7 am was the time I stumbled bleary eyed from my cosy warm bed on Friday morning. For those of you not familiar with my sleeping habits, there is really only one 7 O'clock in the day with which I am acquainted and it is not the morning one! I was on the train at 8:01 heading for London and it was actually a fascinating experience. There was a young, trendy business man frantically writing an obviously past due report on his teeny weeny laptop; a girl in the chicest outfit, sporting ugly, ugly trainers, NYC style; an older lady applying full make up including a complete eyebrow grooming session as well as an inspection of the bags under her eyes and stray black hairs on her chin. That was just in the other three seats next to me.
I finally hopped off the tube at Clapham Common and trotted about three minutes round the road to a little piece of yoga heaven. Well, actually it is one vowel off Heaven but what is a vowel amongst friends?!
Yogahaven Clapham, owned by the lovely Krystal Nash and Allie Hill, opened this week and let me tell you, it is STUNNING!
Set off the main road in an uber modern development, it is a beautifully designed and brilliantly thought out yoga studio. The glass fronted building gives off an open and inviting vibe and the 8 foot or so artistic photos of Allie, flawlessy demonstrating 3 different postures are inspiring and will surely help to get people in the door and onto the mat. It was so great to see these two partners in crime perching behind their sleek desk and mac books, grinning, shattered but pleased as punch at their creation. And so they should be. The entrance area is big and airy with a "menu" of the class prices and package options painted onto the wall behind the desk. There are pigeon holes for shoes and the place smells great, which is a biggy - for those of you who frequent hot yoga studios, you know!!!
There is a small studio next to the lobby that has one glass wall (you can see out from the studio but not in from the road, so no worries about being leered at by passersby!) and fits maybe 15 mats comfortably. Here they will have a variety of classes including Jivamukti, Ashtanga, pregnancy yoga and the super new craze from America, pulse yoga.
Downstairs is the hot studio that is absolutely huge. It holds 55 mats and I was happy to see it also boasts a big skylight so you don't get the feeling of being cooped up like the Chilean miners! Both studios sport motivational and enlightening quotes painted on the walls and the white and chocolate brown colour scheme is clean and chic.
Now for my favourite part, the changing rooms. GORGEOUS! Well, they have lockers and benches and coat hooks, all the usual suspects, but wait for it, the showers, oh the showers! Individual shower cubicles with frosted doors and drench heads. Thank god! Finally a facility where you don't have to parade around in a sea of sweaty naked women trying to avert your eyes from the sadly neglected bikini lines or the perfectly toned, ten years your junior, bodies, both of which make me quite uncomfortable. I don't know what it is, I am not a prude at all having spent my life as a dancer, often scantily clad and happy to make a costume change in front of anyone. I think it is the brazen way some women flaunt their wares, scrubbing their bits in front of perfect strangers and thinking nothing of drying their hair completely naked. Is there really any need?!
The class was fab. A properly hot studio and Krystal was amazing. She was on my teacher training course with me and all I kept thinking was, I hope I sound as good as her when I teach! She took us through the 90 minute class with ease, reassuring us, guiding us and peppering the practise with titbits regarding anatomical benefits with a large dose of human kindness.
Safe to say, I was in yoga heaven!
After my high pressure, private shower I got myself organised to head off to my next stop of the day. I skipped out the door after gushing about the new studio to the proud owners, looking like an enormous beetroot! Why do I go so red when I get hot? My sister does too so it must run in the family. People were giving me such weird looks on the tube like I had some horrible disease or I had just been the victim of a radioactive accident!
14 stops later, I arrived at Olympia for the annual event that I missed out on last year due to work commitments, The Yoga Show. I am not sure quite what I was expecting but I was so disappointed. It was a huge room full of people pedalling what can only be described as shite! Thai silk trousers in burnt orange with a low slung crotch that you would wear once, until someone laughed you out of the studio, overpriced potions for decreasing anxiety and increasing your overdraft, and 150 different kinds of yoga mat all claiming to be the best yoga mat in the world! Fighting my way through the crowds and the very flimsy stands that shook if you slightly grazed one corner (as I did on numerous occasions with my large bag stuffed full of sweaty yoga gear), I found myself at a cafe. The organic, free range, eco-friendly, non biological, hormone free, no added sugar, egg and cress sandwich was the saving grace of the show along with the lecture on breathing techniques that I caught whilst chomping.
The final nail in the yoga show coffin was a very odd experience at the Sahaja yoga stand with a hobbit like man named "Uncle Jim" with his randomly shaved face and paint stripper halitosis. I will leave that story for another post!
I left Olympia very disappointed in what I thought was going to be a wonderfully enlightening experience. It turns out that no matter how many thousands of years old something is, there is always room for a good bit of commercialism and consumer madness.
My journey home was long and hot, I was still glowing red from the hot yoga class several hours previously and there was little air in the packed train compartment. Make up lady, report man and trainer girl were replaced with shopaholic, overweight senior citizen and surly teenager, who must have sent 500 texts between Marylebone and Chorleywood!
So I shall not be spending my hard earned cash on a ticket to Olympia next October, however I am very sorry that I don't live closer to Clapham so I can take advantage of all the gorgeous yoganess that Yogahaven has to offer.
If you get a chance, hop on the tube and see for yourself!