Yoga U.K.

This post is part of my EuroTrip 2016 series on the blog.

While in my 15 Minutes a Day post, I made clear that I did not go to Europe to do yoga (that’s what my Laughing Lotus unlimited membership in NYC is for), I did have to try the best yoga studio in each of the cities I stayed. Because duh. Because, when I first walked to the flat we were staying in in London, I saw that TriYoga was right across the street (like, a 30-second walk away). And I don’t believe in coincidences.

So here you have it, readers. Some mini-reviews of the yoga hot spots of two U.K. cities.

Meadowlark Yoga

Edinburgh, Scotland 

 

  • Location: 43 Argyle Place
  • About / From Website: “Meadowlark is so named because of its location at the Southern border of the Meadows, in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland. As a concept, our community is built around the pursuit of health through Yoga, mindful eating, sensible therapeutic interventions, and going outdoors for enjoyment. Meadowlark is set up as a not-for-profit organisation, so we invest everything in the gradual improvement of our infrastructure and people in order to provide the highest standards to our clients and fellow practitioners.”
  • Teacher Who Taught: Nadine Watton
  • Class Taken: Gentle Vinyasa
  • Observations: Everyone was lovely. The teacher was extremely warm. The class filled up quickly. The gentleness of it all (as is part of the class title) mirrored the pace of the city.

TriYoga Camden

London, England 

 

  • Location: 57 Jamestown Road
  • About / From Website: “triyoga offers you a place that is dedicated to looking after you, and somewhere everyone can belong. Start or deepen your yoga practice here, learn about cutting edge personal development, yoga philosophy and meditation, or take Pilates mat + equipment classes. In addition, we have an amazing range of treatments with the best therapists. Whatever you choose, it takes place in beautiful studios or treatment rooms. We have designed an environment, class schedule and treatments schedule to nurture the health of every individual: men and women, babies, kids and teens, through to seniors – everyone triyoga!”
  • Teacher Who Taught: Eileen Gauthier
  • Class Taken: Mysore Ashtanga
  • Observations: It was very easy to just stroll on in and take class. The teacher gave the most adjustments I’d ever received in Mysore (a primarily independent practice). I am not sure, seeing as I only took one class there, but the studio does seem to specialize in Ashtanga. The studio itself was absolutely gigantic – very much so the Pure Yoga type. The locker rooms were beautiful, as were all the spaces in general. Definitely gets a lot of clientele.

Edinburgh in Four Days

This post is part of my EuroTrip 2016 series on the blog.

What a phenomenal trip! Now that I’ve woken up at home in Harlem after a great flight back on Virgin Atlantic, I’m opening up the travel journal to reveal the best of the last leg of this trip: Edinburgh, where my sister, E, is studying abroad. She gave us a fabulous tour of this lovely city that doubles as a college town; it is special in that it is as much one as it is the other.

Here are the sights I saw, the art I experienced, the food I ate, and the libations I drank!

SIGHTS

 Royal Mile + The Castle – On our second day, we took a very long walk up Royal Mile to arrive at the Castle. After a fairly expensive admission fee, we explored the premises of the castle that seems to have maintained its original state except for the fact that the canons that decorate the periphery are likely modern replicas. That, and, many of the vast wings of the castle are now museums dedicated to battle and dress of the time. The highlight was getting to see the Scottish Crown Jewels. A large theme of this trip is that there is something to say for living history – history that is still in use today. The Crown Jewels are excellent examples of that phenomenon.

The University – The University of Edinburgh contains within its grounds the oldest student center in Europe! It even includes a library bar!

Calton Monument – This huge statue of pillars located a short climb up a many-stairs park looked practically two-dimensional because of the lines along it.

St Giles Cathedral – It wouldn’t be a EuroTrip without visiting quite a few breathtaking cathedrals. St Giles was a newish cathedral with some remnants of old times. Our lovely guide took us into the Thistle Chapel where royalty prayed. While the cathedral was made / renovated in 1911, though parts remain from the 15th Century.

Arthur’s Seat – On our third full day in Edinburgh, we hiked the famous Arthur’s Seat. The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking.

