There can’t many easier addresses in Slovenia to remember that Nataraja Studio’s, since its right next to Dragon Bridge on the opposite side of the river to Ljubljana Castle, and you’ve probably walked by the door at least once without giving it a second glance. But up there, on the third floor, is a world away from the traffic and tourists outside. For Nataraja is a yoga studio, and one that offers classes in traditional and modern styles, as well as hosting international teachers who’ll take you deeper into your body and self.
If you haven’t tried it then yoga can seem a little woo-woo, but in essence it’s just stretching, along with an acknowledgement that we’re consciousness in physical form, and that one of the best ways to unite the mind and body is through breathing exercises. It’s also one of the hardest workouts you can get.
Inside the studio - where students can use the mats provided if they don't bring their own
I’ve spent much of my adult life trying to induce what can best be termed benign psychosis, with the aim of enjoying a pleasant derangement of the senses. But for the last few years I’ve been more anxious – or relaxed – to turn on, tune in, and chill out on the body’s own supply, and while this has led me to various forms of physical activity it’s yoga that feels like the most important part of my routine.
Books and online videos can show you a lot, but it’s easy to lose focus or cheat when doing it alone or with Adriene. In a class, and with an attentive teacher, you can relax, be told what to do, and corrected when making a mistake.A video showing highlights of a teacher training course in Nataraja Studio
So I bought a yearly membership for Nataraja Studio, with unlimited classes, and have been going there about three times a week for the last nine months or so as a way of avoiding drinking at the end of the workday, and to unlock some of the stiffness and kinks in my body after hours spent huddled over a keyboard. I really enjoy it, it’s been good for me, and so here’s an interview with the owner, manager and headline teacher, Nataša, about how she came to yoga, how she opened the studio, and what people can expect to find there.
Some of the Nataraja team
How did you get into yoga?
I started when I was about 19, 20 in my dance workshop. I went to this winter course, jazz and modern, and they were offering something besides regular dance – drumming lessons, African dance, and so on – and they also had a yoga teacher, so that’s how I first met got exposed to it.
I fell asleep in every class, but something attracted me, and so I bought a book, a very simple one, classical yoga, and I started doing it at home. I found it similar to dance, but calmer.
Then I continued with my dance career, and when I was about 30 I thought I’d reached my peak there, so I moved on. For about a year I almost did nothing, no kind of physical activity, and this was after a whole life of training like a madman. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to move, it’s just I went to Croatia and was working as a make-up artist for a soap opera. So for the first time in years I didn’t have any structured classes, but then I thought “oh my god, my body, my mind, I need something.” Then when I came back to Slovenia I was thinking about what I could do with my life, and that’s when I remembered yoga. So I took some classes and soon realised how much it had changed since I was 20.
Inside the studio
In what way?
Well, I’d just taken those basic classes, and then I worked with a book that was very traditional, Hatha yoga. But when I met modern yoga I saw how similar it was to dance, and I thought, yes, I want to teach this.
Modern yoga means you mix styles and sequences. So you can create your own choreography, there’s a lot of freedom, but you always return to the basics of yoga, which are the asanas along with the breath and meditation.
When did you start teaching?
I’ve been teaching since 2008, and had my own studio since then, too. The teacher who I did my training with was moving out of Slovenia, and she asked if anyone wanted to take over her space, which was a studio and apartment together. At the time there were some other changes in my life, so this was ideal, a new place and a new career.
I got the apartment and the studio, and my teacher gave me a list of 20 people who might be my students. I started alone, and after six months I got another teacher. We started offering workshops, massages and I did lot of training, like yoga for kids, yoga for pregnant women, sport yoga, Pilates, and so on. Things kept growing, and then six years ago I moved here.
Gordana, one of the teachers
What classes do you offer?
On regular basis we offer dynamic yoga 1 and 2, Ashtanga, Vinjasa yoga, yin yang yoga, morning yoga, hot yoga, rocket yoga, yogalates, power yoga, lunch yoga, Hatha Vinjasa with meditation, and Yin yoga with chanting. Once a month we offer Kundalini workshop and Gong bath
What if someone doesn’t know Slovenian?
Nearly all the teachers can teach in English, if you let them know that’s needed, and a lot of the workshops are taught by foreign teachers who don’t speak Slovene, so those are obviously in English.
One of my passions is to bring the diversity of yoga work to the studio, so I organise a lot of workshops with travelling teachers, and sometimes we ask them to come specially for us. A lot of the teachers come from the UK, but we also have ones from India, the US, South America. But I often go to London, and so that’s where I find the most new teachers
The guest teacher Minnar Martinez will be coming to the studio on 7 September, 2019
What are some of the workshops you do, and the teachers you bring here?
We try and have a good variety of guest teachers and different workshops that are all very interesting.
For example, we’ve hosted: Celest Pereira, Adam Husler (Vinjasa workshops), Franz Andrini (yoga for slimming), Ron van der Post (Hatha yoga), Aurora Bowkett, Andrew Rosenstock (Thai body treatments), Marcus Veda (rocket yoga), and Stephen Marks (core flow yoga and yoga nidra), among others.
This autumn (2019) we plan to host: Minnar Martinez (Ashtanga second series and nutritional lecture), Aurora Bowkett, Lidija Poljacek (forest yoga and Buti yoga) and Celest Pereira.
The guest teacher Aurora Bowkett will be there on 21 September, 2019
What else do you offer?
Besides yoga and yoga workshops we also organise Yoga Teacher Training, massages (our specialty is Japanese face, neck and head massage), Gong baths, and dance classes, and we also have a great make-up artist in our team, if anyone’s interested in that.
Plus people can actually rent the studio for any kind of activity that’s connected to yoga, meditation, health, dance, workshops about healthy lifestyle, children’s activities, and so on.
Do you have anything new planned for the future?
Yes, we want to start doing retreats. The first one is actually planned for December, in India. It will be organised by a tour guide and yoga teacher, Tarun Sharma. It’s going to be 18 days. Thirteen days travelling, and then five days of yoga retreat.
And what about classes this summer?
Summer is less busy, because all of Slovenia goes on vacation, but we’re staying open during the quiet period, from 15 July to 15 August, although people should book first, and check the schedule online (here).