Have you ever tried yoga? It's pretty likely, since just about everyone I know has. Although Rishikesh, India is considered the birthplace of yoga, it is also, incidentally, where the Beatles went to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh yogi. Nowadays people of all origins, faiths and styles have been adhering to this type of physical discipline that is known to improve health, open the heart, clear the mind and deepen one's connection with just about everything around.
But how does twisting and bending your body like a pretzel improve your physical health and bring you one step closer to happiness?
The word yoga means union, union of the body, the mind and the spirit. However, yoga is not only a physical practice, it is a science. It is methods and techniques that have been developed in India a long, long, long time ago.
They say that a group of Hindu sages and wise men were sitting in meditation for long periods of time, searching for the truth — for enlightenment. For years without end they sat chanting, reading and meditating — rarely ever moving. They realized that even though their spirit was uplifted and their vision was becoming clearer, they were neglecting one important factor, their bodies. They realized that the body and the spirit were one, and to be whole the entire aspect of the human experience has to be tackled. They developed these "asana" (postures) to reunite body and mind. Those asana challenged the entire body, going from forward bends to back bends, balancing postures, seated twists, standing postures, arm balances, core poses, inversions and restorative poses. They added to that various breathing techniques and yoga was born.
It is funny, but we could think that yoga was designed to answer modern day's challenges - where people spend a lot of time in desk jobs, driving cars for commuting purposes or relaxing in front of the television set.
Modern day life is validating the benefits of yoga — to tone up, to lose weight, to better cope with stress, emotional distress, to help with backaches with digestion and many other challenges. Whatever your reason is for reaching to yoga, yoga has its way of reaching back to you. Each person that is doing yoga on a regular basis cannot deny the transformation he or she is experiencing. And to confirm all that, many scientific research studies have been attesting to the benefits.
The benefits are many, and life in general seems happier since one's perspective is changed. Beyond "feeling good," it actually combats or at least dramatically reduces the stiffening and the tightening our bodies go through as we age. The healthier one is, the less we tend to be concerned with our bodies, which frees our mind.
With all those healthy benefits, it is only normal to expect yoga classes in Switzerland — one of the top countries in the word, in term of valuing the health of its citizens.
I moved to Lausanne in 2007, the Olympic Capital of the world, the home of international sport and the candidate city for the youth Olympic Games in 2017. Finding a yoga studio back then with good hours was a real challenge. Incredible progress has happened in this field since then.
Today, Lausanne hosts three annual yoga events, has more than 10 yoga studios and houses more than 20 yoga teachers from all walks of life.
Below is a list and a small description of some of the yoga studios you can find in Lausanne
Yogashala is a beautiful yoga center with a charming studio located in the midst of Lausanne's city center. It was created in 2003 by Christine Jaccoud, a long time student of Jean Le-chim who is a student of Iyengar and the teacher of a lot of Lausanne's yoga teachers.
What I love about this studio is that its teachers come from all walks of life, with experience in different teaching styles, thus able to address the needs of everyone. Christine, the owner, regularly invites international teachers and locals teachers.
Prices range from CHF 30 per class to CHF 1,200 for the yearly-unlimited pass. Punch cards are also available.
Sadhana is an inspiring and peaceful place co-founded by a husband and wife, two passionate individuals that have been practicing yoga with a "happy passion" for more than 20 years. They have studied yoga in several places in Europe and India. And after the encouragement of Jean Le-chim, they have decided to jump in and open their own space, a peace of heaven.
Motivated by the desire to spread the wonderful benefits of yoga, Andrea and Maria have specialized in yoga therapy and teaching yoga to people that are "physically or mentally challenged, or with chronic illness."
What I love about this studio is the amazing authenticity of the yoga practice, the great generosity of the teachers in sharing their knowledge and passing it on to each individual in the class and the amazing feeling that it leaves in your heart at the end of the practice.
Their classes tackle the main branches of yoga, involving the body, the breath and the mind.
The prices range from CHF 15 to CHF 30 per session.
Yogaworks is a nice friendly space located in the midst of the Lausanne city center. It was opened in 2003 by husband and wife team Marielle and Duncan Fraser.
This studio offers a variety of teachers and bilingual classes where people can just drop in. The styles of classes are hatha yoga and power vinyasa, which are based on alignment and coordination of movement with the breath.
What I love about this studio is that it offers classes all day long and seven days a week. You also always get out of the class sweating and feeling like you have done a real workout.
The prices vary from CHF 30 per single drop-in class, as well as other various pre-paid offers including unlimited yoga classes for CHF 1,200 per year.
4. Yoga pour tous
One of Lausanne's best hidden secrets, this modest well hidden studio is in one of the few inside courts of a building in the Lausanne Gare area. It was founded more than 20 years ago by Mario Hammitouch — a self-taught yogi and a real one. What I love about this studio (other than the fact that I teach there) is that it offers lots of different classes and activities ranging from Kundalini to Ashtanga to Kirtan circles and aero yoga classes (the only ones in Lausanne).
The prices range from free classes to CHF 25 per class.
I also asked around in the region to hear by word of mouth about the yoga teachers that people appreciate the most. I had lots of recommendations but two individuals were the most popular.
Playfulness. Presence. Awakening.
Tracy grew up listening to zen tales and practicing yoga, martial arts and meditation. After completing an amazing sports career in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and receiving several international championships, he decided to direct his path to yoga. This father of two is obviously well drawn to sports and being physically active. He says that yoga has been a natural progression from martial arts. His classes transmit the playful aspect of yoga (being upside down in acro yoga is fun), yet the disciplined aspect is also emphasized and just as important to him. Today he teaches several different types of yoga and his classes have a special enthusiasm that are nourished by his unique attitude of calm and strength, guiding students to reach their full potential for health and happiness. A must try!
Presence. Power. Grace.
This half-American, half-Indian yogini's journey began as she was redirecting her path from conventional medical studies. The root of her personal practice is a healing one — she started by getting certified in Bikram Yoga in 2002 and Dharma Vinyasa yoga in 2006. She continued with Gérard Arnaud Vinyasa Yoga in 2014.
Sheila's classes create an opportunity to dive deeply into your inner nature and go on a journey of self-discovery. Her teaching is focused on facilitating the practice of self-study to progressively peel away the veils covering the True Self. In class, she encourages her students to listen to their bodies and practice in a way that is deeply respectful to their own unique nature. Her emphasis is on following the breath as the true teacher. She guides with an open and non-judgmental heart through detailed cues coupled with the ability to hold space for exploration and discovery on the inner and outer planes.
She is one of those people that is surrounded by such a powerful and kind energy that I would call her a healer. Her profound mastery of the asana makes her a complete teacher. She also facilitates woman circles designed to empower women to embrace the power of their femininity, and transform the culture of competition to one of support and cooperation.