Barcelona embraces health and wellbeing trends quicker than any other Spanish city. Yoga, in its many interpretations, is in full flow in the Catalan capital, with drop-in options at all hours of the long Spanish day. Even in the winter months, if it’s a cloud-free day you might well see groups of yogis either on the beach or adjacent patches of grass. Here are three varied indoor-yoga options (just in case the season-changing storms should encroach), which will help you slow down your pace:
A 90-minute body detox
Bikram yoga crescent and foot arch practice
The hottest option in all senses of the word has to be Bikram. This 90-minute standardised routine performed in a warm room (though the door is opened half-way through and fresh air ushered in) will leave you as relaxed as a mound of jelly. Expect 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, all clearly communicated in English or Spanish (see online timetable) in the helpful guiding presence of mirrored walls. With showers on site, mats and towels for rent, and a very friendly bunch of attentive teachers, you’re sure to leave with a positive vibe.
Make sure you drink a big bottle of water beforehand and go armed with one more for the class; Bikram is not for the faint-hearted but the benefits are palpable in terms of immediate relaxation and next-day muscle awakening. Located in Pau Claris and Sarrià (further up town), both are equally as splendid, though if you go to Pau Claris you’re conveniently behind Passeig de Gràcia’s shops and bistros. Both venues do a newcomer offer - a 10 consecutive-day pass for 25 euros, with one-off sessions thereafter at €20. An unlimited month is €108 should you want to go full-throttle. www.bikramyoga.es
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Gliding around in Gràcia
On Calle Verdi, one of the must-visit streets in the smart but hippy up-town district of Gràcia, is a gem of a yoga venue: Yoga&Yoga Barcelona. Classes are in English and my personal favourite will see you start the week in the right rhythm: Night Vinyassa on a Monday at 8.15pm. The soft and slow night-time practice emphasises long, deep breathing alongside meditation. There is a guided relaxation for deep sleep too, aka nidra yoga. Considering the state of total tranquillity this class will leave you in, let’s hope you don’t have too far to go to tumble into bed.
A range of classes are held Monday to Friday, 10am to 8.15pm. Try your first class for €5 and enjoy drop-ins thereon for €12. If you connect well with the folk here, they also hold workshops in July, in a beautiful part of Mallorca. www.yoga-yogabcn.com
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Just off the Rambla de Poblenou - a bustling pathway to the beach - you’ll find the lovely Katy and Shahar, offering wonderfully gentle classes in Hatha Vinyasa and Yin yoga styles. The latter comes particularly recommended and, if you can put the beer and tapas off until later, there seems no more appropriate time for de-stressing than at the Friday night class, from 7.30 to 9pm.
Yin Yoga is one of yoga’s more calming variants and works on connective tissues; the stretches feel different to dynamic yoga and whilst they might strike as challengingly slow at first, the calming after-effect really is noticeable. Katymandu's timetable extends from Monday and Friday, 8am to 8.15pm, and there is a perfectly timed midday class on Saturday too. A drop-in class costs €12 and an initial 2-week, 3-class sampler pack €15. www.katymandu.wordpress.com
Try out a special Yin Yoga class flecked with Bija Mantras on Saturday 20 February at The Garage by Veronica Blume, a bit further uptown in Poble Sec. The Garage is another great space for Yoga classes in the city, well worth sampling in its own right: www.thegarageblume.com