My Favourite Ashtanga Yoga Teachers, Schools & Retreats

Barcelona, Copenhagen, Goa, Italy, Mysore
on 23 July 2021
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Here I am sharing the Ashtanga Yoga teachers, schools and retreats that I personally know and recommmend in Copenhagen, Barcelona, Madrid, Italy and India.

The Copenhagen Pioneers

I thank Susanne Holm for introducing me to Ashtanga yoga. While we were studying at the Design School Susanne took me to a class with Bente Faurby. This was even before Ashtanga was established in Copenhagen.

Bente Faurby was one of the earliest Ashtanga pioneers in Copenhagen and I am grateful she was my first teacher. Bente was a student of Sri K Pattabi Jois in Mysore and was so down to earth and dedicated to her guriji at the same time.

Bente was all about the practice and to me she will always represent the root of Ashtanga Yoga in Copenhagen. She gathered all the people, in and outside Denmark, who together established the foundation of Ashtanga Yoga in Copenhagen.

I continued my classes with Bente’s small team of Ashtanga pioneers: Bente, Susanne, Peter, Jens Bache and Robin Arnold and other people who established the first Ashtanga School in Copenhagen in collaboration with Lino Miele from Italy. I was hooked on Ashtanga and so was Copenhagen. More and more students joined and with time the more schools opened and as they grew they divided and grew.

Lino Miele, Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, Italy

Bente brought in the Italian teacher Lino Miele to Copenhagen, who founded “Ashtanga Yoga København”, the first Danish certified KPJAYI Ashtanga Mysore school.

Lino was a central figure in the expansion of Ashtanga Yoga in Europe. He had several schools in Italy, opened schools all over Europe and ran workshops in Italy and India every year.

Lino was known for having developed his personal Ashtanga Yoga style that unified the experience of his brand across the world as he passed it on to his students and teachers.

Lino had a strong charisma and confidence that he transmitted to the students. I remember when he made me do the standing backbends by myself for the first time. One day on his retreat in Kovalam he simply said “Now you do it yourself” with his Italian accent and left. I thought it was impossible, but he saw I could do it and I trusted him more than myself. So I did it.

Today Lino Miele runs the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute – AYRI in Rome and gives workshops and retreats in Italy and India.

 

Ashtanga Yoga Retreat Kovalam Beach, South India

Retreats are great because you take time off and dedicate to focus 100% on yoga. I went to Lino’s retreat in Kovalam Beach in South India for a month.

If you want to go to India as new to Ashtanga, Lino’s Kovalam retreat is a good option. You get the Indian “vibe” but in a vacation atmosphere at Kovalam Beach, which is a pretty comfy first-time Indian experience.

At Lino’s retreat, you pay for the days you wish to attend and book your own flight and hotel, so the retreat can easily be adjusted to individual conditions.

I was in my prime yoga period and it’s one of the best retreats I have gone to. This is my memory of the Kovalam Beach retreat.

Morning yoga in the jungle sweating like a beast feeling detoxicated and reborn every day. Fruit salad topped with freshly grated coconut for breakfast at the beach. Ayurvedic massage in the afternoon that made me feel my body in a way I hadn’t experienced before. Hot, delicious curries in the jungle. Backwater trips surrounded by Kerala’s stunning nature. Peacefulness and people with good vibes from all over the world.

Ashtanga Yoga Copenhagen

Eventually, Lino brought one of his Italian teachers Susanna Finocchi to Copenhagen.

Together with Jens Bache Susanna established Ashtanga Yoga København.

Jens was also one of the pioneers who practiced with Bente from the beginning. I practiced there many years. Unfortunately, the school closed now. Susanna still teaches in Italy.

 

Susanna Finocchi, Italy

Susanna Finocchi is now teaching independently, giving on-line classes, workshops and retreats, mostly in Italy. Susanna is such a joy to be around. She is so Italian in a cool way.

I still hear Susanna’s “Ciao Bella” and see her big smile, when I entered the Shala. I love that her dedication to Ashtanga Yoga lives side by side with her Italian passion for pizza and ice-cream! I can’t stand when yoga limits you from enjoying the small pleasures in life.

Prana Yoga Shala, Magsstræde Copenhagen

For a long period, I practiced with my friend Ania Lenz and Ann-Charlotte Monrad in Magsstræde. They were both pioneers who practised with Bente from the beginning. Ann-Charlotte and Ania are excellent yoga teachers and people that I have learned tremendously from. I love their attitude and approach to yoga. They have developed their personal style that they teach at their own schools. They are a true joy to practise with!

Ann-Charlotte now leads and teaches at the Prana Yoga Shala.

 

Pakhus Yoga, Islandsbrygge Copenhagen

Ania Lenz is now teaching at her school Pakhus Yoga.

Ania is my friend and was my Ashtanga teacher during many years. We also practiced off schedule and spent many precious moments together. Ania has taught me so much about Ashtanga and has been a tremendous source of inspiration on my yoga journey.

