Hotpod yoga. Being a self-confessed yoga convert who has recently jumped on the Bikram band-wagon, I certainly appreciate the transformative benefits of yoga and the health benefits of yoga in high temperatures. But yoga in a hot roofpod? Excited as I was to enjoy a class in the new rooftop pod in London Fields, Hackney, I was full of ardent questions: was this a new, futuristic, Bikram-esque yoga craze? Why the roof? Would I be at risk of being blown away, pod and all, mid yoga class? Would a combination of heat, height and Hackney really help restore my inner tranquillity? There was only one way to find out, and that was to experience it first-hand.
I entered the unassuming Netil House and ascended the stairs to the very top. Walking out onto the roof, I found a little oasis of heaven. With 360 degree views of London, a panorama stretching from Canary Wharf to the Shard, from Westminster to Hampstead Heath, the vista was liberating. The roof, decked with cool seating areas and a funky rooftop bar, exuded coolness, calmness and composure. If it wasn’t for the unavoidable glass pod erected in the centre of the roof, I would have mistaken my location for a trendy, post-work drinks refuge.
I entered the pod, which, to my surprise, was not inflatable by design. Unlike the portable, pop-up pods that have made hotpod yoga so distinguished, this roofpod had floor to ceiling glass windows to ensure the glorious views were not obscured. Unlike the darkness created by an inflatable pod, the glass design ensured that the pod was filled with sunshine. I was instantly engulfed by the warm, yet not unbearable temperature (37 degrees) and empowering, meditative music. Joined by ten others, we all sat in silence and serenity as we waited for our instructor to initiate the class through child’s pose.
To my delight, the class was not as intense as Bikram yoga. Instead the class focussed on the benefits of Vinyasa Flow, as movement and breath were synchronised to create a continuous flow of meditation. As we concentrated on inhalation and exhalation, stretching and warrior poses, I felt a sense of oneness, acceptance and gratitude as the sun descended below our horizon. Surprisingly, however, I did not feel that my exercise had been compromised by the ease of discipline. The warm temperature ensured that my heart rate was active, with perspiration ridding my every pore of toxins and unnecessary worry. This gentle, yet transformative, strengthening yet limbering exercise was certainly working me hard, as after the 60 minute experience I was left breathless and revitalised.
So I survived the class. Yet, I was curious to get a fuller understanding behind the science of the practice. Nick Higgins and Max Henderson, the directors and founders of hotpod yoga came to my aid.
Nick explained that he and Max wished to make the benefits of hot yoga accessible in as many ways (and places) as possible, therefore teamed up with award winning designers Inflate and Nick Elias to create an inspiring yoga environment in the form of a portable pod. Taking the country by storm and expanding from London to places such as Swansea, South Birmingham and Cheshire to name a few, Nick and Max thought it was time to take the physical and mental benefits of yoga to a whole new level (quite literally) by creating the only roofpod in the world. By relaxing the strictness of Bikram, but not compromising the physical and transformative benefits, Nick and Max formulated their own take on yoga – allowing thousands of years if yoga tradition to become highly accessible for all abilities. Nick explained that the perspiration stimulated by the heat is purifying for the body, and simultaneously aids flexibility for a high impact yoga exercise. With the heart working harder, maximum benefit from your exercise is guaranteed.
This philosophy certainly delivers. Aside from a challenging workout, mind and inner self was left balanced and contemplative. I felt empowered, motivated and at peace – I was physically and mentally on top of the world. Although I had my preconceptions, I can certainly verify that the combination of heat, height and Hackney successfully restored me to a greater sense of wellbeing.
Book your HotPod Yoga Rooftop experience here!
words by Olivia Murphy