Nov 15, 2018

Vinyasa Krama and the one Yoga Class you have to take in Athens

Most of the time I travel for yoga - to teach at festivals or other events or to take trainings and ongoing education. Even if I don’t travel for that purpose, I have researched all the yoga places beforehand, and asked for personal recommendations for studios and teachers on social media. That’s the nice thing about the yoga world – people are really friendly, responsive and happy to direct you towards their favorite class, which is essential when travelling for short periods of time and having capacity for only a few studio visits. 

When I went to Athens this fall, I didn’t research. For the first time I didn’t check for classes beforehand, I was going to take distance from the yoga world for a few days and simply indulge in the ancient and modern Greek culture.

After walking 20km every day for three days, I couldn’t help it…. I randomly went to the closest studio to our Airbnb to the next class that was on. I was so pleasantly surprised that I want to share the experience and recommend this place in case you are around some time: Evergreen Yoga Studio in Exarchia, Athens.

The studio has a really warm and welcoming atmosphere, lovely people greeting you at the door and walking your though registration. It is really cozy and familiar, sofas to chill, hot tea, friendly yogis and smiles all around; feeling home despite being the new one! There are two yoga rooms of which the large candle-lit one invited with large windows and loads of green plants. 

The class I took was a level 2 Vinyasa Class held by a lovely girl called Virgina, who spontaneously taught the class in English to accommodate me and two other non-Greek visitors. Everybody else in the class was friendly and supportive about it. She has long-standing relationships with students, one could tell – a good sign! She played beautiful calm music for the whole length of the practice that only changed once for the final relaxation, that was new. What I felt so special about the class, was not just that she had a great concept (center of the body, creating heat and fire) and a smooth sequence, but that she transmitted such calm even though we went deep. Flowing, yet allowing time to arrive in posture, going deeper or staying, offering space for every-body.  She offered loads of time for self-practice when it came to inversions too.

These days I feel that a lot of classes just rush thought postures because Vinyasa is supposed to mean “flow”. Which somehow often seems to be misinterpreted into extremely fast movements, excessive sweating and exaggerated deep and fast breathing. 

But flow should mean moving in synchronicity with your breath, one inhale one exhale at a time. Moving consciously and smoothly, flowing like water. The idea is to cultivate an awareness that links each action to the next; not just posture itself, but how you get into it, how you move out from it and into the next one. It’s all part of the mindfulness practice that is yoga.

Vinyasa Krama is a step by step progression into something, or to a certain goal; this goal being to progress from simple asana to more advanced asana. Often translated as ‘wise progression’ the term hence refers to the principles of sequencing which are the foundation of a safe, sensible yet interesting and challenging practice. In my opinion this sequencing is the skill that separates great yoga teachers from the rest.

We did arrive at quite advanced postures and transitions in that class - after carefully building up the practice – and I loved the challenge! So, I am not saying we shouldn’t challenge ourselves, exploring our borders and strive for progress, I’m merely advocating to be mindful about it. Remembering ourselves why we practice yoga and what it is that would actually benefit us in that moment. Yoga is supposed to heal, to make you feel good and not to give you yet another reason to compare yourself with others, pushing beyond personal limits and harming yourself. When you practice check-in with yourself, decide each time what it is that you need on that specific day, take small steps, enjoy the process and see where the journey takes you….

Thank you for reading all the way down here and thank you, Virgina, for the lovely class.

Happy practicing!

 

The pictures of the studio are from the studios Facebook.

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