When thinking of Carnaby Street, the word “bliss” doesn’t often come to mind. Carnaby is cool, fun, full of yummy restaurants and binge-worthy shops… but damn, it’s busy. Still, on a sunny Autumn Sunday morning, I managed to discover Carnaby’s chill side in the Marshall Street Leisure Centre‘s stunning Hot Yoga Studio.
My Sunday started deliberately early with a book and homemade porridge, just before hopping on the 73 bus to Oxford Circus from a deserted, sun-lit City Road. I arrived at Oxford Circus in less than 30 minutes and I walked, transfixed, along the streets that cause every Londoner so much stress in pure silence and stillness. Walking down the stairs from Ramilles Street through the Photographers’ Gallery and Great Marlborough Street, I finally reached Carnaby, with Liberty London towering over the street and still very few tourists or shoppers walking beside me. Watching London wake up has to be one of my favourite things.
It was in this state of stillness and bliss that I turned into Foubert’s Place towards Marshall Street, where a hot yoga studio at the Marshall Street Leisure Centre was waiting for me.
I first experienced hot yoga during my Couchsurfing trip in the USA thanks to Laura, one of my first hosts, who managed and taught at a yoga studio in Foggy Bottom. I was still jet-lagged, relatively unfit and pretty weak at that time, so the experience was both fun and shocking. I remember having to soak my clothes in water for hours to get rid of the smell. Then, having signed up for ClassPass in Australia, hot yoga became something I did once or twice a month together with pole and I slowly became more accustomed to it, also thanks to my increasingly stronger pole dancer arms.
I had never tried it here in London however, and when I was invited to join the session at Marshall Street I didn’t think twice about saying yes. It’s only my first month back, but I’ve already gone hardcore with pole: I train at the London Dance Academy, spending from one to three hours a day poling. Needless to say, my arms, legs and the like have been sore like never before, and one of my biceps feels a bit strained.
The reinvigorating session at Marshall Street Leisure Centre, led by Rose, was a chance to stretch out my muscles in the heat and space out in the stunning yoga studio, a dark room heated up to 40 °C where the slick, relaxing space already tricks you into winding down – or, if unlike me you’re a pro, into taking things to the next level and going in for a challenging hour and a half of yoga sequences.
Hot Yoga teaches you to breathe in a full and controlled manner, while the heat allows your muscles to get flexier. You can burn up to 1,000 calories in a 90-minute class, which helped towards not regretting last night’s pizza. Plus, sweating throughout the class purges the toxins from your skin, leaving you all healthy and exercised and ready to start your day on a power kick.
Not gonna lie – it was challenging. My blood pressure is often very low and I find exercising in the heat really difficult. Luckily however, I did not pass out (which is always a win) and I spent a fantastic hour and a half working on my calm, balance and muscles together with a friend I hadn’t seen in months.
After yoga, to continue the healthy trend started early in the morning, we finished our catch-up at Açai Berry in Kingly Court with an açai and peanut butter smoothie – a major throwback to Australia. Turns out you can still chill out, even if you’re ten minutes away from Oxford Street!
Pictures: Carolina Are