I have recently had the pleasure of practicing Pranam Hatha Yoga with master Joseph Konnoth. Each morning the class starts at 8:30am and is held in a peaceful, quiet and clean spot above the Feelin Hotel on Varkala cliff road. Classes cost 300 rupees which is equal to about $6NZ. There are also evening classes but as I am a morning yogi I love to practice first thing and start my day with a good stretch. There are over 20 yoga schools and classes in the Varkala cliff area that I had planned to attend but after only one class with Joseph I came back day after day until the end of my visit to Varkala.
Joseph started practicing Hatha Yoga, the original Yoga practice as suggested by the Yoga sutras (the worlds oldest books), in 1984. In 1988 he began teaching his self practice to students and has now acquired followers from all over the world. Joseph is a master of advanced Yoga asana and this is evident in his self practice and the way he teaches his students with hands on adjustments and encouragement to believe you can achieve any asana.
When I arrived at my first class Joseph told me that I had been practicing too many forward bends and instantly got to work on helping me improve my backward bends by showing me stretches for the spine to do at home as well as his hands on help and foot massages for the lower back helping to release my spine. He told me I had a fear of backbends which I soon realized was true and I started instantly to try and shift my mind frame and release the fear I was holding on to of falling backward. Within 5 days I have seen huge improvement in my spine flexibility with Josephs supportive help and encouragement; “you can do it” he would repeat to me multiple times each session.
The first Yoga class I attended with Joseph was unlike any Yoga class I had ever been to. I love to experience new styles of Yoga as I think there is something I can incorporate into my self practice and teaching style from each and every teacher and practice. The class is started with a strong focus on relaxation and breathing. Chanting in Sanskrit to begin followed by Kapalbhati, breath holding and Nadi Shodan Pranayama. A warm up is followed to open up the joints and warm up the body’s muscles before performing strength building and deep stretch asana. As this is a Hatha practice each asana is held for around 15-20 seconds with Joseph taking time to adjust each student into the correct posture. Each class I attended really had a casual, friendly atmosphere where we would take turns to watch each other and cheer each other on when new accomplishments were reached.
The next part of class would consist of building core strength in head stands and when each student was comfortable we would take turns to practice scorpion with the hands on support of Joseph. From arm balances and head stands we would move on to back bends which would generally be practiced for around 30-45 minutes. Joseph would help to adjust each person into deeper backbends as well as support each student from standing all the way into wheel pose and then into scorpion before Childs pose. I have never had a teacher do this for me and as these are the postures that I love to practice I really appreciated how safe and supported I felt throughout the whole process. Joseph would come and stand on the lower part of my back during backbends to help release the spine and muscles allowing me to go deeper into lower backbends. Classes are usually 2 hours before Savasana and final chanting in Sanskrit.
If anyone is looking for a yoga teacher in Varkala Beach I would highly recommend Joseph Konneth. There are no levels in his class and he teaches what he knows equally to each and every student.
Joseph's hands on approach to improve each students technique and practice.
A final 'see you next time' after a 2 hour sweaty session.