Week 41: Power Yoga at Bhuti

For my best friend’s birthday this year I said I’d take her to Bhuti, an “eco wellbeing spa, studio and cafe” in Richmond for yoga and lunch.

I’ve been wanting to go to Bhuti for ages and we hardly ever get to hang out, throw in a little fitness and it was a win-win!

What They Say:
Power Yoga is drawn from Ashtanga yoga by Pattabis Jois. It is a dynamic flow practice, which creates heat, builds physical and mental strength. The practice is accompanied by music and is uplifting and energising – the perfect start to the day!

My Experience:
I’ve tried lots of different types of yoga over the past year, but Ashtanga always seems like ‘the scary one’… it reminds me of Madonna circa 1998, all buff arms amongst a sea of waifs – the original “strong is the new skinny”. These days I reckon I’m tough enough to give it a go, so off we went.

It was a truly glorious Friday morning and I cruised along the river to Richmond on my bike after doing a particularly gruelling muscular endurance workout at the gym. At the end of a long week a little R&R was just what I needed!

The studio sits on Richmond Hill and the entrance is a small shop which was bathed in sunlight. We were shown to the yoga studio at the end of a bright corridor, peeking into member areas with cosy day beds on the way.

The studio was so peaceful. Two walls were covered with mirrors and the ceiling was glass, with stained glass panels casting glittering light across the floor. There was light music and an incense stick burning in one corner. I forgot to bring my mat (standard) but they had a large cabinet neatly stacked with mats, blocks, blankets and bolsters and we got set up.

There were eight girls in the class and we found ourselves in the front row right next to our teacher, Isabel. She started off explaining that this would be a 75 minute session (75 minutes!!) and told us we could return to a rest position at any point if we needed to. We started the practise with some breathing work, which I loooooove! Isabel explained that we’d be tying our movements to our breath throughout the class, and that the breath was always something to come back to.

From there we started to move through some yoga flows. It was fairly fast paced, which I really like… mainly because it means you don’t have to hold a position for very long if you’re struggling with it! It started off with some standard stuff and as we progressed the positions got a bit trickier. I had to scale a lot of the poses, but they were still bloody hard work! We regularly returned to the upward dog/down dog and there was lots of focus on breathing throughout. Isabel had a fantastic balance of directing and adjusting, whilst not making you feel like you were doing it wrong (especially in my case where my non-bendy body was far from hitting the intended positions most of the time). When we got to the bird of paradise sequence… let’s just say my body doesn’t go into pretzel shapes. Jo and I giggled at our calamitous attempts (although, to be fair, she did at least manage to thread her arms behind her back… my chunky shoulders were having none of it!).

The class vibe was great; it was serious work, but with a relaxed air. Isabel knew it was hard and she put us at ease, even cracking the occasional joke – zero yoga-wankiness.

After a full hour of pretty intense poses, we moved onto the relaxing bit. OMG. It was heaven, we had a really thorough cool down and a mini massage of the head and neck. As the sun beamed down through the stained glass and little puffs of incense floated across the room, I could have sat there for hours. I’m fully aware that I’m never going to be a bendy-yogi (well, not unless I give up lifting weights, which isn’t going to happen) but every time I practice I feel better for it. So what’s to lose? I’ve realised it’s not about striving to reach the perfect position, it’s just about getting your body to the place it’s happy to go, and reaping the benefits.

I felt strong, supple, tired and energised; it was amazing.

We didn’t feel like moving anywhere fast and spent the next hour in Bhuti’s vegan cafe having lunch. I wouldn’t normally choose a vegan restaurant, but the food was exceptional – really simple dishes done well. Then service was leisurely but so were we, so that didn’t matter at all!

As we strolled back out into the sunshine we were full of the joys of life, smiles on our faces and already planning our next trip.

In Summary:
This place is a wonderful gem located right on my doorstep. If money was no object, I’d have a membership and go there just to chill out in the cosy members’ space every day! I’m definitely going to make this class part of my regular routine as it really left me feeling on top of the world.

If you’ve never done yoga before, this particular class might be a bit deep-end. There are lots of other classes on offer, such as Iyengar yoga, which is slightly shorter and slower paced, giving time to learn each position. Bhuti also offers Pilates, yin, tai chi and meditation classes.

I can’t wait to go back!

Cost: £18 drop in, packs and membership available

How to book: http://www.bhuti.co

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