Yogi where-a?

I don’t sweat very easily. To some, this may be a blessing. But to me, it just means I’m not working out hard enough. For the past five years or so, my Saturdays and Sundays have revolved around getting my sweat on, mainly at Equinox with the incredible Nadia Zaki and Violet Zaki (no relation!) On Saturday mornings I take Nadia’s “Inner Warrior” class, which is a 90-minute mixture of yoga and martial arts. But not just any yoga. Strength-building, pose-holding, double-chataranga-ing yoga. And that’s just for about 40 minutes or so. For the remainder of the class, mats are moved, the music is turned up and we kick, punch and sweep our ways to better bodies and clearer minds. It’s the best workout I’ve ever done and I miss it.

Then, on Sundays, I take Violet’s “Zen Combat.” No yoga in this class, oh no. (A point which she’ll cheekily make you aware of during class: “Yoga’s upstairs, people. Move your bums! Heels up!”) I leave drenched in sweat and feeling guilt-free about going to brunch to drink Bloody Mary’s and eat eggs benny — especially since I always see her on Tuesdays to do it all over again.

Needless to say, I’m beginning to feel I brought too many Lululemon tops and bottoms with me, as I’ve been having a sweat-less few weeks here. I gotta do something about it or the regular wardrobe I brought will no longer fit. And I do NOT want to buy clothes for that reason. (I cringe at what my Weight Watcher leader must think. I am a lifetime member, though these days, I don’t think I’d qualify for any stickers, let alone a payment-free weigh-in.)

Since arriving, I’ve tried five different classes at three different studios/gyms. (I’ve also spent at least $75 in the process. One-off classes are expensive: nearly $25 each!)

The first yoga class I took was at Frame in Shoreditch. A friend of a friend from London recommended the studio. I had high expectations cause it’s that type of cool boutique fitness studio where classes are called “Bend it Like Barbie” and “Jane Fonda Tribute” and booked in advance. I started with a Yoga Flow, during which there wasn’t much flow and the teacher kept calling plank “plankasana.” Needless to say, at least I got a giggle out of it. The second class “taken by” (read: taught) a different instructor, was bit more mainstream and popular and definitely better than the first, but still no major sweat.

To be fair, I think Frame may more well-known for its cardio classes, but at the time I did not have any sneakers. Excuse me, trainers. Yes, I came to London without sneakers. I only ever wear them for Violet’s Zen Combat class (you’re barefoot in Inner Warrior and general yoga classes, which make up the rest of my routine) and the ones I were using had seen their day. I figured if I needed a new pair, I’d get them here.

Well, soon after my second yoga class at The Yoga Place in Bethnal Green, where there were only about five people, no music and a pace so slow I nearly fell asleep, I realized I’d need to get me some sneakers STAT and find a different way to get my sweat on. So far, gut 1, sweat 0.

By now you’re probably thinking I’m some sort of yoga sweat snob. But I’m not! Really. (I think? Hmm.) Yes, I have been practicing for a long time and may be the type to move on to the bind or the “advanced” poses in class. I suppose I am used to a certain standard in movement and flow. But I’m an equal opportunity yogi. I fully realize that yoga is different things to different people and not everyone teaches or takes classes with the goal being to get a work out — in both mind and body. Plus, with the exception of my favorite instructors (holla Arnold Patricio and Derek Beres!), who I admit did take me time to find, I’ll try anything once. I’ve taken classes in Buenos Aries where the only word I could understand was “respira” (breathe). I’ve done sun salutations in the middle of get-me-the-hell-outta-here Times Square, on a volcano in Guatemala and a glacier in Alaska. I’ve even taken a class at CitiField before a Mets game. And will never forget the warrior poses amid the Tuscan sunflower with my girl Jen Pastiloff.


Namaste, Times Square


Rockstar on a Rock in Ojai


Dancer in the Dark on Pacaya in Guatemala


Sun salutations amid the sunflowers in Tuscany

So why, tell me, am I having such a hard time finding a proper place to sweat during yoga here in London? Help a sista out, yogis!