Ania has an extraordinary intuitive and individual approach to every student. She has a background as a dancer, so she knows a lot about the body in dept. She has experimented with a wealth of yoga styles for years and is now mixing the best from all of them into her own style.

Ania is the photographer of the photos on this post. Last time I was in Copenhagen, she shot them in Pakhus Yoga. As you see it is a beautiful minimalistic space that shows that Ania is an architect by education and has a sharp aesthetic eye. Thank you dearest Ania!

 

Mysore Yoga, Nørrebro Copenhagen

When I lived on Nørrebro in Copenhagen, I practiced with Mikko Seppinen and Helena Melkjorsen at Mysore Yoga Copenhagen.

The school had a very international atmosphere. There were many students and guest teachers from all over the world.

Mikko forms part of the Finish Ashtanga “klan” which is known for being extremely dedicated and ambitious practitioners. Helena has a career as a professional dancer and was also one of the students in the pioneer Ashtanga CPH team. I always admired her extreme body elegance and control. Both are KPJAYI authorized teachers.

Both Helena and Mikko transmitted a casual down to earth atmosphere as teachers and I remember we often got a good laugh.

Helena continues running the school. Mikko teaches in Finland and around the world.

 

Astanga Yoga Studio, Nørrebro Copenhagen

Before I moved from Denmark, I practiced at Astanga Yoga Studio with Esben Schilling and Robin Arnold, both KPJAYI authorized teachers.

Robin was also one of the students on Bente’s pioneer team. Today Esben runs the school and passes his huge dedication and discipline on to the students.

Esben had a way of making me feel a bit “silly”, in a positive way, when I was lazy and took the “easy way” in the practice, which motivated me to push myself.

 

Retreat in Purple Valley, Goa

Years after I “downscaled” my ambitious practice, I went on a two weeks retreat in Purple Valley in Goa. Purple Valley is an Ashtanga yoga retreat Centre with many international teachers.

The retreat center  is a very convenient option as the courses also include accommodation and healthy meals, so you can really focus on your practice and not so much else. Apart from exploring Goa.

Yoga Nilaya, Barcelona

When I arrived to Barcelona, I started practicing with Antonella Accinelli at Yoga Nilaya in the city centre near Paseo de Gracia.

Antonella is a competent and serious Peruvian/American KPJAYI authorized teacher. I appreciated both the location and her approach.

Unfortunately, she closed the school years ago and I don’t know if she is teaching today. I found this interview with Antonella, which is worth a read.

 

Sama Yoga Shala, Sant Gervasi Barcelona

When I moved to Via Augusta, I practiced in Sama Yoga Shala with Aleix Griñó.

Sama Yoga Shala is located inside the Hara Yoga Studio, which offers many yoga styles. It is the most beautiful school I seen. I love the aesthetic light and spacious interior design.

Aleix has a generous schedule of Mysore classes from 6:30am-11:00. I like his relaxed style and will go back to practice with Aleix again.

 

Mysore House Madrid

Apart from Barcelona, I have enjoyed practicing with Jose Carballal and Rafael Martínez in Mysore House Madrid, both KPJAYI authorized.

They are both really competent and lovely people, who are part of the international Ashtanga Mysore community.

 

Sarriá Yoga

Finally in Barcelona, I went to Sarriá Yoga, where the Argentinean Santiago Pinto lead the Mysore classesThis was my last yoga school before I started practicing at home during the COVID-19 quarantine .

 

Make it Your Own Ashtanga Journey

Here on the blog I only share my experience with the people and places who have been part of my personal yoga journey.

There are many other qualified people and places out there that I still haven’t tried. In most bigger cities, there are Ashtanga schools in every neigbourhood.

When I get to know new places, I will update you here. For now, I leave you with this as inspiration. I invite you to check out the places below and get a feeling for the Ashtanga spirit. Perhaps this could be the start of your own yoga journey…

Check out the location on the map below. You are welcome to reach out if you have any comments or questions.

A heartfelt thank you to all the people who made Ashtanga Yoga part of my life.

You can read about why I got hooked and stayed on the mat for 20 years now.

ONLINE SHOPPING

Manduka PRO yoga mat
Outfit: Athlecia, Goyogi, Copenhagen

LOCATIONS

Mysore – Goa – Kovalam Beach – Barcelona – Madrid – Copenhagen – Italy

(Zoom in to see locations in each country)

Sharath Yoga Center, Mysore

K.Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Shala

Kovalam Beach, Lino Miele workshop

Purple Valley Yoga Retreat, Goa

Prana Yoga Shala, Copenhagen

Pakhus Yoga, Copenhagen

Mysore Yoga Copenhagen

Astanga Yoga Studio, Copenhagen

Sarriá Yoga, Barcelona

Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, Rome

Sama Yoga Shala, Ashtanga Barcelona

Mysore Ashtanga Yoga House Madrid

PHOTOS

Ania Lenz

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