It’s January. A cold harsh contrast to December’s decadence, and the will power of New year’s day is starting to wane. Diets, detoxes, and distinct lack of fun feels less saintly and more snoooz-worthy by the day. Don’t let 2017 trick you into starting on the back foot, WE MUST STAND FIRM! But how, you might ask? Well, a little bit of OM might help.
Yes, we know we sound a little bit like raging hippies, but a few moments of reflection can help you focus; on what you want; on yourself (for a change) or on simply relaxing. So it stands to reason that Yoga is the exercise De Jour for January – it gives your brain a bit of breathing space, while still giving your body the traditional post Turkey boot camp treatment (NB, it doesn’t HAVE to be boot camp worthy and there are lots of different yoga styles to suit your appropriate level of sadism, errr, sorry we mean fitness level).
So with that in mind, we went a-hunting for somewhere local to get our OM on…
Peaceful and professional yoga at Space East in Forest Gate
Run by two local yoga lovers, Space East feels friendly and sophisticated – there is a cheerful mural to greet you outside the door, flowers on display as you enter, a handy set of cubby holes to stash your bags and belongings and all mats, blocks and equipment is provided (although you can bring your own if you prefer).
We opted for a punchy Saturday morning class (9.15AM, people. Rise and shine!) of Ashtanga yoga – a traditional but relatively hardcore style of yoga where you synchronise the movement of your body with the breath to build strength. For an hour and a half, our teacher, Catherine softly talked us through the poses and routines (called Asana’s) step by step before talking us into a long and satisfying Savasana (our favourite yoga pose, and will soon be yours too. The translation means ‘Corpse’ pose and it is basically just lying down) at the end.
Ooooh, lovely and relaxed, we were (as well as exhausted, this one was not a beginners class so she worked us HARD!). So much so, that we needed a minute to sit still before cycling home, and decided the minute could (should) involve a cup-o-tea at Coffee7. We might have tried the yummy looking cafe next door called The Avenue, but it doesn’t open until 11.30am, and our class finished at 10.45! Boooo!. #Yogabrunch #justsayin’.
The classes are £11.50 for an off peak session, and £13 during peak times (7am-9am, and 4.30pm – 9.30pm) so it’s not a cheap, but you get what you pay for… Space East is a beautiful, professional and very zen yoga studio, with accredited teachers and a range of classes to suit all abilities and tastes. It’s worth it.
Kundalini Yoga at Green Street Library
If £13 for a yoga class seems a bit steep, then Newham council offer plenty of low cost options to help you meditate your way through January on a shoestring. We road tested the Kundalini Yoga over at Green Street Library, for the bargain price of £1 and were not disappointed – this class was much more gentle than the Ashtanga, but just as fulfilling.
Kundalini is a much slower and more meditative Yoga practice, focussed around energy and chakras. It’s not quite as ‘sit still and chant’ as it might sound but focusses on core muscles and a healthy spine more than raising your heart rate. It’s great if an ‘active’ Yoga class sounds a bit too bendy and intimidating, and this particular class caters for all levels so would be suitable for beginners or Yogi-newbies.
Being in Green Street Library makes the practice a little more out in the open that you might find in a private studio, and occasionally a small child or curious bookworm did wander down to the back of the library to see why there were 15 people lying on the floor but aside from this, the session was refreshing, calming and very welcoming. As the class got fuller, no one was turned away – we all simply shuffled up and got closer to make room. Something about this captures the very essence of Yoga; open to everyone, and achievable whether you are in a glossy studio clad in lycra or in a corridor, in your pyjamas (ok, we’re not exactly sure why you might be stood in a corridor in your PJ’s but you get the gyst).
This class is great value, at £1 a go, and suitable for everyone (there were a few under 12’s in our class). It’s a very different experience to Space East, but worth exploring if you are keen to save your pennies, expand your Yoga practice (many london studios leave out a lot of spiritual yoga traditions in favour of more serious F.I.T.N.E.S.S), or just to get moving in a supportive and non judgemental environment.
More Yoga in and around East Ham
For those of you still hungry for more, below are some other nearby Yoga-nators…
*Editor’s note* – We haven’t tried them all…. If you have, tell us all about it here. Also, if you happen to be a Yoga teacher looking for a new hood, give us a shout – we might know some young Jedi’s looking for a master).