Today’s Zumba at Fitness First, the gym nearby my apartment and work, was the closest I came to actually perspiring. But I felt ridiculous. Big-up to my friend Jen who does Zumba regularly. But it just feels silly to me. There’s not enough order. No “right” way or “wrong” way of doing things. I suspect that’s what so many people love about it. But I’m a Virgo. I like that in dance classes, you’re either stepping with your left foot to make the turn in the combo, or stepping with your right. One or the other. (No matter if I’m a bit spazzy and can’t get it either way.) Same for kickboxing. Two jabs on the right, two on the left. No you deciding, “Oh, I’ll go left this time and right next.” And in yoga, your tailbone’s always tucked, shoulders are down and breath deep. Still, I did literally let my hair down (hello sexy!) and smile a lot while shakin’, shimmyin’ and jigglin’ mamba-style.

I admit I may be limiting myself to studios relatively nearby, or at least in East London. But I need to be realistic. It takes about 30 minutes to get anywhere in this city, plus there’s change-time, and wanting to have a life before the pubs close and the tube shuts. That’s the thing with preferring classes to machines or a sport like running. You sorta become a slave to the schedule.

I’m not giving up, though. Especially since I have yet to have real proper fish and chips or sticky toffee pudding. I just want to earn it! Or not feel guilty for eating it. Either way.

Luckily, I really, really like my new sneakers. I’m thinking of giving that Barbie class a try. I am a collector after all. Plus, have yoga mat, will practice.

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Love me some multi-color sneaks!

14 thoughts on “Yogi where-a?

  1. Reblogged this on The Manifest-Station and commented:
    Very fun series by my friend Sara Lieberman of Page Six Magazine in New York as she job swaps and moves to London. Read this and I suggest you follow along on the adventure. It does make me miss London and my family there but I shall be back soon. Italy is next. Who knows, maybe Sara will pop over to Italy again since she came last year? (Hint Hint) Anyway, read on…. Cheerio!!

  2. This post made me so happy. I miss yoga in London! I lived there for about 3 years and went to this little place in Angel (http://ontotheroad.com/2013/01/31/float-away/). I wouldn’t recommend Yogabase to everyone, since the style was Iyengar and it was a pretty funky little place. I live in Seattle now and didn’t have any success finding a studio I liked. But for about $18 a month, http://www.yogaglo.com offers great classes from an actual studio in Santa Monica, so now I just practice in my home. I love it. Not sure if it can stream into the U.K., though. And I’m not sure how sweaty you’ll get. But you can always turn up the heat in your house!

  3. Pingback: Reblog: Yogi where-a? | Onto the Road: A Seattle Lawyer's Running Blog

  4. Hah Sara. There you are again with a great post. These adventures will give you great memories. You don’t know this but a million years ago I made custom draperies in Philly/NJ mostly for designers and their clients homes. I was in love with English heavy interlined drapery and that was my specialty. I called it Kings Road Ltd. My dream was to study with some English Drapery makers and had even signed up for a trip with classes to London including Flea Markets of course ….early 90’s. I never made that trip as I changed course and again moved back to LA. Took a different path but one of these days I will make it there. Keep writing. Love it.

  5. Hi! Hope London treats you well! Google Stuart Gilchrist- he teaches in different places and I adore his classes, pretty sure you will sweat! As for spaces, I really love to head to The Life Centre in Islington (the Notting Hill one is nice too) and they are so welcoming and kind, you can chat to them about class types and special requests without feeling like a snob! Tri yoga have a lot of visiting teachers (I’m flying over to take the Jason Crandell one in April, yay!) and I have taken a couple there with lovely teachers…wish I could say the same about the staff in the Chelsea branch reception…lets just say, it wasn’t as welcoming as other spaces in my humble experience (but recommend you sniff it out!). Indaba yoga is also a super spot, perhaps the opposite side of town for you though. Anyway, I urge you to go to Stuart’s class. I used to live in Brighton and I would travel- he is worth it! Let us know how you go! Dionne 🙂

  6. Thank you all so much for the re-blogging, pinbbacks and suggestions! I’m going to try them all — DIY yoga AND Stuart’s class. It’s not that close, but as I said, have mat will travel. At least once! x

  7. Hi Sara, why not try out a place near Covent Garden that I’ve been meaning to try out myself – you can tell me what it’s like after :p. Their website is http://yotopia.co.uk/ . I’ve been meaning to alternate between there and Pineapple Dance Studios, just around the corner, for a couple of lessons each week, but this cold weather just isn’t motivating me. Good luck!

  8. Kayre2 – LOVED Yotopia and am going to try Tri this weekend. Been hearing lots of good things. And now I know what teacher to take. Thanks!

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