Is there anything better than yoga while on holidays? Seriously? Worries of home and work have long melted away and you can completely focus on your body, your breath and your practice. Taking your yoga practice with you is an amazing opportunity to broaden your range of yoga, try new styles and experience new teachers.
It is also a fantastic chance to try yoga in exotic locations and some amazing scenery. Practising in beautiful surroundings can intensify and deepen your practice. I've practised yoga all over the world, from a rooftop overlooking the Himalayas with crisp mountain air filling my lungs with every vinyasa, to sunset sessions in the middle of the Syrian desert.
Yoga is now well and truly a global phenomenon. Everywhere you travel, yoga classes can be found. Yet there is also an incredible variation in the quality of teachers and studios. Some countries don't have quite as strict an accreditation process as we have here in the west. I remember a class I took in the Bolivian Altiplano which was nothing I have ever know to resemble yoga. It left me with some intense neck pain for weeks after.
So how can you protect yourself and ensure the quality and safety of your yoga practice continues while on your global wanderings? Well after my experience, I developed some guidelines in yoga quality control which I now stick by when travelling.
1. Ask about qualifications
Approach the topic conversationally, without seeming interrogatory. Ask instructors where they did their training and for how long they have been teaching? Ask if they are registered with any organisations. Yoga Alliance International is a good organisation for yoga teachers to be a part of, but by no means the only one. If you are unsure, a little online research can go a long way.
2. Survey the class setup
I am not saying that you should expect a western style luxury studio with a water features and brand new sound system, but the setup of a class can reflect the experience of a teacher. Has the class been setup in a way that all people can see the teacher? Is the teacher able to move around the class, observing and adjusting all students? The class setup can give away a lot about the quality and experience of the teacher.
3. Get a recommendation
Word of mouth is an excellent way to find a good yoga teacher. Ask at fellow travellers at your local hostel, restaurants and bars if they know of any places. You can also check online for recommendations, like here at www.yogatraveltree.com which has a search tool to find recommended yoga classes in an lost every major city in the world!
4. See if they ask the right questions
A yoga teacher should always ask if you have practised yoga before and whether or not you have any injuries. If they don't do this, it could well be an indication of some quality control issues, especially if you do have a chat to them before class and tell them that you haven't been to this particular studio before. Use this as a good warning sign.
5. Trust your intuition
If the place doesn't feel right or you don't get a good vibe from the instructor, don't do it. There are always other classes or you could work on your self-practice. It's not worth the risk to potentially harming your body. You want a practice you have confidence in!
Happy yogi globetrekking!