By Jaime Tung
Finding the right yoga studio to cultivate a regular practice is like finding the perfect pair of jeans: nearly impossible, but once you find the right one, you’re in love. It takes time, patience, a lot of trial-and-error, and of course, money.
For those of you who are new to yoga in London, I’ve compiled a list of my three favourite studios – the ones I return to again and again because the classes there are so affirming, they remind me why I practice yoga in the first place. My focus is on studios that offer Vinyasa flow classes but I know there are plenty of amazing Ashtanga and Iyengar studios in London too. Find out which yoga practice will suit you.
Some factors I took into consideration: cost, location, the quality of the teachers, the quality of the studio and the types of classes that are offered. Friendly classmates help too! There’s nothing worse than being on the receiving end of a death-stare because you’ve inadvertently taken someone’s “favourite spot” in the class on your first visit. Or arriving in your low-key, no brand workout gear to find everyone else limbering up exclusively in designer threads (nothing against designer yoga wear – it’s trendy and cool, but can be a bit intimidating).
So here are my top picks:
Yoga on the Lane
A favourite of East London hipsters and experienced yoga practitioners alike, Yoga on the Lane operates in a humble but beautiful studio on Shacklewell Lane, near Dalston Kingsland Overground station. Situated next to scrumptious café, Mouse & de Lotz, YOTL (as it’s affectionately known to regular yogis and yoginis) offers beginner to advanced level Vinyasa flow classes.
Good for: Those who are new to yoga. Emphasis is placed on correct alignment and the anatomy and physiology behind asanas, so you really understand what’s happening to your body in downward dog or if you’re doing chaturanga properly.
Pros: A heated floor. Need I say more? In the winter, it’s an absolute delight to luxuriate in savasana as the floor boards glow with just the right amount of heat. The friendly environment is a real plus. From the moment you step through the door, you’re greeted with a smile and the teachers are absolutely lovely. Class prices are a steal – ranging from £10 for a 60-minute class to £12 for a 90-minute class, which is almost unheard of in London.
Cons: The small studio. Classes are so affordable and popular, you’ll sometimes find your mat nearly edge-to-edge with the person’s next to you. While it certainly tests your boundaries (in true yogic fashion!), the close quarters may not be for everyone. On the other hand, smaller class size means more opportunity for individual assists/adjustments from teachers as well, which I always appreciate.
Don’t miss: Classes taught by Anna Taylor, Adam Hocke, or Bridget Stacey Luff.
Good Vibes Studio
With two locations in Covent Garden and Fitzrovia, Good Vibes is known for its “glow” yoga classes which are taught in an infra-red heated studio. It’s not as sweaty and humid as Bikram, but the gentle heat does allow you to move a little deeper into asanas and work up a bit of a sweat – particularly in the more dynamic flow classes.
Good for: Those who like a challenge. At first, it took me a bit of time to adjust to the heat, but I quickly became addicted to the classes, especially as they’re taught in a studio that’s softly lit by “happy” lights – you know, the ones designed for seasonal affective disorder. Totally mood-boosting. You’ll find that several of the teachers who teach over at YOTL also appear on the Good Vibes roster – this is an excellent thing.
Pros: Inspiring, challenging classes that will up your fitness ante. I was in a depressed, fitness slump when I first decided to try my first yoga class at Good Vibes. Soon, I was feeling more energised, more positive, and saw a real difference in my body after only three weeks of attendance. It may be the enthusiastic teachers or the happy lights, but the classes there are definitely life-changing.
Cons: The price – ouch. Although the studio runs an introductory offer for new clients of £40 for 30 days, a 12-month unlimited membership starts at £95 per calendar month. The 10-class yoga pass at £120 is a little more doable, but that depends on how often you want to practice. However, everyone I know who takes classes at Good Vibes (including myself!) agrees that the prices are totally worth it.
Don’t miss: Glow Ballet Tone – a mix of ballet and pilates set to high-octane beats – taught by Eleah Waters. Don’t be fooled by the gentle-sounding name. This class will kick your butt (literally, you attempt to kick your butt at one point). My toes were quivering after my first class and I couldn’t walk up the stairs unaided. It’s kind of amazing.
The Life Centre
Located in Islington and Notting Hill, The Life Centre’s beautiful studios are an oasis of calm from the hustle and bustle of hectic London life. The upstairs studio at the Islington branch has plenty of natural lighting and gorgeous wooden floors – space-wise, it’s probably my favourite studio to practice at in London. Their classes range from Vinyasa to Yin to Jivamukti to Ashtanga, just to name a few. It’s a terrific place for pregnancy yoga as well. They run several workshops and retreats throughout the year in case you want to develop your practice just that little bit further.
Good for: Experienced and beginner yogis/yoginis alike, who want to deepen their practice. The workshops are fantastic and the tranquil surroundings of the studio make it my favourite place to practice. Teachers are attentive and make helpful adjustments to ensure a safe and healthy practice. You never feel pressured to take advanced poses if your body isn’t ready for it, which is always something I look out for when taking a class with a new teacher.
Pros: Beautiful and spacious studios in a tranquil setting. Excellent teachers who are experienced, attentive, and compassionate.
Cons: Price, again. A drop-in 60 min. class costs £14 and a one-month unlimited membership is £130, but a 10-class pass at £120 is a bit more cost-effective, depending on your budget. I attend one-off classes at The Life Centre as a treat.
Don’t miss: Again, several teachers at The Life Centre also have regularly scheduled classes at YOTL. Although there are many excellent teachers at The Life Centre, I particularly enjoyed Ulric Whyte’s Ashtanga class last time I was there and had a lot of fun at a partner yoga workshop taught by Sarah Scharf.
Jaime is a yoga, sugar, and eBay-addicted American expat who has lived in London for the past seven years. She’s lived here long enough to call pants “trousers” and sweaters “jumpers”. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Angloyankophile or follow her on Twitter @angloyankophile.
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