Sky Garden sunrise yoga class
Updated: Jul 23, 2019
Yoga is a great way to relax the mind, stretch muscles and improve balance. I recently attended the Sky Garden sunrise yoga class, which was a beautiful start to my day and, significantly, rekindled my love for the practice. I now feel more inspired than ever to take up yoga from the comfort of my living room and attend classes around London to keep it interesting.
I've dipped in and out of yoga a fair amount over the years. This June, I visited the Pyrenees on a writers' retreat. After thoroughly enjoying an outdoor yoga session surrounded by the mountains, and listening to all sorts of wildlife (though fighting through the hayfever), I vowed that once back in London I would explore some different yoga options. I’ve also read a lot about the extremely positive impact it can have on mental health, so that gives a good reason to pick it up again. Even the NHS has a dedicated yoga page, explaining that it’s ‘an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing.' People may be sceptical about this but I’m not. A fellow retreater, Soraya Abdel-Hadi, recommended the Sky Garden sunrise yoga class to me. I decided to book on and purchase a bright pink Gaiam yoga mat to stay more committed to the cause at home. The mat is non-slip (and currently clean). Win win.
Sky Garden sunrise yoga really is a sunrise class. As my alarm rung out at 5.45am, I wondered why I had picked a Friday to go. Well I knew why. 'The Walkie Talkie' skyscraper (formally known as 20 Fenchurch Street) is perfectly positioned between home and work. Weekday classes start at 6.30am (though there are no classes on Mondays), while Saturday’s kicks off at 8.00am and Sunday’s at 8.30am. It was such a serene time of the morning to be up and the view crossing the river on London Bridge was beautiful. Though at this point I have to say that I was pretty hot as I’d added in some sprints when the clock turned 6.15am and Citymapper warned I was still 20 minutes away. I made up time (I’m a pro at that) and jumped in the lift up to the 36th floor. The class had just got started on the balcony known as the City Garden, which provided superb sunny views of morning London. I took the one remaining spot directly in front of the yoga teacher, quickly unravelling my yoga mat (mats are not provided but I personally think they should be).
The yoga instructor was fantastic from beginning to end; he wore a microphone so we had no trouble hearing him as he demonstrated each move to the class and wandered around the floor to check everyone’s positions. This session was centred on a dynamic vinyasa flow style, which means that the poses ‘flow together’ and make a sequence. There is a focus on synchronising each movement to a breath, so you’ll actively be reminding yourself to inhale and exhale if you’re anything like me. I enjoyed the three sun salutations the most, as we repeated each of these slightly quicker than the previous. If you’re interested, these step-by-step instructions almost identically replicate the salutation sequence that we undertook. It really did feel like a salute to the sun with the amount of light that was pouring through the glass (it was then I then noticed the coincidental sundial design on my yoga mat). I was also pleased that the typical yoga cool down sequence was included in this class, i.e. you question whether you meditated at the end of the session or simply fell asleep. How relaxing is that?
I felt that the class catered for beginners through to more advanced participants because the teacher provided various pose modifications, so we could make them more or less challenging dependent on our abilities. Anyhow, yoga’s non-competitive, so who cares if you fall flat onto your face while attempting to be a warrior? The session lasted for the full hour, which was a suitable length (for me) at that time of the morning. I counted 27 other participants in the class and noted that online it was fully booked, so I would guess that each class’ capacity is 30 people. This was perfectly fine for the space.
It’s £10 a session, which is a reasonable price for such a novel way to practice yoga, especially considering the fact that it’s in the City of London. You’re allowed as much time as you like after the class to wander around and admire the fantastic views of the London skyline. If you like, you can pay an additional £12 for a continental buffet breakfast in the Darwin Brasserie on weekdays or a smoothie and baked goodie in the Sky Pod Bar at weekends, which could be fun treat if you go with friends. I found it amusing that over half the class were taking photos of one another. Even the instructor offered to take photos of anyone who wanted one mid-pose. This made me think that the class must be listed on some online tourist London bucket list, so participants want a photo to prove they’ve been. Mind you, I can’t really talk as I did take some quick shots after the class myself.
I would note that I have been to the Sky Garden for a drink in winter and it’s pretty chilly as they don’t put the heating on. If you do sign up in colder months, be sure to wear more layers. It’s worth bearing in mind that there are also no shower facilities. Regardless, I would highly recommend the Sky Garden sunrise yoga to anyone who is looking for a friendly, alternative and fun yoga class. It was such a peaceful and mindful start to my day. I will definitely go again when I get tired of busting downward dog in my living room, even if I was self-conscious of my bright pink yoga mat bumping into tired City workers on my walk into work! Yoga really is a great way to get active in London as there are classes taking place all over the capital.
Tickets are available on the Sky Garden's website here.
Address: Sky Garden, 1 Sky Garden Walk, London, EC3M 8AF.
*The Sky Garden kindly gave me a complimentary ticket but the above is my honest opinion.