Brahmani Yoga

»A little slice of the West in Goa «

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Note:
The drop-in center is moving location to Tito's White House. Brahmani is continuing to hold teacher trainings, although off site.
We'll update the write-up once things are fully worked out.

There’s no pressure to take up a package deal from Brahmani. After all, package deals may not appeal to everyone. But when the package involves a stunning hotel room, all the yoga classes you care to take and someone waiting at the airport with your name on a card, it starts to look pretty good. Brahmani Yoga is locally known as one of the best places in Goa to practice yoga, and the icing on the cake is Goa itself, the popular beach town.

  • What we love
  • Great transition into India
  • Unlimited yoga classes
  • All styles are well-taught
  • Julie Martin’s irrepressible energy
  • Accessible and upbeat philosophy classes
  • What to know
  • Closed during rainy season
  • Prices are western-level
  • No locals attend Brahmani
  • Why go
  • Range of yoga styles
  • Gorgeous Goa
  • Perfect package deal

After arriving in Goa, asking around for recommendations on the best places to do a little yoga will yield three or four names. Brahmani is one of them. Goa is unbeatable, the yoga styles are varied, and although they don't offer accommodation they are able to put together a full package that includes airport transfers, unlimited yoga and a stay booked in a nearby guesthouse or hotel. This simplifies and streamlines a newcomer's experience, which is invaluable in the face of any potential culture shock.

The heart of Brahmani is the driven and energizing Julie Martin. Originally from California, she relocated to India nine years ago. She is exacting in everything she does: her assistants are only chosen from among those who have been trained by her personally, her attention to detail produces near-perfect yoga poses among her guests and she oversees every detail of Brahmani's operations, missing nothing. In a country that is notable for its laid-back, indirect way of communicating, Julie stands out for her direct manner and no-nonsense approach to yoga. Her students love her, and rightly so – not only does she have a deep pool of knowledge in multiple yoga styles, she also comes from a professional dance background and has studied anatomy, giving her a broad perspective and approach to yoga.

Brahmani itself is located in the grounds of the Hotel Bougainvillea. A green, tropical setting, the shalas are almost like oases of yogic energy emanating from the five daily classes that run from Monday to Saturday. From the gentle Hatha style to sweaty Ashtanga, from pranayama meditation to therapeutic yoga, there's a good option for all visitors, and the chance to sample a little of each.

In this way, Brahmani departs from the traditional yogic ethos of choosing one style and one guru, then sticking with them for life. This is the trade-off for visitors, none of whom are locals. Many of them aren’t able to spend a year or more in India, studying under a guru. Centers like Brahmani offer them a taste of India that they may otherwise have missed.

This taste includes unlimited yoga for the length of stay in Goa. The elegantly simple idea behind the package deal is that Julie and her team arrange your hotel, your transfers and open their doors for any and all of their classes that you care to sample. The flexibility of this arrangement is hugely attractive, unfettered as it is by the sometimes-stifling nature of a set holiday itinerary. Minimum stay is one week and extra days are added at a pro-rata cost. The fee will depend on the hotel or guesthouse chosen, as they can vary quite significantly. They are all in line with standard Western prices though – no jaw-dropping Indian bargains to be had here, just a fair price for a blissfully relaxing and invigorating yoga holiday. It should be noted that there is no obligation to take up the option of the package deal. Most of the attendees here are drop-ins, either living in the area or passing through Goa in their travels.

If yoga classes are over for the day, the famous beaches of Goa call. This is where palm trees swing lazily in soft salty breezes, where stretches of sun-warmed sand extend as far as the eye can see, and where a hard day may involve dragging yourself from your hammock for long enough to take a yoga class, walk through a forest or dance the night away in one of the many nightclubs.

About the area: Goa

Once a Portugese colony, Goa retains its feeling of being somehow separate from the rest of India. It’s not just that D’Souza is a common Indian name, or that the coastline is unique in its beauty. There is a far more relaxed attitude in Goa that does not exist anywhere else in India. Here is where the bright young things of the country come to play and are free to wear shorts, arm-baring tops and even bikinis, a radical departure from the pervading modesty in the rest of the country.

Since the 1960s, the beach culture of Goa has drawn international visitors in their thousands, and the abundance of nightclubs, markets and laid-back bars is a testimony to Goa’s comfort with a more liberal way of life. The ideal time to visit Goa is either before or after monsoon season (June - October) and it is not only the sparkling turquoise waters that are on offer for travellers. The Goan hinterland is home to a multitude of wildlife sanctuaries, with Sakrebyle being one of the most popular. Here, orphaned or injured elephants are nursed back to health and released into the wild. They often return for visits, and are happy to say hello to tourists as well.

For those brave enough to venture to Goa during the rainy season, be aware that many of the amenities (shops, summer guesthouses and the like) close their doors during off-season. This is the time that many locals take their own vacations, giving Goa a very different feeling. Also, when it rains here, it really rains. Walls of water that drench immediately and are sometimes heavy enough to be painful. Nonetheless, there is sometimes a certain charm to a rainy, abandoned beach as Goa-fans are quick to point out.

Image credit: Coni Hörler Photography

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