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As with every big city, new yoga studios are constantly being opened and closed and London is no exception. There are many new kids on the block, especially in East London around Shoreditch, Hackney and Dalston and in time they may make our list but for now these are our favourites. We aren’t here to give you a directory of everything that’s out there, we just want to give you our knowledge and experience of what we think is the best and has stood the test of time. We love innovation and are happy to check out a new place whenever it opens, but these are the yoga studios we have gone to for 20 years and more and the ones we strongly recommend you find time for.
The Shala (West Norwood)
When Gingi and crew took over what is now their space in West Norwood, it was a vast 250m square cavity with no natural light, no heating, minimal plumbing and a severely leaking roof. It took some imagination to picture just what an amazing space it could be. Their vision was to create a bespoke yoga centre dedicated to mind body practices. A beautifully simple, serene and warm space which retained the warehouse character of the building, had loads of natural light and views of the sky.
It was designed to be intimate yet spacious, personal yet uncluttered, airy yet cosy with as small a carbon footprint as possible. It was to be a place for self-nurture, healing, and community. The beautiful purpose-built centre they have lovingly created is all of these things and more, with all the luxuries of a big yoga centre (showers, under floor heating, wooden floors), whilst retaining the charm and character of a small independent studio. The new space is a sanctuary: peaceful but vibrant and always warm and welcoming. We think Gingi is one of London’s finest teachers and that this labour of love is well worth a train ride to experience. A delight of a studio.
Iyengar Yoga Institute (Maida Vale)
The Iyengar Yoga Institute is old school, has been around for eons and is the original birthplace of Iyengar Yoga in London. Located in Maida Vale and offering a wide range of yoga classes ranging from amateur level to advanced, this place is for firm believers of maintaining a connection with the traditional Indian roots of yoga. The Institute’s workshops aim to target posture, breathing and gaining a feeling of harmony. The organisation is named after influential yogi B.K.S. Iyengar, whose mantra was ‘meditation in action.’
His teachings and wisdom are still observed today; in fact, the Institute is a registered charity, making them an affordable organisation for a wide range of ages and abilities that doesn’t solely focus on profit. The Institute also offers classes for children, teenagers and pregnant women and more gentle yoga classes for elderly members. We are avid Iyengar practitioners here at V&S and go to as many of the workshops at The Institute as we can, especially as one of our favourite yogis teaches there, Alaric Newcombe. It’s the closest we get to being at the original Iyengar Institute in Pune, India.
Battersea Yoga (Battersea)
Opposite a gated entrance to Battersea Park, you follow the sign down a gravel driveway to find yourself in a surprisingly rural retreat space. Battersea Yoga is housed in what looks like a farmhouse-y loft conversion, but its clean and contemporary wooden structure suggests it’s somewhat more modern. Unlike the popular style for simple white yoga studios, the rustic feel of Battersea Yoga cultivates a warm and earthy atmosphere, while retaining the lightness needed for a clear-headed personal yoga practice. The timetable offers Hatha Yoga, Dynamic Hatha Yoga (for a more energetic practice), Restorative & Yin Yoga (for a deeper, breath-focused practice) and Core & Stretch (for a pilates/yoga fusion).
There is also an extensive meditation series, Free-Movement Bio-energetic yoga therapy sessions and a pre- and post-natal series which includes ‘Mum & Baby‘ classes. The classes are guided and inclusive: the room is split in half with each side facing each other around the teacher in the centre of the room. For anyone looking to rejuvenate in a gorgeous space without leaving the city, the centre also runs ‘Urban Retreats’ which feature personal goal-setting, three yoga classes, two mindfulness sessions, two silent walks in beautiful Battersea Park, a bio-energetics session and veggie lunches over the course of one weekend. Sign us up.
Triyoga (Camden, Chelsea, Covent Garden & Soho)
We were originally gutted when Triyoga Primrose Hill was forced to give way to property developers a few years ago, given that it was practically our second home. However, we were comforted by the new flagship Triyoga in Camden which is so refined it feels more like a luxury chalet. The centre is essentially a yoga/fitness/wellbeing spa, with an efficient booking system, yoga shop, healthy café, fully-decked out changing rooms, spa treatment rooms and a number of studios separated by gorgeous wood-panelled floors and walls. Don’t be surprised to see people hanging around afterwards, cold-pressed juice in hand, musing on whether or not they have a ‘new soul.’
Given the careful attention to aesthetic and atmosphere, the classes have a lot to live up to and they certainly deliver: the teaching is hands-on and attentive and the teachers project such effortless cool they inspire a cult-like Instagram following. Triyoga also has studios in Chelsea, Soho and Covent Garden – each with their own café, lifestyle shop and treatment centre. In addition to yoga, the Camden centre offers barre classes and all centres have a busy Pilates timetable. As an added bonus, many of our favourite yogis teach at Triyoga and run great workshops with some the world’s most incredible teachers dropping by from all over the globe. We like.
