Yoga bare

Want to learn how to stand on your head? Maybe your shoulders? No, not for a party trick, but to improve both your physical health and that of your mind as well?

American Justin Herold has been teaching Iyengar yoga around the traps in Bangok since 1992, but last October became more accessible to everyone when he opened his own Iyengar studio on Sukhumvit Soi 55.

Iyengar yoga was pioneered by BKS Iyengar whose work is a reflection of the Yoga Sutras, written by Sage Patanjali around two and a half thousand years ago. It’s different from generic hatha yoga in a number of ways, but most obviously to the beginner by its use of props such as walls, ropes, blocks, belts, bolsters, blankets and chairs.

Justin himself came to yoga when he was in college running around 60 miles a week. “The warm-up for running at that time was to run the first mile slow,” he recalls. He sustained minor injuries, so when the benefits of stretching were made known he tried a yoga class. “I figured the yogis were the ones who knew the most about stretching. The more classes I took, the more I just kind of got drawn into it. And eventually I realised that it offered to me what I was looking for in my running: it was a way to maintain my health.”

Eventually he took a teacher training course in Los Angeles and taught at the Iyengar yoga school there for three years before finding himself in Bangkok. He’s also studied at the Iyengar Institute in Pune, India. “I have the blessings of Iyengar for teaching here. He likes the fact that I’m here, putting out his message in this region.”

His current following consists of both Thais and expats, but about 95 per cent of his students are women. “Some men probably look at it as more of a woman’s thing, because a lot of women like it,” he says. “But some come and they find out how difficult it can be, and they’re threatened by the competition.”

But convincing you to try yoga in words is not really possible. As Iyengar himself once said: “Words fail to convey the total value of yoga. It has to be experienced.”

The Iyengar Yoga studio has classes every day except Fridays. Call Justin on 714 9924 for further details.

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