While the fast-paced and furiously hectic nature of London couldn’t be further from the calm of an Indian ashram, the city has somehow fallen in love with the ancient practice of Yoga. However, not content with just a few sun salutations in a sweaty gym, a whole host of unusual and alternative classes have popped up all over the city.
From sunrise sessions overlooking the Gherkin to Madonna-inspired ‘Voga’, we’ve got all the best alternative yoga classes in London you need to know about. Namaste!
Yoga is evolving, and the talented Juliette Murrell has introduced a whole new practice – Voga. Having suffered from post-viral chronic fatigue when she was younger Juliette turned to yoga to ease her discomfort and find peace. Taking her love of 80’s music and the vogue-ing scene from 80’s New York she blended the two to create Voga. As of yet, Voga doesn’t have a permanent home, but travels round London in a whole range of eclectic locations – from The Refinery in Hackney to the roof of Coq D’argent. Bring your brightest leggings and prepare to learn how to Queenie to Madonna. The class is intimate and suitable for any one, the moves are fun, sometime challenging and always a bit silly.
Cost per class: £12
Where: Locations across London
Starting bright and early every Wednesday and Thursday (and when we say early… we mean early – starting at 6:30am sharp) Sky High Yoga is the perfect way to start the day and see the sun rise over the city. The Sky Garden provides a leafy oasis to take you away from the waking city streets below, and a 360 view of London. The class is less intimate than others with over 40+ attending, space can get pretty tight so prepare to touch limbs when things get a bit more energetic. Don’t be put off though, the instructors know exactly what they’re doing, and hey, looking down at The Gherkin whilst doing a salutation is an experience you won’t have every day.
Cost per class: £10
Where: Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch St, London EC3M 3BY
The Saturday morning classes with experienced teachers Mandy Jahmat and Leo Lourdes are the closest you’ll get to the sky doing a Downward Dog. The hour long class takes place on the 72nd floor, on the (sometimes rather breezy) open air viewing platform. The class is large but there are multiple instructors walking on hand to help when needed. For any yogi out there, this is a chance to practice and see the most incredible view of London. With mats provided and a goody bag for every attendee, this was one of LO:PA’s favourites. Just remember to bring a Smartphone… this class is made for Instagram.
Cost per class: £40
Where: The View From The Shard, 32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG
It might not be the easiest to find, but once inside The Mondrian prepare to be seriously impressed by the beautiful interiors designed by the talented Tom Dixon, then prepare to be even more impressed as you ascend to the very sleek rooftop bar – the Rumpus Room. With unparalleled views over the Thames and Blackfriars it feels like you are right in the heart of the city. The instructor is the wonderful Rebecca Keenaghan who has created a unique fusion of Ashtanga, Hatha and Vinyasa which awakens even the weariest Londoner. Each member of the small class gets a mat, bottle of water and towel to keep them feeling pampered – when it is a clear day Rebecca opens the huge sliding doors to connect you to the outside world and listen to London waking up below you.
Cost per class: £20
Where: The Rumpus Room at The Mondrian, 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD
If regular yoga just doesn’t quite do it for you then we recommend you challenge yourself to doing it upside down… from a sling. Aerial yoga has become increasingly popular in London over the last few years, with swankier gyms offering classes as well as indie places such as The London Dance Academy. The difficulty starts with trying to slot your body into the sling, but once you do the hanging cloth supports your lower back and actually makes it a lot easier to get into poses that you may not usually be able to get into. The classes are technical, so if you are a beginner then the first will be difficult but do push through – along with head-rush you will leave class with a great feeling of achievement, this is yoga for the adventurous!
Cost per class: Varies depending on Gym
Where: GymBox and Virgin Active nationwide, or London Dance Academy, the Basement, 49-51 Central St, EC1V 8AB
Although not necessarily ‘alternative’ this blissful class is held every Sunday afternoon at The Refinery – one of the coolest exercise spots in East London, and is the perfect way to wind down after a heavy weekend. The class is taken at a relaxing pace and has a totally chilled vibe (think candles and incense) with a focus on stretching out the whole body and silencing the mind. The only possible negative we can think of is the likelihood of having a quick snooze during class.
Cost per class: £14 (or £5 for your first ever class!)
Where: 14 Collent St, Hackney, Greater London E9 6SG
For a more indulgent start to your weekend, choose Yogasphere’s Yoga Brunch at Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge. All guests receive a detoxifying carrot juice on arrival and then spend an hour in the intimate private room surrounded by candles and watched by several Buddha statues. Once you have finished yoga the creative chefs treat you to a pan-Asian brunch feast with flavour-packed dishes such as ‘Wakame, cucumber, quinoa & pomegranate salad Buddha bar chicken salad’ and ‘Grilled salmon, green beans & unagi sauce’.
For the less saintly of us, there is also the choice to have a cocktail, and no ordinary on either, this one contains over 130 plants and flowers collected by French monks no less. Brunch is a relaxed affair, take the time to savour the food and listen to the DJ-inspired Buddha Bar tracks and if this wasn’t quite enough, then they also provide a stonking goody bag for every guest, full of some luxurious little treats – we’ll leave them a surprise for you though…
Cost per class: £55
Where: Buddha Bar, 145 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7PA