Archives for posts with tag: Lululemon

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Things have taken an exciting turn in my yoga life as last week I officially started my 200 hour yoga teacher training course with The Yoga People. I’m really excited to take the next step towards building a career in yoga, even if it’s sometimes overwhelming and scary! I’m going to be blogging over at Om Exchange during the course, charting the ups and downs and how much I’m learning, and you can read the first week’s installment on there now.

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A couple of days before my course I went to a Visions and Goals session at Lululemon in Marylebone. It’s the kind of event I’d have previously shied away from (I can get very British about these things) but it seemed like too much of a coincidence that it fell just before I was starting on something potentially life changing. So I un-stiffed my upper lip and went along to what turned out to be a really inspiring and worthwhile event, with a group of us setting out plans for where we’d ideally like to be in one, five and 10 years time. Lululemon run the events across all their stores so keep an eye out for them as they’re well worth going to!

Finally, I’ve also started writing for True Yoga Collective, and you can read my post on Creating a Home Retreat on the site now, with lots more to follow!

 

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Oh Lululemon, you don’t half know how to throw a party! After announcing their London arrival with a bang back in March by hosting an epic yoga class at the Royal Opera House, last week the Canadian fitness clothing brand hosted a summer event at The Serpentine Gallery in Kensington.

Every summer The Serpentine, which is in that beautiful part of London where Hyde Park becomes Kensington Gardens, commissions a renowned architect to design a pavilion – a temporary structure which stands outside the gallery from June to October. Not being the biggest of art lovers, I’ve tended to associate the Serpentine with the glossy party that’s thrown to open the pavilion each year, where photos of A-list attendees feature in places like Tatler, ES magazine or Mailonline. So when I received an invite to attend the Lululemon event I was intrigued to see how they’d host a yoga event in another unusual space.

 

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As with the Royal Opera House event, it was first-come-first-mat, and the threat of turning up to find that you’d missed a spot loomed somewhat. Luckily, some of my lovely Yogahaven friends had got there nice and early and we were able to get pretty close to the front of the queue. The long wait for the event to start was filled by games of Heads Up (my new favourite app!) and trying to peer into the pavilion to get a preview of what was in store.

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After an hour or so, and with an enormous queue behind us, the Lululemon and Serpentine staff opened the gallery doors and handed us a Lululemon goody bag with our essentials for the class – a bottle of water and small towel – before we left our belongings in lockers and headed out to the garden towards the pavilion. This year’s pavilion is an egg-shaped structure resting on large stones and the area around it was covered in brightly coloured Lululemon mats, making the whole space look like some kind of wonderful yoga playground.

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Lululemon’s awesome mid-class pic

Once all 300 (yes 300!) of us had taken our mats, we were introduced to the amazing Celest Pereira who was leading the class, and our accompanying music. This being a Lululemon event they had gone all out on the music, so we did our practice to the sounds of a live harpist, who was resplendent in a ballgown while the rest of us were in lycra!

The event was on the same day that yoga guru BKS Iyengar passed away and Celest started the class with a touching tribute to him and lit a candle in his memory before leading us in a warming (it had started to get chilly!) and dynamic flow. Despite the fact that we were all packed tightly together, Celest lead such a positive class that we all found ourselves doing tricky asanas that we might have not realised we could achieve! I overcame my doing-headstands-in-class-fear (fine at home impossible in a studio) to such an extent that I found myself coming up from crow into one. Hurrah! New party trick!

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Me with team Yogahaven!

After a brilliant hour long class, we showed our appreciation to Celest and the harpist and the Lululemon team told us that they’d love us all to join them for some prosecco in the pavilion itself. It was such a treat to be able to socialise with my yogi gang in such an amazing space while the prosecco flowed and we danced to an incredible live band.

