What about yoga practice on Madeira?
Madeirans are deeply connected to their island, their family and religious traditions. Surprisingly enough (or not at all?) you can find a vibrant activity of yoga, meditation and spiritual gatherings on the island, mainly in Funchal. However, a kind of seclusion characterising the island live style, combined with the humility taught by yoga, made it very difficult for me to penetrate the local activity, despite Facebook and Google. It took me 3 months of wandering through different private classes and gyms before I found “my” Ashtanga class, as I used to love it in Thailand and other countries before.
This year I took my revanche, co-organised the first Yoga Festival on Madeira, came in touch with many teachers and yoga studios on the island and now can guide you through yoga on Madeira, for every style and every day of the week – from your first day on.
Elio Pires takes you through a physical approach of Asthanga and Sattva Yoga. Don’t worry about the name, it’s traditional yoga postures, but Elio will make you work them next to a wall for your alignment, as he reminds you every now and then while guiding your through each movement. The wall also gives you the stability to find balance in postures you wouldn’t feel comfortable with, when standing alone. Elio has the intuition to adapt the lessons to the students’ levels and moods and so each class takes you to new sequences and flows, you will never have twice the same class with him. You were laying on your back and all at a sudden you find yourself in Marichyasana B – and you don’t know how you found yourself in a posture, you usually even wouldn’t try. He will make you go beyond yourself, always focussing on your breath and alignment.
How to find
Funchal: the place changed in Jan 2020. Call Elio +351 917 872 750 to obtain instructions.
Carmen Mitroi guides you through Integral Yoga postures, the related chakras and benefits of each asana – her knowledge is huge. You feel the holistic reach of yoga on body and mind and are very fastly integrated into a community which was built over years. Guided relaxations and visualisations give you a truly inspirational experience. Sundari Center is certified for Yoga Teacher Trainings and organizes several sessions a year. Furthermore it hosts Tai Chi/Qiqong classes, rare on Madeira, given by Eugen Manole every Mon and Thu at 18:30.
Marcia, Luzia and Susana are certified and experienced yoga teachers, who welcome you in a big and bright studio on top of the old town of Funchal. Their yoga program stretches from Monday to Saturday, with Kundalini, Revigorante/Suave (Hatha), Yin, Integral, Air Yoga (by the sea if the weather allows it!) and Meditation. The ladies are very active and organise various yoga events over the year. I took the Saturday morning Yoga Dance class with Susana, lifting up with contemporary music and giving a perfect start to the week-end! Couldn’t get enough of it!
How to find
You meet Cristiano Pestana in his bright yoga room in São Roque, one of Funchal’s up-the-hills parishes. Cristiano takes you through traditional Ashtanga classes or his signature Vinyasa flows. With medical background he is focussing on your personal correct alignment, guides you in Pranayama (breathing exercises), and gives an extra personal touch and feel to Relaxation and Meditation. You are also welcome to book private classes with him. His life is devoted to yoga, he has participated in several courses and workshops and in early 2020 you might not find him on Madeira – he’s heading to India for a month or so to continue his paths.
How to find
If you’re on Madeira from June to October, you shouldn’t miss to try out SUPYoga! Célia Perestrelo will make you perform exercises of breathing, postures (asanas) and meditation/relaxation on the board and so strengthen your physical and mental skills in order to keep balance! At a point you just do like (probably) everybody in the group: you follow your gravity center (that came out of board’s center) and jump in the water! It is much fun combined with physical effort, consciousness and concentration.
Schedule Your Class – Send message or call +351 962818891
How to find
With Cilene you practice Air Yoga by the ocean, swinging with the sound of the waves. Might it be first time in your life or with previous experience, she will make you feel comfortable in the hammock and guide you through all movements to reach weightlessness, to stretch your spine and feel the tonifying effect of inverted poses. With the support of the hammock you will discover yourself in postures you never thought your body might come into.
How to find
Emilie is originally from Nice, France, living on Madeira and teaching Integral yoga in the hotel Galosol in Caniço, east of Funchal. She offers outdoor Yoga experiences in most beautiful spots of the island and furthermore is a specialist in Yoga for Singers. Her warm voice and gentle style make beginners and intermediate level of all age feel comfortable from beginning to the end of the class. Her meditative concerts with yoga and live music, mostly on full moon and new moon nights, are a particular experience with high emotional vibration you shouldn’t miss. Check her upcoming program on her Facebook page.
Eli is a great story teller, involves the kids into an imaginary world and they even don’t realise they’re doing yoga when they chase wild cats on big trees, are warriors or give salutations to the sun. If you’re on Madeira with kids and they understand Portuguese, give her a call and she will inform you about regular or private classes.
How to find
… and many more
Is it the mild climate all year round? Or the peaceful environment and breath-taking landscapes. Many more certified and experienced yoga teachers are practicing on Madeira, some of them natives, others from mainland Portugal or other countries and settled down on the island. The selected instructors and centres in this article were all part of the Festival Yoga Madeira 2019, which I co-organised with Cilene Lammertyn and thus practiced before and during the festival with all of them (well, the kids yoga I just watched, but was fun even if only watching). I could go on, there is Rajadhiraja yoga with Marina Madhu (beautiful mantras!), Ananda Marga Yoga, Mad About in Lido, Escola da Felicidade in the old town of Funchal, a brand new annual Yoga Meeting in Ribeira Brava and other studios all over the island, but I hadn’t the opportunity to visit them all.
Prices are mostly around 8 to 10 EUR for drop in, monthly subscriptions depending on how many times per week you go.
You now know the paths to your next yoga class on Madeira; you don’t need to look around for weeks and months as I had when I first came to the island a year ago. Try out a few and once you find the studio and teacher that fits to you, go there regularly and you will soon feel being part of a group – mysterious to uninitiated persons, then despite being widespread, yoga is still unknown to most of the inhabitants of the island.
Should you wish any more guidance, don’t hesitate to drop me a message. Also please comment this article and let us know your experience and paths with Madeira’s yoga teachers!
And see you at the next Festival Yoga Madeira in Porto da Cruz, 18 – 21 June 2020!