By Belinda Wilson
So for those of you who have seen Yoga Pattaya’s big poster - you know the one, at the traffic lights junction between Thepprasit and Thappraya Road - do not be intimidated by the sight of a man who can raise his leg high enough to touch his ear, there are beginners’ classes and it was to one of these that I attended.
The studio is down Soi 12 Thepprasit - go through the barriers as if you are just going into another housing village and as you turn to the right you will a road full of shops and studios the first one you notice being Yoga Pattaya, there is plenty of parking opposite.
I went to a 7:15pm class on a Monday evening, feeling quite brave and ready for a challenge. I came armed with my yoga mat but don’t worry if you do not have one. they have them available on sale and as another good service even house their students’ mats. This is a great idea as it means that if you are a regular attendee you don’t have to lug your mat to every class - but first things first, to my beginner’s class I go.
Clothing should be comfortable, easy to move and stretch in. Obviously leotards and leggings are ideal but T Shirts and shorts were also being worn by some of my classmates and of course with yoga there’s no footwear to worry about as we were all bare footed. However one thing you should definitely consider is bringing a small towel with you as to be honest when the class started it was pretty hot up in the studio the windows were open to allow some night time breeze but it was fairly humid and at times I felt as though I was being given a free sauna with my class - probably very beneficial and healthy to my overall experience mind you.
The class was with Timur and was Ashtang Yoga a style of yoga that is a modern-day form of classical Indian yoga named after the “eight limbs”. The object is to stay for five to eight breaths in each posture, So we started by practising our breathing and as well as describing which part of the diaphragm we were to use I particularly liked Timur’s helpful tip of telling us that if we aspired to sound like Darth Vader whilst we were breathing that would mean that we were probably doing it right.
There then followed a lot of “dogs”: Downward facing dog, said to be a pose so good for many of the things that plague our society today: fatigue, back pain and stiffness from sitting all day, This position alone is said to have lots of health benefits such as building bone density, waking you up and boosting your circulation.”Ashtanga” we were told “should always be flowing to make you strong and flexible”.
When you are struggling the instructor will show you the “beginners option” as there is usually a less taxing version of what he is asking you to do should you require it. However be warned you should not attempt to just do your own thing as “there are strong rules in Ashtang Yoga It must be how it is”.
The class is conducted in both Russian and English so you can easily understand what is being asked of you. I particularly liked the comment I was given to show how the palms of my hands should be flat on the mat and strong on the floor “Like a tiger ready to pounce!”
Thereafter there was a lot of stretching and holding of poses. Lotus positions with one or both legs - or versions of for those of us a little stiffer than our class-mates. Again another Ashtanga rule “It must be how it is” stating that you always start with the right leg and then follow with the left. Towards the end of the class my limbs seemed more supple and warmed up and the breeze began to pick up as the evening wore on making the room far cooler. Just when I was feeling slightly pleased with myself Timur came over and gently but firmly maneuvered me into a whole new position which made me realise that I still had quite a way to go. I also watched in amazement at what was being achieved by some of the bodies around me there and there was a definite feeling of “Don’t try this at home kids”!
One word of warning. Although this was class was only advertised as a one hour class because of our teacher’s enthusiasm and the number of students he individually attended to, it actually stretched into two hours. During this period there were definitely times when I felt myself rather over-zealous and under-experienced. I would take it rather too quickly when delighted with some unexpectedly good flexibility and as a word of warning I would say that you should definitely work on baby steps and not over exert yourself or get too ambitious. However Timur was quick to notice the grimace on my face when I did this and told me to relax for a while and just breathe or put me in a different position to stretch me out in a alternative posture I particularly liked the rocking back and forth in a kind of “curled up crab position” said to be good for your spine and returning you to a relaxed pose to finish with some more deep breathing at the end of the class.
Twice a week there is a “level Zero” class apparently for “absolute beginners” or anyone suffering with lower back problems and if you have never had a class or it has certainly been awhile since you last attended one I would recommend starting off with one of these and building up your strength.
As well as the Ashtanga Vinyasa class there is also Stretching yoga, Hatha yoga and even Prenatal classes. They run throughout the day from 7:30 in the morning until 7;15pm at night so you are sure to find a day/time to suit.
An introductory lesson costs just 200 THB, thereafter it is 350 THB for 1 hour class but 3000 if you have 12 classes in a month. .
Go on give it a try !