A couple of hours later I got home to my flat with my gifted Lululemon mat under my arm and had to explain to my boyfriend why I was returning with another one (we’re outnumbered 2 people to 5 mats in a one bed flat)! Thank you Lululemon for yet another amazing event. If this is the company’s vision for London, then I can’t wait for more!image

 

With Whole Foods, Lululemon and Yogahaven all opening new branches in Richmond in the past year, TW9 is becoming a bit of a yoga hotspot. A couple of weeks ago the three brands teamed up to offer a Yoga for Foodies event in the Whole Foods store on a Sunday morning. I managed to nab myself the last spot available (phew!) for the occasion which consisted of a one hour yoga class with Yogahaven founder, and all-round brilliant teacher Allie Hill followed by a food and cooking demonstration by Natasha Corrett of Honestly Healthy.

I’m a bit of a Whole Foods junkie, their stores are filled with interesting fresh produce and organic treats and I have a tendency to believe that anything that I buy from there is ridiculously good for me. (They sell cake so admittedly there is a chance I might be wrong). The workshop was held before the store opened so the floor was adorned with mats from Lululemon as the Whole Foods team got ready for the store opening while we did class. I was helpfully within smelling distance of the bakery – yoga and the smell of fresh bread? Yum!

Allie’s recently returned from Jivamukti teacher training in New York, so lead the 40-strong group in a Jiva style class. Now she’s opened five (five!) studios I don’t get to do Allie’s classes as much as I’d like so it was a treat to get to be taught by her in Whole Foods. It was a strong class with lots of challenging poses like Bird of Paradise although we were treated to a lovely long Savasana at the end.

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Once we’d cleared our mats out of the way we took our seats for the food demo with Natasha. I’d read a lot about Honestly Healthy in glossy weekend supplements and the like and thought her cookbooks looked inviting so was keen to see what Natasha would make. After talking us through the basics of the diet she follows (alkaline foods, lots of fresh veg and fruits and nothing processed) she made two dishes for us, a puy lentil courgette and pomegranate salad and a delicious gazpacho. We were all given samples of the delicious food and half the audience, myself included, were on Amazon within minutes buying  a spiralizer to create the fabulous courgette noodles. I’ve since made the salad at home and it went down very well!

Once Natasha had inspired us all with her gorgeous food, the Lululemon staff pulled the same lovely trick as they had at the Royal Opera House and announced that the mats we’d practiced on were ours to keep! Plus we were given Lululemon and Whole Foods goody bags, which were so big that I had to abandon my original plan of buying lunch ingredients at the store when it opened. Instead I staggered back home laden with goodies and had to go back out later to buy my ingredients, from Whole Foods in Clapham naturally!

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After my morning flow at Blue Cow Yoga I put in a dutiful morning in the office, before heading off for an afternoon of more Cheeky Yoga, courtesy of Lululemon who were hosting free classes at every main London studio last Thursday.

Thanks to my boyfriend’s very un-9-to-5 working hours he was able to join me so we trotted up to Marylebone to try out a 75 minute flow at Indaba. Indaba is somewhere I’d wanted to go for a while – it’s one of the city’s biggest and best known studios and has a great reputation. It’s located on three floors just round the corner from Marylebone station and its studios are huge. We were given a quick tour (the male and female changing rooms are located on different levels) and met back on our mats for class.

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We had booked into Elisa Devlin’s flow class. I’ve done a few of her classes before and suspected we were in for a challenging and dynamic session…I was right! It was a fantastic opportunity to try a few new poses and the energy and standard of the yogis in the room made it easier to push and motivate oneself. Although I didn’t quite manage to replicate a classmate’s Ganda Bherundasana (a scorpion performed balancing on chin and hands – kudos!).

Indaba has a lovely chill-out space in their reception area where I waited with a cup of green tea and bumped into the lovely Charlie Morgan who was on her way into a class. The boy headed home (Spurs were playing) while I jumped on the District line all the way down to Parson’s Green and started to regret booking into three dynamic classes in one day…

TPYC

The Power Yoga Company was my last visit of the day and the smallest of the three studios I went to. While Blue Cow Yoga and Indaba are surrounded by offices, TPYC is in the heart of leafy Fulham and next to big Victorian houses. It’s a really cozy space, with one studio upstairs, a bigger one on the ground floor and a small cafe space serving what looked like yummy veggie food and drinks (I had a dinner to go to otherwise I’d have indulged).

