Fitness review: Hatha Radja Yoga at The Yoga School
The lowdown: The Yoga School has recently opened its doors on Chulia Street, quickly becoming the go-to yoga destination for office girls and avid yogis in a city already full of studios. When asked why another yoga studio, The Yoga School founder, Dawn Chan, said that she wanted to "create a space for beginners and seasoned practitioners alike to come together to explore yoga and learn from each other."
Their "sanctuary in the sky" concept is brilliant. Instead of your run-of-the-mill yoga studio, this boutique studio is bathed in wood and pastel shades, and looks more like a luxurious spa. The beautiful, minimalist interiors are immediately calming, and invites yogis to reflect on their practice and themselves.
In an attempt to change our preconceived perceptions and experiences with yoga — cue: the Bikram Hot Yoga hype — the folks over at The Yoga School see this multi-sensorial ancient practice as a means to get touch with your body, mind and soul with no religious strings attached to it. Aimed at rejuvenating your entire being, their classes incorporate the other ashtangas (aspects) of yoga such as mindfulness, meditation and breathing practices as well.
The class started with a guided meditation by former MTV Asia VJ Nadya Hutagalung and slowly progressed into a Hatha flow by in-house yoga instructor Peggy Santosa. Hutagalung says meditation is a practice she uses to find her inner centre and balance when things in life get too hectic.
What I loved about the class: As it was a Hatha Radja Flow class, the session incorporated elements of the sun salutations, a series of 12 yoga postures strung into a flow sequence. My favourite part of the class was being able to perform the Hatha flow dance as the sun set against the spectacular skyline of Singapore's historical and financial districts — you're definitely in for a treat during these sunset sessions.
Their sessions are catered to everyone from beginners to yoga instructors like myself. Santosa's clear and succint instructions mean you can easily keep your eyes closed throughout the entire session and still be on track with the rest. The provision of yoga blocks are useful for newbies who need extra effort in getting into certain postures, while seasoned yogis are encouraged to explore a variation of postures while waiting for the rest of the class. I really enjoyed the flexibility of it all — being able to listen to your body and work within your means is essentially what yoga is all about.
What to bring: Your most comfortable workout gear, as the Hatha Radja Yoga session is a gentle practice with core tightening postures. Leave your towels, blocks and toiletries at home as The Yoga School has it covered (the bathroom products from Aromatherapy Associates are divine).
Good to know: Beginners can practise meditation at home, too. Hutagalung recommends sitting up in bed in the morning and putting a pillow under your bum, before drawing your attention your breath. "Breathe in and breathe out and count that out breath as one breath. Try to count to 20 or 21 and when you lose count or your mind starts to wander, don't get frustrated or upset with yourself. Simply bring your mind back to your breath and start again. It is harder than it sounds at first, but over time, you will realise that you can count further and further without getting distracted. This is a wonderful, approachable way to start a practice of mindfulness."