The more popular yoga gets in the western world, the more controversial the discussions surrounding it become. For some it’s a hip way to get fit, for others it’s just gymnastics disguised in a fashionable way. But in fact it is a great way to train your mind and body for all the challenges life puts you through, and there are so many different yoga styles that everybody can find the perfect one for them.
A good way to check some of them out is at the Yoga Conference that was held for the 6th time this year. For one weekend, different schools, teachers and enthusiast from all over Europe came together in Cologne to meet, share and practice together.
With 16 different lessons on each of the two whole days, there are a lot opportunities to check different styles, get a chance to talk to your favourite teacher, listen to theoretical speeches, try out completely new stuff and chat with other yogis from your area or the other end of the continent.
It is a chance to discover the wide variety that yoga has to offer. You could sit snugly amongst the audience of Patrick Broome, German ambassador of the dynamic and modern Jivamukti Yoga, who is dressed in boardshorts and hoodie, as he shares his personal experiences in a speech about the philosophy of yoga. Meanwhile next door you could take a Kundalini Yoga class with Gurmukh, dressed completely in white with a turban and lace veil, and stay in each asana posture for several minutes without moving an inch.
You had a chance to meet one of the originators and “wild child" of the yoga movement in the west, Bryan Kest from L. A. and join him for one of his famous and incredibly popular Power Yoga classes during which it’s hard to decide whether you start crying because of his hilarious comments or because all you can feel anymore is your burning muscles. But you could also have a totally unique experience and do something you have never done before at the Acro Yoga class of Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein, whose blend of yoga, thai massage and acrobatics literally and metaphorically send you flying.
And for those interested in delving even deeper, there are also speeches about Ayurveda by Rod Stryker, the therapeutic side of yoga and teacher trainings.
The only downside is the rather expensive entry fee, not far off the cost of a small holiday for some of us. But on the other hand you can easily claim that a weekend full of yoga, positive energy and enlightening experiences is like a little holiday for mind and body. And doing yoga in a conference room overlooking the dome of Cologne has a priceless flair of it’s own.