Yoga in Madrid: a beginner's guide
Here's a short introduction to yoga by Julie Knight, plus a listing of yoga centres in Madrid.
To many people, the word yoga conjures up the image of a long-haired, bearded Indian man sitting in the lotus position and chanting. It has been increasingly in the public eye, mainly due to celebrities such as Madonna, Geri Halliwell and Gwyneth Paltrow singing its praises.
Reported improvements such as toned upper arms, trim stomach and firm thighs and bums have encouraged them to take up yoga classes, but for the uninitiated and uninformed, what is it all about?
Yoga originated in India around 6000 years ago. The practice sometimes seems to have an air of mystery about it, which perhaps prevents many people from trying a class. It can be seen as new-age, 'alternative' or a bit of a fad in the exercise world. In reality it is a holistic practise that benefits body, mind and spirit.
People take up yoga for a surprisingly wide range of reasons: to gain flexibility, to tone-up or lose weight, to improve their ability to relax or to prepare their body for a physical event such as childbirth. Regular practice of yoga will improve your general fitness and body shape; make you stronger, calmer and more able to cope with the stresses and strains of life. Types of yoga Hatha (or physical) yoga is broken down into eight stages or limbs.
Traditionally these are followed progressively to reach Samadhi, the last stage, where the spirit is liberated and becomes 'at one' with the universe. Yoga practised in the west mainly encapsulates stages three and four. Stage three (Asana) is the practise of the postures or poses and stage four (Pranayama) is rhythmic control of the breath.
There are many styles of Hatha yoga currently being taught, all of which have slightly different emphases.
• Astanga yoga is the form of yoga currently enjoying the most attention. Also known as power yoga, the moves or transitions between asanas are performed at a higher speed than usual, thus providing an aerobic workout, missing in the alternative yoga forms.
• Iyengar yoga, based on the teachings of BKS Iyengar from Pune, India, concentrates on the postural alignment of the body and limbs. The practice makes use of ropes, blocks and belts to aid in the attainment of the asanas.
• Sivananda yoga focuses on the flow of energy in the spine. This style is built around a specific sequence of twelve postures or poses.
• Yin yoga is a blend of Indian yoga practises and Buddhism. It is based on Hatha Yoga postures including some variations in its purpose and practise. All postures are practised on the floor.
• Kripalu yoga is a practise more based on a Yang, or external practise versus Yin practise. While encouraging being fully present in the body sensations, emotions and thoughts, Kirpalu yoga teaches to meet challenges with a sense of relaxation, self-acceptance and strength.
What to look for in a yoga class
Yoga includes elements such as stretching, balancing and posturing - the combination of which can seem like a contortionist act to the newcomer. However, a good yoga teacher will tailor the postures to suit the different abilities within a class. Some classes will focus heavily on meditation and visualisation, but for others, meditation simply refers to the period of cool-down or relaxation at the end of the session. Controlled breathing is a hugely important part of the practice.
Yoga is suitable for both men and women and can be enjoyed by the full range of fitness abilities. Even if you have trouble touching your toes, yoga can still be open to you. Classes can be found by looking in the telephone book or by recommendation from friends or work colleagues.
The following list provided by Expatica includes specialised yoga centres as well as general sport centres that conduct yoga classes. There, you will have the option of being served by trained professionals who can speak basic English and can assist you as you go about practising yoga.
Do note that yoga at the following places is offered at different proficiently levels. Check schedule and availability of places with the different centres before starting. Some would schedule beginners groups starting every few weeks; some others might offer all levels throughout all the year. Mats and towels might be offered for free at entrance by some places while you would need to bring your own in others.
Before deciding which class to go for, it is worthwhile visiting the premises. Staff listed in the following list is very friendly and ever willing to show you around. If you ask they might even offer you to attend a complimentary class on a chosen day.
The ATLAS GYM
Calle Palermo, 47
28043 MADRID – MADRID
Tel: 913 887 948
This sport centre offers daily yoga classes in addition to the wide range of sport activities such as step, G.A.P., cycling and aerobics. You can enjoy all these facilities by opting for a monthly package.
CLUB ATLAS FITNESS
Calle Santa Elena, 6 (semiesq. C/ Alcalá, 289)
28017 MADRID – MADRID
Tel: 914 055 972
C/ Téllez, 3
28007 MADRID – MADRID
Tel: 914 330 444
This sport centre is recently offering yoga in addition to their usual wide range of sport activities, thus times offer are limited at the moment – Fridays 21.00 to 22.00. Classes can be paid individually or a monthly fee can be arranged which would grant you access to their wide range of activities.
AVANTI SPORT CENTER
C/ Isaac Peral, 14
28015 MADRID - MADRID
Tel: 915 448 320 / Fax: 915 448 320
Yoga is another sport you can try out at this sport centre. Friendly staff will make sure you make the most of their premises.
Calle Juan Ramón Jiménez, s/n - Parque Empresarial Las Rozas (Centro Lúdico Heron City)
28230 LAS ROZAS - MADRID
Ver otras direcciones
Tel: 916 402 540 / Fax: 916 402 560
Very friendly staff will welcome you when you visit the centre and ensure enrolment is carried out smoothly. Yoga classes are available daily at allocated times.
DIVINO PASTOR 25 BAJO
28004 MADRID - MADRID
This is an innovative centre where yoga is done at 42 degrees Celsius. Sessions last for around 90 minutes each and it is recommended that you attend classes on a weekly basis for best effects rather than just joining in for one session every month. Bikram yoga is based on 26 postures.
Lessons are offered in English only on Saturdays and special discounts are offered to students under 18.
28009 MADRID - MADRID
Tel: 913 093 607
Very friendly staff will be glad to introduce you to the yoga centre and its philosophy. The school which focuses mainly on yoga classes offers many different classes throughout the day. They also offer Pilates classes.
28020 MADRID - MADRID
Tel: 915 534 751
Groups of Yoga tuition start quarterly and can be scheduled for one or two days a week for the three months which makes a total of 14 or 28 classes. Should you have any further queries, just ask for the English native manager.
Kripalu and Yin Yoga Personal Trainer
Profesora de Yoga para niños www.creativekidsyoga.com
Health and Wellness Life Coach C.P.C. www.icoachacademy.com
Tel: +34 619 709 088
Daura Carballo / Expatica
[updated June 2010]
- www.madrid-yoga.com (classes in English)
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