Whether your body could use a little more flexibility, you are looking to tighten and firm some muscles, or perhaps you are looking to connect with your spiritual self, taking a yoga or Pilates class may benefit you. We look at the variety of options in Prague.
Most people are familiar with the basic look of yoga: The back bends and pretzel-shaped contortions that practitioners (called yogis) put themselves into. There’s also a deeply spiritual element that goes along with yoga, which many people prefer over the health benefits. To find out more about this practice, we spoke with the director of a local yoga studio, Monica Angelucci from Prague Yoga (www.pragueyoga.cz).
“Yoga heals, strengthens, stretches and relaxes the skeletal, muscular, digestive, cardio-vascular, glandular and nervous systems,” she explains. “Although Yoga poses teach us to be present with our bodies, Yoga itself is not about the poses. Each time we are fully present in what we’re doing or with those around us that is the real Yoga.”
Angelucci says yoga is for “absolutely everyone.” She believes the poses (called asanas in yoga-speak) give students the opportunity to become more aware of their posture, alignment and how they move. This awareness translates into a stronger, more flexible body. In addition, the focus in yoga on breathing aids the mind by calming it while increasing a person’s alertness, concentration and confidence.
If you are looking for a yoga class, Angelucci has some suggestions.
“Most Yoga specific studios will offer standard length 90-minute Yoga classes from certified Yoga instructors in various traditions. Each tradition offers something different and students looking for a specific kind of Yoga should email instructors or studios and ask for recommendations (energetic, alignment-focused, gentle relaxation, rehabilitative, beginners, prenatal, etc),” she says. “Students who are new to a studio or teacher should always let teachers know about their previous Yoga experience and also discuss any previous injuries or current concerns – including pregnancy.”
Prague Yoga offers classes in Vinyasa Flow, Viniyoga Flow and Hatha Yoga plus Pre-natal Yoga, one-to-one lessons and workshops. Classes are all drop-in and cost 200 CZK, with discount cards available. Nearly all are conducted in English, but there are Czech teachers on staff as well. Other Prague studios include Studio Namaste (www.studionamaste.cz) in Prague 6. Classes must be reserved in advance, and cost 180 CZK each, with discounts for multiple classes available. Studio Namaste offers Power Yoga and Chi-toning, some in English and some in Czech. YogaJoga (www.yogajoga.cz) has three studios, in Prague 1, 2 and 10. Lessons must be reserved online in advance; they offer a reservation system in which you can register, and pay for classes using pre-bought credit. Classes include Iyengar, Vinyasa Flow, Power Yoga, Dynamic Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Prana Vashya Yoga, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Kundalini Yoga. Private lessons and pregnancy yoga are also available. Prices range from 61 CZK for a pre-paid 30 minute lesson to 212 CZK for a drop-in 90 minute lesson. Check to make sure your instructor can work with you in English, if needed. Each of their studios offers a small yoga shop with equipment for purchase.
Yoga Studio Prague (www.yogaprague.cz) offers a variety of 2-hour yoga classes, including beginners, gentle, all levels, plus pre-natal and yoga for kids. They also do private lessons and weekend seminars. Each class is 500 CZK, with discounts for a group of classes purchased together. Alice Zástavová is a power yoga instructor that teaches at a variety of locations around town. See her schedule at www.power-yoga.cz, Czech only, as well as information on weekend seminars she does here and abroad. Prana Vashya Yoga is a type of yoga developed by yoga champion Vinay Kumar from India. In addition to a series of asanas, Prana Vashya focuses on spine enhancement and flexibility. For information on where to attend a Prana Vashya class, check www.pranayoga.cz.
Katrin Kohler (www.jogakatrinkohler.cz) offers classes in Hatha Yoga as well as pregnancy and post natal classes. Classes are held at the Family Learning Center Letna in Prague 7 and cost 220 CZK per unit, for a group of between 12 and 16 units. She offers private lessons and intensive workshops as well. Yoga Space (www.yogaspace.cz) in Prague 5 offers drop-in classes in Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa, Jivamutki Yoga and Pre-natal Yoga. Classes are capped at ten people, so they do recommend advance booking, and private lessons are also available. A 60-minute class costs 160 CZK and passes are available for multiple classes.
The Buddhist Lotus Center (www.centrumlotus.cz) also offers yoga classes, including Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Vinyasa and Iyengar; however you’ll most likely need to have good Czech language skills. A-Centrum (www.materstvi.cz) offers pregnancy yoga classes. If you are looking to heat up your workout try Bikram Yoga (www.bikramyoga.cz). Bikram is a series of 26 poses developed by Bikram Choudhury and done in a 105 degree Fahrenheit heated room. About half of Bikram Yoga’s classes are held in English, but as the series is the same every time, you’ll soon get the hang of it and can probably attend any class. One class is 350 CZK and there are special discount cards available.
While yoga classes and studios abound, there is a lack of Pilates studios in Prague. To learn more about this discipline, we spoke with Lucie Davidová, head of the Pilates program at More than Pilates (www.morethanpilates.cz.)
“Pilates is a form of exercise when the deep layers of muscles are involved,” she explains. “The body is learning how to stabilize itself in different positions and there is a whole new experience of own body awareness.”
Davidová says Pilates is useful for anyone looking to tone up, but if you have back or other muscle imbalances, or are active in sports, Pilates might be extra beneficial. We also asked her for some advice when shopping around for a Pilates class.
“Ask where the instructors got their certification. A good Pilates instructor is proud of his/her education and will be more than happy to tell you about it,” she recommends. “Also ask how long they have been working as an instructor and what kind of clientele they have experience with.”
Davidová emphasis starting any Pilates regime with a good instructor first. She says it’s essential to building a faster body-mind connection, and then you won’t have to undo any bad habits later. More than Pilates offers a ton of classes throughout the day, classes cost 600 CZK each, with discounts available for advance payment. Studio Namaste and YogaJoga also offer Pilates classes.
As for what to wear, both Angelucci and Davidová recommend loose, comfortable clothing that won’t restrict movement. Most studios will offer mats and other apparatus, but check first, some may have them available to rent only. For purchasing clothing and equipment, you can check out local sports stores for the basics or Angelucci recommends contacting Kamila at firstname.lastname@example.org and asking for a price list of equipment she sells.
As with all exercise programs, check with your doctor if you have any health concerns, and always inform the instructor before beginning a new class about any injuries or health issues. It’s also good to make contact with a studio or instructor before attending to make sure they feel comfortable communicating with you in your language. Namaste!