The practice of yoga has surged in popularity in recent years and whereas previously it has been a bit of a fad or a fringe activity, more than half a million Brits are now estimated to incorporate yoga training into their lives! Many people associate yoga with being on a beach or in a big fancy studio. So how easy is it to maintain and improve your practice living in a flatshare in London?
On the first day of my teacher training, yoga was described as ‘like having a warm bubble bath on a cold day with candles and incense’. Creating this atmosphere is definitely more of a challenge in a London flat shared with housemates or in my case two beasts - one a sceptical yogi (my boyfriend) and the other a big rescue Staffie cross.
Setting up for a self practice living with people who are not on your wavelength is a case in point! One evening for example, I lay my mat down surrounded by all my props, the music was on, the candles were lit and incense burning. Yes, I was squeezed between the sofa and an office chair in the living room, but yoga teaches you to take yourself off, to meditate, to calm the mind so this is what I did. I was in the 'zone', I'm doing my deep belly breathing to slow down my heart rate and quieten the 'mind chatter'. All is calm, all is serene.
Then suddenly the boyfriend comes steaming in, grabs his laptop and turns the TV on to check the football scores. This is shortly followed by our dog who comfortably sits on me, knocking over the beautiful nature sounds playing on the speakers. The ‘moment’ was definitely over...
So if you want to practice yoga in your flat, you have to be flexible and adapt. I always try to find time for a morning or evening practice daily and I realise there is an element of negotiation in doing this. 'I'm using the bedroom now for my yoga practice, can no one come in!' or 'please let me use the living room for 15 minutes for yoga, you're not using it!'
I still place my mat carefully between the bed and bathroom doors lying over the dog hairs or hairdryer wire. That's okay. As long as I have that time, all is restored in my little world.
As of late, we've actually come on leaps and bounds! I now actively encourage my lovely dog, Tigger to join me, enjoying the way she replicates the moves and noticing the way it calms her down! It's even gone so far that my boyfriend sometimes pops his head round the corner and asks 'can I join for a stretch' which has in turn encouraged him to attend my yoga classes (occasionally).
There has been times where friends have come over for a yoga class and we've pushed the rug to one side, put the lamp on the balcony and chairs up on the table just to create that perfect yoga set up! In some ways, it makes it that much more special knowing the effort we've gone to to make it work. They may leave with a dog hair or 10 plastered to their leggings but it's the community spirit and willingness that counts. After all, yoga comes from the word 'yuj' meaning 'to join' or 'unite'!
So my conclusion? Yoga practice in a London flatshare is totally possible. In fact, let your fellow flatmates know what it's all about - convert them to your side! You may be surprised. It might not be easy at the start, but you could end up with a calm, communal mini yoga studio in the very heart of your living room!
Kelly Craig is a Yin and Vinyasa Flow Yoga teacher. You can discover her classes at More Yoga Finsbury Park and Turnpike Lane- www.moreyoga.co.uk and The Ecology Centre, Islington.
Follow her on Instagram @kellyyogaflow