AS THE importance of wellbeing becomes increasingly recognised, a new wave of health-focused practitioners has evolved to offer interesting takes on yoga, pilates and meditation. Express classes, intensive lunchtime sessions, meditation apps and YouTube instructors have all helped us engage with their bodies in a mindful way while fitting into our busy schedules. But sometimes a more immersive experience is most effective.

secret yoga club lead imageExercising at the Secret Yoga Club

Step forward the London-based Secret Yoga Club, which recently ran a day-long urban retreat to introduce visitors to inner-city stillness. Set in the stunning new 42 Acres venue near London’s Old Street, it was the latest in the brand’s impressive schedule of pop-up events having previously taken over venues including Wilton’s Music Hall and the Royal Academy of the Arts. It marks an impressive trajectory for founder Gabrielle Hales, who launched Secret Yoga Club in 2013 with group sessions in her living room kick-starting a move into more innovative events including yoga supper clubs, fitness experiences and immersive sound events, which have helped put her business on the map.

This time Hales called upon the skills of yoga instructor Adam Husler – a sought-after specialist in alignment – to deliver a three-hour morning class. Light pouring through the venue’s stained-glass windows created an almost spiritual setting for a class that steadily increased in intensity, focusing on strength and flexibility as the sequences developed. Participants were encouraged to leave their tension behind and focus on improving their individual practices across a substantial session that was as rewarding as it was challenging.

Yoga teacher Adam HuslerYoga teacher Adam Husler

The welcome break for lunch saw a balanced two-course meal provided by celebrated London chef Eryk Bautista. Chocolate-spiked bean chilli followed by mango and black coconut rice pudding provided hearty, wholesome sustenance and came accompanied by London-based Jarr Kombucha’s refreshing fermented tea before the afternoon session began.

As participants took to their mats again, it was time for a change of pace. A focused meditation session worked on techniques to channel inner thoughts, while also giving muscles still aching from the morning’s yoga the chance to relax. With bodies now still and minds rested, an hour-long gong bath saw sound expert Mona Rujis provide an aurally led meditation with a trajectory of sounds leaving participants in a deeply relaxed state that lasted long after leaving the venue.

Immaculately delivered, this day-long retreat saw body, mind and appetite satisfied by a thoughtfully conceived programme that drew on the expertise of some of London’s premier practitioners, adding a new set of devotees to Secret Yoga Club’s rapidly growing fanbase.

by Ben Olsen

For more information on Secret Yoga Club’s upcoming events, visit here