We really like Indaba. From the warm welcome you get as you arrive to the well-kitted out changing rooms (crucial when you have 100 aspiring yogis getting ready), Indaba is very switched on. Indaba means ‘gathering’ and it feels just like that. Perfectly located in Central London – only a stone’s throw from Baker Street and Marylebone tube stations – they’ve gathered some of London’s most talented teachers and built a tight community of yogis. They offer a range of classes, workshops, gong baths and treatments with a very well-curated selection of therapists. V&S favourites Mark Kan, Stewart Gilchrist and Leo Cosendai teach here so we’ve been to this studio A LOT.
The Refinery (Dalston & Hackney)
Brainchild of Luca, Zoe and Valeria Bertali, the Refinery’s E9 yoga studio is located in the heart of gritty-yet-hip East London. They’re big advocates of the idea that the environment you are in has a huge impact on your state of mind, and for this reason they’ve have taken extra care to ensure they provide a fun and funky yet relaxed environment; a place where you’re positively energised and allowed full disconnection from your daily challenges.
The Refinery offers 3,500-square feet of expertly designed indoor area with fitness studios, WiFi- connected lounge area and comfortable male and female changing rooms. There are three studios in total offering a range of holistic as well as cardiovascular/respiratory endurance exercise methods, which will aim to increase your stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed and agility. It’s one of Hackney’s newer kids on the block and definitely worth a visit. We love their quirky branding too!!! Very Dalston. We hear they’re expanding their space too. Watch this space!
Move Your Frame (Shoreditch, Queens Park, Kings Cross & Victoria)
When Pip Black and Joan Murphy set out to create Frame, they wanted to devise a more positive approach to health and fitness, more than just the regular gym session pounding away at a treadmill. All of the classes were developed on workouts and sequences that they loved themselves and had fun creating. The ‘drop in’ and ‘pay-as-you-go‘ Frame card model means that anyone can rock up at a time that suits job, lifestyle or general busyness. The varied timetable spread across several studios means you can always find a class to suit your mood and schedule. In autumn 2016 they opened up a yoga-only dedicated studio in Kings Cross; we’ve yet to check it out but could be perfect for those local to ‘The Cross‘. We’ve really enjoyed their classes in Victoria and Shoreditch, even trying barre a few times which really does get you toned!
Fierce Grace (Brixton, Finchley, Kentish Town, Old Street, Primrose Hill & Queens Park)
Fierce Grace is the new system of six interconnected yoga classes brought to you by Michele Pernetta, who introduced Bikram Yoga to the UK in 1994 after returning to the UK from LA. She opened the first Bikram studio in London in 1999, became one of Bikram’s most senior teachers and opened another three studios. Michele also studied Ashtanga Vinyasa with Larry Schultz, completing her teacher training in 2006. Michele has combined all of her knowledge and expertise to bring the Fierce Grace system to life. We found the Primrose Hill class small and intimate and a great way to get the body moving, especially in the winter months.
Astanga Yoga London (Euston)
Hamish Hendry’s Ashtanga Vinyasa studio near Euston is a no-frills place with a very healing atmosphere from the many hundreds of yogis that silently walk through their doors daily. We come here because it’s our go-to place for astanga vinyasa. The quality of the adjustments and the opportunity to practice with like-minded yogis makes it well worth getting out of bed for at 5am for. If you’re not an early riser, they have classes through the day and into the evening so there should be something to suit everyone.
Once you’ve been here and experienced its magical energy, it’s hard to go anywhere else, despite the lack of fancy design or furnishings or any product pushing to speak of. Maybe that’s why we love it so much: its authenticity, faithfulness to the Astanga Yoga Institute and its freedom from all corporate trappings. As the late Sri. K Pattabhi Jois (lovingly referred to as Guruji by his many students) would say, ‘Practice, practice and all is coming.’
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre (Putney)
‘Serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realise’ – these teachings are the spiritual strength behind the Sivananda Yoga Centres and have inspired spiritual aspirants around the world to live a life of brotherly love and spiritual unity. The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre has been teaching yoga in London since 1972 and the present Centre has been in Felsham Road, Putney since 1991. It is ideally situated in a quiet residential area located just off Putney High Street within short walking distance of Putney Bridge and East Putney underground.
The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre is a non-profit organisation run by voluntary staff and dedicated to the aim of broadcasting the teachings of yoga. They offer everything from yoga and meditation to Ayurveda and cookery classes; there are also satsang and philosophy classes which is what we’ve mostly taken part in. It feels like an ashram in the middle of London, so if you find yourself south of the river and fancy some head space then this original Sivananda centre is the answer.
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