Time Out Rio de Janeiro

Rio's 10 best yoga classes

To most, yoga can either be a gateway to invigoration or a strange and distant land, so Time Out Rio uncovers the ten best courses and teachers in the city to help get to grips with the discipline.

The ancient Indian discipline of yoga has been adopted, adapted and advocated the world over. Given its origins it may seem ironic that it is increasingly used as a tool with which to battle the stresses of modern-day life, but its varying strains make it easy to concentrate on just the mental or physical aspects, depending on personal needs. Arriving in Rio in the 1960s, it may have fallen slightly out of fashion here since its peak in the '90s, but that is only to the users' ultimate benefit. As part-timers and under-qualified teachers make way for a new breed of boutique classes and dedicated centres, Time Out Rio picks ten of the best in the city for all levels and requirements.

Academia Hermógenes

Hatha. Centro

With half a century of yoga instruction under its belt, Hermógenes is the original Rio yoga master. Classes are separated into male and female to ensure maximum concentration, and are available for beginners, experts and seniors alike. Meditation is also offered by the team of four instructors including Hermógenes grandson who now runs the centre and is planning a new centre in Barra da Tijuca.

KAJ Yoga

Hatha and Ashtanga. Santa Teresa and Ipanema

The woman behind KAJ, Kimberley Ann Johnson, has travelled the world teaching yoga. From New York to Malaysia, the Californian has picked up and left behind experience and ideas, all of which she now brings to her boutique classes in Santa Teresa. Pre- and post-partum yoga is a speciality, helping new mothers with stretches, relaxation and posture.

Espaço Nirvana

Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Iyengar and Manipura. Gávea

The Jockey Club may not be the obvious place to look for a dose of zen-like calm, but Nirvana is the original Rio spa. Now with over 120 classes a week it might sound more like a production line of inner calm, but it is big enough and the layout sufficiently considered to never feel too busy. 

Blyss Yoga

Hatha and Ashtanga. Ipanema

One of the better-established centres in Rio, the sheer breadth of classes and teachers help Blyss adhere to their policy that 'everyone can do yoga'. Run by Coaracy Nunes, he holds classes for beginners and would-be teachers alike, as well as occasional sessions in suitable spots around the city, from Ipanema beach to Parque Lage. Classes run Mondays to Saturdays but it is always best to check the current schedule on their website.

DeRose Leblon

SwáSthya. Leblon

Opened in 2001 by Professor Vanessa de Holanda, the beautiful penthouse space in Rua Dias Fereira was created for yoga using the DeRose Method. A Brazilian master, DeRose championed yoga as a way of life, impacting on everything from practitioners' human relations to how they eat, and has sold over one million books worldwide. In addition to the classes, the space hosts lectures, workshops and book launches.

Kiu Mars

Vinyasa and Ashtanga. Santa Teresa and Ipanema

Englishman Kiu Mars finally made the move to Brazil after first visiting twelve years ago, using the interim to travel to Southeast Asia and learn how to teach yoga in India. Hosting classes at the pretty CasAlegre guesthouse in Santa Teresa as well as the more conventional surrounds of Blyss, he also takes individual classes by appointment.

DeRose Lagoa

SwáSthya. Lagoa

The monthly meeting of DeRose followers by the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas could hardly be in a more inspiring location. Weather dependent, the area by the swan pedalos and Catacumba park fills with yoga mats and their owners, providing more than just a yoga class, but a focus of the method's practitioners throughout the state.

Iyengar Centre

Iyengar. Humaitá

The city's only centre dedicated to Iyengar, this house on a quiet Botafogo back street has a long, thin hall that fills with enthusiasts of the strict and physically demanding form of the discipline. Difficult postures are achieved with the help of outside materials in the search of the oerfect pose and the space offers special workshops and training courses for teachers.

Shiva Studio

Hatha, Ashtanga and Kundalini. Laranjeiras

As well as classes in conventional yoga practices, the green and relaxing Shiva offers hot stone, Ayurvedic and Hawaiian therapies and training courses. Director Sheila Quintaneiro also has a spa in Búzios so is only in Rio on Mondays and Fridays, but her team takes over in her absence, the spa hosting everything from acupuncture to yogalates.

Ananda Yoga

Hatha and Iyengar. Copacabana

The Ananda centre covers several strains of yoga as well as classes in meditation, acupuncture and Reiki from its spacious home on the thundering Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana. The high street may feel a world away once inside, but to escape the city entirely, Ananda hosts annual meetings outside of Rio so that students can practice and relax in the middle of nature.

Words by Time Out Rio de Janeiro editors

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