12 July 2016

How Barcelona Incredibly Improved My Yoga Practice

One of the biggest lessons I have learnt in Barcelona is to try new experiences against fear. Pushing yourself to try new activities can be difficult and scary, but with time I have learnt that it always turns out easier that it first seemed. This is the reason why in Barcelona I have tried loads of types of yoga and haven't regretted it - it always felt great and I grew so much as a person and a more advanced yogini.

When I first got to the big city, I immediately looked for yoga classes. My housemates told me I should join them for a one hour and a half vinyasa flow, and of course I accepted. The class was held in English by a girl called Valentina. Her classes are easy to follow and with a level accessible to anyone. I liked her attention to the details at the beginning of the class, especially the warming up of areas such as wrists, insteps and the soles of the feet. The flow often focuses on warrior poses and work on the legs, and it sometimes requires quite a large dedication to dolphine pose - for me, this was amazing as I have weak arms and for the first time I worked hard on my chest and shoulders. I can now do it a lot more easily than I used to and it felt so good!

Lesson learnt: Start from the basics; something that makes you feel good and secure. Some of Valentina's classes were challenging for me, but overall with an intermediate level they didn't feel too difficult. Each time they served as a way to re-balance my inner self and my body.

More details:
Yoga with Valentina on: Meetup, Facebook
Poble Sec Studio - 1h15 classes, price: 5€
La Shala, Jaume I - 1h15 classes, price: 6€
No need to bring your yoga mat

As time went by, Valentina's studio in Poble Sec became too far away for me. I was writing my essays for university and needed something nearer. So one day I spontaneously tried a class that I'd found on meetup: a hot yoga class, aka one that is held in a room at 30° (the idea is to reproduce the feeling you get going to classes in India) in a centre called Yoga Linda, near the beach of Bogatell.
I'm not gonna lie - the first class was a shock. It wasn't that pleasant, as the room was very crowded that day and I didn't like the shift in the temperature. But the price of the trial included two classes, so I went back. And the second time was a lot better. Somehow, I ended up purchasing a submission for four classes per month, for the first month. And with time I started loving it!
The classes there are highly professional. They are 90 minutes or 85 minutes long and held in a large, bright room with mirrors. This was the best location I have tried yoga in so far. These were the hardest I have been to in my yoga track! Instructors there try out different techniques each time, and every instructor has a very personal method that I enjoyed learning as I went. It was where I learnt that poses aren't just individual but often have an extension.

My favourite instructors were Emily, who does, in my opinion, very feminine flows (by feminine I mean very healthy and good for the female body) and with a personal touch. I loved how she passed around and massaged each person's forehead and neck during Savasana (the final relaxation) using essential oils. My other favourite instructor was Javier who did hard working classes that made me tired but super strong. He often spoke during the flow which was very useful as it gave a deeper meaning to each pose. Usually his classes were less crowded than Emily's which made them more focused on corrections and hence of high quality.

Lesson learnt: a harder yoga workout is necessary to build a strong structure and be able to push your limits. And heat can be a great instrument to do that.

More details:
Yoga Linda website
Yoga mats are 1€ to borrow or you can leave your own there
(No offense - but the centre is a lot better than what it looks like in the pictures or the website! Really worth trying out).

Towards the end of my experience and after having gone to Barcelona Yoga Day, I was even more keen and went for a few sessions on the beach. Classes are held by a girl called Veronika from Happy Soul Yoga and are very easy going. I didn't like the experience as much as the meditation one she organised because of the lack of a quiet and nice environment. We practiced our flows surrounded by people playing football and yelling at each other which isn't ideal. The good side is that you can look up and see the sky, and dive your hands and feet into the sand (which I love - because it means you're at the beach!).

Lesson learnt: always practice yoga in nature when you have the chance to! But don't make that your main, professional practice. Keep it as a fun one to the side.

More details:
Look for Veronika at Happy Soul Yoga on Facebook
Classes on the beach are donation based
Bring a towel or a yoga mat

Finally, another unique class I went to - only once, as I tried it towards the end of my experience - was a beautiful yoga flow with live music. The instructor followed a well structured flow and covered lots of poses. Every time the class is different, alternating a restorative session and a harder working one. I enjoyed listening to music and after a while not feeling it anymore, as the movement of the body and the music became one thing. As you can tell from the caption in the picture below it made me think of The Witch of Portobello's dancing. It's definitely worth trying!

Lesson learnt: always try new things! Even though they don't sound like your type of things... they might end up being good for you! And background music with yoga can be very soothing and a good alternative to silence at times.

More details:
Event on Meetup.
Price: 10€
No need to bring a yoga mat

And last but not least - going to Barcelona Yoga Day made me so enthusiastic about this amazing discipline and inspired me to try out more classes in the future. It really made me consider if I want to be a part time yoga instructor in the future... even though it didn't give me a specific answer. But I still enjoyed being there and the presence of so many nice, calm people. It honestly felt like a safe haven there.

More details:
Barcelona Yoga Day website.

I am so grateful for the great yoga process I went through in Barcelona. I think that the main reason is that, being a big city in Europe it has quite a lot of opportunities and offers a lot of variety. That said, it takes a bit of courage to try them out, and I decided to even though it wasn't always easy. But it was so worth it, and it made me think so much about whether I belong to the world of yoga and generally to open up as a person in a new place.

I hope you enjoyed my long, but useful post if you're in Barcelona and want to try out yoga :) Namaste!
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  1. You look so effortless with your yoga moves :) Inspires me so much! I'd love to do yoga in such a peaceful environment (plus, I love your Snapchats to go with it!)

    -Lor //

    1. Aww Lor, thanks so much! I think your bedroom can be a great place, but if I were you I would definitely try out your lovely garden. It looks so peaceful and with the cats surrounding you it would be even more fun!

  2. I have recently started swearing by Vinyasa Yoga, it's a 90 minutes class where I can have total focus and push the rest of the world away, which is exactly what I need on a Sunday afternoon.

    1. Well done Sophie! I also love to isolate myself and leave all little problems outside class, which helps me maintain balance :) I think it's a great idea to go on a Sunday afternoon in order to have a great start to the week ahead!