For the first time, Jeremy and Aris traveled across the Atlantic to explore what the London yoga scene holds. Spoiler: It's filled with inspirational yogis, teachers, and organizations that will show you how yoga can transform your life and start anew.
Goldie, a popular drum and bass DJ from London, has a powerful story that inspires people from many walks of life to try yoga. After all, he's come a long way since his days of growing up on the streets and living the party lifestyle. As a self-motivated visionary who launched himself into the art and music world, Goldie became a successful actor and entrepreneur. Yoga came into the picture in 2010, and when he realized the positive impact it had on his body and mind, he never let it go. He has forged many beautiful friendships and partnerships in the yoga community that include longtime teacher Stewart Gilchrist (more about him in the next slide); Goldie's also launched his own yoga apparel line, Yogangster, with Kelly Isaac, owner of the London-based yoga studio, Fierce Grace. Practicing next to Goldie was not only inspirational but fun. His kind heart shows through his tough exterior. Although he is serious about the impact yoga has, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is a reminder that, no matter what path anyone has walked, yoga is for everyone.
Stewart Gilchrist—former IBM employee, lawyer, youth worker, drummer, and 80s rebel—broke his back in multiple locations after jumping over a wall in the wee hours of the morning in 1986. He spent the next 3 years trying to cope with the pain by any means necessary—including illegal narcotics. His girlfriend at the time finally convinced him to try yoga, which was the first step in his remarkable journey of healing and growth. He learned to heal himself through asana (poses), pranayama (breathwork), and a deep dive into ancient yogic texts.
Gilchrist believes in teaching a tough asana-based class with strong hands-on adjustments to keep the body healthy; his intention is to help students maintain healthy bodies to serve others as long as possible. Although this is an important piece of the yoga lifestyle, he has strong convictions of staying true to his yogic studies and encouraging others to do the same. “[I hope] people can escape from this health-craze thing, because as soon as one health craze finishes another one takes over, and yoga will be like anything else,” he told us after class. But if teachers can start to instill yoga philosophy into classes, students will see “how life-changing the practice has been for millions of years.” Read more about Gilchrist—and why he believes Chaturangas lead to liberation—in Jeremy’s interview here.
One of the most impactful organizations we’ve visited on the tour is Ourmala, a London-based organization offering yoga classes to women refugee and asylum-seekers, many of whom have been subjected to human trafficking and modern-day slavery. The class we attended was hosted at the Hackney City Farm and led by Ourmala founder Emily Brett. When Emily first started teaching yoga to asylum-seekers, it was on an irregular schedule; she soon discovered that the women coming to her classes felt that it was the most important tool in helping them cope. So she built a program to meet their needs.
Upon walking into the class, we sensed the feeling of community and safety that Emily and her staff created. Although the yoga is mindful and accessible, her cues are firm, which offers structure and empowers the women to stand strong in themselves. At the same time, the space is safe and comfortable enough for women to relax in Child’s Pose, lay on their back throughout class, or even release tears to their mats—which are vulnerable positions for women who have experienced trauma. Yoga is a powerful tool that Ourmala is using to transforming these women’s lives in a profoundly positive way by allowing them to process their pasts and start fresh.
Watch the video from our visit to Ourmala here.
Visiting Triyoga in Camden felt like coming home. We were greeted by the lovely staff, the community tables filled with students eating fresh and healthy food or studying, crystal-infused water, and all the goodies that we as yogis think we need. But the yoga feels like coming home too. We were able to experience Qi Gong-infused yoga with Mimi Kuo Deemer. The class was unique, but more importantly it was exactly what we needed. A traveling career is a dream come true, but at times it can create imbalances. The calming and fluid movements we incorporated into our asana felt like waves of peace flowing though our bodies. In a more subtle way, it was beautiful reminder that each day we can clear away what is no longer serving us and recreate balance.
We gathered together at Claire Missingham’s home in London for a lovely evening of satsang (which translates to "truth-company," or sacred gathering). Together as a community, we shared food, meaningful conversations, and the uplifting vibrations of kirtan. During kirtan we sang our hearts out with mantra (chants). These chants are said to powerfully shift our energy through the vibration of Sanskrit sounds. We left the night grateful and glowing with a renewed sense of lightness and balance. You can watch the highlights of our day with Claire here.
We take Nutiva Organic MCT Oil with us wherever we go. It keeps our brain and bodies energized and healthy, which is essential on this exhilarating tour.