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The class was a strong one, with the room at a nice warm temperature, although I became more and more aware as it went on that I was in the middle of flow class number three (why oh why didn’t I end with a restorative one?!). If I’d known more ahead of time I probably wouldn’t have ended the day at TPYC just because they don’t have as much space for changing facilities as other studios, and, to be fair, in a more residential area this isn’t really as much of a necessity. Still I managed to make myself look respectable and headed back into town for a business dinner, where I ended my day of cheeky yoga with a cheeky glass or four of wine!

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Last Thursday Lululemon (yep, them again) continued their friendly assault on London ahead of their first full store opening. For a whole day, 20 studios across the city offered every class on their schedule for free courtesy of the Canadian clothing brand. That’s really quite some investment, but a brilliant PR opportunity to ensure the whole London yoga community knows that they’ve landed.

studioThey christened the day Cheeky Yoga, with the idea that you could nip out for a cheeky class during the day.With the opportunity to try out so many studios I thought I’d try and pack in a few. As much as I’m always keen to explore different studios, it gets expensive and time consuming if, like me, you have a local studio that you pay a membership for and already love. So I booked Thursday afternoon off work (I’m not cheeky enough to just bunk off…), logged onto Lululemon’s dedicated Cheeky Yoga booking site  and worked out where I fancied going.

With three classes ahead of me (I’ll write about the others in a later post) I started my day nice and early with a visit to Blue Cow Yoga for a 7.15am flow class. Blue Cow is located between Bank and Moorgate so perfect for all those stressed out City types who probably need some yoga after doing,erm, whatever it is they do all day. Inside, the centre is gorgeous – really glossy, clean and fresh but without being intimidating. The room where the class took place picwas beautifully light, with cream drapes like sails on the ceiling.

I can only assume a lot of people booked the free class but then slept through their alarm, as there were a lot of mats left empty for the first class of the day (speaking to the team at Yogahaven afterwards, they said this also happened to them with their early morning class). The flow was challenging but uplifting and, drumroll please, I managed my first ever side crow with my legs extended! My usual achievements pre-8am tend to be limited to getting out of bed and into the shower, so I was suitably happy with it.

pukkaPost class, I hit the showers in Blue Cow’s gorgeous changing rooms, which include some brilliant touches including cotton wool buds and disposable razors to use. Before I left I was given a lovely Pukka Love tea (I’ve since bought a box full) and could have happily stayed in the cozy reception area flicking through the yoga and lifestyle magazines that were there for a while, but sadly work was calling.

Thankfully, knowing there were only a few desk-bound hours before I could pull on my leggings and head off for some more Cheeky Yoga (and maybe that side crow) put a bit of a spring in my step.

recepBlue Cow Yoga, 7 Moorgate, London, EC2R 6AF

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Up to the age of about 14, ballet was one of my big loves. I haven’t taken a class for years (other than one ill-advised trip to the Central School of Ballet where I took an intermediate adult class and found it full of actual ballerinas) but it’s still something I try to watch when I can, and there’s no real surprise that I love the movement of yoga in the same way that I used to love my ballet practice.

20140308_145314So when I heard that Lululemon were hosting a yoga class at the Royal Opera House, it sounded pretty close to an opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream, and on Saturday afternoon I joined over 300 yogis for a very special event. To be specific, I first joined well over 300 yogis in the giant queue that was snaking outside the opera house. Despite arriving 75 minutes before the class was due to start (we were warned that it was likely to be busy) there must have been 100 people ahead of me and I’d imagine swathes of people behind me had to be turned away at the door.

