Thursday, October 10, 2013

Asha Shala - A Yoga Oasis in Guatemala City

Yoga in the middle of the most dangerous city in Guatemala? Priceless.

Hidden behind a solid black metal gate and guarded by a very happy and seemingly well-centered private security guard is Asha Shala, a sweet little breath of fresh air in a hazy metropolis. Not only does the Shala have a small, peaceful yoga studio with skylights, a bamboo floor, and a big sliding glass door looking out into a green backyard, there is a juice bar and veggie/vegan cafe, a yoga supplies store, and a wellness center with health practitioners offering "acupuntura, medicina china, chiropráctico, Reiki, y Flores de Bach."

During my chaotic first week in Guatemala, 3 different friends recommended this little jewel so it was only a matter of time before I tried out a yoga class -- in Spanish. I was able to follow along pretty well, peeking at the instructor and other students to make sure I was on the correct foot while delighting in the Spanish translations of the poses:

Down Dog: Perro Boca Abajo
Mountain Pose: La Monta├▒a
Cobra: La Cobra
Crow Pose: El Pavo Real  (the royal turkey? the real turkey? okay then...)

At the beginning of my second class my very lovely instructor asked me something in rapid-fire Spanish before my brain was warmed up. Her eyes were peaceful and expectant as I tilted my head and asked her to repeat it. A bit more slowly she asked me to select an intention and speak it so the class could repeat it. Deer in the headlights: "aaaaaahhhhhh, luz!" (which means "light", wow, how deep) Nice work me, I guess it sounded zen enough that she seemed happy to repeat it.

Looking to soak up some more good energy, I like to lounge in the juice bar after class sipping on a smoothie. The Asha Green Cafe has 15 jugos and smoothies on their menu with adorable names like, "I Am Cleansed" and "I Am Bliss" for Q25-Q30 ($3-$4). I'll let you know my favorite smoothie in a few weeks.

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