Almost two weeks in, I'm getting the hang of it. How to look like a local in the London yoga scene. It's ironic I'm posting about this because my 2014 message is all about being the most authentic you you can possibly be. But here are ten truthbombs I have encountered over my time here that can help ease your transition into UK-asana.
1. Book online before class. There is no patience at the check-in queue for the lowly Miamian who did not pre-register and pre-pay online. You will be inevitably greeted with a snarky "you didn't sign up online? Oh. Hmm. What's your surname?" Then when you attempt to swipe your credit card instead of inserting it in the chip and pin card reader, you will let out a nervous laugh and they will sigh under their breath. Not a good start to your practice. Skip the hassle, book online.
2. Who brings their own mat? Studios here have mats already set up for you. Some good quality, some not. But you will definitely get the once over if you roll out your own mat. I have been bringing my own mat to most classes but to be honest, it's a huge pain - especially when you're schlepping it all over the city. Or on a Boris bike, like me. But once I roll it out, it's like coming home. So that part is worth it.
3. Do bring your own towel and water! These are not kindly provided like they are in sunny, sweaty Miami Beach. You will especially want said towel if you are using a communal mat.
4. Brace yourself for a shit-ton of Sanskrit. Maybe it's the closer proximity to India but these cats are dropping -asanas like I've never heard before. They also layer more philosophy into the classes, upping the intellectual ante. No offense, Miami. You're hot, but you're not exactly the brightest bulb. I find it appealing to me as a teacher but might be a bit overwhelming for the starter yogi.
5. No one comes in late. This I love. There is an integrity to the practice. People take this shit seriously. They are on time and they are ready to go, set up on their borrowed studio mats with blocks, straps, etc. You know what they don't have? Their phones. They commit to being fully present in class and this is something I think we can do a much better job of, Miami.
Ok, stepping off soapbox now.
6. Anticipate hearing chill beats and electronica. I have surprisingly enjoyed this more than I thought. The focus is more on the practice and breath since the music sort of fades into the background. So to look like a native London yog-er, you gotta arrive on time, really practice with awareness and then once class is over...
7. Rush right out of the room after you 'om'. There is no lingering in the room here in London! People have very busy things to do! There is no basking in the post-yoga high, wondering whether to go to Panther Coffee or JugoFresh. These peeps have places to go and you better roll on out with them because there is another class starting in this room right now!
8. Sadly, there is no JugoFresh. Believe me, there are all sorts of other British delights (like naan) but the juice scene is still in the embryonic stages here. I have had a couple decent green smoothies with things like beetroot and rocket in them, but kale is king doesn't apply in the UK yet.
9. Walking around all day in your lululemons just isn't as commonplace here. Yes, in sunny MIA people wear their workout gear all the time, even when they don't work out. Here, not so much. Bring some normal clothes to change into post-class. Jeans, even.
10. Finally, my biggest observation. When you get past all this surface crapola… it's all the same thing. The London yogis are still dying to nail their inversions. They all still get annoyed when they have a sub. There is still the chick in the Primark leggings practicing next to the Stella McCartney clad glamazon. We are all the exact same, everywhere. It's all one big beautiful interconnected world and yoga is an amazing microcosmic example. And you just gotta smile and love yourself through it or else the noise can easily take you away.
Stay grounded, stay true, stay you. Namaste ;)