By Teresa Geer, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The city may sometimes seem like it is all movement and excitement amplified by the Carnivals, caipirinhas and capoeira; but amongst the frantic fun there is also ample opportunity to discover a slice of zen in Rio de Janeiro too. There are many options for the calm-seeker to balance body, mind and soul in, and around, this bustling beach-city.
Meditation, the art of sitting completely still and coax the mind into deep concentration, is not as easy as it may seem. Luckily, there are many courses and classes in Rio de Janeiro to help those who want to realize a purer state of mind.
Although Brazil is a majority Christian country, it is also home to the third largest Buddhist population in the Americas. Buddhist Temples can be found dotted all over town, The Sociedade Budista do Brasil (Buddhist Society of Brazil) is situated on the picturesque hilltops of Santa Teresa.
The temple offers classes and retreats in Portuguese with a stunning vista of Rio de Janeiro at the bottom of the student’s meditation cushion. Classes are every Sunday at 4:30 PM (Estrada Dom Joaquim Mamede, 45 – Santa Teresa).
Alternatively the Karma Theksum Chokhorling Temple takes visitors out to the neighborhood of Vargem Grande, an hour bus drive from Ipanema. The traditionally built temple is home to Buddhist monks and also run meditation retreats as well as free tours of the grounds with prior arrangement by email.
After experiencing temple life, visitors can immerse themselves into the rich natural surroundings of Vargem Grande which offers tourists a bounty of nature’s best including walking trails through the waterfalls of the Serra Carioca mountain range.
A slightly less distant option for a breath of fresh air can be found in the picturesque Parque Lage. This rainforest park is not only home to a perfect replica of a Palazzo Romano, grand colonial fountains and nature trails that lead to the Christ the Redeemer, but is also the perfect spot to start the day with the serenity of Tai Chi, taught by Eduardo Molon.
“After having practiced Tai Chi in the Netherlands and China, I was very glad to find Eduardo Molon’s Tai Chi lessons here in Rio.” explains year-long student and German expatriate Oliver Lorscheid.
“It has a very educative effect on my posture for daily life and I’m not suffering from a stiff neck from desk work anymore! I couldn’t imagine a better start to the weekend than Eduardo’s Saturday morning Tai Chi lesson in the tranquil atmosphere of the beautiful Parque Lage.”
The martial art practice, which is well noted for its benefits for health and stress management, is taught in the park every Saturday 8AM – 9:30AM (R$60 per class or R$160 per month).
Start the day with one ancient practice, and end it with another; yoga is already widely practiced in Rio with new studios popping up on the regular. Yoga Body Rio provide sunset beach sessions to stretch those limbs into the golden sand with the crashing waves as a soundtrack. The sessions take place at Posto 8, Ipanema every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 5PM (R$15 per class).