This is a blog post about where to find Yoga in the Bay of Plenty, starting where we all begin, with pregnancy yoga, followed by a general yoga ‘directory’ and finishing with a wee ‘blat around the keyboard’ about my experience of different yoga forms.
If I was still pregnant (but our wee E B arrived in September) I would go to this
2-Day-Treat with NZ Pregnancy Retreats. I can heartily recommend Debbie Karl as an acupuncturist, and Kristin Borchardt as a yoga teacher. They both have a passion for supporting women, particularly in the area of fertility.
- Respire Yoga (Mel Hunt) teaches pregnancy yoga out of a fresh wee Studio under her Mt Maunganui home. Due to the space being limited one needs to book first.
- Ana from Ashtanga Yoga Mt Maunganui teaches a class at Arataki Community Centre Wednesday night at 7pm which she describes as encouraging or maintaining strength throughout pregnancy by engaging in standing postures. You need to book first for this class.
- Karen at Tauranga Yoga Centre teaches a class termed ante-natal on Wednesday 9.15am-10.45am which from experience could be helpful for first time Mums as she incorporates discussion about one’s pregnancy also. NB: Karen runs a Mums and Bubs class too.
- Sarah from Kowhai Yoga is also happy to lead private pregnancy classes.
Once bubba has arrived and settled in and the time feels right you may like to frequent a regular yoga class:
General Yoga Directory
- Tauranga Yoga Centre has the most comprehensive range of classes from (Restorative to Ashtanga) available in the Bay of Plenty and also hosts some impressive guest teachers for example Peter Sanson is leading one class and offering two Mysore Ashtanga classes Yoga here 2,3,4 November 2012.
- Ashtanga Yoga Mt Maunganui run by Paul and Ana operates above Cross-fit next door to near Brewers Bar Mt Maunganui and has an impressive range of times available. PS Ashtanga is my all time fave.
- Mount Yoga Studio offers Bikram Yoga six days a week, with most days holding two classes a day.
- Sarah Williams from Kowhai Yoga runs a Vinyasa Flow class from Arataki Community Centre on a Tuesday 6-7pm.
Coka with her Yoga Tribe runs and cheerful handful of classes at The Mount out of Hart Street Scout Hall. I can’t wait for her summer series to start overlooking the ocean.
- Kristin Borchardt of The Yoga Collective and Mini Retreats trained with Donna Fahy and gives classes at the Banks Hall, Mt Maunganui.
- Respire Yoga (Mel Hunt) teaches yoga out of a fresh wee Studio under her Mt Maunganui home. Due to the space being limited one needs to book first
- Tracy Pepper (massage therapist) from Magic Hands provides remarkable workshop / weekend events which combine yoga and massage opportunity, among other movement such as Chi Kung. I wrote about one which combined Kirtan,Thaiatsu and teachers from Auckland’s Ashram Yoga earlier in Spring. She is offering another this weekend.
If you’re a little stuck about what some of the yoga names mean such as Iyengar, Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga and Bikram I share my humble yet honest experience of these below. For more definitive and accurate descriptions I suggest reading the centre’s / teacher’s websites.
The most intense yoga experience I have ever had is with Bikram Yoga. The room is deliberately heated to almost unbearable conditions – my kneecaps sweated! In the classes I attended some left the room even though they were encouraged (for their own and others’ safety not to). But don’t let this put you off. I always believe one should try something a couple of times and be interested in but not controlled by what others say. I was ‘warmed’ to find my flexibility greatly heightened in this practice. I have friends and family very addicted to this style of yoga and for weight-loss I have heard Bikram to be helpful.
I’m going to be straight-up and say I favour Ashtanga, probably for its cardiovascular workout, and the speed at which I feel supple and strong and centered. Like Bikram there is a set (repeated each session) collection of movements or postures. I like this (maybe cos I’m a ‘control freak’) because I know what’s coming and I feel I can measure my practice. Also as with Bikram, the movements happen quite quickly developing a heat in the body. In the years I practiced with more rigour I found Ashtanga to tone and develop my flexibility quickly as compared with Iyengar. Although I am grateful I started with Iyengar (and recommend every ‘Beginner to Yoga’ start with Iyengar i.e. with Kristin, Penny, Sara or at Tauranga Yoga Centre) as I learnt the basic postures slowly and safely. I sometimes observe (in a downward dog from between my legs) ‘new’ students putting their bodies in compromising positions through the speed at which Ashtanga and Bikram flow. Having moved my body all my life (mostly as a dancer in my younger years) I take movement seriously and feel sometimes people are careless and disconnected from their bodies, and when this happens injury can occur. Be brave and trust your body and its limitations and ask the teacher for help if you’re floundering. Getting back to Ashtanga, I like that my upper body gets supremely challenged in Ashtanga with all the ‘jump-throughs’. Perhaps because of the press-up like postures, and speed it is also a yoga style that appeals to men. To finish I find practicing meditation much easier after an Ashtanga class. Through the focus on the breath and the pulsing nature of the flowing movement (guided by the breath) the mind is very encouraged to still and calm.
I love Iyengar for its patience, and its thoroughness. In Iyengar Yoga often one posture is held, so that one can move deeply into it. I first started practicing yoga on High Street at Auckland Yoga Academy nearly 20 years ago (eek). Iyengar was my introduction and I would recommend everyone starting with an Iyengar class. I found it very beneficial both for my body and mind to start with a style that was slow and steady. I learned a solid downward dog, upward dog and warrior pose which gave me confidence. Working slowly also allowed me to observe my ego – in terms of maintaining a sense of where I was ‘at’ rather than comparing my body (my flexibility and strength) or trying to achieve what others in the room were attaining. The classes I took in Iyengar also used props quite a lot to aid a posture. We used straps, blocks, bolsters, chairs etc, whereas with Ashtanga, Bikram and Vinyasa Flow we didn’t use props.
Vinyasa Flow is a style I have the least experience with. Naively I would say it’s somewhere in between Iyengar and Ashtanga in regard to the classes I’ve attended. My friend Sarah says she is drawn to it due to its dance like flow. Vinyasa Flow uses a lot of sun salutations, and moves continuously in and out of postures and without props. Each Vinyasa Flow class is different from the previous so doesn’t have the regularity of Ashtanga nor the heat of Bikram.
I will re-iterate the above is purely my EXPERIENCE rather than a definitive scholarly precis. I feel a little nervous sharing my opinion of these profound practices as people (especially teachers) feel passionate about the yoga that’s moved them. My intention is to help beginners feel more confident to go to a yoga class for the first time. I’d love to hear from you – Why do you practice the Yoga style you do? Namaste.