One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to seek out yoga studios in the area. Back in May 2009, when I traveled to Buenos Aires with a friend, I looked up yoga studios in the neighborhood where we were staying. I decided that I would try Uni Yoga in Recoleta. I looked at the map and set off in my yoga clothes, ready for some stretching and relaxation. Thirty minutes later, I found myself sweating and speed-walking, with my nose full of exhaust from all of the cars and buses on the busy city streets.
When I finally arrived at the studio (situated in the same pristine alley as our favorite tango shoe store, Comme il Faut!), I had already missed the start of the first class. The instructor at the front desk, who spoke broken English, informed me that I would need to fill out a lot of paperwork before I could take a class there anyway. Huh? What kind of yoga was this, I wondered. “Es diferente,” she told me. Boy, was she right.
When I came back a few days later, paperwork in hand, I turned out to be the only student in the class. I had never heard of the DeRose Method of yoga let alone practiced it, and so I was very surprised when the instructor told me in Spanish to “simplemente haz lo que yo hago” (just do what I do). That’s easy enough, right? Wrong. The instructor, a very thin and friendly woman in her 20’s, put on Madonna’s Ray of Light album and proceeded to…dance. As I stood there watching her, she motioned for me to do everything she was doing. There would be no holding downward dog pose in this class. Instead, we performed an impromptu dance that incorporated one pose (warrior III, for example) into another (crane pose). And everything had to keep up with the rhythm of the music.
The DeRose Method, otherwise known as SwáSthya Yoga, is primarily practiced in Brazil, Argentina and Portugal.
A typical SwáSthya Yôga class lasts approximately one hour and includes all eight areas of technique. Classes incorporate music and choreography, but are more serious than pre-yoga. Abraham explains that while SwáSthya has a strong physical component, it is meant to be an exercise in self-discovery and much of the class is done with eyes closed. (source: suite101.com).
Well, I did not keep my eyes closed. But an hour later, I was fascinated by the fact that an hour-long improvisational dance could feel so restorative and energizing. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into before I took the class but I’m glad I didn’t. I was totally out of my element and it felt great.