FOOD

  • Bread Meats Bread – It’s the Bareburger of Edinburgh for sure.
  • Checkpoint – We became regulars at this delicious establishment that has really good vegetable dishes.
  • Grey’s on Greenmarket – Delicious salad + salad boxes + wraps for under five pounds!
  • Farmer’s Market – You must visit the macaroon lady! And the record booth owned by a Beatles collector who bears a strong resemblance to Paul McCartney.
  • Loudons – The last food stop on this trip had the most delectable flat whites!

LIBATIONS

 

Lovecrumbs – I am legitimately obsessed with this cafe. It has amazing flat whites + teas. I went there for teatime, to write my postcards, and just to get the morning caffeinated libation.

 

Hula – This was the first cafe E introduced us to in Edinburgh. We all got flat whites, and their date-sweetened “Snickers” bar is delish.

 

Panda + Sons – Whiskey…because Scotland. I got a cocktail called the Birdcage. It was brought to me inside a huge glass cage and, as the bartender lifted the cage off the drink, smoke emanated from it.

Meadowlark Cafe – This cafe located to the left of the Meadowlark Yoga Studio (post forthcoming) and has freshly-pressed green juices.

 

Anteaques – E smartly made a reservation for us here as soon as it opened. It is tucked away in a very non-touristy neighborhood and hit the spot immediately after that big hike up and down Arthur’s Seat. It is what it seems: a spot for afternoon tea inside an antiques shop. It was super old-fashioned in the best possible way; no technology whatsoever, and it truly encouraged us to pause, sip our tea, out our unbelievable scones (with their signature rose petal jam!) and relax.

London in Four Days

This post is part of my EuroTrip 2016 series on the blog.

Cheers from Edinburgh, where I actually have more time and less external stimulation to reflect on London, even when I experience a new place in the U.K. I thought that it would be nice, for the purposes of this blog, to take a categorical inventory of all the places I went to in London, with just a few words about each. That way, if any of you, readers, are planning a trip to the U.K. soon, this can be a quick + curated reference!

Without further adieu, here are the sights I saw, the art I experienced, the food I ate, and the libations I drank.

SIGHTS
Regents Park – I was impressed by the number of outdoor areas there are to experience in such a metropolitan city. Regents Park was an excellent first one and led us straight to downtown.
The Lloyds – N aptly described it as “what 1980s architects thought the future would look like.” The Lloyds are a series of banking buildings with cranes permanently lodged atop them. This architectural landmark literally looks like the guts and intestines of a building, with elevators and pipes on the exterior for all to see. 
St Paul’s Cathedral – Not too old, but exquisite to look at.


The Tower – Here began my tour of my beloved Philippa Gregory books. While the area around it was quite touristy, the sight itself was the pinnacle of well-preserved history.


The Thames – To exit the Tower, I proceeded to take a long, solo, contemplative walk along the River Thames. It was absolutely beautiful with grand bridges with even more historical significance.


Westminster Abbey – While I didn’t go inside Westminster, I did get a good vibe for its grandiosity and continued function to this day. The coolest part of seeing historical monuments in London is that they are living history; many of them are still in use! Seeing as it was a Sunday, I got to see the guard of Westminster lock the gate.

ART
British Museum – This is an ironic name for a museum because it is really a global museum of art from all around the world. I could go back ten more times and still not see everything.
National Portrait Gallery – I loved the small room Bronte exhibit that is going on until April, I believe. Located at a side entrance to the National Gallery, it is a very accessible and manageable museum to see a variety of focused art.
National Gallery – This museum was definitely on par with, if not larger, than the Met, if the Met had even older goods + art.
Victoria + Albert Museum – This was definitely our favorite because it was a museum of real, usable artifacts that spanned time periods. It all felt perfectly curated.

LIBATIONS
Fortnum + Mason – This unbelievable shop of tea, everything that could possibly be associated with tea, and beautiful stationery was actually the highlight of my whole London trip. Breathtaking + energizing = bliss. 
Foyles – While this was a five-story-tall bookshop, I spent most of my time there at the cafe, which was definitely the best bookstore cafe I’d ever been to! I had a delicious crushed ginger tea! Also, the cafe is right next to the bookstore’s art gallery. Very cool for book lovers, tea lovers, and art lovers alike!


