Yoga goes pop! New craze for disco yoga hits the UK. FEMAIL dons a leotard and joins the sun salutations


Yoga goes pop! New craze for disco yoga hits the UK. FEMAIL dons a leotard and joins the sun salutations

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UPDATED:

13:20 GMT, 3 August 2012

Laughing, disco dancing, and socialising are not activities you'd usually associate with yoga.

Its reputation of complicated twists, stretching and 'omming' leaves little room for the inclusion of fun. The ancient Indian practice is commonly seen as, well, serious. But it needn't be.

Funnily enough, the word yoga, from the ancient Sanskrit language, literally means 'to join' or 'to unite', so there's no need to alienate it from everyday life or indulgences.

Bridging the gap: Funk the Buddha combines yoga with entertainment and socialising

Bridging the gap: Funk the Buddha combines yoga with entertainment and socialising

Founder of the newest yoga craze sweeping Europe, Rachel Okimo, says, 'You can take the group yoga experience to the next level; out of the studio and into the playground of our cities, bridging the gap between our yoga and social sanctuaries.'

This is the philosophy adopted through her brainchild, Funk the Buddha.

The bi-monthly pop-up venture comprises of a 90 minute yoga practice, followed by entertainment and socialising with optional dinner and drinks, and a goody bag, all for a 20 ticket.

Each one is held at a different venue with a different theme and is soundtracked by a new guest DJ.

Okimo’s concept was developed in Berlin’s clubs and art galleries, now popping up in Istanbul, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Okimo’s home town, London.

As a budding yoga bunny myself, after an invite landed in my inbox for the London launch party, I decided to head down to see what all the fuss was about.

New craze: The class begins with a 90 minute yoga practice followed by cocktails and an optional dinner

New craze: The class begins with a 90 minute yoga practice followed by cocktails and an optional dinner

Yoga with dinner and drinks: The bi-monthly pop-up venture is held at a different venue each time, with a different theme and a new guest DJ

Yoga with dinner and drinks: The bi-monthly pop-up venture is held at a different venue each time, with a different theme and a new guest DJ

Held in a huge space at Westbourne Studios, West London, this was like no other yoga class I'd ever been to. The lights were dimmed with brightly coloured disco beams bouncing off the walls, fitting with the disco theme.

Over 60 mats were laid down in the
centre of the room, yoga practitioners – aka yogis – mingled, DJ Anna
Greenwood’s decks were parked to the side and a bar and restaurant space
was just a few feet away.

The class kicked off with the funky Electric Slide dance from the 70s, then Okimo guided the group through an intense Vinyasa flow session; a pacey, dynamic form of yoga where sequences and poses are synchronised to your breath – we really worked up a sweat'

BOXING GETS A CLUBLAND MAKOEVER TOO …

Boxit 2 THE BEAT is an hour-long intense boxing training workout,
including pad circuit and cardio, combined with the music and atmosphere
of a nightclub.

This is a class aimed at those who
want to get fit fast – you can burn up to 1,000 calories in a
session thanks to the live DJ spinning house tunes that should drive you to train
harder and faster (thinking about that Ibiza body you want).

Boxit 2 THE BEAT is on every Wednesday, 7.15 – 8.15pm at Club 414 in Brixton. www.boxitbootcamp.com

Halfway through I got to the point
where I didn’t think I could go on much longer, but then came the
soothing and restorative bends, twists and stretches, and Okimo slalomed
around the room assisting yogis into correct positions.

Once
the class was complete, yogis meandered over to the bar for discounted
bespoke Vita Coco mock or cocktails, seated dinner or nibbles.

Shortly after, a catwalk was erected in the space we just practiced and a stunning acroyoga performance and lululemon athletica fashion show commenced for entertainment to finish the evening.

The physical, mental and spiritual discipline, which started pre 2000 BC, has proven its longevity and relevance in modern society; and not only that but from cocooning to Bikram and now Funk the Buddha, it’s wonderfully adaptable.

If you haven’t tried yoga before and think it’s too preachy, all meditation and healthy living and too much commitment, Funk the Buddha dispels these misconceptions.

It’s a cool alternative to a conventional Saturday night out, all about feeling good without forfeiting the fun.

Intense boxing workout: Boxit 2 THE BEAT includs pad circuit and cardio, combined with the music and atmosphere of a nightclub

Intense boxing workout: Boxit 2 THE BEAT includs pad circuit and cardio, combined with the music and atmosphere of a nightclub

Yoga – while rightfully respected – is about acceptance of the self and balance, can enhance your existing life, and there should be no room for guilt when having a glass of wine after working hard on the mat.

The Summer Celebration London launch party was on 21st July.

The next Funk the Buddha will be on 22nd September, venue to be confirmed.

Funk the Buddha teams up with celebrity trainer Matt Miller for a ‘Broga’ themed night in November. For more information go to www.funkthebuddha.com or www.okimoyoga.com