A couple of weeks ago I returned from a trip to the USA with my husband. A one week exploration holiday to a place neither of us have been – New England. I knew yoga was popular in the states, so I thought I’d fit in a couple of yoga classes on my trip to keep my practice going, but mainly to see what it was like and meet some yogis on the other side of the Atlantic. It was fun to see how American classes differ to the classes I’ve been to in the UK. I found the teachers more talkative and open to using phrases such as ‘feel the joy’, ‘love your body’ and generally using more expressive language as opposed to most yoga classes in the UK where instructions are given succinctly and expressions of emotions are touched upon rather than openly talked about. I love that yoga differs in the way it is taught depending where you go, it’s great to see different cultures adopt yoga to suit the students.
Here’s a breakdown of the places I went to along with some photos I took of the studios and the surroundings…
Boston – Back Bay Yoga Studio
Sunday 10 am Core Vinyasa with Sarah Sturges
The biggest yoga studio I have been to yet, the reception staff welcomed me and sent me two flights of stairs to a beautiful studio painted in warm earthy tones, with stained glass light shades, a black ceiling, long wooden floors reaching all the way out to a big arched window overlooking the street below. For such a big space it felt very cosy, the room filled quickly and the teacher Sarah introduced herself and got straight to work. Physically it was a tough class, but alternative poses were given for beginners and Sarah kept an eye out for the new comers. I really enjoyed the music played in class, the time given for creative flow where students get to choose to either continue with the sun salutations or be a bit more creative with whatever feels right. Sarah was encouraging and I certainly worked harder than normal, but she was sensitive to students not having to push themselves beyond their limits and taught with passion. I left feeling energised and ready for a day of exploring the streets of Boston. A really fun class in a fabulous studio.
Boothbay Harbor – Yoga Firm Studio
Tuesday 7:30 am Yoga Flow with Romee May
Quite the opposite to the large multiple studio yoga venue of Boston, the YogaFirm studio is in a little wooden building in Boothbay Harbor with space for only a small class. The room was heated up and we started off with some deep pranayama excercises moving onto the Vinyasa sequences. Romee, the teacher, was firm in her instruction and very attentive, adjusting and helping students all the time to move further but also to be precise in alignment. I found this class physically even tougher than the Boston class, and because of the heater in the room, I was drenched by the end of it. But it was a powerful class, and I was happy that straight after class breakfast was awaiting me at the B&B where I was ready to eat the entire table we sat at for breakfast.
I admired Romee’s confidence in her teaching, firm but nurturing, and her adjustments were strong but never too much, and once again I enjoyed the music in class as I am not use to music being played during yoga. Another great class that left me feeling energised if not a bit stiff in the legs and abdominals the next day.
Grafton, Vermont – Sundari Satnam Yoga Studio
Saturday 9:30 am Kundalini Yoga with Marilyn Gabriel
Lucky for me we were staying at the Inn at Woodchuck Hill in Grafton which is on the same grounds as the Sundari Satnam Studio, a beautiful light and airy studio in stunning surroundings. I had a one-to-one class with Marilyn after the wonderful breakfast that her and her husband served up at the Inn. As I had never done a Kundalini class before Marilyn was very kind in explaining the origins and telling me more about Kundalini and what to expect. The class involved a series of postures that are held whilst doing breath work. This was our last day of our holiday, we were bound to fly home that evening and I had a bit of a cold, so I was relieved that this class wasnt going to be too physically challenging, and it turned out that the repetition of the breath work was just what I needed for my cold. I felt very quiet, lighter and at ease after class… it was the prefect way to end our holiday.
So next time you are on holiday, see if you can find a yoga studio or class to pop into, it’s a great opportunity to meet people, to get out of your yoga comfort zone and try a new style and a good way to take care of your body whilst on holiday. I really feel as though I have learnt allot from each of these new teachers with whom I had a class… I am grateful to Sarah Sturges for showing me how to be creative in a yoga practice and to express it from the heart, to Romee May for reminding me that listening to your body and watching it move cultivates focus and ultimately freedom from thought, and to Marilyn Gabriel for introducing me to Kundalini and proving how powerful breath work is.
Hanri & Banjo