At Yogatique’s Karma class, you can contribute to local charities while strngthening your body and mind
Especially during the last decade, the practice of yoga seems to have had a major resurgence, and has become one of the most popular forms of exercise around the world. It might be the combination of physical and mental benefits that makes yoga such a beloved workout. Taking a moment to focus on yourself, while toning and stretching your muscles, is something for which there is hardly time in the busy and stressful world we live in. Another reason why yoga found such a big group of followers might be its wide array of styles. Ranging from traditional types, like Asthanga, and Hatha, to more modern styles including Bikram and Aerial Yoga, there seems to be a fit for everybody.
With yoga studios continuously popping up around the city, Bangkok has definitely got in on this trend. In fact, there are about 120 studios in the city, making Bangkok the biggest urban market outside the US. But while all of them differ in styles, prices, and teachers, there is something special about Yogatique, a small studio on the curvy laneway known as Sukhumvit Soi 23. And what sets them apart from the rest in the city is their donation-based Karma classes.
Located on the top floor of a small building, Yogatique is a kind of oasis of tranquillity amid the hustle and bustle of the busy downtown core. As soon as you enter the one-room studio you are welcomed by a calm and energetic atmosphere. The studio is relatively new, and was only opened last September by a Canadian couple—Minh and Max. Both are long-term yoga practitioners, and when asked why they decided to open their studio in Bangkok, Minh replied, “It just seemed like a natural fit. I fell in love with the city on my first visit in 1999.” Her husband Max agreed and added, “Over the past ten years many paths were leading us to where we are now, and that this city seems to give each of us something special.”
In terms of style, the philosophy behind Yogatique is traditional, but rather than focusing on just one type of yoga, the studio offers a mix of different styles including Vinqasa Flow, Hatha, Asthanga, Sivananda, and a Prenatal yoga class. Currently there are 10 teachers working at the studio, each of them teaching a uniquely different class according to the interpretation of their style. Depending on the class you choose, there may be chanting, a Dharma talk, focus on body alignment, or rock and roll music in the background.
While most of this is more or less standard in other studios around the city, Yogatique’s weekly Karma classes are not. Karma—meaning action, work, or deed in Sanskrit—is created by a good action or intention given freely with no expectations. “The Karma class was born out of a project that I worked on while I was teaching in India,” Minh explains, “and although a new concept to Bangkok, Karma classes are popular worldwide, and tie in with the Thai Buddhist idea of tam boon, or making merit.”
The couple donates the studio to a different yoga teacher each week—every Sunday at 10am—to share their practice, giving newbies the possibility to gain experience in teaching to a wider audience. Also, the Karma class is based on donations only, with the proceedings going to local Bangkok charities. There is no minimum donation because the couple wants everyone to feel welcome. “Often people can’t afford the drop-in prices at larger studios,” Max explains. “In fact, the charity box is covered so no one can see how much people put into it.” Due to the positive response, Minh even added her own, slightly more difficult, Karma class on Sundays at 5pm.
The charities the money goes to are usually small and often suggested by teachers or students. “We like to meet and know the people that we are making the donations to”, Max explains. Some of their favourite charities are the Peace Corps, Camp Glow initiative, a project which helps young women world wide to cultivate business skills and supports them to become entrepreneurs in their own small communities. Another one is the local cat shelter PAWS. Both Minh and Max are animal lovers and have even held ‘Yoga with Cats’ classes to raise funds. Plans of growth are definitely foreseen for the near future, but for now, Max and Minh are grateful how far they’ve come, and happy to offer new classes with new teachers, while watching the community grow.