Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yoga in Armenia: what is yoga and how to get started?

One of my discoveries of the last year was certainly - yoga. Not that I learned about it just this year :) I just realized it this year that it's the perfect thing for me this period of my life and found the most amazing yoga studio in Yerevan. I had some friends who have been attending there for quite some time already, but never actually considered to enroll myself into a class too. I knew almost nothing about yoga but I was driven by curiosity and the promise of getting some peace after the hectic work days was convincing.
I had no problem deciding with the studio, since I only started yoga because of discovering Shoonch.

While this post will be about my perception and experience of yoga, it may also contain some voluntary advertisement of Shoonch yoga studio.

Yoga class types
So, how it all started. At first, I started to explore the descriptions of different types of yoga classes offered by Shoonch.
Here are the main ones: Akhanda, Iyengar, Vinyasa and Pilates.

I am mainly attending Akhanda. Not only because of the convenient schedule but also for the trainer and its relatively 'easy' type.
Akhanda: (similar to the word yoga in Sanskrit, means indivisible, unbroken tradition, entire, and whole) is intended to teach basic principles of breath, movement, alignment and relaxation to students. This class presents the most common postures that can be practiced by anyone in the standard or modified form. Students are guided to move with the breath and let the breath initiate movement. This level aims to balance flexibility and strength, cleanse the body and help the practitioner attain a natural state of health.
I've been attending some Vinyasa yoga classes too. It's generally a bit more difficult and requires a lot of effort. Pros - after Vinyasa class I always feel a flow of energy for the entire evening, ideas and emotions are being more tense than usual. For those who need it - it may also help to lose some weight. Cons - Sometimes I am having difficulties to sleep because I feel so energetic. Camomile tea comes for help then. Also, during Vinyasa you sweat quite a lot, so be prepared to have make up and hair ruined for the night.
An energetic practice that blends sweat, strength and flexibilty in a class that thoroughly tones the body and disciplines the mind. Done in a 27Co room.
I have decided to attend more Pilates classes during the upcoming year. Pilates is more like an aerobics and is good for improving the body shape (losing weight).
Focusing on abdominal muscles, pilates is an exercise method that creats a strong core physique. Each exercise is performed with relatively few repetitions and the student is urged to pay heightened attention to proper form and active breathing.
Iyengar class is also interesting. I have been to few Iyengar classes so can't really comment, but will provide the official description from the Shoonch website.
This form of yoga focuses on achieving alignment of the poses, centering your body with your mind. Iyengar yoga practice often uses a lot of props such as blocks, belts, blankets and chairs.
There are more types of yoga classes offered by Shoonch, like prenatal and kids yoga. You can check them on the website.

Yoga and Me

I didn't know almost anything about yoga until my first class. After it, I started reading everything I could find starting from Wikipedia. I learned the basic terms, names of the most popular asanas (poses). Then I found, a great resource for yoga practitioners. Also the Yoga Journal, which has a Pose finder.

So I've been attending Shoonch since May 2009 and noticed its impact on my body already by the end of summer. And this is despite the fact that I wasn't keeping the schedule I have set for myself and mostly attended not more than once a week. I noticed that I started to feel more easy, flexible, more "light". Combined with some personal troubles of that period, I lost some significant weight and improved my shape which was a big plus. I still keep the it and my goal for the summer 2010 is to become as flexible so I can do the splits and strive to feel as easy as Shakira, dancing :-D (I like her moves, can't help myself!).

Also, I bought a wonderful book "Living Yoga" by a top model Christy Turlington. She tells about her life, how she started yoga, and how you can fit yoga into your busy daily life. She poses for the book's asana illustrations herself and overall it's a beautiful book. 

Generally, out of all posture types I like back bends, twists, inversions, but the balance asanas are somewhat difficult for me.

About Shoonch
Shoonch yoga studio is situated on 28 Amiryan street, close to the Yerevan State Institute of Theater and Cinematography. The place is very well equipped and the atmosphere is highly favorable.
The trainers are professional, almost all of them trained in India and US which is important for someone who you are practically trusting your health.

Overall the customer service is on the highest level and it will be the first thing you will notice on your first visit, together with the peaceful and warm atmosphere.
One of the advantages of Shoonch's yoga classes is that there are no certain groups you are enrolling to. You can decide to which classes to attend and when. You are not obliged to attend the same class on the same day of the week and you won't miss any important 'lesson' on your missed class, since the classes are practically not connected to each other.

Other yoga centers in Yerevan

Almost all the big fitness centers offer yoga classes (it's positioned like a type of sport there, however). Aquatek, Gold's Gym, Orange Fitness, etc...

I have to mention also the "Himalayan Yoga Center". They are having outdoor yoga sessions in the Botanical Gardens of Yerevan.
Eco center is close to the Shoonch studio, again on Amiryan street and in addition to yoga, offers also Ayurveda and SPA procedures. Unfortunately I couldn't find its website and anymore information about them.

If you are interested in yoga, join the Shoonch group on Facebook. I also created a Facebook group called Yoga lovers in Armenia.

Yoga in the daily routine
Apart from attending Shoonch classes, I practice yoga also at home, mostly in the mornings. Although I can memorize a lot asanas already, when actually starting the workout, I can't decide which of them to do, so that they would be in the right sequence. Luckily there's a set of asanas in a sequence called Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara) that is easy to remember and perform. Sun Salutation is a series of 12 postures performed in a single, graceful flow. Each movement is coordinated with the breath. Inhale as you extend or stretch, and exhale as you fold or contract. The Sun Salutation builds strength and increases flexibility.
4-5 rounds of Sun Salutation in the morning - and my body is warmed-up and ready to start the day.



Unknown said...

I enjoy yoga exercise too :)

thiternik said...

if I were there I would definitely join the center! I was searching for such a center some 2 years ago - couldn't find a serious place.. and now I am far. maybe I should start that myself. with books on the beach :)
thanks for the post - it's always interesting to read them, not like mine :D