Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where to Practice Ashtanga Yoga in Goa, India

Where to Practice Ashtanga Yoga in Goa

While traveling around Goa, after my three-month stay at the Sivananda Ashram, I contacted Carol, a dear friend of mine that I met in Mysore at the KPJ Ashtanga Yoga Institute. She is a very dedicated ashtanga practitioner so I asked her for some suggestions about ashtanga yoga teachers in Goa. 

Carol always has some good tips for me.  She immediately replied to my e-mail recommending me a place in Candolim, where her own teacher practices ashtanga yoga.  It is called Yoga Bones and it is run by two famous ashtanga yogis, Rolf and Marci.

I contacted them right away.  At first, I was shocked by the price.  Very expensive for Indian standards, but since yoga is the reason why I'm here in India I decided to go for it.

Yogabones Yoga Shala Goa
Waiting for a spot in the shala at 6am

I don't regret it at all.  Although I was only able to practice ashtanga yoga with Rolf and Marci for one week, I totally loved it. 

My experience practicing ashtanga yoga with Rolf and Marci in Goa

I was at first surprised that although the beach season was over and everything was closing, their yoga shala was still packed.

There were around thirty people practicing together in two different shifts. I felt like a Pro practicing next to very advanced Ashtanga Yogis and learning from two great teachers' teachers.

One week is certainly not enough but Rolf and Marci did manage to give me some pretty good advice to improve my practice.

They are walking around the shala correcting postures, giving advice and helping to improve the flexibility of their students. They are both great teachers.

Rolf is very cool and Marci very strong.  I can still hear her saying “Don't do what you want to do.  Do exactly as I tell you to do!” I loved that.

They are both really nice people and on my last day, they gave me a warm hug and wished me a safe journey.

All the students seemed to be really nice as well but unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to mingle with them long enough to make some nice friends.

To learn more about Rolf and Marci I suggest you visit this nice blog, Yoga with Rolf and Marci in Goa, by Sonja of Synergyretreats.yoga.

“[...] But then Rolf came to me and started helping me, talking to me, adjusting me and I knew that I had done the right thing. Never before had I met such a kindhearted spirit. Rolf never seamed to lose his patience.

Marci on the other hand is an entirely different story. Far from gentle she would shout from one end of the shala why on earth someone on the other end was doing this or that asana. She’d take no BS from people and everyone, even the most experienced practitioners were expected to follow her Iyengar style exercises. We all were at one point strapped to blocks, chairs or ourselves and there was no way around it. One can agree with this or not, but I still use her methods until this day. ” Synergyretreats.

And also this blog, 5 Things I Learned While Studying Yoga at Yoga Bones, Goa, by Alex of liveandbreathyoga.com

“Yoga Bones is owned and run by Rolf and Marci and they couldn’t be any different to each other in their teaching styles. Rolf is entirely what you’d expect from a truly dedicated, experienced yoga practitioner: very calm and poised and someone who just allows you to relax and soften a little a bit around him.

Marci, the other teacher and Rolf’s wife, was anything but calm and smooth and melty. Now, I am going to say upfront that I came to truly appreciate her teaching style, and saw a bit of myself (a uni teacher) in her approach.

One of the first things I saw Marci do was call across the room to another student saying “No, no, no, no. You need to get out of the asana and we will start again.” Where Rolf was quiet and soft, Marci was sharp and direct.” live and breath yoga

What is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga?

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a very intense and demanding yoga practice. You sweat profusely but it feels great.

It is very different compared to the traditional hatha yoga style that I have learned at the Sivananda Ashram.

The Sivananda style focuses on twelve basic asanas that follow a specific sequence with emphasis on holding the posture for as long as comfortable and with relaxation at the beginning, in between and at the end of the practice.

In ashtanga yoga, the asanas are performed in a continuous flow, following a specific sequence as well, but holding each posture for only five deep breaths.  There is only one relaxation that is done at the end of the practice.

The Sivananda style is also called “integral yoga” because the emphasis is not only on the physical part but also on other paths of yoga, like Karma Yoga (selfless service), Gnana Yoga (analyzing reality), Bhakti Yoga (devotional practices) and Raja Yoga (meditation) which the practitioner should try to integrate in his daily life.

In Ashtanga Yoga the emphasis is mainly on the physical practice. There are no ashrams (spiritual community residences), only “shalas” (yoga studios) where people do the practice.  The only thing that matters is practice, practice, and practice. Like Sri Pattabhi Jois says "Ashtanga Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory."

I personally like both styles.  I think they complement each other well.

Where to practice Ashtanga Yoga in India?

One of the best places to practice Ashtanga yoga in India is Mysore.  This is where Sri Pattabhi Jois initiated many westerners into Ashtanga Yoga

There are many excellent teachers in Mysore.  You can visit my article Best Schools and Ashtanga Yoga Teachers in Mysore to find lots of tips and recommendations to plan your next trip to Mysore.

If you want to practice Ashtanga Yoga in Goa just contact Rolf and Marci at yogabones@gmail.com, and if you need more information you can visit their website www.yogabones.org

By the way, don't forget to take a look at my Top 3 Beaches in Goa.  You might find it helpful whenever you decide to visit Goa in the future.

To know what Ashtanga Yoga looks like you can take a look at this amazing video on YouTube


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