Seb Higginson

It was with some trepidation that my companion and I arrived at the Chatrium Lake Royal Hotel for the first yoga session of my life. What if I couldn’t even touch my toes? What if my legs stretched but my shorts did not? What if it involved feats of agility that left me paralysed on the sofa for the rest of the day? One hour later I left, elated, having stretched and trained muscles that I didn’t even know I had. It turns out yoga has that effect; it’s a way to instantly feel better than you did before.

Chatrium has been offering weekend intermediate-level yoga classes since the 1st of May under the expert tutelage of Chie Yamanji, a Japanese expatriate of ten years. Her yoga career has led her through various parts of Europe, the Caribbean and Asia, before finally in Yangon. She has been teaching professionally for 6 years, having been taught by noted teachers John Friend in Tokyo and David Williams in Mallorca amongst others. Chie teaches Ashtanga, Anusara and Iyanger styles, all of which belong to the broader Hatha yoga discipline. She is welcoming, patient and most importantly a great teacher, keen to pass on her knowledge and love of the sport.

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Classes at Chatrium differ from many other classes in Yangon in a couple of ways. Firstly, the sessions are usually held outside, next to Chatrium’s picturesque outdoor pool. Feeling the early morning breeze rushing through the trees and over your skin adds an extra-sensory dimension to the flowing actions of the yoga moves. As we are moving into monsoon season, however, Chatrium has well-equipped indoor spaces available if the weather takes a turn for the worst.

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Classes are small, usually between 4-10 people, which gives Chie plenty of time to assist you in correcting and improving your poses to get the most out of the session and also avoid injury. The quiet intimacy of a small group combined with a dedicated trainer definitely makes the class a stand out activity for a Saturday morning in Yangon.

Myat Mon, the Assistant Director of Marketing Communications at Chatrium, explained the classes as being:

“Open to all, but I would especially love to see some Myanmar people trying yoga on a regular basis”.  

It remains to be seen if yoga will take off among Myanmar people in the same way that it has risen to popularity in America and Europe, already having been a staple of Indian culture for centuries.

Yoga at Chatrium is $15/session, with a discounted $130/10 sessions rate available. The fee includes a complimentary yoga mat, bottle of water, towel, locker use and shower access, so all you have to bring is yourself – no thought required. This class is a perfect way to relax, exercise, and banish those monsoon season blues. Take an hour on a Saturday morning to reconnect with yourself through yoga, and return to the world feeling a bit more like yourself.

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