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When Wahanda were invited to visit Evolve, a new Wellness centre on their open day we couldn’t resist, and opted to try out new style of yoga Budokon. A favourite among Hollywood’s elite including Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox to name but a few, we fancied ourselves as yoga bunnies. Having already made a stab at Hatha Yoga at my local gym, I thought myself as abit of yoga pro, however I soon found that was far from the truth...
Close to South Ken tube station, when we arrived at the centre we were greeted by the reception staff..who seemed to be a little confused who we were, to say the least! Despite having spoken to the PR staff via email, there was obviously a lack of communication. Despite this, matters were quickly resolved and we were given a quick talk on the practice of Budokon, with which we decided to go for it...
The centre itself was bright and airy, all white walls and perfect minimalism it gave an impressive first impression. The centre boasts three yoga and Pilates studios, two treatment rooms and a community seminar room, yet the centre felt intimate. To add to the feeling of zen, when you arrive please be aware that you must take your shoes off...so make sure your wearing nice socks that day!
For our Budokon Yoga class, we practised in one of the yoga studios, a little on the small side the benefit being that the classes will never get too big, around the size of six to eight people.
Our instructor was the crème de la crème of Budokon Yoga, the UK’s leading teacher Ryan Carldon-Miah obviously an expert in his field we felt we were in very capable hands.
The class started off easily enough with some stretches, touching our toes and making sure we were limbered up before the exercise class began. For those of you, who have practised Hatha Yoga or yoga before; don’t let this fool you at thinking you are at an advantage. Budokon yoga is a dynamic form of yoga, emphasis on dynamic. A mixture of martial arts, yoga stances and meditation it is intense and challenging, certainly not for the fainthearted as we soon discovered. Surrounded by professional yoga teachers, (one doing the spilts right before us) we soon found ourselves out of our depth.
Basic yoga stances like the downward dog, usually static and gentle, are incorporated with martial arts actions so the movements become dynamic and flowing. For instance, the “downward dog” becomes the “dancing dog”, where you start off with pose of the downward dog, (feet and hands on the floor, body forming a V), but then you lift one arm and turn sideways, supporting your whole body with one arm.
As the class went on, the stances did get more difficult and dynamic, however Ryan was always at hand to help at us when we were struggling, (which we did a lot!) helping and encouraging us to carry out the moves.
Towards the end of our 90 minute session, we began to incorporate the moves we had learnt with martial arts; this was the part I loved. A chance to reveal your inner child, we leaped around like leopards and crawled across our mats as gorilla’s-it did get a few titters from the class, but personally the child in me loved it. A bit of fun to round off the class, I definitely would do more of Budokon if they included more of the martial arts side, and less of the grizzly hard to hold body positions.
We finished off with some meditation, a chance to relax your body and mind after all the hard work you’ve put your body through. When we were told to lie down and relax- believe me there was no hesitation!
Asked to close our eyes, and breathe deeply I soon drifted off into tranquillity. With relaxing music and Ryan reading us a poem it was easy to relax, my only premise being that you could hear the goings on of the outside world which did disturb my relaxation. Also it was a shame that the lights could not be turned down, as this would have made the meditation more soothing.
Afterwards I was left feeling rather exhausted, but strangely at the same time rejuvenated. My otherwise stiff body straight from the office, was left feeling stretched and limber...It was only in the days after that I began to ache in places I didn’t know existed! When asked, if I would do it again, I think I would give it another go in a less intense class (for beginners ha-ha) as it certainly was more exciting than Hatha Yoga, and I did quite enjoy the martial arts element.
To sum up my experience, I would warn those who do not exercise regularly to try something a little less stimulating and intense, like Hatha or Iyengar yoga, which is more gentle and is good for beginners.
Whilst for those of you who want to be challenged and fancy a fresh breath of air in their exercise routine, go for it! But don’t say I didn’t warn you....
Before I tried Budokon, I was a yoga novice. As a result, I was slightly nervous but looking forward to getting stuck in to what promised to be a dynamic (and hopefully fun) blend of yoga, meditation and martial arts.
When I arrived at the newly opened Evolve Wellness Centre in South Kensington, an unassuming building in a short cul de sac off the high street, I was struck by how small (yet neat and perfectly formed) the venue was. The reception staff were relaxed (but perhaps a little too laid back) as they greeted me. After being reminded that I was expected for a class, they invited me to place my shoes in a pigeon hole near a small waiting area, before I was directed through to the ladies changing rooms. Thankfully, I was wearing particularly snazzy socks, but be sure to put on a pristine pair!
The decor throughout was very smart, earthy and minimal- lots of dark stained wood paired with serene nature photography, frosted glass and clean, white walls. The changing rooms were fairly spacious; downward opening lockers and coat pegs are available for you to store your jackets and belongings and there is also a sink and a full length mirror for pre or post-class preening. Toilets are housed in a cloakroom a few steps away and showers are also available separately in a washroom off the same narrow corridor.
The studio in which the Budokon class was held was slightly on the compact side, but for a modest, intimate centre, this was to be expected. Situated just the other side of the ladies changing rooms, it was light and airy, if a little too small for our class of seven. Brand new yoga mats were provided and it was nice easy to see expert instructor Ryan running through stances at the front of the room (even if it wasn’t so easy for me as a beginner to keep up)! Unfortunately, once the class progressed to fluid ‘dancing’ exercises, the lack of space became a slight problem and I was conscious of both the walls and the limbs of my classmates frequently intruding into my ‘dancing dog’ and ‘crow’ moves.
The session itself was a testing workout. I quickly became aware that as a tennis player, my wrists aren’t used to being simultaneously stretched and subjected to the pressure of my full body weight, but no matter how tough things were to grasp, I gave them a go! More experienced yoga students or fans of weights may find the positions easier to pick up and hold, but the incorporation of animal-style movements (such as the ‘gorilla’) towards the end of the session, meant that despite working up a serious sweat, it still remained enjoyable for newbies like me.
The meditation section of the class was much needed before the session concluded, and it was nice to lay back and relax muscles that had been worked to their fullest. The contemplative mood was marred slightly by intrusions from the outside world (nearby drilling, alarms and footsteps proved distracting whilst Ryan recited inspirational yoga mantras and philosophies), but I still managed to join in breathing exercises which helped to focus my mind and lower my body temperature.
Overall, my first encounter with Budokon was an exhausting but fascinating experience. Although I would have preferred to have been in a class of 5 or 6 so that I felt less self-conscious and better able to focus on freeing up rather than restricting my movements, I enjoyed the variation that the discipline provides.
I was left feeling stretched, energised and very aware that I had just given my body a gruelling test, which certainly involved muscles that hadn’t been exercised for a good while. However, I would recommend that those new to yoga perhaps check out a more sedate Hatha or specialised beginners Budokon class at the centre so that they are more slowly introduced to the agility that the exercises demand.