A lot of holy water has flowed down the Ganges since John Lennon meditated at the ashram in his flowing white robes. Yet while some still like to poke fun at the idea of choosing to tie oneself in knots, yoga is now firmly part of the mainstream. Naysayers are invariably won over as soon as they try this ancient practice for themselves and are left marvelling at how vital and relaxed they feel afterwards. Maybe that’s the key to why yoga has developed into a mass phenomenon – after all, relaxation is big business. Celebrities across the globe keep their Instagram followers hooked with minute-by-minute updates on the latest advanced asanas (postures) they have successfully mastered. “Namasteeee, baaaaaby!” has become something of a catchphrase among leading YouTubers. World Yoga Day sees hundreds of thousands of people lay out their mats in the megacities of the world, share in a collective sun salutation and nurture a taste for vegan clothes and lifestyle tips. And Bikram Choudhury braved a hostile reception to take the lucrative step of patenting his asanas.
Yoga exists in a wide variety of forms, with sivananda, aerial, ashtanga, kundalini, yin yoga, yogilates, vinyasa or hatha just a handful of examples. It would be easy to get lost in the dizzying maze of options were it not for experts like Claudia Jochum, who help us strip away the commercial sheen and get in touch with what yoga is really about. Bregenzerwald and yoga may seem worlds apart, yet they are a match made in heaven. From the Oase in Bersbuch and the Yoga Studio in Egg to the Hotel Post in Bezau and Claudia’s courses in Andelsbuch, yoga classes here are typically infused with the sight of lush green nature. The idea of offering yoga at the swimming pool in Schwarzenberg came to Claudia at the end of one of her courses. “What are we going to do in summer?” her class asked. “We don’t want to go without yoga for two whole months!” Having originally started out as a kindergarten teacher, the Dornbirn native attended her first yoga class in 1992 and quickly knew she couldn’t do without it. Having lived in Germany and Boston, where she gave birth to two children, she ultimately moved to Schwarzenberg – and yoga remained a key part of her life at every stop along the way.