photo: Bobby Collins
For a lot of people starting in a new year means also trying to accomplish the pronounced new year’s resolutions of starting a new sport or loosing weight. Fair enough, there are a lot of extreme methods to do so like starting a crazy diet without carbohydrates or running a marathon everyday. But most of the extremist fall back after a month or two in their old unhealthy habits. A good way for starting slowly doing something for your health, spirit and body shape is yoga. Not only does it help even the most unfit person to get back into shape, but also gives you great balance in so many other areas like mental focus, healthy eating, balanced emotions and true human kindness. I started doing yoga after a serious break up and it was the best thing that could have happened to me and to my health.
That is why I want to give you some help in navigating through all the different yoga studios and yoga styles there are in Berlin. I found out that some people have a lot of prejudices against yoga and I also realized that many people don’t know that there are very different styles of yoga. Furthermore yoga is also about your personal search for the right teacher and the right way of doing it for your body. So this little guide may be just a helping push in the one or other direction. But everyone who is truly interested in an enlightening and healthy yoga experience must search for his own way of doing it. You might definitely find out that yoga can be one of the most time-consuming things in your life, because it only works on a regular basis. But it will also be the most rewarding thing for your overall health of body and spirit. My recommendations after the jump.
There are many different styles of yoga being taught and practiced in Berlin and it can be tough for a beginner to figure out the main differences. Although almost all of these styles are based on the same movements and positions (called poses), each has a particular emphasis or different conditions. I would like to present to you my favorite styles, which are Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Anusara and my most favorite style: Hot Yoga. All these styles are mostly quite physical challenging. If you want to start with something more slow or relaxing I recommend to search for a studio with Hatha-Yoga or Yin-Yoga classes. Since I have never done that I can’t really recommend any specific studio. But actually all studios I will recommend in the following have also „slow“ classes which are more relaxed and easy to handle. Generally speaking I would always try to find a studio near your work or your home so that it does not get in the way of your daily routines.
Vinyasa is more like a general term in yoga that is used to describe many different types of classes with a set of fluent movements. A typical Vinyasa class will mostly start with a number of Sun Salutations to warm up the limbs for the more intense stretching that’s done at the end of class. Vinyasa is also called Flow, describing the continuous movement from one posture to another. What I like about Vinyasa is that it is practiced with music and is giving you an energetic body and helps in loosing weight at the same time. The best studios with Vinyasa courses are for once in my opinion Y4all where our friend Eva from Artberlin teaches, who is a very skilled instructor. Also Spirit Yoga and Yoga Sky are favorites in Berlin for a lot of my friends. All of them have beautiful spaces, but are different in prices and schedules.
You want to get sexy arm and back muscles and maybe some acrobatic skills? Then Ashtanga is the right style for you. It is a fast-paced, energy-intense style of yoga. A set series of poses is performed, always in the same order. This practice is very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next and the emphasis on daily practice. The traditional teaching is individual and not in classes. Ashtanga is also the inspiration for Power Yoga which is based on the flowing style of Ashtanga without keeping strictly to the set series. The best yoga studio for Ashtanga is the one in Kreuzberg/Neukölln called Yoga School Berlin which is lead by a sexy and inspiring yoga couple. Also there is a very traditional one on Brunnenstraße in Mitte called Ashtanga Berlin that has a lot of great teachers.
This a very American style of yoga coming from one of New York’s most famous yoga studios. Jivamukti founders David Life and Sharon Gannon were influenced by the strength of Ashtanga yoga, in combination with chanting, meditation, and spiritual teachings from other mindsets. If you are more into the physical aspects of yoga, all the chanting might get on your nerves. Still, people fall in love with it quite a lot so it is definitely worth a try if you are not a judgemental type of person. Recommended Jivamukti-Studios are the two classic ones in Kreuzberg and Mitte. A new star is also rising in the Jivamukti-sky with Peace Yoga recommended by several people and with amazing Jasmin Cordes as a teacher there.
Anusara combines a strong emphasis on physical alignment with a positive philosophy expressing the intrinsic goodness of all beings. Classes are usually light-hearted and accessible, often with a focus on heart opening. I never practiced Anusara but I know that some people are very happy with this yoga style since it embraces a lot of positive energy. Recommendable studios to try it out are Yogatribe and Caramba Yoga.
As mentioned before Hot Yoga is my favorite style of Yoga. Most of the people react somehow shocked when I tell them that I train 4-5 times a week in a room with 40 degrees and call me crazy. On the other hand yoga comes from India, where exactly this climate conditions are normal. Furthermore the experience of cleansing and body toning you have with Hot Yoga is incomparable to all other yoga styles. The best hot yoga studio in Berlin is definitely Sun Yoga not only because they have three different studios spread all over town, but also because most of the teachers are excellent (my favourite are Jasmin Cordes and Ditte Kotzian). They offer a wide range of different yoga and Pilates courses in the heated room that I find very challenging for body and spirit. If you a sceptical I recommend to try the starter where you can train an entire week for 20 euro.
To sum it up in a few sentences: Try out the style that sounds appealing to you. Vinyasa, if you want to lose weight and build up strength, Ashtanga, if you want to get some muscles, Anusara, for the healthy and the emotional focused and Hot Yoga for all people who are not afraid of sweat and a physical challenge. Search a studio near your house, follow the recommendations of friends or of my little guide. And as my Yoga teacher says: there is no right or wrong, just right and left so just try it out and be happy.