Barcelona is an ever-changing city. Growing up in the Catalan capital I have witnessed how little by little, this Mediterranean city has turned into an international melting pot. One can get a sense of this just by walking in the streets of the Barri Gòtic, hearing words spoken in a dozen languages and seeing faces from all over the globe. The rush of tourism and weekend visitors can be almost overwhelming though, for those who seek deeper relationships.
However, there exists the other side of the coin. There are people who come to Barcelona willing to stay, willing to share and be creative, searching for something more than just the beauty of the streets, the amazing weather or the delicious food. It is the people themselves who create the space for magical things to happen.
When I left Barcelona 12 years ago to go study abroad, there was nothing like the yoga community we now have. Yoga did not resonate with anything familiar and was associated with mystical practices coming from the East, sitting, meditating and chanting Om. I myself discovered yoga in England and the US, where I fell in love with the practice of Vinyasa Yoga thanks to the amazing community at Yoga State (E. Lansing, Michigan, US), and their great teaching team. I thought I could never find that sort of sangha back home, simply because there wasn’t much yoga happening in Barcelona. But I was wrong! To my surprise, I came back to my hometown 10 years later and suddenly yoga pants were the trendiest outfit! Yoga studios emerging in every corner, tonnes of different styles being taught, workshops every weekend, teacher trainings, etc. The yoga boom had really started and it has only been growing.
I am writing these words now from the north of Thailand, in a city called Chiang Mai, where I immediately felt welcomed and at home. At first you would not say that Barcelona and Chiang Mai are similar in any way, but the longer I have been here the more I see the connections. And more than the weather or the colourful streets, the reason for that is because here too, yoga is growing every day – people coming from all over the world to practice, organic cafes and delicious food, permaculture and a big healing community. Practicing and playing in the park here in Chiang Mai didn’t feel so different from the Parc de la Ciutadella, where music, yoga and the meeting of cultures make Sunday afternoons very special in Barcelona.
And now, thanks to this growing community and with each year of the BYC, everyone knows about yoga. Even if they don’t practice themselves, everyone knows someone who practices yoga. But most important, everyone knows that yoga is good for you. Whether you just want to move, or to get fit, or to let go of some stress, or to find that quiet space inside. And for all of us yoga lovers, we know that the more yoga there is in the world, the better this world will be.