Ever fancied heading to a yoga show, but haven’t quite got round to it? Poppy Pickles and Joshua LeClair spent the day at the Om Yoga Show at Alexandra Palace so that we could report back on whether the yoga show is all it’s cracked up to be.
The day started well at the magnificent Ally Pally (nickname of Alexandra Palace) in North London. The views were breathtaking, the route straightforward, and having arrived almost as the doors opened, there was only a short queue to get in. So far so good.
We wandered into the huge exhibition space clutching our press passes and were immediately immersed in a sea of healing crystals, vegan baking and most people were wearing either wearing lycra, harem pants or both! Here are a few of the things we came across…
Free Yoga Workshops
Our first mission was a Set Your Spine Free yoga class with Sally Parkes. We arrived just in time to bag the last couple of mats. I sat at the front and did a bit of shameless people until Sally bounded in, and after the usual panicky tussle with the over-complicated sound system, the class began.
Being an Iyengar student myself, it’s always a revelation to take part in an Ashtanga-based flow class because of the several differences between them. There are poses that I don’t do at all, such as Cat Pose, but it is always fun to try something new and I left the class feeling stretched and invigorated. The practice space was partitioned off from the main area, but the ceiling was open so a lot of noise bled in.
We arrived at Abi Mills‘ Be Fearless And Fly workshop just as the last mat was being handed out, but we decided to stay and watch anyway. I was intrigued to see how she was going to get a large class of people she’d never seen before to “be fearless and fly” in the half hour slot she had. There was a wide range of abilities, which looked difficult to manage in a group that large, but they did a wide variety of challenging poses the group might not have tried otherwise.
Verdict: Try the workshops to practice with someone or try some poses you might not otherwise get to, but not to get any individual attention or significantly improve your practice. Scour the website in advance to decide which classes you’d like to try. Get there with a good 20 minutes to spare, bag a mat, then hang out in Śavāsana or people watch until class begins.
The Spiritual Side Of Things
With so many spiritual and alternative healing items on offer, I felt determined to try something I wouldn’t find anywhere else. Enter the Pandora Star light machine experience. Apparently, this powerful light machine will “stimulate your Third Eye and Pineal Gland for a profound psychedelic experience that’s out-of-this-world!” How could we resist?
We were ushered into a tent and asked to lie down underneath strobe lamps mounted onto tripods. We were asked to put some headphones on (with traditional wafty Indian music on a loop), close your eyes, and relaaaaaax… Except we didn’t relax because through your closed eyes the most extraordinarily bright, kaleidoscopic light show is being played out. It was uncomfortable at first (Joshua had to ask to have the brightness turned down) but eventually the frequency slowed and I found myself in a very surreal, yet calm place inside my own head.
The other thing I needed to do is buy a crystal. My Dad’s a big fan of crystal therapies, and he told me that you’re meant to stand in front of the stones and choose whichever one you’re drawn to, since that’s the one that your subconscious is in need of at that time. I was drawn to Chrysoprase, which is meant to help strengthen your insight and is used as protection on sea voyages, whereas Joshua opted for a Blue Goldstone which should help assuage his fear of the dark and strengthen telepathic communication.
Verdict: The Mind, Body, Spirit room is the most impressive collection of alternative therapies and spiritual items I’d seen in one place. Joshua and I agreed that the light show was an interesting experience, but not one we’d be rushing to do again. As for the stones, I’ll keep you posted on the Chrysoprase’s efficacy next time I’m on a boat!
“Is There Anything To Eat Here?”
This was the one area that (sadly) didn’t really work at the show. We were on the lookout amongst the tents for a raw/healthy/superfood village with a few options for a guilt-free light-lunch to give us that midday energy boost. Unfortunately, the easiest-to-find option were the built-in food stalls at the Alexandra Palace that offered pizza, pasta dishes or simple sandwiches that didn’t really suit the mood.
Eventually, we opted for a charity food stall in aid of The Animal Sanctuary UK, but we wolfed them down while trying to politely listen to a talk on why yoga is good for those with eating disorders. “It is!” we would have shouted if our mouths weren’t full, “We’re absolutely starving!”
After yet more hours of yogic wandering we hit the jackpot, finding a vegan chocolate brownie with freshly made juices on the side. Delicious.
Verdict: The food stalls set up by the yogis were delicious, but make sure you circle them on a map before you delve into the sea of tents!
The Yoga Add-Ons
One of the things I ended up doing at the show was joining the Woodland Trust, which was not on my list of things to do at a yoga show, but somehow, helping to conserve Britain’s precious and ever-dwindling natural woodland seemed like a wholesomely yogic gesture.
One of the nice things about being into yoga is that there’s a whole lot of other stuff that can come with it, for example, sitting next to me on the desk is an enormous pile of pamphlets and fliers from the show, on a huge range of subjects, such as English Wildflower essences, teaching meditation, raw food juicing and on and on.
Verdict: Although there are a myriad of programs to join and products to try, there’s no obligation to join any of them. That being said, it’s nice to be reminded that a ‘yoga lifestyle’ is more than āsana.
The Final Verdict
On the whole, Joshua and I had a really great day out. We threw ourselves into the whole yogic spirit of the event and came away feeling stretched, full and just a little bit lighter of purse. At some points one of the principles of yama kept surfacing just at the edges of my mind — aparigraha, or non-covetousness — so I had to remind myself I didn’t necessarily need this fabulous new yoga mat since I had a perfectly good one at home!
It was great fun to immerse ourselves in the whole yoga spirit for the day. It was really neat to see the community and everything going on first-hand to be reinvigorated by the activity going on in London. While meditation, juicing, and psychedelic lighting may not be everyone’s path to yogic bliss, there’s definitely something there for everyone — and totally worth checking out next time it’s in town!