Florence travel journal (part 3): How Florence rates on the yoga thermometer

YogaRose.net travel journal for Florence, Italy
Part 3: How Florence rates on the yoga thermometer + my most unyogic moment on the trip

Yoga wasn’t the focus of this trip, but I usually try to get a taste of the local yoga scene whenever I travel. If cities such as London, Los Angeles, Vancouver and New York get a “hot” rating on a yoga thermometer based on the sheer number of yoga studios, I would say Florence registers “cool.” (If you know Florence at all and know that I’m totally wrong, please share! I’m sure the info would be helpful for any yogis who happen to be heading that way.)

I found one place in Florence with Ashtanga classes listed. And there is an It’s Yoga studio (It’s Yoga, created by Larry Schultz, is based on Ashtanga). But I couldn’t find anything online that appeared to be a traditional shala. I asked some of my ashtangi friends who travel quite a bit for any tips, and no one knew of a place to send me.

While there were a handful of yoga studios of various styles in the city — including Sivananda and Iyengar — it didn’t seem to me that there’s a high saturation of yoga for a city with a population of roughly 420,000. According to Ashtanga.com, there are two sanctioned Ashtanga teachers based in other towns in Tuscany — here and here. (Rome, where Lino Miele is based, would have been a different story. But we were in Rome for such a short time — a little more than half a day — that I didn’t get a chance to even consider an Ashtanga yoga class.)

I think it’s fair to say that travelers can expect to work a little bit to find yoga classes in Florence. It’s probably safer to bring your mat and plan on your hotel room being your studio away from home, so that if you strike out on finding a class you can drop in on, you’ll still get to practice.



Head for the hills

Another option: Head for the Tuscan hills with Tim Miller instead. A couple years ago, Tim Miller and his wife, Carol, began taking students to Tuscany in the fall for an Ashtanga yoga retreat with a restorative element. Check for info on the next retreat on Tim’s workshop page. I had actually hoped to make the trip this past October, but it wasn’t meant to be. Missing that trip made me that much more appreciative that we were able to come to Florence during the holiday season.

My most unyogic moment

Yoga isn’t just about stepping on a yoga mat and connecting breath to movement. The classic tradition of yoga views the practice as a science with eight limbs encompassing everything from ethical practices to meditation. Traveling can be a gauntlet of stimulation, good and bad, so it’s an interesting test of whether we’re able to be less reactive to the world.

I had a big fail of a yogic moment at the airport in Florence when an airport security officer demanded to search my carry-on and proceeded to take out the three boards made from olive wood. I had bought one for myself and one each for my sisters, and I was so excited by how much Tuscany had inspired me to start cooking together. This cutting board was the symbol of that. The airport official thought otherwise. After taking each one out and tearing off the protective wrapping paper, he informed me that these boards could be used as weapons and that I either had to check them or leave them there with him at the security checkpoint. I was devastated. And I was angry. I could use anything heavy to hurt someone — hell, my entire carry-on bag could be used to batter someone down, if that was my intention. We had obviously already checked out bags, and we needed this one as a carry-on. So I had to leave them there.

It’s just a material item, I know. You can’t take anything with you when you die, I know. But I was angry. I let my anger get the best of me for at least the next two hours.

I’m still upset, in fact. Maybe I’ll have greater capacity for detachment for our next trip.

>>In this series:

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One thought on “Florence travel journal (part 3): How Florence rates on the yoga thermometer

  1. Also surprised that there weren’t a few rogue Ashtangis practicing in some small but fun shala there. Another reminder how lucky we are here in lil ole jackson hole, with two studios, offering Mysore, primary and second series, and other great eight-limbed classes, in a town of 10,000.

    Tragic on the cutting boards! Bet that even Timji would have been challenged to take that in stride…

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