In a recent survey, 95% of New Yorkers said they would rather crawl back into their mother’s womb than read any more tweets from their President. Step forward WOOM Centre, admittedly not spelt the same, but the experience here does bear striking similarities; and frazzled city dwellers are flocking. Ian pays a visit during his stay in the Big Apple…
Founded by Elian and David Zach-Shemesh, WOOM Centre doesn’t conform to traditional yoga and meditation teachings. Through their background in yoga, nutrition and audio therapy they have blended ancient practices with modern technology to create experiences that play to all the body’s senses. “Our aim is to allow a higher state of consciousness that’s not attached to any particular dogma of teaching” said Elian to me over a cup of hibiscus tea. “We respect the ancient practices but seek to enhance them, allowing everyone to explore themselves on a deeper level”.
“We’re a home for the weird and everyone’s welcome”.
It certainly did seem that way. Our chat took about twice as long as I had expected as Elian was constantly jumping up to hug literally everyone that walked in. No air kisses here, these were big, enveloping, Father Christmas hugs. The kind that make you go limp and sigh with happiness. Man I wanted one of those hugs.
Tea finished, it was time for me to explore my own deeper level. Rather alarmingly, Elian handed me a blindfold and showed me into “The Spaceship” where our instructor Jeanette Doherty, already Britney mic’d up, handed me a couple of blocks and blankets and sat me down on my yoga mat. I put on my blindfold. After my initial Eyes Wide Shut horn subsided I settled into the darkness. Jeannette started chanting and invited us to follow suit. Now normally this is the kind of stuff that makes me feel very awkward. I don’t chant I’m British for God sake. But having the mask on gave me a sense of freedom and I regressed into my 3 year old self when I believed covering my eyes meant no one could see me. I also felt a bit like Batman.
By closing off the most dominant of my body’s senses, I felt my other senses were enhanced (just like Batman’s). I was able to zone in to the sounds of our collective breathing, Jeanette’s voice, and the trippy vibrational music emitting from the 3D sound system. We started to move slowly in the darkness. A few stretches and simple poses. This was harder than it sounds. Try closing your eyes for even a few seconds whilst walking down the street without losing your balance.
We then took our superhero masks off and were greeted with a swirling geometric light show that bathed the studio. The light patterns, developed by Elian and David from ancient geometry, danced to the sounds from the speakers but also the sounds that we made, due to their use of audio responsive technology. I was transported a million miles from the frenetic streets of downtown Manhattan.
We flowed through a gratifyingly demanding asana sequence in our psychedelic spaceship and ended on our blankets, blindfolded, with our legs in the air up against the wall. My definition of a good night out.
Jeanette started to play an instrument that sounded like running water and walked slowly around the room, taking time to visit everyone and gently mist us in WOOM’s own blend of 15 essential oils.
Desperately sad that my in-uterine experience was over I padded out to the living room area where David handed me an elixir shot.
As I got changed, a calmness rushed through me. Not a gentle Sunday papers and toast contentment, but a powerful surge almost too strong to control. I had to sit down. Luckily Shapiro the resident dog was on hand to lick me back to the land of the living and I got up to leave thinking my day couldn’t get any better.
And then I got my hug.
WOOM Yoga Experience – $25. Discount Packages and other experiences available.