Yoga is known to be a way of strengthening the body while boosting concentration and inducing a sense of calm, with many specific yoga styles incorporating religious meditation rituals found in Hinduism and Buddhism. Nowadays, yoga has morphed into a trendy and beneficial form of exercise applicable to people of all ages, in large part, thanks to its ability to harness physical and emotional wellbeing.
Yoga is divided into many categories and styles according to the age and condition of the practitioners. In Cambodia, Krama Yoga – which is the parent NGO of Nataraj Yoga Studio – is the first yoga training studio in the Kingdom since 2004, and breaks it down into two main types. These are Hatha yoga and meditation yoga, which have recently been joined by the latest version created for pregnant women, pre-natal yoga.
Yun Sreyneang, head of coordination at Krama Yoga, said, “At our place, we have many types of yoga, such as basic yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Iyengar yoga, flow yoga, and Kundalini yoga, amongst many other types, all of which have different techniques and benefits. We also offer a special private class for those who want to do yoga individually.”
For pre-natal yoga classes at Krama, it hasn’t quite yet hit the ground running with Cambodian women. “Yoga for pregnant women is mostly practised by foreign women. Local women aren’t very interested in this technique because yoga for pregnant women is neither widely trusted nor understood.”
Urban myths and old wives’ tales still very much shroud the perception of local women on what a pregnant woman should and should not do during her term. Physical chores, stretching unnecessarily, lifting even the slightest bit of weight, or just moving around at a quick pace are all associated with the possibility of harming the foetus.
Of course, from a scientific – and more logical – point of view, medical science encourages pregnant women to exercise according to their health conditions.
Similarly, Lon Piseth, a yoga instructor, enthused, “Yoga helps pregnant women to strengthen their body, and widen their hips, which is good for giving birth, especially for women who are bearing their first child. Another benefit of yoga is creating a bond between the mother and the child through genes.”
Nonetheless, yoga can come with risks if it is practised incorrectly.
Piseth explained, “Practising yoga through instructions that are merely theories, through instruction videos, or through untrained instructors can cause harm to their health.”
The yoga classes at Krama run daily, including during the weekend, with classes starting at 6am. The classes are run by foreign instructors and local instructors who have been trained overseas.
Sreyneang added, “The yoga schedule at our place changes every week according to the actual situation.”
Krama Yoga & Nataraj Studio is situated on House 52, Street 302, BeoungKeng Kang 1, Chamkarmorn District, Phnom Penh.