In the months leading up to February 2007, India’s yoga wars (each of the numerous schools/forms claiming to be the best) reached a peak. The word yoga suddenly acquired new suffixes beyond “power” and “Ramdev”; yoga accessories became cool; and, Bikram Choudhury (the flamboyant founder of “Hot Yoga”, widely popular in the US) turned his attention to India. An Indian discipline, thousands of years old, seemed to be India’s hottest import from the West.
Yoga class conducted in the studio Yoga Sutra.
In Lounge’s inaugural issue, we gave you a detailed guide of the choices available and how to choose the school and the guru. Since then, yoga has been a part of this reviewer’s life: three days of Iyengar Yoga every week. On 7 July, when Yoga Sutra opened at Chenoy Mansion, Warden Road, I had to go take a class.
The class was called Yoga Abs. We twisted, pulled in and pushed out our abdomens with poses ranging from Baba Ramdev’s Kapalbhati to Iyengar’s Swanasana (dog pose), and came away feeling all tucked in.
Yoga Sutra has a menu of 15 different kinds of yoga—most of them improvised and jazzed up. There are eight classes every day. Some of them are: General Hatha (basic asanas of the Hatha form, on which both Ashtanga and Iyengar Yoga are based); Vinyasa (a speciality of instructor Samanta Duggal, which combines asanas and Surya Namaskar poses with dance to create a fluid, sweat-inducing form); and Yoga Bunnies (a playful, creative session for children, introducing them to basic poses).
The good stuff
Yoga Sutra aims to make yoga dynamic and fun, and it does. For those who already practise, these classes can be a good way to complement their routine. Many of the sessions seem geared towards weight loss, which can never be bad.
The best part about Yoga Sutra, though, is its flexible schedule. Most institutes in Mumbai have fixed timings. At Yoga Sutra, you can drop by for a session any time during the day. Even one-off classes are available; you can pay on the spot. The interiors are hygienic, well maintained and equipped with props and mats.
The variety is bound to baffle anyone. Most classes are experimental, and won’t give you any knowledge of the basics. For example, it is quite impossible to understand Vinyasa without knowing what Surya Namaskar or Hatha yoga is. Purists are bound to snigger. My instructor, who has been trying to make me master exactly seven poses for the last one year, was horrified.
A package of 24 classes in three months costs Rs8,400. One session costs Rs450; and a package of 12 sessions in two months for children costs Rs3,600.