you can adjust your practice in ever changing ways according to your intention, time, body and life situation.

Happy practicing!

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