WHERE TO PRACTISE YOGA IN GENEVA
by Chené Koscielny
Chené has done 300 hours of yoga teacher training in the UK and Switzerland, as well as a power yoga training qualification with Bryan Kest. She teaches creative vinyasa and power yoga classes at her home in Vessy, Geneva – for groups of up to 8 students, as well as private classes and corporate classes. She has been teaching at Innercityyoga for 2 years.
The yoga scene in Geneva has exploded over the past few years with a new studio popping up almost every week. Add to that the army of independent teachers in living rooms, gyms and basements across town and finding the right class and teacher can be tricky. Yoga in Geneva (and elsewhere) is not regulated, so anyone can call themselves a yoga teacher and like any other form of exercise, yoga can lead to injuries if not practised safely.
Find out why yoga is good for you and what you should be looking for in a teacher below.
Why yoga is good for you
Initially, the discipline of hatha yoga, the physical aspect of yoga, was developed as a vehicle for meditation. Yoga can be differentiated from other types of exercise, because you’re working ‘in’ as opposed to working ‘out’. Even though a good vinyasa or power yoga class can be a brilliant workout physically, the ‘internal’ benefits of improved focus and mindfulness, sense of calm and reduction of stress are even more powerful.
The benefits of yoga
- Improved muscle strength and flexibility.
- Better posture.
- Better bone health.
- Increased blood flow.
- More energy and vitality.
- Calms your mind.
- Builds inner strength.
- Improved focus and mindfulness.
- Relaxes your system – slows your breath and shifts focus from sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system – which is calming and restorative.
What do I look for in a yoga teacher?
If you’re new to yoga and your teacher is putting you into a headstand without offering step-by-step instruction, alternatives, preparatory poses and props in the first class, beware! Many yoga postures are complicated and you need to build up strength in the body and mind before more technical or advanced postures are attempted. Forget about trying to teach yourself from Instagram or videos: a sure-fire recipe for getting injured.
Qualifications Only opt for yoga teachers who have undergone extensive professional training (a minimum of 200 hours or 300 hours) from a reputable studio. Ask around, attend a trial class before you sign up.
Alignment A good teacher will pay careful attention to your alignment in postures and give detailed instructions, even in a group class.
Attitude Yoga is one of the toughest physical forms of exercise yet it has little to do with the boot camp mentality. You use your mind, intuition and intelligent awareness to find your personal edge in every posture and you should never use brute force to get yourself into a posture. If your yoga teacher is aggressive or uninspiring, find someone else! If a teacher tries to force you physically tries to force you into a position, tell them to stop! Gentle adjustments as a guide are helpful, but being forced into a position is asking for injury. The teacher often isn’t aware of past injuries or issues that may prevent you from going deeper into a posture. There should be no pressure to ‘go deeper’. It’s about listening to the sensations of your own body to find your own personal edge in every posture. Not too much, but not too little.
Values I feel strongly about this one. If your yoga teacher behaves in an arrogant and unkind way off the mat, he or she is not qualified to teach yoga no matter how many hours of training he or she has done. The values of compassion, self-love, kindness, empathy, being non-judgemental and non-critical are what yoga teachers should really be sharing. So, don’t let yourself be impressed by glamorous studios or perfect postures on instagram. Ask yourself instead: Do I respect this teacher as a person?
Different styles of yoga
Hatha yoga – the umbrella term for physical forms of yoga, usually refers to static postures.
Vinyasa – linking postures into a sequence using breath.
Ashtanga – a series of set sequences using breath, physically very demanding and not recommended for beginners.
Iyengar – static yoga postures with a strong focus on technical alignment and the use of props such as blocks, straps, ropes and bolsters.
Bikram – a set sequence of postures practiced in a heated room.
Poweryoga – linking postures into a dynamic sequence, known for linking of several postures on one leg, before switching to the other leg. Physically very demanding.
Meditation – this should ideally be a part of every form of yoga and involves the practice of bringing the mind into a state of stillness.
Restorative yoga – a gentle practice of restorative poses aiming to achieve stillness of mind and relaxing the body, using props. Suitable for older people and people with health problems.
Pranayama – breathing exercises to help still the mind.
Yoga studios in Geneva
Longstanding yoga studio with a studio in Paquis and Champel.
High standard of teaching – mainly in French. Popular classes and a wide variety of regular interesting workshops.
(innercityyoga.com) 3 rue de Rive, 1204 Genève
Located just opposite the Apple Store in town, this studio has been around for 14 years.
The studio on the fifth floor is clean and bright, offering showers, a fresh towel service, sauna and an outside deck area for summer classes. The vibe is friendly, warm and welcoming and the owners, Ioana and Patric Pop both teach at the studio.
High standard of teaching
The studio offers a variety of styles – including vinyasa, poweryoga, yogaabdo, yoga for the hips and yoga music flow, with some of the toughest classes in town. There are also basic classes and sunrise yoga for early risers. Most classes are offered in English and French. Whereas initially the studio mainly attracted locals, it is now also multi-cultural and popular with expats.
“I sometimes call us the UN of yoga – as we have more than 70 nationalities practising at the studio,” says Patric.