Yoga In London

By Elaine Kelly

Latest stop on my business travel was London combined with a visit to Norwich to see my son. I heard lots about the yoga scene there and was very excited to check it out.

I landed on 21st April at 9pm and caught the Gatwick express to Victoria and the tube to Angel where I was staying at the Hilton Islington hotel.  There is no gym in the hotel but you can pay 15 pounds to use the Virgin Active gym just down the road.  I checked in and crashed requesting a 6 am wake up call.  I was awake at 4.30 and up by 5.30, the light already streaming into my room. I did some emails and was personally escorted to the corner with directions of how to find the gym at 6.30am.  I did a 5km run and some yoga and picked up a class schedule for the week.  It was a cool 10c as I walked back to the hotel picking up a muesli from Starbucks for breakfast.  Spring is in bloom, daffodils and tulips standing strong in their vibrant colours and bare trees heavy in white scented flowers before the buds of leaves erupt to turn them green.   Everything felt fresh and renewed and alive including me with every cold breath I inhaled.

After work that day I cycled home on a Morris bike feeling like a real local my laptop strapped to the front of the bike. London is a very rideable city.  As a young student I cycled from Camden town where I lived to the London Palladium where I worked part time right around Trafalgar square without the slightest fear. Today’s cyclists all wear a yellow fluorescent jacket making them tough to miss.  I love taking public transport. Just top up your Oyster card and the city is yours to explore.  I prefer the bus over the tube just because you can watch the people go about their lives. I love eating at Pret a manger. They really know how to make great sandwiches and soups.  They are not only eco-friendly but they donate all their left over food to shelters.

My first evening I attended a vinyasa flow class at 8.15pm back at the Virgin Active. There were 5 of us and our teacher was from Serbia.  It was a very slow paced class with lots of instruction.

My next class was at Blue Cow Yoga. Ulrike, a colleague of mine, recommended it to me.  Most of the studios I researched only had mysore classes at 7am but this was a vinyasa dynamic class.  I left the hotel at 6.15am and caught a bus to Bank Street in the heart of the city.  Unfortunately due to road works the bus couldn’t go where it was supposed to.  There I was with my suitcase, yoga mat and briefcase walking the empty streets trying to find this studio.  I finally arrived at a very grand looking 19th century building which I discovered was the wrong entrance to the correct building.  I was let in and told to go downstairs where I finally found the reception.  It’s a spacious well designed studio with blue accents (hence the blue cow?).  You are asked to remove your shoes as you enter.  They had a special offer of a week of free classes for new joiners.  Otherwise it costs 13.50 or AED 65 per class and a pound for a towel.

The studio is down one level from the road but has windows to let some light in.  It was large with a strong wooden floor and cloths’ drape across the ceiling to shade the light.  Our teacher, Kasia, was Polish and a dancer but sounded French to me. There were 8 of us, 4 men and 4 women.  She had the most beautiful voice and her music was hauntingly soothing.   The class flowed like a dance and left us feeling energized and supple.  The change room was a buzz with ladies getting ready for their day. The studio has 8 showers and supplies eco-friendly shampoo, conditioner and body wash.  I chatted to a lady who told me she used to just go to the gym but now she only goes to spinning for the cardio and spends most of her time time doing yoga because she feels more calm and less stressful.  I love hearing these stories.

I showered and dressed and pushed my luggage down the cobbled sidewalk against the current of people heading in the opposite direction to work.  I have never seen such a congested side walk!

After my course finished I travelled by train to Norwich to spend some time with my son who lives and works there with his girlfriend.  We went to 3 vegetarian restaurants, the best being Moorish Falafel, the number one rated restaurant on Trip Advisor (see photo).

Back in London I had to dash to my hotel in Edgeware road to drop off all my luggage and head back to meet an old friend Kim and her daughter at Somerset house to see the International Photography Exhibition.  Take a look at these photos. The winner of the People category was a series of photos taken of the teenage survivors of the 2011 Norwegian bomb attack.   It was a quick bus ride to Soho to meet another friend for dinner at Arbutus.  We chatted while enjoying a delicious meal of fresh spring asparagus, Scottish salmon and bitter lemon tart.  We caught a taxi to the dominion theatre to see “We will rock you” the musical about the music of Queen. It’s like Mama Mia, you spend the entire show singing you heart out because you know all the lyrics to every song.  The leads were incredible and when they come back on to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” the entire theatre is on fire.

Full moon Friday went well under my husband’s care on Friday with 220 attendees, our last session till after summer. Only thing he forgot was the donation box so no money raised this time sadly.  Thanks to everyone who came. The photos are here on Facebook.  Thankfully the rain held off.  As I returned to my room that night and looked out over the London skyline, there was the biggest brightest full moon staring right at me.  It was the most awesome sight.

Despite not arriving in Dubai till 12.30 am, I taught my 7am class to two dedicated morning warriors and later my evening body balance class at the lakes which was packed!

Next month – Lisbon, Portugal.  Any suggestions for good studios there anyone?

Elaine Kelly founded Yogafest ME, the largest and only sustainable wellness event in the Middle East,  in 2010 when she became a certified yoga teacher while working for Microsoft.  With 30 years experience in the fitness industry, she wanted to support her fellow employees with their work life balance, and the idea for Yogafest was born.


Posted on 01 May 2013 by Elaine Kelly