Yaga // Yoga
A Yoga Trek around Taipei
By Sandy Huen
Open the door, and hear the echoes of laughter reverberate into the hall. The girls working on their laptops cross-legged on the floor must be reception. And the jolly man on the sun-drenched window seat…a customer, or the owner? The space is intimate, and the people look like they’re having a great time together. I almost feel sorry to disrupt them.
A girl rises and smiles as I enter. “You must be Sandy! Welcome,” she beams.
Such is the welcome you might receive upon entering any of the boutique yoga studios of Taipei. You won’t find classrooms to fit 60 here. Nor will you find rows of lockers and showers. And the owner of the studio might really be that jolly man pouring you a cup of lemon tea. I feel as if I’ve stumbled across an oasis in the desert.
Boutique yoga studios have much to offer their clients: personalized service, small class sizes and individual attention. While the large yoga and fitness corporations attempt to satisfy all sorts of fitness goals, boutique studios stay true to their philosophies, whether it be relaxation, meditation or just a place to exercise while having fun.
Not all boutique yoga studios can be labelled “luxury”—some are equipped with a single shower to service its entire clientele or mats that are a little ragged around the edges. All the same, I strongly encourage you to explore Taipei’s small-budget neighbourhood studio. These are places where atmosphere and service convince me that boutique yoga will flourish even beneath the dominance of the large fitness corporation. Schedule yourself a trial class and find a place that fits your yoga style and needs.
Drop-in class – NT$600 after free first trial, but price varies monthly
Perched on the thirteenth floor of the DaAn MRT building, Grace Yoga offers beautiful views of the city in a quiet, thoughtful space. It is by far the smallest yoga studio I have ever seen—a moveable wall separates the studio space from the lounge. Each class is capped at 12 students, and there is barely enough space in the change room for even that. However, this studio is sunny, modern, and beautifully designed. It is run by a husband and wife team who gave up successful careers in Shanghai to have their first child, a two-year old toddler from whom the studio takes its name. Their passion for yoga is evidenced all around—the books in their modest library, the discussions among the staff and clients and the warm community you become a part of when you walk through the door. Grace Yoga is a glowing example of boutique yoga in Taipei, and one of the best places to start your journey.
Drop-in class – NT$500 or NT$700 for your first two trial classes
Walking into Be Yoga is like going back in time. You are a kid again, safe, protected and loved. The studio vibrates with bright colors and playful décor, like chalkboard walls and oversized couches, and features a spacious patio. The studio philosophy is as open-minded as its design—the class schedule includes hula (夏威夷舞), Tahitian dance (大溪地草裙舞) and a form of Taichi called Taichi-Downing (太極導引). During my class, I was lucky enough to receive something like a spa treatment; the teacher gave each student a gentle temple massage with scented oils during the final posture, shavasana (大休息). The Be Yoga experience is personal, giving and wholly enjoyable.
Drop-in class – NT$600 or NT$500 for your first two trial classes
Nestled in a labyrinth of residential alleys, the Zuoyoga studio is a hidden gem. It’s been in operation for three years, but is so well-designed and maintained that it could’ve opened just yesterday. The first floor studio feels edgy and modern, with whitewashed brick walls and bright splashes of blue. It is a place so refreshing that you won’t even notice the two classrooms are serviced only by thin rectangles of windows, or that neither sports the floor-to-ceiling mirrors that so often adorn studio walls. The teaching schedule doesn’t differentiate between types of yoga—all teachers at this studio teach Hatha, but with their own interpretation. After all classes, a simple snack of tea and biscuits are served.
Drop-in class – NT$500; for new students, three classes for NT$499
In its eight-year history, Yoga Samundar has gone through a change of owners and names. Its single yoga classroom boasts windows on all three walls, and enough equipment to support its wide variety of classes, like Yogalates (瑜伽提斯) and a cardiovascular-focused class called Aero Ballet (芭蕾有氣). While the classroom is warm and inviting, the showers, change rooms and bathroom area unfortunately show the studio’s age. The best part of my visit was the teachers. Honest and frank, they admitted to teaching only yoga’s physical aspect, the asanas, as they feel unqualified to fully guide a yogi’s spiritual journey. Yoga Samundar is a place that resonates with humility, dedication and learning. If you don’t have time for a class, be sure to drop by for a cup of tea and a nice chat.
Yaga // Yoga
Drop-in class – NT$300 for your first class, and NT$400 thereafter
Website - http://www.yaga-yoga.com.tw/Yaga_Yoga_Studio/shou_ye.html
“This is how it all starts,” is my first thought when I walk into Yaga // Yoga. A private home outfitted with professional-quality studio lights, mats and flooring, Yaga // Yoga attracts clients through word-of-mouth and only the minimum of advertising. Despite its small-scale operations, all the building blocks of luxury yoga are here: towel service, complimentary tea and a simple studio design featuring a bay window sheltered by trees. Classes are so small and personal that the teacher knows your name and classmates offer you a ride back home. This is a place where you’re at once laughing with the class at your failed efforts to twist, and then deeply meditative. With plans to open a larger, more public studio and offering the sale of Eslite products in studio, Yaga // Yoga will take place its place among the best in the boutique yoga scene.
6, XinYi Rd, Sec 4, 13F-5, Daan District
15, Lane 219, FuXing S Rd, Sec 1
12, Lane 122, DaAn Rd, Sec 2
11, Lane 105, ZhongShan N Rd, Sec 1
Yaga // Yoga
353, FuJing St, 3F