Fifty-Five Bar – I got my first of two smoking cocktails there, called “The Zombie” (i.e. a flaming corpse reviver); this place is located in Camden Town.

FOOD
NOPI – One of Ottolenghi’s finest restaurants with unbelievable food. A highlight was getting to see the kitchen right from where we sat!


Hawksmoor – We ordered an insane full-on English breakfast for two there. When I say insane, I mean it was the fullest platter of breakfast meats (many of which I did not know actually existed) I’d ever seen! Like I said when I went to Cuba, I had to say it again…goodbye, vegetarianism.

15 Minutes a Day

This post is part of the EuroTrip 2016 series, as well as the forthcoming Home Practice series on the blog! 

 Cheers from the train from London to Edinburgh! It has been quite a week since I last posted on the blog – I started spring break, made it to another part of the world, and thoroughly explored London on foot. I’m now en route to visit my sister where she is studying abroad in Scotland. These moments on the train feel more than welcome to sit back, relax, and reflect.

All of that said, this blog post isn’t even about something that is specific to my trip! I often find that, especially when it concerns the yoga practice, Jo said it best in Little Women, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

I knew going into this trip that my priority when abroad would not be to check out all the yoga studios in the UK. No, my priority was to see the sights and experience a rich cultural history. Even so, I didn’t want my practice to fall by the wayside as a result. So, whenever I felt inclined to practice (note: this worked best in the morning), I set my iPhone timer for 15 minutes and began with some sun salutations.  

 Over tea at Yumchaa in Camden, my bf and I discussed exercise and self-care and how hard the two can be when work feels crazy and dominates our waking hours. Inspired by my 15 minutes of yoga practice that morning, I told him that we need to let go of extremes when it comes to “fitting things in.” Extremes lead to feelings of failure. Feelings of failure lead to discouragement. When it comes to treating our bodies well, we need encouragement, fluidity, and the knowledge that a little goes a long way.

So on this trip, I am witnessing the ways that 15 minutes, when done repeatedly, encourages creativity and consistency: core parts of a home practice – especially a portable one. A timer set to 15 minutes acts as a boundary, a container, that I fill with the creativity, art, metaphor and rigor of the body. And when traveling a humongous city on foot, 15 minutes goes a long way to reset the body-mind.

Most importantly: it is yoga that can be done wherever, whenever. All we need to do is begin.

This summer, I will be releasing a DIY Home Practice E-Course. If you feel inspired by this post, I can guarantee that this e-course is for you. Sign up for email updates on the homepage of my teaching website, ShiraEngel.com!

Friday-ING Week of March 8th

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From last week’s column: About a year ago, I attempted to do a monthly “Link Love” column on the blog. It worked for a while until it got a bit too daunting. Instead, I am moving to a weekly format at Growing Up On OM to share all that I am readING, writING, listenING to, watchING, and teachING. It is my hope that this will help me document these things not only for my own reference, but as a source for constant entertainment and inspiration for all the readers of the blog. So here goes: my second FridayING post. Enjoy!

readING

listenING

  • This American Life #464: Invisible Made Visible (so good!)
  • Writing in Real Life #054: The One Where Leia Watches Law & Order (I really loved what they had to say about prologues)

watchING

  • Downton Abbey Series Finale (Seriously, this one takes the cake; it was every happy ending I would want and more!)
  • GIRLS
  • Scandal

teachING

EuroTrip 2016: Day -10

The above photo of me as a baby emotes perfectly how I’m feeling now, pre-trip. I’m 10 days out! In 10 days, I will be galavanting in the UK with my guy (in London) and then with my sister (in Edinburgh). At this point, I can actually say that I’ve been looking forward to this trip for years. I’ve wanted to go to London for as long as I can remember and when reading Harry Potter, I wanted desperately to go to Edinburgh, the place where J.K. Rowling’s magic began.

