Shala Yoga Shanghai

by francine Hardaway on November 25, 2005



The yoga studio in Shanghai is in an old remodeled building that is part of the French Concession , and the Taiwanese owner, Cecillia, has spared no expense. The building is three stories high, with four different classrooms, and dark wood flooring throughout. It has many private toilets and showers, rare for a building in China. The last toilet I visited was a row of stalls with a canal running through it. You peed in the canal, and every so often the entire row was flushed and the water ran downhill. Not quite as clever as the Toto toilet in Chantal’s house down the lane from the studio, where the powder room toilet refills itself from a faucet on top of the tank, at which you also wash your hands.

Our instructor, Meg, has just moved to Shanghai from Beijing, and is Australian. Her voice is very soft, and I think of Ian barking out the cues over a rap song in Arizona.

Here in China, we are given mats and towels, water bottles and fruit, tea and juice before and after class. We don’t pick up our mats and towels; someone does it for us, and wipes the floor between classes as well.

I lay on the floor during savasana thinking once again that I am blessed. It is a beautiful sunny day in Shanghai, China, and I am here. It is a Communist country, but I don’t suffer from the lack of regard for human rights. I simply visit, take the best, and am free to leave. Namaste.

After yoga, we visit the wonton soup restaurant. It has three rows of picnic tables at which about thirty people can eat lunch simultaneously. Nothing is served but variations of won ton soup, which are delicious. Then we grab one of the ubiquitous taxis and head off to the fabric mart, where we pick up the jackets we ordered hand tailored yesterday. We stop then at the antique market, where booth after booth displays both authentic and faux pieces of Chinese tradition — Buddhas and jewel boxes, jade and ivory, vases and novelties. Unlike in India, where tourism has made it necessary for all the stores to take Visa and offer shipping to the US, in China there’s no such luxury, and although I find a Tibetan chest that I’d love to have, I can’t figure out how to pay for it or ship it home.

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