A yoga teacher is creating the Algarve’s first yoga community by bringing together “like-minded people” with a passion for well-being for weekly classes in Vilamoura.
The classes are open to people of all ages and skill levels and are held on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6.30pm at Hotel Parque das Laranjeiras and on Fridays at 9.15am at Thai Beach Club.
The goal is not to just bring students together for classes but to create a community – which yoga teacher Elena Menci has named ‘Haven’ – which allows people to truly get to know each other and connect.
“This is a name I had in mind years ago when I had a vision of a community connecting through like-minded practices such as yoga, reading, meditation, spiritual and mental health talk. Yoga didn’t even have to be part of the name as it relates to so much more than just the physical practice of it,” Elena told us.
The 40-year-old yoga teacher believes she can create something truly unique in the Algarve.
“There are yoga teachers in the Algarve, but there is no true yoga community that I’m aware of. Our vision is not to just have people walk in for the class and leave right after,” said Elena, who moved from Dubai to Portugal during the pandemic.
Elena is originally from Slovakia but lived for several years in London before moving to Dubai where she worked for a diamond company. Deciding she needed a change, Elena started on a new path as a yoga teacher. But when the pandemic started, she knew she needed a change in scenery.
Through her own research and advice from friends, she decided to move to Cascais near Lisbon. But the move did not go as planned.
“I didn’t connect with the area,” said Elena, who then spent time in Ericeira but also struggled to connect to.
The story was different with the Algarve, which she decided was “perfect” for her dream to set up a community of like-minded people.
She started her classes in July 2021 and has been enjoying great success. Classes are usually completely booked with between 15 to 20 students of all ages and nationalities.
Elena has also welcomed many beginners and says that the key to beginning to practice yoga is to “never think you’re not good enough” and to “not feel intimidated”.
“I always tell my students to not compare themselves to others. It’s all about what you can do,” she said.
And what are the main benefits that yoga can bring to students? According to Elena, it can help with anything from improving flexibility to quieting your mind and improving your nervous and digestive systems.
“It also helps us learn to live in the moment,” she said.
Elena’s weekly classes are all 60 minutes long and all three are different.
Her Monday class is called ‘Haven Beats’ and is geared towards more advanced yogis. Said Elena, “it is a fun class with funky beats for those who want a little bit of a workout.”
The Wednesday class is a ‘Ying Yang Class’, described as the “perfect way to create balance in your body” as the first 30 minutes has students “flowing through Vinyasa-style yoga” while the remaining half an hour focuses on Yin Yoga which, in a nutshell, focuses on deep stretching.
The Friday class focuses solely on Vinyasa Yoga and takes place at the Thai Beach Club, with an “amazing ocean view right in front of the beach”.
Price for one class is €15. There are also class packages costing €70 for five classes and €135 for 10 classes. Elena also offers private classes for €60.
There are also monthly yoga workshops, where students can learn about the foundations of yoga and hone their practice. The next workshop will take place on Saturday (January 22) from 10am to 1pm, costing €50.
Elena also teaches yoga at Wildview Retreat in Corgas Bravas in Loulé.
You can follow Elena on Instagram (@thehaven_algarve) or visit her website www.thehaven.pt
By MICHAEL BRUXO