But what does my (brattily-named) EuroTrip have to do with this blog?

huge part of Growing Up On OM has to do with doing everything that life has to offer mindfully. Travel is one of the hardest and most rewarding things to do mindfully. Travel inspires us to life life to the fullest. Going someplace new and stimulating offers countless opportunities for personal growth and development. The yoga of traveling is challenging to maintain, but during this trip…and especially when traveling with loved ones – there is nothing more important than maintaining a balance of excitement, enthusiasm, and positive energy.

During AmeriCorps, I did a lot of event-planning. The rule of thumb with event planning is to have a solidified plan ten days out of a given event. That way, there are ten days to modify that plan…but at least there is something in place to modify in the first place.

Ten days out from Big Ben, here’s my plan:

Sights to See

  • Fortnum & Mason
  • Westminster Abbey
  • The Tower 
  • Borough Market 
  • Millennium Bridge
  • British Museum
  • Elgin Marbles
  • Foyles Bookshop
  • Daunt Books
  • Sir John Soane’s Museum
  • V&A museum
  • National Portrait Gallery  (Vogue 100, Charlotte Bronte Exhibit)
  • Hamstead Heath
  • Calton Monument
  • Rose Leaf Cafe
  • Arthur’s Seat
  • The Castle
  • Camera Obscura
  • Elephant Cafe
  • Meadowlark Yoga

Sanity Plan

  • (Possibly) Try TriYoga Camden (London)
  • Yoga at Meadowlark Yoga (Edinburgh)
  • Purchase Lara Bars for Trip
  • Journal, Journal, Journal
  • Airborne Vitamins
  • Meditation + Pranayama on Planes

Blog Inspiration

In ten days time, expect updates. I’ve always wanted to be a travel blogger, so this blog will most definitely take on that format when I am abroad. After all, it’s all part of #growinguponom.

Friday-ING Week of March 1

From last week’s column: About a year ago, I attempted to do a monthly “Link Love” column on the blog. It worked for a while until it got a bit too daunting. Instead, I am moving to a weekly format at Growing Up On OM to share all that I am readING, writING, listenING to, watchING, and teachING. It is my hope that this will help me document these things not only for my own reference, but as a source for constant entertainment and inspiration for all the readers of the blog. So here goes: my second FridayING post. Enjoy!

readING

listenING

  • The Romemu Now Podcast for some spiritual juice this morning.
  • Indigo Girls

watchING

  • GIRLS (So, so good! I am beyond happy that it is back on!)

teachING

  • It’s chakra / energy wheels month at Harlem Yoga Studio and I’ve been joyfully prepping for my yoga class at 5:45pm tomorrow on the first and seventh chakras!
  • Penguins via Scholastic News + global warming.

 

 

Marvelous Monday

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Image via QuotesGram

Yes, I know that is not an alliteration we hear often. But yesterday, my Monday was, quite simply, marvelous. As I walked up the hill to work this morning, I contemplated how happy the simple things can make us. I also contemplated – as I usually do before writing a blog post – what readers would get out of reading about the little things that I enjoy. I was filled with doubt; why should it matter what I did on a Monday night to readers of this blog? And then I thought of what I admire most about the blogs I read: the insights into the everyday. Increasing our own exposure to different habits that work for other people can shine a strong light on the habits that might work for us. So here you go: my Monday night, and I hope that you get something outta this!

SoulCycle

I’d been to one SoulCycle class before, and I think it just wasn’t with the teacher I needed to get hooked. While I am afraid of becoming an Upper West Side cliche, I think I kind of loved it. I was grinning ear-to-ear the whole time while the instructor, Elianna, led an amazing 45-minute class that left me hitting the pillow so hard. Also, the W92 SoulCycle staff is absolutely lovely; they made me feel so competent when it was only my second time and on the studio’s dime.

Sweetgreen

After SoulCycle I trained over to Sweetgreen Columbia before class and got the most delicious Kale Caesar (I have endless appreciation for quality ingredients and cohesive branding – something that SoulCycle and Sweetgreen have in common).

Grad School

My grad school class last night blew. my. mind. We learned about literacy and how people learn to read in the most effective ways. These are things that I am so endlessly interested by. It feels amazing to sit up, alert and ready, in a class full of intelligent people.

There’s a great satisfaction in knowing that we’ve made good use of our days, that we’ve lived up to our expectations of ourselves.
Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives