Sporting testimonials from Vanity Fair and Vogue, who praise the centre as a “’yoga-for-all’ urban sanctuary”, and “A brand new hub for wellbeing in the heart of South Kensington with some of the most sought-after treatments, therapists and yoga teachers in the country”, you might say that my expectations for Evolve Wellness Centre were high.
And so, with my yoga mat and pants at the ready, I discovered the unassuming centre tucked peacefully away from the busy Brompton Road, nestled inconspicuously in Kendrick Mews. The front door instructed me to ‘take a deep breath…’ and with that, I crossed the threshold with anticipation. On arrival, I instantly felt a sense of calm and serenity. With the soothing sounds of meditation music welcoming me into the reception room, I helped myself to some complimentary mint tea and politely removed my shoes (those of you who are regular retreat- lovers will understand this as standard protocol). Within minutes I was greeted by Anna Schultz, a yoga instructor and intern at Evolve, who was delighted to give me a tour of the centre. As we both glided bare footed from studio to studio, I learned that each room was strategically unique. Different capacities, lighting, temperatures and window surface area provide a specific ambience, mood and energy required for each discipline.
Indeed, the variety of classes available at Evolve is extensive, ranging from the common practice of Vinyasa Flow and Pilates, to more unusual classes such as ‘Gong bath’, ‘Iyengar’, and ‘Kundalini’ yoga. However, Evolve is not purely a place for exercise, but a sanctuary for the soul too. I was taken into a seminar room, where Anna explained that clients can discuss ‘living the law of attraction’ and enjoy self-help classes such as ‘reconnecting to the feminine’. What’s more, the centre also offers a broad selection of treatments such as homeopathy, cranio-sacral therapy and acupuncture to name a few.
Finally, Anna introduced me to Adrian Kowal, one of the founders of the centre. He was delighted that I had chosen to take the ‘Forrest Yoga’ class that evening, and reassured me that I was not only in for an enjoyable, challenging experience, but a profound, emotional one too. Adrian clarified that Forrest Yoga was a modern style based on Hatha yoga, created by and named after Ana T. Forrest. It was this American yogini who wished to base the style on four principles: breath, strength, integrity and spirit, which enables healing powers to nourish the ‘emotional body’. By encouraging each individual to breathe into places where they feel stagnant energy, this provides liberation to emotional issues stored there. Serious stuff. I started to think that Forrest yoga was more than I had signed up for. Yet, when I took part in the class itself, I was pleasantly surprised that it was anything but intimidating. Many of the moves resembled those practiced in other yoga styles, such as Ujjayi breath and tucking the tailbone, while others were unique to this style, particularly the practice of relaxing the neck and wrapping the shoulders. The overall emphasis was on breath work (my particular favourite was ‘lion’s breath’) and muscle strengthening (I managed to hold a full backbend for five whole breaths!). Most significant however, was the emphasis on gratitude, love and acceptance of self. For me, these were the most poignant moments of the class. As a result, I felt both fulfilled yet challenged, strong and empowered, and I even allowed myself to shed a little tear. Adrian was right – a profound, emotional class indeed.
With a clear, conscious mind, I left the centre feeling at my optimum potential and happiness. Evolve Wellness Centre is certainly a little haven of joy. As I reflected upon the new-found spring in my step as I ambled back towards South Kensington tube, I made the conscious decision that it would not be my last visit to the centre. Feeling alive and at one with myself, Evolve has earned a well -deserved place in my Hip and Healthy lifestyle. Need to restore your inner spark? Evolve is the place for you. Be well!
Find out more info on classes and prices here.
words by Olivia Murphy