beat flex to the

Florence Der­rick finds an un­usual ex­er­cise class that com­bines yoga with clas­sic disco beats

The Wharf - - Focus -

In my first year of univer­sity, I started prac­tis­ing Iyen­gar Yoga. I was look­ing for ex­er­cise classes at stu­dent prices and this one took place next door to my halls. What I did not know be­fore­hand was that Iyen­gar ob­ses­sively fo­cuses on pre­ci­sion of pos­ture and align­ment. Our teacher was some­thing of a dragon too.

Far from eas­ing us through the poses in sooth­ing tones, she was the type to hoick you into a shoul­der stand by the an­kles and raise a judge­men­tal eye­brow at any girl whose hips she deemed sus­pi­ciously flex­i­ble.

Nev­er­the­less, we all grad­u­ated not just with aca­demic de­grees, but a rock-solid yoga tech­nique and thicker skin.

I thought of that teacher when I found my­self in a base­ment bar on a rainy Tues­day evening straight af­ter work, pat­ting gold glit­ter and dia­mantes onto my face.

This was not Iyen­gar and, hap­pily, our breezy and se­quined Cana­dian tu­tor Sarah Hunt did not raise her voice at us once dur­ing the hour-long Disco Yoga class at Trapeze in Shored­itch.

Around 30 of us (all new­com­ers) grabbed a mat as Sarah’s busi­ness part­ner DJ Darlo took to the decks and started spin­ning the likes of Sis­ter Sledge, Diana Ross and Chic. Wall-to-wall epic tunes.

The class started with a re­lax­ation and stretch, be­fore launch­ing straight into Vinyasa Flow with a funky twist. Sarah en­cour­aged us to flick our hair from side to side while plank­ing, click our fingers dur­ing war­rior poses, and arm roll and clap our hands through sun salu­ta­tions.

As I swung my hips with aban­don, mid-down­ward dog, my thoughts turned to the one in­struc­tion ham­mered home by my univer­sity tu­tor – the im­por­tance of per­form­ing pos­tures cor­rectly to avoid in­jury.

But as the Bee Gees came on and we pro­gressed into war­rior II com­bined with the clas­sic Stay­ing

Alive dance moves, I re­alised I had not stopped grin­ning since the class started and de­cided then and there to stop wor­ry­ing about my tech­nique.

“Dance party,” cried Sarah, as DJ Darlo hit a but­ton that flooded the air with a cloud of con­fetti and we all freestyled for a cou­ple of min­utes.

Maybe I was just a bit too Bri­tish for the sit­u­a­tion, but an en­forced boo­gie within my des­ig­nated mat space felt a lit­tle cringe­wor­thy. But then my jam came on – And

The Beat Goes On by The Whis­pers – and I might as well have been five wines down on a Fri­day night.

Laugh­ing and at last feel­ing fully at ease, the class set­tled into the fi­nal re­lax­ation ses­sion, ly­ing flat on our backs to soul­ful 1970s bal­lads.

We slowly opened our eyes to the sight of cock­tails be­ing lined up for us at the bar – co­conut mar­gar­i­tas and blue­ber­rry mo­ji­tos all round.

“I’ve been a yoga teacher for 10 years,” Sarah told me as we un­wound af­ter the class.

“I al­ways wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent, so I started play­ing more up­beat mu­sic in my yoga classes and in 2014 I started a small class in east Lon­don just for my friends.

“I was play­ing Spo­tify from my phone and a disco song came on by random.

“All my friends loved it and were, like, keep them com­ing. The next class I asked if they had any re­quests and they all said: ‘Disco’. It went from there.

“In 2016 my friend Rosie (DJ Darlo) con­tacted me and said, do you want to do this big­ger and bet­ter?”

The two of them brought disco yoga to fes­ti­vals, hen-dos and cor­po­rate events, adding glit­ter and disco balls to make the whole thing more of an ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Gen­er­ally peo­ple just come once, for birth­days or as presents for each other,” she said.

It is also a gate­way to en­cour­age new­bies to get into more se­ri­ous forms of the dis­ci­pline.

“A lot of peo­ple are scared away from nor­mal yoga,” said Sarah. “They say ‘I’m not zen enough,’ or they’re put off that it’s so slow.

“I was one of those peo­ple orig­i­nally, who said it’s too quiet for me. It’s be­cause their minds are not used to be­ing quiet. Those are the peo­ple that need it the most. But this is a bit more easy­go­ing.

“So when we do our re­lax­ation at the be­gin­ning and end, of­ten peo­ple come up to me who have been re­luc­tant to try still yoga and say: ‘You know what? This made me re­alise how busy my mind is, so maybe I do need to try yoga af­ter all.’”

I doubt my strict univer­sity teacher would ap­prove of Disco Yoga, but as I left smeared in glit­ter, slightly light-headed from the mar­garita and still hum­ming Nile Rodgers, I thought – sod it. Life, in­clud­ing yoga, isn’t al­ways to be taken se­ri­ously.

Sod it. Life, in­clud­ing Yoga, isn’t al­ways to be taken se­ri­ously Florence Der­rick

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