Living in Sweden, Stockholm, Yoga

Stories from the yoga path: a bumpy road

Really funny clip on yoga in Sweden :-)

Really funny clip on yoga in Sweden. Click the image to be cheered up!

Everything closes in Sweden over the summer. Everything, including yoga studios. I have managed to find and attend a handful of yoga classes over the last month, and all of them have left lasting impressions on me. Not always for the best reasons.

If the past couple of weeks have taught me one thing, it’s how incredibly lucky I have been to have such amazing teachers in London. Catherine Annis, Elisa Devlin, Louise Grime, Lizzie Reumont, Jen de Lucry, Tanja Mickwitz… The list of inspiring, kind, funny and outright fantastic teachers goes on and on. For some naïve reason I had assumed that this is what yoga teachers are – fantastic by default!

Of course, I didn’t connect with each and every one I have ever met on the mat, but chances of finding something that deeply resonated with me (be it a philosophical or physical aspect) were pretty high.

Let’s say Stockholm’s yoga experience has left me deeply underwhelmed. The first class I went to was taught by a lady that was a little patronising. Her tone of voice suggested she herself invented yoga and that we, her mentally and physically underprivileged little students, had only little hope of getting any of what she was talking about.

The next teacher was extremely keen on showing off his handstand skills in a class that consisted to 95% of elderly women with problems to stand on both feet for longer periods, let alone on their hands.

The third teacher felt somewhat inaccessible and was incapable of making eye contact with anyone of her students.

And the next one, although a really nice guy who had the hipster yogi style down to a tee (socket bun, slouchy harem pants, organic cotton t-shirt, friendship bracelet from some remote ashram in India), was deeply into Sivananda. I only found out during class that this involves holding your breath for several, very long seconds, which results in a slight dizziness. I am all for a different mental state in meditation, but I much prefer to get there without cutting off the oxygen supply.

Needless to say that my recent yoga practice was that of a self-centred one, on the second floor of my house, in the little room with the green flowered wallpaper.

I am trying (very, very hard) not to let frustration get to me, but to learn something from this whole episode. Maybe that it is important to remember to make yourself accessible. That a smile and a few words of encouragement go a long way. That you have to teach a class according to the physical capabilities of your students. And that I really don’t like holding my breath.

Thank you, NVG for the clip! 🙂 

9 Comments

  1. I want to say something more profound than ‘Keep your chin up!’, but nothing is coming to me. Perhaps this will lead you down a path towards your own studio or place where you can teach the yoga that’s true to you…?

  2. Kelleyn says

    Yes, maybe the lesson here is how you can be different and build your own amazing studio when you are ready. Strange that they are closed in summer.

  3. Julia says

    It must be true what they say- only idiots work during Swedish summer 🙂

  4. I’m glad you liked the ad!

    Keep looking. You will find one eventually that suits you, I’m sure. It’s funny though how yoga classes can be so diffrerent. I used to go to one in London (before the US) that was great, loved the teacher but he had a penchant for headstands, and I kept doing my shoulder in. The classes I tried in the US were not as fun….much more serious and lots of chanting.

  5. well it’s very nice that everything is on holidays for a month or two- but yes a shame you can’t go to yoga class as that’s a nice holiday/ rest activity in general (though for you obviously also work). I’m sure once you’ve trained you can open a really wonderful place and you might have some part time classes in the Summer 😉

  6. I was going to say exactly the same as Kelleyn. There’s an opportunity here for you when you’re ready. Missing you xx

  7. This comment is going to sound smug, but I don’t mean it that way.

    I went to yoga in the US, having never done it before. I went to the YMCA, so that was the equivalent of the local Council Sports and Leisure Centre in the UK – subsidised classes, open to all, pretty basic standard. I loved it. I did have regular favourite teachers, but I went to various classes as and when. Usually there was soft music in the background, and although some of the yoga teachers taught poses, the ones I really liked were the ones who took you through an hour-long all-body stretch out. I remember lying on my back, one foot raised, and being told to “draw nice little ankle circles in the air”. It was very gentle (though perhaps I didn’t push myself enough!), and I came out feeling loosened up, and as if all my body had been stretched out just a little.

    When I came to Scotland, I tried out 4 classes, and I didn’t like them because they were all about the poses. I couldn’t do the poses, it felt like the class was only focusing on certain muscles, and I came away without that all-over stretched feeling. It certainly wasn’t relaxing. I really missed my US yoga experience! I found one class which I didn’t like, but which fitted in to my work/life schedule, and so I just stuck with it (I’d given up the search for any class equivalent to my ankle-circle US one, by this time). I really didn’t like it, and I’m not sure why I kept going .

    End of the story is that I have come to love my new-found class. It’s Iyengar yoga, and it’s giving me a core strength and flexibility that I love. I can see how it might not feel as if all my body is being used, but most of it is. I went up from once a week to twice a week last term.

    So my conclusion is… sometimes doing something that wouldn’t be your first choice is worth persevering with, because you might find new things if you go off in a new direction. I don’t know how this relates to your situation – and of course it won’t always be true. There were three other yoga classes that I tried and didn’t persevere with, so I guess there must have been something about this Iyengar yoga and the individual teacher that I wanted to stick with.

    I think it takes a while to replace things (and people) that you have left behind, and when you do replace them, it’s not with something that is the same, but something that is different but still ok.

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