The Modernised Art of Yoga
The ancient practice of yoga, firstly recorded by early Indians, has been modernised in recent years.
By Sarah Barnes – Resident Editor
This respected body art combines movement and breathing with focus and mental clarity, with modern day ‘yogis’ using yoga to; distress, relieve pain, build flexibility and detox the mind. These modern day practitioners make time for this fitness trend within their fast passed lives and there are many who couldn’t imagine daily life without it. Wanting to experience these much raved about benefits myself, I decided to attempt yoga on the glass walkways of London’s famous Tower Bridge. An activity advertised for the early rising adventurist.
Clicking around the Internet one afternoon looking for a different art of clean living to attempt, I came across ‘Yoga In the Walkways’. Intrigued, I followed the link and found myself suddenly purchasing a ticket. Unbeknown to me at the time of purchase, this was a much sort after class to take in the capital. I soon found the day approaching that I would be doing a yoga session on the glass floor at the top of Tower Bridge. As part of a £1million walkway installed in 2014, a glass heaven if you will, visitors are offered a 138ft bird’s eye view of the city. At 11 meters long and 1.8 meters wide the walkway can withstand the weight of two black cabs.
I sleepily trudged to the station at 5:45am on a Wednesday morning mentally shaming myself for booking such an obscenely early activity. But much like morning tiredness does, it wore off as the train pulled into London. The pointed tip of the sleek Shard and cargo boats chugging up the Thames greeted the ten of us that huddled outside the north turret of the bridge at 7am.
Once at the top, the morning sun broke through London’s famous grey skies and glittered on the murky river below. I tried to convince myself I was a daring yogi and gingerly stepped out onto the glass floor that was refreshingly cold underneath my feet. Any fear of vertigo soon vanished as we were suspended above pedestrian life, looking down at everyone going about their daily lives 42 meters beneath us. Indeed, I am not a believer in the power of levitation but I felt as though I was suspended over Earth. We were captivated by the miniature people and toy cars far below making their way across the bridge; little boats sailed under in silence as we started working our way though Sun Salutation to Warrior Pose. Sarah Mcfadden, the London based yoga instructor, was intent on focusing on our breathing techniques. We soon found as a collective group that our inhaling and exhaling became synced as we stretched out through the Vinyasa movements, ending in Childs Pose.
I am by no means skilled in yoga, I struggle to touch my toes. However, the levels we advanced to were not threatening as we dropped down from the Balanced Tree Pose to Downward Facing Dog. The sight below was not a distraction just a pure novelty with the view rushing in at all angles.
This class is a calling for all photographic opportunists; although it is the place to achieve an instagramable standard of perfection, you should instead endeavour to create a meditative state of mind and just enjoy being present.
After we had all finished the class by meditating, I chatted to Sarah McFadden. Originally from New Zealand she works as a part time yoga teacher and is also involved in a farmers market company, helping urban communities re-localise food systems and sustainably face climate change – very much living a clean lifestyle. Sarah told me how successful the classes have been in encouraging Londoners to wake up even earlier and trek their way sleepily to the iconic British bridge to then be inspired by the beauty and pure calmness that they are exposed to up in the glass walkways. There is something about being up in the sky looking down over London. You are oblivious to the car horns and street noise that normally invades your ears; instead you have this horizontal porthole of glass offering a clear perspective, free from brain fog and stress.
I left the class feeling stretched and refreshed. Unlike upon our arrival there was no more eye rubbing or yawning just excited chatter, picture taking and gazing out at the cities skyline. I felt disappointed to once again join the city streets when moments before I had being floating above silently yelling ‘the view from up here!’
Yes I hope to not hear my alarm at 5am for sometime but as a one off occasion it was refreshingly different and exciting to try something new – perhaps an activity for the subtle adrenaline junkie. Yes it was an extreme example of experimenting in clean living but non-the less it was productive and stimulating. There is something annoyingly satisfying about finishing such a class just as people are getting up for work. Making the most of every wakeful hour is an aspect of clean living that I endeavor to make permanent. If you are in an intense office environment and feel the pressure that comes with hard work, your mind and body can carry a lot of stress resulting in fatigue. Taking time to try yoga, not always on top of the Tower Bridge, can help you to detox and collect your thoughts on your busy day. Just a few simple yoga exercises early in the morning can help you stay focused and relaxed as your plan for that hectic meeting or presentation that is ahead.
We can all integrate living a clean lifestyle into our busy work lives; we should aim to achieve things that make us feel good both in mind and body- Namaste.
(Namaste- a historical greeting said in unison at the end of a yoga class, universally meaning; peace, honor and respect to one another.)