Thursday, 3 November 2011
Powering through the poses
Yoga is an ancient practice, and all those centuries have allowed plenty of time for a plethora of varieties to develop and gain traction all over the world. Most people have heard of Hatha and Ashtanga, and the celeb gang seem to be doing dotty for Bikram, but Power Yoga was one we hadn't heard of before. Luckily, Parsons Green plays host to London's first Power Yoga studio: The Power Yoga Company. Set up by a group of friends from France, the company has a very open and friendly ethos, and being local, we couldn't wait to check it out.
The building and particularly the studio itself is really gorgeous. Set in the old Glasshouse, it's all Victorian architecture, high ceilings, large windows, painted brick and old wooden floorboards. The dressing room was colourful and replete with towels, mats and books whilst the studio was decked with dozens of tea lights for our evening class, conducted completely by candlelight.
The practice is certainly tough: it's not called Power yoga for nothing. We "flowed" (or at least tried to!) quite quickly between the different postures, some of which require quite a lot of muscle and concentration. The emphasis is just as much on the movement as the stretches: although you certainly feel supple when you leave there's no doubt you've had a workout. For those of you who've struggled to justify yoga as "proper exercise" (you know, the kind that makes you break a sweat and gets the pulse racing), you may have met your match. However, the emphasis on stretching, correct alignment, breathing and balance central to traditional yoga practice remain, it's just that elements of strength and endurance are added. Oh yes, we forgot to mention: the studio is also heated. It's not exactly Bikram heat, but enough to get the sweat flowing from the outset and really warm the muscles to allow you to push yourself deeper into the poses.
All that said, exercise is supposed to be challenging after all, we thoroughly enjoyed the class. All the mats, towels, blocks and seating pads are provided, and the setting in the candlelight, with the exposed floors, gentle music playing and the beautiful scent pushed out into the room contrived to make the experience feel almost luxurious. Almost! Special mention to our teacher, Zoe, who had a beautifully relaxing way about her, and encouraged us all to push ourselves whilst giving us various levels of difficulty to choose between and taking the time to correct our (many) incorrect postures. I confess I sometimes fall into the "yoga is great, but don't forget to hit the gym too" camp, so I did relish the slightly more strenuous elements as well.
It's also worth mentioning that we did go straight in with the standard Power Yoga class. There are also 5 foundation level classes each week for those of you who'd prefer to ease yourself in. Classes are operated on a drop in basis, although the Monday evening class seems to get very congested: there are obviously a lot of Fulhamites trying to repent heavy weekends!
The Power Yoga Company
11-12 Lettice Street
London SW6 4EH
Photos 1 and 3 are kindly "borrowed" from http://www.thepoweryogaco.com/index.html