Yoga in Kyiv is confusing and disorderly

Posted: July 31, 2014 at 4:52 pm


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Even before approaching the door, the sound of deep, controlled breaths echoes from within the room. Once inside, the strong smell of incense and body heat emanates as sweaty men and women practice yoga postures side by side. Mats are lined in two rows facing each other. Everyone on them twists, turns and lifts their bodies into carefully balanced headstands.

This scene from the Kiev Yoga Studio is only one of many interpretations of what it means to yoke the spirit and physical body together in Kyiv. Yoga studio websites promote countless variations: yogalates, yoga flow, hanging yoga, yoga relax, partner yoga or simply stretching.

But potential adherents of the exercise will struggle to find their way through Kyivs confusing yoga scene. This comes from the absence of order and unity. Unlike their Western counterparts, Ukrainian yoga schools have yet to agree on universal teaching criteria. In the U.S., the Yoga Alliance fulfills this role with an established set of criteria necessary to acquire teaching credentials. In Ukraine, things are much more chaotic with most studios hiring based on displayed skill or no criteria at all.

But as yoga grows in popularity, the need arises for a local yoga system. To make it easier for newcomers, yoga in the nations capital can be divided into two groups: fitness studio yoga and immersive yoga.

Its very hard these days to find a fitness studio that would not offer yoga as an option, says Anna Rozgulyayeva, head of recruitment at Alpiyskiy fitness club.

However, sometimes fitness clubs mix yoga with pilates, a set of exercises developed in the mid-20thcentury. The clubs advertise yoga as a way to stay in shape while relieving stress.

An immersive approach means a studio exclusively teaches yoga. There are some 30 immersive yoga studios in Kyiv. These either specialize in yoga or offer additional services such as the martial art of Tai Chi or Qigong exercises that share much with the yogic philosophy. But even the strictly yoga studios usually offer a rich variety of yoga types.

We do not, after all, walk around wearing the same clothes. Everyone has individual needs and we try to meet those needs, explains Elena Vladykina, administrator of the Be Happy yoga center. But which ones offer the real deal, and who are the pretenders? Ukrainian Yoga Federation president Andriy Safronov says this is not the case. There are no good or bad types of yoga, he explains. If we take away the religious and esoteric aspect of yoga, (it) can be simply defined as the art of improving oneself. If a person is going to a studio to work out instead of sitting at home and drinking beer, in a sense that is yoga already.

Still, the teaching is questionable in both fitness and immersive yoga.

Yulia Zenchenko, an instructor with five years of experience who teaches at the Ukrainian Federation of Yoga, says the group is very strict with instructors. The federation demands that each of their instructors have at least two higher-education degrees and have an advanced understanding of the physical body. But an average instructor in a fitness studio can get away with a one-month crash course, according to Zenchenko.

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Yoga in Kyiv is confusing and disorderly

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Written by simmons |

July 31st, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Yoga,Yoga Exercises