Yoga reaches dizzy new heights (or lows?)

“Look at this,” said a male non-yogi friend of mine, thrusting his iPhone screen towards my face. “You can do yoga up The Shard!”

I looked at the screen. There was an image on an email: slender, young, women in tight yoga gear, opening out in warrior two whilst taking in the vibrant lights of London far below.

He continued, “This is what you should be teaching. How cool would that be!”

I looked up at him scrunching my nose. “Nah, I’ll pass thanks. If you did yoga up there, you’d spend the whole time looking out at the view whereas yoga’s about looking within.”

He replied, “Oh I wouldn’t want to do any of that looking in stuff. That would be well scary. I don’t want to go there. But The Shard… that might tempt me to try yoga.”

I liked this conversation. It made me smile. Here was a bloke – a hardcore Arsenal fan (not that I’m stereotyping, of course) – considering yoga because of the cool location. The very location may be so distracting, that he misses the whole point of yoga. But if it gets him on a yoga mat for the first time, then what’s the harm?

Swami Sivananda sitting by the mighty Ganga - not the Thames.
Swami Sivananda sitting by the mighty Ganga – not the Thames.

I heard the other day about yoga classes being offered in a brewery in London. You do a class, then have a beer afterwards. My first teacher training was with the Sivananda school of yoga where even eating garlic is considered a huge no-no. Yoga in a brewery? Swami Sivananda would be turning in his grave if he hadn’t been reincarnated.

I was in Thailand before Christmas and I practiced overlooking some stunning scenery – the incredible beach with the white sand and the glassy sea in the early morning golden light. But those practices were some of the most unfocused practices I’ve ever had. I was so overwhelmed by my surroundings that I was wobbling all over the place.

It’s funny how far ‘yoga’ has come. It’s hip and everyone wants a piece of the action. In London, it feels like yoga’s being offered anywhere and everywhere just to get people through the door.

Give me a scruffy, sweaty, beaten-up old room any day. Just my body, my breath and my mat. That’s what works for me. And who knows – some of those brewery yogis may find that they enjoy the practice in that room with me.