Yoga in Europe

Yoga expert Manisha Singhania

Following an invitation from the India Club Liechtenstein, yoga expert Manisha Singhania visited Liechtenstein, in the heart of the Alps between Switzerland and Austria. India Week in Liechtenstein was initiated to facilitate cultural exchanges between the two countries. Manisha travelled to attend the event in the beautiful town of Triesen at the Gasometer, an historic weaving mill and manufacturing complex that’s been refurbished and transformed into a cultural venue.
 
Sponsored by the Indian Embassy in Bern along with the government of Liechtenstein, this four-day festival included a plethora of events: yoga classes, art shows, lectures, economics dialogues, schooling modules, and a Kathak dance show. Upon arrival in the capital city of Vaduz, I met three other ladies from India who specialise in painting, Indian literature and the travel business. We bonded and spent most of our time together.
 
Manisha Singhania visited Liechtenstein 
 
Due to a busy schedule, my visit was confined to the beautiful cities of Vaduz and Triesen. However, I did make a trip to a lovely mountain resort called Malbun. With the skiing season in full swing and beautiful, snow-capped mountains glinting in the bright sun, my friends and I ascended via cable car to a restaurant for lunch. We were also amazed to find a skiing instructor waiting to introduce us to this most popular of winter activities. Despite my fear, I had great fun zipping down small slopes. I thought it was such a privilege to be taking part in this exhilarating sport!
 
As any other tourist would, I toured the city centre of Vaduz and caught a glimpse of the majestic castle where the prince of Liechtenstein resides; Schloß Vaduz was quite mesmerising. Vaduz also has several museums full of local history and contemporary international art, and the city streets are lined with paintings and sculptures. Liechtenstein and Switzerland are divided by the Rhine, and it is possible to cross a bridge to grab a meal in the Swiss town of Buchs. A visit to this nation of neutrality is incomplete without a trip to a local chocolate shop; since it was Easter, the shop was full of chocolate bunnies of varying designs and sizes.
 
Manisha Singhania visited Liechtenstein 
 
I stayed with a local family, and though I’m a vegetarian, I faced no problems at all with the food. Every morning for breakfast, I had local bread and a large variety of Swiss cheeses. There were several flavours – some mild and some strong – but each with a unique taste. I also tried local dishes like risotto and pasta, and I was pleasantly surprised to have the famed potato dish rösti served with many accompaniments: vegetables, melted cheese, meat and eggs.
 
With a population of only 38,000, Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries of the world. But the local background as I experienced it is business-oriented with traditional beliefs and folkloristic culture. Vaduz boasts impressive modern and traditional architecture, as well as fine works of art and fascinating museums. I was very curious ahead of my visit, wondering about the locals’ understanding of Indian culture and yoga. My doubts vanished immediately upon meeting the friendly, open-minded people of Liechtenstein.
 
Liechtenstein 
 
Yoga is quite popular in Europe, and many local gyms offer classes; mine were fully booked prior to India Week. I must add that the understanding of yoga in Europe is different than what many of us are accustomed to in India. Some people regard it as a sort of religion, but they are a minority; most people are interested in yoga as a form of meditation and/or exercise. People are motivated to learn and practise yoga regularly. An international school invited me to conduct a session for kids four to seven years old, and it was a challenge to keep them focussed for a whole hour. I introduced breathing techniques through the wind wheel; it was fun for them, and I achieved my goal of teaching the most important aspect of yoga.
 
The highlight of my trip was when many of the leading names and people from all walks of life attended my yoga workshops. Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Aurelia Frick attended my class, as did athletes, skiing instructors, mountain guides, artists, local yoga teachers, high school students and midwives.
 
Yoga expert Manisha Singhania visited Liechtenstein 
 
I will never forget the beauty of Liechtenstein’s majestic, snowy mountains; the pure, invigorating air; the tranquil peace and quiet of its environment; the enormous, natural landscape and lush vineyards. And I so loved interacting with the locals: simple, friendly and extremely open-minded people.                                                                                                                                 ..... Manisha