There are hundreds of yoga styles to choose from, and more studios in Bogotá continue to open their doors offering a plentiful variety. It can be a struggle to get yourself to a gym in general, so if you’ve been thinking of joining the rest of the yogis down dogging and pigeon posing throughout the city, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with some of the sankrit yoga names and have a general idea of what you’re getting yourself into.
Contrary to the stereotypes, practicing yoga isn’t just for the meditative veg- ans. Some schools in Bogotá do carry spiritual elements, but there are also schools and yoga styles that will just give you an all around solid workout that will generally fall under power yoga, or core power yoga. Even the adrenaline junkies at Cross Fit are getting the yoga bug and starting weekly yoga classes for their athletes.
The most common type of yoga is Hatha, a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures, and every instructor will offer their own unique approach depending on where they received their training.
A type of Hatha, Vinyasa, which translates to flow in sanskrit, is fast moving and focuses on changing postures with each inhale and exhale. The order and sequence constantly chang- es, and if you ever get caught up just peek over at what your neighbor is up to. Some studios, like LIVE Rosales, focus only on Vinyasa and even have classes for kids, expecting mothers, and parents with newborns. If you prefer more of a set series and consistency in your practice, Ashtanga is a Vinyasa style practice which uses a six pose se- quence practiced at a rapid pace also synchronized with breathe.
There are a couple studios in the city that offer Bikram, also known as hot yoga. Bikram contains the same 26 postures in each class and at 40 degrees Celsius it’s, well, hot. Some of the hot studios, like Evolation, offer warm options of Vinyasa and Hatha, or even the same Bikram sequence cooled down to 32 degrees for an hour instead of 40 degrees for 1.5 hours. You’re encouraged to stay in the room even if you feel the overwhelming desire to run outside when the breathing gets tough. Take a seat on your mat, breathe, and you’ll be stronger for it.
If walking into the strange new environment of a yoga studio seems too threatening, grab a friend for an Acroyoga class. A blend of acrobats and yoga, Acroyoga is partner yoga, practicing balance as well as the ability to hold in your laughter. Acroyoga offers the opportunity for playtime, and avoids the inward silent spiritual practice of most yoga classes. Plus, Acroyoga always makes for fun party tricks.
An option for yogis looking for a more inspirational practice is the newly popular Jivamukti Yoga out of New York found at Yoga Studio Colombia. Jivamutki is a physical, ethical, and spiritual practice, combining a vigor- ous vinyasa-based style. It was created from the desire to change our general thinking about the world and how to live more harmoniously in it and begins with more time focusing on breath- ing and meditation. For its underlying focus on animal rights, veganism, and environmentalism, it has developed a reputation as the chosen yoga style of many celebrities. If the meditation aspect of yoga seems desirable during your busy Bogotá days, Atma Yoga even offers open meditation hours in- between their classes with an entry fee by donation.
One of the last types of yoga you could complement your week of practice with is simply called Restorative Yoga. Forget sweating and think relaxation. Restorative yoga is all about healing the mind and body through simple poses often held for as many as 20 minutes with the help of props, bolsters, pillows and straps. Restorative yoga can help with illness, injury recovery, or even emotional traumas.
Holding new or difficult yoga postures will make any stressful part of your life going on outside of the studio door simply disappear. Doing inversions, or trying to balance on one leg quickly and unconsciously become much more important than anything else in your life, and without realizing it you’ll be experiencing the meditative benefits of yoga. At the end of most, if not all yoga classes, you’ll lie down flat on your back with palms open at your side in Shavasana Pose, a combination of two Sanskrit words for corpse and posture. You’ll realize that it seems oddly similar to what an adult naptime would be like, and you’ll hopefully leave the studio with a good workout, peaceful mind, and the eagerness to come back for more.
As a foreigner, I’ve found yoga to be a great way to meet people and find a new vibrant community with a reason to get together past the expensive party scene. This yoga journey has also been surprisingly free, as most schools offer trial or ‘clases de prueba/invitación.’
Every studio I visited was very welcoming, and even had mats and towels to borrow or rent for a small fee. If you’re not ready to invest time or money, simply take advantage of the free yoga for a couple weeks and hopefully you will have an exciting new and interactive tour of the city you thought you already new. You might even pick up some new Spanish words along the way.