Gone are the days when yoga classes were solely for zenned-out chanters. Yogis are now basking in mindfulness via interval training combined with deep stretching, core conditioning done in tune with Eminem, and even bonding over single arm planks. Yep, this is the modern world of yoga where anything goes.
Adding on from our previous yoga hit lists — where we explored hot pods, hanging in hammocks like Batman and simply laughing while savasana-ing — we again set out to explore London’s alternative yoga scene.
‘Strap on and load up’ says Gym Box’s description for this class, which combines Vinyasa flow with weight conditioning to help you tone up and trim down to a soundtrack of energising hip hop and house music.
Yes, there are downward dogs, but there are also circuit-based exercises involving leg kicks with deadening ankle weights, and side planks with wrist weights. Trainer Hannah Jackson, who created the class, ensures no cheat breaks are taken as "our bodies are stronger than we think". And she’s right. After 45 minutes when the weights finally come off, your body is walking on air. Find classes at Gym Box locations across London.
This unique workout begins with Vinyasa flow to calm the body, and then takes a drastic turn into high intensity bursts similar to HIIT classes. In this case, that includes a daunting five-minute plank workout. To continue warming and waking the body, the class repeats the yoga and interval set a second time, finishing with a stretch series, leaving your body energised and flushed of toxins.
Yogi and personal trainer duo Kate O’Reilly and Sasha Green guarantee to sweat you into shape in their Clapham Junction classes, and will soon be coming to east London. Covent Garden gym Another Space also gives its members the option of creating mixed workouts by scheduling HIIT/yoga/spin classes back-to-back.
Otherwise known as Bro Yoga, this form of yoga offers attendees a safe space "where it’s okay that you can’t touch your toes". Brought to London by Matt Miller, an ex-American footballer and super heavyweight bodybuilder, the class includes traditional sequences like downward dog into chaturanga, but then amps it up with core-strengthening, muscle-toning and cardio-based moves. Classes are predominantly full of men; however, fear not ladies, you’re welcome too.
Miller insists you’ll never be asked to "breathe through your kidneys", "look through your third eye" or "lift your pelvic floor"; but instead will focus on your ‘bro’-therly connection. So go ahead, kick some asana in classes at select Gym Box, Third Space and Hot Yoga Society locations.
Set in the basement of Hoxton’s trendy Trapeze Bar, this new class is all about releasing your inner-groove. Thanks to DJ Darlo, disco favourites such as Diana Ross, The Jackson Five and Barry White are spun on the decks while yoga diva Sarah Hunt (clad from head to toe in flashy sequins) propels you into a flowing set of Vinyasa sequences (and the occasional disco dance-off) designed for all levels.
In addition to a disco ball and a glitter station where attendees are encouraged to glam up, drink menus are on offer for those who want to sample ‘super food’ cocktails post-workout. Rather than intense yoga training, think uplifting, mindful fun. These girls have taken the class to a few music festivals, so they know what they're doing. Classes currently run Thursdays 7.30pm-8.30pm.
Hip hop yoga
Similar to disco yoga, Neil Patel’s Chi Kri Hip Hop Yoga puts a spin on traditional yoga with fat-burning dance moves to music from the likes of Tinie Tempah and Jay Z. Classes are currently held in Harrow, and the intensive, full-body workout is explosive, and lots of fun.
When else do you get told to open your hips by mimicking Beyonce’s Single Ladies back-thrusting? Or tone your upper body by pressing into the upper sphinx with Skepta in the background? Or do headstands to Snoop Dogg’s Nothin’ but a G Thang? Each session lasts an hour, with the same sequences and carefully curated tracks running for six-week blocks. Give it a go: Patel says you won’t regret the "fast, furious and fun" workout.
Larry Schultz’s 1980s ‘power yoga’ is by no means new to the scene, though it’s worth a mention as it continues to blast its way into studios and gyms across London. Coined by the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir as the yoga that "gets you there faster", it’s a challenging, fast-paced session that steals from the Ashtanga practice. Started in San Francisco, it has garnered an international celebrity following including Madonna and Sting. But there is no need to be an A-lister to rocket your way around London. Check out classes at Yotopia, Indaba, Light Centre and Yogahaven.
Coined as Voga by London's own Juliet Murrell, this cross between yoga and 'vogueing' has become increasingly popular across the city since its launch in 2014. While we’ve seen many trends come and go, this one has remained atop every fitness guru’s must-do list. From the rooftops of Peckham’s multi-storey car park and the City’s Coq d’Argent to Hoxton Gallery and Dalston’s Haggerston pub, Murrell continues to bring her 1980s ‘strike a pose’ themed sessions to east London (as well as New York and Paris), letting people “move to the music” with poses like the Centaur and Vogue Express.
Upcoming classes include Voga Mama, a hip and arm workout which Juliet insists is not just for mums, and a winter-warming series based in Coq d’Argent’s terrace ‘Lodge d’Argent’, complete with rugs, heaters and festive merriment.
Yoga on high
Yogasphere continues to lure the daring-and-the-willing to The Shard's floor-to-ceiling, glass-windowed viewing platform, where a leaning and lengthening Vinyasa class is done 1016ft (310m) up. Elsewhere, a Hatha, Ashtanga and Vinyasa mash-up class is taught on the Mondrian’s 12th floor, complete with a scenic terrace.
Head east, and try yoga 42 metres above the Thames on a glass-floor running across Tower Bridge’s upper walkway. Over in the City, you can release your inner chakras in a one-hour sunrise session most mornings in London’s highest public garden, The Sky Garden.
You may have tried one of the original 'hot yoga' Bikram classes done in sweltering temperatures from 36C to 40C. We know the class formula, where the same 26 postures are repeated twice, can get tedious. To freshen things up, spin-offs such as Fitness on Fire, I Am Yoga and Hot Yoga Society have created their own variations.
Whether you want to try a boiling version of rocket yoga, a 30-minute Abs and Glute Blast, or 'Warm Forrest' yoga (a mix between asana work from India and Native American Indian healing philosophies), there is something for everyone looking to get seriously hot.
Still not convinced? Give Fierce Grace a go. Its uniquely modified classes titled Fierce, Classic, Deep Core, Fierce and Wild make an enticing attempt to bridge the gap between conventional gym workouts and hot yoga.
Finally, leaving the most relaxed for last: recover and recharge with the more refined detox yoga. Influenced by Hatha and Yin yoga, expect lots of breathing exercises and restorative elements to help lower your heart rate, improve digestion, skin, memory and concentration. Both the nervous system and the adrenal glands are also put in focus, enabling the body to move towards balance.
Classes are available at Move Your Frame, triyoga and I Am Yoga; the latter also has a Chakra class including a Tantric Hatha element. Yes, we know what you're thinking... but it's simply deeper breathing and stretching providing a calming for the mind. It's a must-try to get those chakras balanced, or perhaps more likely, to sort out a weekend hangover.