For those of you anxiously awaiting a follow-up to my search for a yoga class in the labyrinth of Patan streets, I apologize for keeping you in suspense. The South Asia director from Kiva HQ arrived yesterday for his first visit to Nepal, so I have been rather busy. You all will be happy to know, though, that I successfully found the class -- this time relying on the much more effective Nepali system of directions by landmark, which involved the following:
Take a left at pedestrian bridge. Pass Suzuki dealership. Pass Soma Cafe. Take first right after Soma Cafe. Go straight and see Own Cafe (N.B. not "Om" Cafe, as I thought). Turn left at statue, but make sure not to take the left that goes at an angle. Pass painting advertisement on wall. See small grocery shop on right. Across from shop is a set of blue metal gates. Knock on door. If you see several bikes in a courtyard, you know you are in the right place.
Those great directions were far better than Google mapping technology, as they led me to the yoga class with time to spare.
Now for the yoga class. It was great! The teacher is from California and has been working in Nepal since October for an international legal organization. As a certified teacher, she enjoys sharing her practice with other people and generously does not charge any fee for her classes, which are long and challenging (this one ran over two hours!). She teaches a hybrid of Ashtanga and Iyengar styles but emphasizes Iyengar. This class was my first exposure to Iyengar, which focuses more on alignment and long holds of poses than flowing Ashtanga. It was hard, and it was good.
Her class sizes vary from day to day. On Tuesday there were nine of us, and we fit perfectly in her sunken living room, which she cleared out to make room for yoga mats, candles, and two gas heaters. I love yoga in a heated room, and these days any source of indoor heat is a rare treat, so I plunked myself right next to something just like this:
(This is a photo of the gas heater currently sitting in the ground-floor living room of our house, but sadly there is no propane tank hooked up to it, so it functions as a taunting decoration).
The room was delightfully warm, and I could have happily slept on the floor there all night after class concluded with savasana.
My fellow students were a varied bunch of different ages and nationalities. Remember Rupesh, the instructor from my first yoga class in Nepal? He was there too, trying out a Western style yoga practice for the first time.
All in all, it was a great experience. Next time, though, I must remember to bring a flashlight for the trip home. Landmark directions are not much help in the pitch dark when the power is out.