Pranamaya Yoga

»Calm amidst the Chaos«

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Trekking is the first thing most people associate with Nepal. Why can't that be yoga? This is the question that founder Sam Voolstra is tackling with her two yoga studios, collectively known as Pranamaya Yoga, in Kathmandu. Clean, modern, easily accessible and open for all. This is Pranamaya Yoga.

  • What we love
  • Modern minimalist studios
  • Affordable classes and retreats
  • All yoga equipment available for use in class
  • What to know
  • Classes can be cancelled anytime due to political situation in Nepal
  • Classes get full very quickly
  • Why go
  • Take a break from a hectic lifestyle
  • Discover yoga in the land of yaks and yetis
  • Learn how to integrate yoga into your lifestyle

Being so close to India it is easy to imagine that Nepal is rife with yoga centers and yoga retreats. This is not the case: The Nepalese view yoga as something practiced by the elderly and infirm, and the long lasting political turmoil the country has gone through in the last ten years has caused a decline in foreign tourist numbers, further eroding the potential popularity of yoga. This is about to change with the introduction of Pranamaya Yoga Studio in the capital, Kathmandu.

Pranamaya Yoga is a breath of fresh air in the pollution, traffic and general chaos that is found in Kathmandu. There are two studios located at opposite ends of the city. One in Patan, the world heritage-listed old quarter dotted with historic temples, and the other in Thamel, the tourist hotspot. Pranamaya Yoga hosts two to three yoga classes daily in each location with all classes suitable for beginners. The variety of classes on offer range from Power Yoga to Hatha to Iyengar. The philosophy is that all styles are useful so long as they allow newcomers to feel at home. It is a welcome sight to see not only expatriates teaching at the studio but also local Nepalese, an unusual situation in a foreign-run studio in Nepal. Equally amazing is that the classes draw in a large local community, a departure from the Nepalese attitude to yoga.

One of the main goals of Pranamaya Yoga is to offer a beautiful space with consistent classes, enabling you to integrate yoga into your lifestyle with ease. Sam Voolstra, the founder of Pranamaya, found that the Kathmandu community lacked that single most important aspect of yoga; the space to be able to practice and grow in a supportive environment. Pranamaya Yoga was born.

The studio spaces are designed with the modern minimalistic clean look, yet are entirely comfortable. Both studios are clean, light, wood-floored and offer all the yoga accessories one would need for a class like mats, props and belts. The Patan studio can easily fit 25 mats, whereas the slightly smaller Thamel studio can fit only 12. With the ethos ‘yoga for everybody’ in mind, the prices for classes are affordable even for the locals and they offer a fantastic deal on a monthly unlimited class bundle - a highly popular choice for most locals and tourists alike.

Unfortunately it must be mentioned that due to the instability of the political situation in Nepal and specifically Kathmandu, some of the classes and retreats Pranamaya Yoga offer have to be cancelled last minute due to local ‘bandhs’ or strikes in the city. These are unforeseeable and it is best to check the Pranamaya website and facebook page for current updates on class and retreat schedules and cancellations.

Pranamaya Yoga also offer weekend retreats in the hills outside of Kathmandu - and if the grime of Kathmandu is getting to you, the beauty of Nepal can be found outside the capital city. These two to three day weekend retreats are all inclusive with transport to the location, twin share accommodation, food and tea. The theme of these retreats revolve around the sharing of ideas of how to integrate yoga into your lifestyle, from getting to know more about what yoga is to learning a simple routine to integrate into your home practice. The retreats take place in either of two breathtaking locations, Namo Buddha Resort and The Last Resort.

Namo Buddha Resort offers the “experience of the simple life in the Nepali countryside” roughly two hours drive into the hills from Kathmandu. Namo has some distinctly attractive reasons to visit: the architecture is true to the Nepali style with stone roofs and wood-framed windows and doors; the resort has its own organic farm, from which the German chef produces tasty vegetarian cuisine; and if you are up early enough you can catch a glimpse of the Himalayas in full glory at sunrise - a unique opportunity.

The Last Resort is located close to the Tibetan border, roughly a three hour drive from the capital. Lush greenery in the surrounding hills, accommodation in luxury safari tents complete with beds, and a welcoming local staff - all set in the Himalayas - combine to make this a yoga retreat you won’t forget. The Last Resort is actually known by adventure seekers for the bungy jumping, canyon swinging, white-water rafting, mountain biking and hiking, but that isn’t to say that the yoga retreats on offer there aren’t quiet, relaxing and sought after!

About the area: Nepal

Nepal, situated above India, is well known on the trekking circuit thanks to the stunning Himalayas that feature Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on earth. Sadly Nepal has seen a demise in tourism over the last ten years due to inner turmoil in the country. This however does not make it an unsafe destination; the Nepalese are still as welcoming as always and in 2011 Nepal was promoting itself in the ‘Nepal Tourism Year 2011’ campaign in an effort to revive Nepal as a travel destination. The capital Kathmandu can easily be reached from New Delhi, Bangkok and Singapore. Political strife aside, Nepal is still a breathtaking country to visit, whether you're into high mountain trekking, intrepid white water rafting, or scholarly Buddhism. The climate of Kathmandu is fairly mild, and although January winter nights can drop to two degrees C (35F), the days are warm and can reach 18C (64F). Summer runs from May through August and are the hottest months of year, sometimes reaching temperatures of 28 degrees C (82F).

Image credit: Pranayama Yoga

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