As you will probably have seen on Instagram, we recently attended a Vinyasa Flow session with Robyn from yogahive , which took place at the Curious Duke gallery near Old Street/Barbican. As “people who don’t do much yoga but understand it is really important”, we jumped at the opportunity!
I know that I should stretch more. I should stretch more before I work out. I should stretch more after I work out. I should stretch first thing in the morning and I should stretch to aid recovery. And yet, I don’t. I always manage to convince myself that somehow it’s a waste of time, and that attitude only changes when I tweak something and berate myself for not having warmed up properly. So, when Katie and I were asked by the lovely (and pretty inspiring!) Robyn at Yoga Hive to pop along to check out a class in their amazing gallery space, I was delighted to have the excuse to give yoga a try again.
Hiding in plain sight between Old Street and Barbican, the Curious Duke Gallery provides a delightfully unusual makeshift studio space for Yoga Hive’s Tuesday morning drop in class. I am not much of a morning person (I’ve always been envious of Katie’s ability to bounce out of bed and straight into her running shoes at ridiculous o’clock), so dragging myself out the door and on to my bike at 7am to get the 7.30am class filled me with dread, but once I got there and I set up my mat, the light pouring in through huge windows filled me with energy. I was a bit worried that I’d be self-conscious about doing yoga in a place where people on the street could peer in, like a sweaty, lycra-wearing goldfish, but honestly once we got going I was either too engrossed in the practice to notice or we were not interesting enough for the sleepy outside world to care.
On top of the masses of natural light, we were also surrounded by some beautiful and ever-so-slightly macabre artwork – without meaning to sound colossally w*nky, being around these beautiful objects was very calming. The gallery changes its exhibits fairly frequently, so yogis can look forward to experiencing new art on the reg.
As a teacher, Robyn is clearly head over heels in love with yoga, herself deep in the enjoyment of her own practice, you can’t help but feel an enthusiasm for it yourself. Ever the competitive pair, Katie and I set up our mats next to each other, to keep a keen eye on each other’s postures. Luckily, with the exception of ‘the crow’ which Katie was annoyingly capable of, we were both at a level where we had no option but to hang on Robyn’s every, reassuring, word and pray we wouldn’t collapse in a heap. Despite a few giggle-inducing wobbles, in all it was a success – I definitely broke a sweat, which I wasn’t expecting. This was no fair-weather, token-gesture, yoga. This is push-yourself-as-far-as-you-can, be-aware-of-your-body, concentration-rules yoga. Despite that, I came out of the class feeling more awake but also more relaxed. And for someone who is a sleeper by nature, this was a refreshing combination!
If you’re London-based, Yoga Hive also run drop-in classes in Limehouse (£10), and for everyone else, Robyn is also one of the instructors who contributes live and recorded classes that you can follow from the comfort of your own living room through www.yogaia.com. She’s awesome, get involved!
I would openly use the phrase “I don’t like yoga”. I am a runner, a a cyclist, and player of MANY team sports and to be perfectly honest, I see an hour of yoga as an hour of time wasted when I could have been doing something else. YES I KNOW STOP JUDGING ME. So it takes a lot for me to come out of a yoga class and say “I enjoyed that” – and this time I did.
Robyn was open, friendly and fun. I’m fed up of going yoga classes where god forbid someone should be trying to stifle a giggle as they contemplate attempting a position that they never in a million years will manage without falling over, and this wasn’t one of those types of yoga classes. Big yay from me!
I giggled, Kate giggled, and we weren’t reprimanded or tutted at! (Not mind, that this means it isn’t a serious yoga class, quite the opposite) We were challenged and pushed individually, with multiple modifications available, AND I managed to get myself into crow for longer than expected. And chatting to Robyn afterwards, it was refreshing to hear that to be perfectly honest, there are always going to be some physical and structural limitations to our bodies that mean that actually, not everyone can physically do every single posture. Even yoga teachers. They are human! So take that away with you when you’re really struggling to wrap yourself up in a difficult way.
It was also a glorious space – big open windows, lots of light, and more to look at than just bare studio walls. The artwork regularly changes, so you’ll never quite know what you’ll be looking at next. It makes it a bit less intimidating – and you’d be forgiven just for wandering past and sticking your head in wanting to join. The music was modern and contemporary (no whale noises here thank you!) and the flow was challenging without making you keel over or spend 5 hours in downward-facing dog (I get serious cramp and arm fatigue for being there for too long).
Robyn runs classes at 7.30am Tuesdays at the Curious Duke, Wednesday evenings in Limehouse and as Kate mentioned, is also part of the brilliant Yogaia, an online platform that allows you to stream live classes, as well as follow the practice at your leisure, all in the comfort of your own living room/bedroom/back garden/office/delete as appropriate.
*Disclaimer: we were offered a taster class free of charge in return for this review, however as always, all opinions are our own*