Lying with my back melting into the mat, eyes closed, I can hear my pounding heart beating in my ears matching the rhythm of the gentle music that is played.
Savasana, the peace at the end of each Yoga class. My body is grateful for this moment of rest after a very hot and challenging Bikram class.
This is an honest review of a Bikram Yoga class I took at Sadhana, formerly Kula Yoga and Well-being in Clapham Junction. I enjoyed the class free of charge in exchange for this review.
What is Bikram?
Sadhana practise the original form of Bikram hot yoga, based on the Bikram series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. The class I took was 90 minutes long, in a room, heated to approximately 42°C. The class is lead verbally so be prepared to listen! The studio describes the class as challenging physically, mentally and emotionally. Walk out with a sense of rejuvenation, relaxation and desire to conquer the world!
Easy to find, an easy few minutes walk from Clapham Junction. Coming from North London I was pleasantly surprised at how quick the commute was. Central Londoners this studio may just be for you!
With good essential facilities including showers and towels, the studio is small, but where in London isn’t? It was a typical Tuesday evening, a very full studio.
The staff are friendly and accommodating and the fellow yogis also as mats were shuffled to squeeze in more Bikram lovers.
Mary Lou McDonnell is a trained Bikram instructor who clearly has a passion for teaching and a genuine care for her students. Mary Lou also teaches Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidrā and Sadhana Sculpt.
As a fellow Yoga instructor it was wonderful to hear clear instructions and modifications throughout class. Mary Lou made an effort to know her students names to encourage them and give specific modifications throughout class, something unique and enjoyable.
Just Show Up As You Are
Like all good teachers, Mary Lou had a beautiful theme running through her class that incorporated a passage by Robert Stabile. It’s so motivating that I want to include it here in full:
“Just show up as you are. You don’t have to look or feel great. You don’t have to be prepared for each challenge or know the hows of every situation. You don’t have to be fearless, or have all the answers or be 100% ready. Nobody is any of these things. Nobody ever was.
It’s not about being perfect at all. You just have to show up – as you are, despite all the objections and insecurities of your mind, despite each and every fear that threatens to hold you back, depsite the limitations and criticisms others will put on you. The hell with it all.
This is your life, your journey, your adventure, and all it’s asking of you is to show up for it, as you are. That’s enough. That’s more than enough. That’s everything.”
– Scott Stabile
Beginning with pranayama to deepen the breath and center the body, the class then moved into a gentle warm up. Already the room was humid but the group of yogis energy kept us all going.
A strong standing sequence where everything was repeated twice, ideal for new yoga students to grasp what’s going on and be given a second chance to investigate a pose.
After the peak standing pose, we moved to savasana. A bit of a tease, as a vinyasa teacher: savasana is used only at the completition of class. It was a nice moment of rest and allowed the students to lower their heart rates before completing the seated sequence and some strong back ends.
My favorite words spoken by Mary Lou were these:
“Yoga is not about going deep into the pose. It is about deepening the breath and the mind. Then the depth will come in the body.”
I think this expresses what yoga truly is, which many modern yogis forget. Yoga is Stillness of Mind, the poses are to help us achieve this. Whether you can stand on your head, touch your toes or withstand the heat of a Bikram Class is irrelevant.
Class finished with a short savasana with the option to stay as long as you liked. I’m not sure if this is usual at the studio but it was a nice change to the usual quick turnaround between classes you find in other London studios.
Mary Lou showed such beautiful care for her students post class, ensuring the yogis were hydrated and felt safe after what was a difficult and emotional exposing sequence.
The studio offers delicious free tea, I’m not sure exactly what it was but the minty, green liquid was refreshing and soothing post class.
A nice vibe ensued in the waiting area in the studio, with yogis chatting about class and their own practice will sipping tea and ignoring the rush that is London for a little while longer.
Would I Return?
Although I personally am not a Bikram fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this class and thought the studio had a more personal energy than other London studios.
Love and Light