January generally equates to broken New Year’s resolutions and leftover rounded bellies. If overdosing on strange smoothies that include avocado, broccoli and protein powder is not your thing, why not try one of the many weird and wacky yoga classes that continue to pop up around town.
Hot Pod Yoga
Taking place in an inflatable pop-up tent of sorts (patented exclusively by Hot Pod Yoga), the space is dark, cosy, and heated to 37°C. The one-hour class combines vinyasa flow and pilates core exercises giving you a chance to both stretch and strengthen…and sweat. Based in Brixton, Notting Hill and London Fields, the portable studios are also fully equipped to pop up at any requested location, including your office (!).
Originally based atop Peckham’s multi-storey car park, Lucyoga’s classes are now at Peckham Liberal Club, among other groovy southeast locations. Focusing on the Dru Yoga style, her classes are for people of all ages and abilities, and include flowing movements, or sequences, that she repeats with variations and themes (our particular class was appropriately branded ‘New Perspectives’).
Trending among yoga aficionados, it’s a cross between ashtanga and vinyasa, and is noted as the original ‘power yoga’. Developed by Larry Schultz in 1980s San Francisco, the style is expected to keep you moving faster and more fluidly than a typical yoga class. While you might miss a few of the sequences in the first sessions, teachers insist you’ll quickly catch on by the third or fourth. Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir coined the name as ‘it gets you there faster’. Sound good? You, and the rest of London thinks so too. Classes are regularly booked up at Frame in Shoreditch, Yotopia in Covent Garden and a heated version at Fitness on Fire in Old Street and Fulham.
Whether you’re a boxer or a yogi looking for an athletic push, boxing yoga is sure to drive you to your fitness limits. For boxers, it’s an opportunity to learn stretching and breathing techniques, and for all others, it’s a chance to understand boxing stances, punches and guards. Total Boxer now train a variety of sporting clubs, in addition to hosting classes at its studio in Hornsey, Sweaty Betty and H2 Bike Run in Soho and Fitness First in Angel.
Fierce Grace Yoga
From the same team that originally brought bikram to London, fierce grace is an innovative twist that blends hatha, ashtanga, power and of course bikram. If you’re a fan of sweaty yoga, no doubt you’ll love this hot version that comprises five interconnected classes referred to as Core, Classic, Fierce Grace, The Beast and The Fix. Expect more postures and more variation, giving bikram lovers a chance to finally try something new (sorry Bikram Choudhury – it’s about time we had some offshoots from your single, regimented workout). Studios are based in Primrose Hill, the City and Queen’s Park.
Get your bellies prepared, ’cause this isn’t any old kind of yoga: it’s fits of giggles designed to make you exhale out your toxins and set your inner energy for all-around feel-goodness. Studies show smiles and laughter can rid the mind of the blues, just as they can apparently work your core to a pulp. Why not attempt intense breathing (also known as pranayama) while positively interacting with others – you might just find yourself transcended into a euphoric high, with an incredibly strong core. Mary Adshead holds classes the first Sunday of every month on Hampstead Heath while The School of Laughter Yoga has regular meet-ups near the Southbank, the next one taking place this Friday 17 January and Sunday 19 January. If all else fails, The Telephone Laughter Club laughs every morning at 0844 335 1552.
Founded by Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Kline, both also based in San Francisco, acroyoga immerses partner acrobatics and circus skills, and builds on the potential to connect with others. Acro comes from the Greek root word akros meaning high and yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning union; so together AcroYoga means high union. Asanas, or positions, require a base, a flyer and a spotter to ensure optimal safety. Be prepared to push yourself: stunts require strength and confidence. Go on, be daring. You can trial the classes with Jaqui Wan at Gogo Yoga near Columbia Road, British School of Shiatsu in Finsbury Park and The Place near Euston.
A dedicated 45-minute stretch class that involves lengthening techniques from dance, yoga and fitness. These specific sequences will encourage muscles to lengthen, leaving you calm and relaxed. While not as challenging as barrecore’s original classes incorporating a ballet barre to fully work (and shake) the entire body, do be prepared to entangle yourself in strangely long and twisty positions that, we warn you now, will hurt.
If you’re more interested in the aesthetics and social side of yoga classes, then Secret Yoga Club is a must. From the old Dalston Boys Club to a beautifully historic church, its latest event pushes the scales even higher, involving a chef, a DJ and an opera singer at Royal Academy on 2 February. Meanwhile, Secret Yoga also supports the pop-up yoga studio that just re-opened at Shoreditch’s ‘alternative luxury store’ Celestine Eleven. Head down some stairs and you’ll discover an oasis of mats, candles and find-yourself-music. Underground jivamukti – who could resist.
If you missed our previous alternative workout referring to yoga that lets you ‘hang like batman’, then make sure to read about it here. Antigravity yoga continues to gain traction in Virgin Active Health Clubs and other smaller venues such as My Boutique Fitness and London Dance Academy. Daunting as it may seem to rely on a silk rope hanging from the ceiling, exercises like cautious swings (sitting with your feet hanging free) or the ‘possum’ (where your body is fully wrapped like a ball) become less scary the more classes you do.