Archives for posts with tag: Equinox

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Before I go too much further with this post I should point out that I wasn’t some yogic saint during my two weeks in the States! Yes I made it to some classes, managed to fit in a couple of gym visits and wolfed down some green juices and acai bowls (as an aside, why oh why aren’t these easier to come across in London?!), but I also let my hair down and tucked into some really yummy burgers and sampled a lot of California wine and beer. So I don’t want it to look like I spent my whole time on my yoga mat, but I do think sourcing yoga studios and events is a different way to explore an area when you’re on holiday and I was very grateful that I maybe didn’t have to work quite as hard as I might have done to work off all that yummy American food once I got home as I might have done had I not done any exercise….!

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Before I went, the one name that kept coming up when friends gave me yogic recommendations was Annie Carpenter who was teaching a regular class at Yoga Tree in San Francisco when we were there. San Francisco is pretty chock-a-blocked  with yoga studios, which left my boyfriend a little bemused as to why I was making him walk past seemingly hundreds of other studios to get to Yoga Tree’s Potrero Hill location, but Annie’s reputation was enough for me to make sure I gave up one night of my holiday and trekked across the city to make sure I attended. It was well worth it. Annie’s class was packed, despite being in a massive room, but she had the skill that all really great teachers do of making you feel like she’s giving everyone in the studio individual attention. She’s coming over to London to workshop at Triyoga in a couple of months and I’d highly recommend signing up for at least one session while she’s here.

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From a teacher whose reputation preceded her, my next trip onto the mat was at a studio whose reputation did the same. Core Power Yoga is a huge hot yoga franchise across America which teaches its particular brand of yoga at well over a hundred studios. I’d heard a lot about the company and fancied experiencing it for myself, so signed up for a class in Santa Barbara. One of the things I really noticed about American studios is the extra costs of things – I’m happy to pay for towels and water but was surprised that wherever I went the cost of hiring a mat was in addition to the cost of the class. But this seems to be somewhat standard; when we went to a class at Soul Cycle we discovered there’s an extra three dollar charge for hiring cleat shoes, which you need to get on the bike and aren’t quite as cheap as a yoga mat to buy yourself! The Core Power Yoga class was a set sequence, which a lot of students understandably knew well, but which I enjoyed. There was a lot of moving around the mat and facing different directions and it certainly worked up a sweat. I don’t think a franchise on this size is always going to work, but if you’re in a new town and want a class where you know what to expect then it’s a reassuring option.

For the second week of the holiday I didn’t manage to fit in as much yoga as we were on the road a lot, bar a jokey attempt at meditating amongst the slot machines in Vegas! I think it’s safe to say we went from being some of the slimmest people in Sin City to feeling like some of the most unhealthy by the time we got to the sunny seaside LA outpost of Santa Monica, so I was ready for some more yoga.

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Santa Monica feels like an extremely fit and healthy town, with Whole Foods as frequent as 7-Elevens, and on our first day I was super excited to find a sign for free yoga every Saturday morning on the town’s iconic pier. We also managed to fit in a couple of other workouts while there, including a trip to Soul Cycle to see what all the fuss is about (it was good, but not as good as Psycle) and a gym session at Equinox, thanks to a lovely friend of mine who was able to get us on the guest list. But it was the pier yoga that I was most excited about, and bounced out of bed at an hour I hadn’t seen since jet-lagged let go of me to head down to the pier. It was absolutely packed but, whereas in the UK this kind of event would be considered a huge deal (particularly if it hadn’t rained) Santa Monica yogis seemed to be very relaxed about it, as though it was just another yoga class, albeit one outdoors and on a pier.

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I was really lucky to get to experience some brand new yoga experiences on holiday and would highly recommend it as a way to get to know a new place in a different way! I got to meet some lovely new fellow yogis and teachers and learned a lot of things that I can take with me. Yoga is a universal language so it’s well worth scheduling some classes to your holiday, particularly if like me you struggle to keep up a home practice. And if anyone has success meditating in Vegas, please let me know!

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My friend Chloe is one of those people who is constantly on the move, travelling and teaching yoga around the world. So when she put on her Facebook that she was going to be briefly in London to teach a workshop I thought I’d better take my opportunity to see her, and when I realised that it was to be at uber swanky Kensington gym Equinox, I was even more excited.

I met Chloe a couple of years ago when she was hosting a yoga retreat with Loveyogabum, the company she co-founded, in Tuscany and really liked her fearless but kind teaching style. I hadn’t done a workshop for a while and it’s such a good opportunity to get to dedicate a couple of hours to breaking down some poses and try some new things. Although Chloe said that when in India she teaches for an average of three hours, this workshop was a more manageable two hours long.image

Equinox, where the workshop was held, is a fabulously glossy gym in Kensington located in the same building as the famous Kensington Roof Gardens (in fact last time I’d been in the entrance foyer I was on a friend’s hen do rather than in my yoga leggings!). While it’s a very chic gym, it was also really friendly with the woman on reception showing me personally to the changing rooms and making sure I had everything I needed. As well as rows of shiny high-tech machines, a mixed class studio and chill out lounge, Equinox has its own dedicated yoga studio. If you’re going to do yoga at somewhere that isn’t solely a yoga centre, it’s definitely preferable to go somewhere that has a separate room for barefoot exercise rather than sharing a space with sweaty trainer  wearers! Equinox’s studio is a gorgeous space with big windows looking out across West London roofs, floor to ceiling mirrors and barres along the wall, should your inner ballerina want to come out.2014-09-20 16.41.58

Chloe’s teaching is rooted in the Iyengar style so we all took bricks and straps for the class and we were lead through a series of flows and heart openers as we began working into deeper and deeper backbends. The joy of a workshop is having the time to explore new ways of practicing asanas and we worked in small groups of two or three to use straps and each others bodies to bend into salabhasana and bow poses, eventually working up to practicing dropping back from standing into wheel pose.

I’d never done a drop back before. It’s always been something that I’d seen practiced in classes with a teacher’s assistance but never thought I could actually attempt myself. But Chloe had us in pairs, helping each other out, and almost the entire class gave it a go! I partnered up with the lovely Vicky, Equinox’s PR and marketing manager and fellow drop back newby. One of us stood with our feet apart, hands in prayer, while the other stood facing them supporting their waist. The first person stretched their arms over the head and backwards towards the mat, while the other helped lower them into wheel. After taking a couple of breaths in the pose, the assist-er helped lever them back up to standing. It was tough and daunting (particularly when trying to prise the other person back up from wheel without dropping them on their head!) but hitting my first drop back was super exhilarating.10689922_614379832013017_8823267628980116738_n

The two hour workshop flew by and was rounded off with some yummy complementary Rebel Kitchen drinks in Equinox’s chill out lounge area which I would quite happily move into if I were a member. Catching up with Chloe and getting to explore one of London’s best fitness venues was an awesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I haven’t quite nailed another drop back as yet but hopefully it’s just a matter of time!

loveyogabum.com/

www.equinox.com/clubs/london/kensington