At 6.30am, 35 floors up (or 155m), Rosie found herself amongst the clouds, clutching a yoga mat and wondering why she wasn’t still in bed. She wasn’t in bed, because she was about to take part in an early morning Sky High Yoga session to awaken her senses and get her ready for the day.
“Remember, it’s early… Your body is not at its strongest and may not be able to do what it usually can… Listen to your body…” – John
When my alarm went off at 5.30 on a Friday morning, I listened to my body and it firmly told me to stay under the duvet. My half-asleep brain automatically started to think of excuses I could give to not show up to this class. Ill? Forgot? Washing hair? Why does it have to be so early?? If this class were to take place in a sweaty sock-scented village hall, would I still be going?
The venue is definitely a selling point, not least for the photo opportunities. If you haven’t been to the Sky Garden to see the view or drink the cocktails at a normal time of day (or night) then you’re missing out on some wonderful sights. (I particularly like seeing hoards of tourists getting repeatedly told off for standing on the viewing platforms.)
Is it just about the view?
Doing yoga in a novelty place – ie, a place that isn’t a gym, definitely appeals to me. I tried yoga at The Shard and enjoyed the class, but probably spent more time in the viewing area afterwards getting snap-happy. Other than that, my yoga experience has been quite limited to free classes I’ve tried through Healthy Living London and from YouTube videos.
Worth the early start?
Seeing the sunrise is pretty special in any location, but up high in the middle of the city, 35 floors up the Sky Garden, it’s really beautiful. You arrive in the dark when the buildings are still lit up for night time, then gradually you see them appearing with a nice golden-y filter and it really is a wonderful way to start the day. And then comes the exercise…
Size-wise the class wasn’t overly crowded big and our instructor, John, wore a headset so everyone could hear him whilst some electro-y, suitable-for-stretching music was played in the background. John had a soft, calming voice and put a lot of emphasis on people only doing what they felt they could manage and altered any wobbling postures accordingly.
Less than a minute into the class, I’m in an uttanasana and notice that my nose is dripping like a faulty tap. It was probably a mixture of the cold air and my body being so disorientated (it doesn’t become fully vertical till at least 8am). However, it subsided and I was just left with the sniffles and a wet sleeve.
Maybe it’s because I was still half asleep, but being slightly passive and apathetic during a yoga class actually did me a lot of favours. My body didn’t seem to register any of the usual pain and tightness of the movements, and having an empty (asleep) mind, meant that there were no mental barriers getting in the way of my stretching, (which is what usually tends to happen when I’m more alert.) Though cold, the air felt great to breathe in and the freshness also seemed to help with the flow of the routine. When I spoke to John after the class, he said the cold can be a disadvantage because it doesn’t help your muscles relax. However, yoga can be practiced to help the body warm up and I think it worked. I forgot about the cold and a lot of people were removing their layers.
As the class was drawing to a close and I was beginning to wake up, my mind resorted to worrying about the day ahead. Soon I’d be getting lost in Bank underground station and taking up valuable tube space with my yoga matt, which came in handy for nudging people out the way. (Not very ‘zen’ but it was necessary for the Central Line rush hour.)
I really enjoyed the class even though I was actually quite exhausted throughout the rest of the day, but I’ll put that down to it being a Friday that took forever to arrive. I’d go again, though perhaps on a different day.*
What to bring:
Extra layers. It’s cold up there! Take a jumper that you can move freely in and an extra layer to wear for your savasana of choice at the end of the class. (I wore my EAT SWEAT BREATHE hoodie 😀
A yoga mat. They are not provided, though they do have blankets that can be used. You’ll probably want to curl up and sleep on it though.
Water. Even though you probably won’t get too sweaty, you still need to rehydrate.
Camera. Because, social media. #namaste
What is it? Vinyasa flow class on the 35th floor of the Walkie Talkie building, otherwise known as the Sky Garden.
I was made to do it. It’s a great way to start the day!
Who can go? Yogis of all levels can go, however it may not be suitable for pregnant people. There is also no disabled access.
When? Weekdays at 6.30am or weekends at 9-10am with different instructors depending on the day.
How much? £10
Website: Sky Garden Sky High Yoga
*I actually went again on a weekend. These classes start a bit later and I noticed that as I was more awake, the stretching did feel a bit more straining. This may have been coincidental, but I’m wondering about the advantages of
doing things you hate physically exerting activities at a time when your self-awareness is a bit lower. This class was a LOT more crowded, as it turns out no one seems to see Sunday as a rest day anymore! Our instructor’s headset wasn’t working and the faulty sound system meant there was no music, yet somehow, Mona managed to lead a very successful and enjoyable class.