Football’s not coming home, world leaders waggle their nuclear weapons at each other like school boys, plastic fills our oceans, Brexit, our feeds, and it’s getting harder to convince Instagram that we’re living our #bestlife. Well thank god (or should that be Buddha?) for yoga… Ian reports on three studios worth travelling to in East London…
Yoga. That something so pure, life affirming and uplifting manages to not only exist but thrive in our mean, grubby world gives me hope. Sure the corporates have started to muscle in, resulting in some pretty epic scraps between the likes of Alo, a yoga clothing brand and Kinoyoga, but for the most part, it lacks pretension and never fails to makes you feel good about yourself. The exact opposite of my mother in fact.
No wonder more and more people are falling for yoga’s magical charms. For some, a class or two a week is enough to redress the balance, others go further and become teachers. But then there’s the brave few that go balls deep and actually open their own studio.
Katarina Rayburn is one of the brave ones. She’s also gorgeous, can do the most extraordinary things with her body. Fully prepared to hate her a little bit, I went down to Deptford to check out their newly opened studio, Kindred Yoga. Nearly two years in the planning, the studio is a tropical oasis of serenity with palm fronded wallpaper, lush hanging planters and enormous exotic shrubs hard fought for amongst the landscape gardener veterans of New Covent Garden market one Wednesday morning at 5am.
It turns out Katarina is bloody lovely. A physics geek turned actor, she eschewed the fickle world of casting call knock backs and brand promo work for a wholly more fulfilling life as a yoga teacher. She built her ability and her following from grass roots; holding yoga sessions in the local church halls of south east London and immersing herself in the Deptford community where she lives. Soon clients became friends and now many are going to her upcoming wedding in Greece with lickable fiancé and studio co-founder Jules.
‘Finding the right studio was key for us’ said Katarina after a challenging 75minute mandala vinyasa. ‘It had to be in our community, give us space for around 35 mats and allow us to create an area for people to sit and chat before and after class’. Once they found the space, dealing with the landlord was their next challenge. ‘We know yoga but negotiating leases was way outside our comfort zone’ Contract negotiations were so fraught that by the time Jules got the call to say they’d finally exchanged contracts he burst into tears.
By comparison the fit out was relatively painless. ‘Our friend and fellow yogi Emma Ladolt of Sacred Space Studios helped us design the concept and source contractors, our friends and family turned up armed with paintbrushes, and many of the finishing touches you see such as this artwork, and these cushions are early wedding presents. We were exhausted by launch day but I couldn’t just go and flop on the sofa, it was my hen do that evening and then I was up early for classes in the morning’. But despite the long hours and bumps along the way these two bendy beauties radiated calm and serenity. Must be all that yoga.
Abigail McLachlan, studio owner of East of Eden in Walthamstow, has a similarly full throttle schedule. Not letting the fact she was about to become a single parent with her first child put her off, she ditched her high pressured career in the music industry to pursue her dream of opening a yoga, pilates and barre studio. ‘I wanted a change of life and be able to watch my son grow up’ said Abby as she proudly showed me round her beautiful, light filled space tucked down a cobbled mews opposite the station.
Having lived in Walthamstow for years, Abby knew that her studio had to be a local, community based venture and after searching for months for the right space, she eventually managed to convince the landlords of a converted warehouse office building that they should rent to her. A tough ask considering she had no previous studio experience. The other slight issue is that Abby had no money. Whilst this would have dampened most peoples spirits, Abby didn’t let that stop her. In her previous career she’d been part of a crowdfunding project when the concept was still in its infancy. ‘We managed to raise a good amount of money through crowdfunding and now what’s lovely is that many of the people that come to the studio own a little piece of it’.
Two years on, the trauma of converting the tired, low ceilinged offices into a vaulted airy studio complete with green wall is a distant memory. So much so that Abby is ready to do it all again, acquiring more space from the landlords and doubling the size of her studio. ‘It’s going to be a busy time. I have the renovations to manage, retreats in France and Sri Lanka and we’re doing some amazing mass yoga events underneath the blue whale skeleton at the Natural History Museum too’ Despite all this, something tells me this motivated mum will take it all in her stride.
Representing for the boys, former actor and well known London yogi, Will Wheeler decided to open his Peckham studio, after practicing as a teacher for 5 years. ‘ I wanted to up the stakes and see what else yoga could bring to my life. So along with 3 friends, Ben a lawyer, Tanya, a project manager and Woody, a chef we decided to collaborate our skills and co-found LEVELSIX.
With similar tales of studio opening struggles to Katarina and Abby, Will says it’s all been worth it. ‘The most rewarding part is definitely when people come to class and enjoy the teachers, the juices and the food we offer. It’s definitely an exciting time.’ And I believe him. I’ve met up with Mr Wheeler a few times since his studio launch and this guy is literally always smiling. In fact, come to think of it Katarina and Abby were beaming away too. So let’s all forget our World Cup woes, get down to their studios, and get our smiles back on.
Kindred Yoga, Deptford
Intro Offer: 30 days of classes for £30
Summer Offer: 12 classes anytime for £100
Drop in Off Peak: £11
Drop in Peak: £13
East of Eden, Walthamstow
10% off any class pack for Dose Readers: Promo Code DOSE10
Intro Offer: 4x Yoga or Pilates classes anytime for £35
Class Packs starting at £100 for 10 classes
Drop in Off Peak £10
Drop in Peak £14
Intro Offer: 2 weeks unlimited classes for £20
Summer Sale: 13 classes for £110
Various Class Packs starting at £60 for 5 classes
Drop in: £14