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The Royal Opera House’s Floral Hall was covered in yoga mats and, once everyone had taken their spot (I’ve never seen so much Lulu in one place), we were joined by our musical accompaniment for class. Lululemon were going big with this event, so not for them a yoga teacher’s tried and tested spotify playlist, or even a live DJ – instead we were accompanied by….The London Philharmonic Orchestra!

I was lucky to nab a spot next to the lovely Stew from Yogahaven for the Jivamukti class which was lead by Emma Henry along with a small army of Lulu-clad adjusters. The whole class was incredibly special, with sunlight streaming through the hall and the live orchestra playing some very moving pieces.Emma asked us to look around the room, pick someone we didn’t know and dedicate our class to them. I spotted a woman wearing a top in the same ink splodge print as my favourite leggings that I was in, so she got my energy for the next hour or so.

Me and Stew pre-class

Me and Stew pre-class

It ended with possibly the best Savasana ever – hundreds of yogis in one of London’s most iconic spaces listening to the orchestra play Adagio for Strings (Lululemon took the photo below). In fact, once we had said our ‘namastes’, everyone stood and applauded the orchestra and the room felt completely euphoric.

At that point I assumed we’d all head off, but were then told that there was a live DJ and prosecco in the bar upstairs and that our brand new Lululemon mats that we’d practiced on were ours to keep. As we went out onto the opera house balcony, glass in one hand, new mat in another, one of the girls I was with summed it up when she described the whole event as ‘like winning an awesome competition’.

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The event was to celebrate Lululemon’s first proper UK store opening in Covent Garden and they certainly didn’t do anything by halves. With the fizzy flowing (there were, ahem, quite a few refills of my glass) it was such a lovely opportunity to catch up with other yogis, namely my lovely Yogahaven gang. And, while my first experience of ‘dancing’ at the Royal Opera House maybe wasn’t quite what I’d have imagined aged 8, it will be a day I remember every time I unfurl my awesome new mat.

I sort of, might have, maybe signed up for teacher training at the end of the year. After taking a couple of classes with Lizann from The Yoga People, she persuaded me that I should give their course a try. I decided the next one in April was too close for me to get my head round, but I’ve half agreed that I’ll be on their one in October (gulp).

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So the next few months might need to include a bit of studying, which is why I’ve dug out my copy of Yoga Anatomy and started trying to get my head around muscle groups and Sanskrit names. Yoga Anatomy is seen as one of the definitive yoga books. Written by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews, it was first published in 2007 and my second edition copy boasts on the cover that over 300,000 copies of the book have been sold. Mine was a present from my physiotherapist mother who seemed thrilled that for the first time in my life I was taking an interest in her area of expertise (biology homework used to often end in tears)!

It’s not surprising to see why it’s been so popular amongst yogis the world over – it’s a thorough, but clear, guide to all the main yoga postures along with a detailed look at breathing practices and the effects of yoga on the spine and muscles. The main bulk of the book is a breakdown of the various asanas, divided into standing, sitting, kneeling, supine, prone and arm support poses.

Each pose is given both its English and Sanskrit name with a handy pronunciation guide and explanation of the Sanskrit meaning. Yoga poses and names make a lot more sense once you know some of the basic meanings! For example bridge pose is explained as SET-too bahn-DAHS-anna with setu=bridge and bandha = lock. The asana then has a detailed drawing (there’s an interesting bit in the book’s introduction about how they did these) showing all of the muscles that are used, before breaking down the skeletal and muscular joint actions and general notes on the pose and the breathing.

It really is an invaluable tool and I can’t recommend it highly enough as an addition to any yogi’s library. It’s definitely helped me accelerate my yoga learning outside of the studio and I find it so useful to dip into. I suspect it could be even more well-thumbed come October…

Standard way to practice paschimottanasana...

Standard way to practice paschimottanasana…

P.S. In these pics I’m wearing a new Lululemon top which was I found in their bargainous We Made Too Much section on their website. Well worth checking out