Fierce Grace, Classic 39 class

THE BASICS: Fierce Grace is a new studio and a new yoga practice. Michele Pernetta, the woman behind this studio, brought Bikram over to the UK in 1994 (to put this into context,: 2 Unlimited were at the top of the charts. We are OLD). Fierce Grace yoga combines 5 interconnected yoga practices, with one toe still dipped in the pool of Bikram sweat.

The room is as hot as a Bikram room (40 degrees Celsius) and at least a quarter of the class is made up of Bikram style poses. Each pose is held and repeated twice. But- here’s the exciting bit- there is NO script, and you complete 39 poses instead of the Bikram 26…. I even sipped water whenever I fancied! For Bikram lovers especially, this place is going to be a hot yoga revolution. The City studio is close to Old Street, £16.50 per drop in class, £30 for 30 days intro offer.

THE BITCHES: Carly, Ele, Gillian

THE CLASS: I had salivated over the Fierce Grace website for a while, and booked into a Tuesday evening class to keep the week ticking over nicely. The studio’s down in a basement, and the reception is natural and airy. Added bonus of a really friendly guy (who is ridiculously enthusiastic about juice), selling very reasonably priced fruit and veg creations in the back corner of the reception area.

The changing room isn’t vast but it is BIG compared to those Bikram yogis might be used to, especially for those who practice in packed-out London. There are no lockers in the changing rooms, only pigeon holes. Small valuables lockers are available in the actual studio- big enough for wallet, keys, phone and small bits; keys are provided. Don’t forget to switch off your phone if you lock it away in the studio!

I admit that I wasn’t expecting the studio to be as hot as a Bikram studio. I thought we’d be talking high 20s, early 30s- this felt like the full on 40 degrees Celsius whack. It was so yummy to be in the warm studio having a little chill out on my mat after yet another cold day in London- but as I found out later I had probably had too much of a heavy lunch for this sort of temperature. At least I’ll know next time to expect a Bikram-hot and not just a nicely warm room- and hopefully this review will help you plan too!

The studio was pretty enormous by hot yoga standards too. Tuesday nights are probably not a peak night but even so the studio was full. It definitely didn’t feel crowded, though. You could hold your arms out straight in any direction and not touch fingers with any yogi doing the same, which is not something you get to experience very often in this city, and particularly not in a hot yoga studio. Floor was wood (thank goodness), and mats were provided.

Our teacher- what a delight! Initially he was an unassuming man wrapped in towels like a yoga wizard and when he emerged from his wizard clothing as class began, we found we had relaxed teacher with crisp pronunciation which was delightful to be listen to as we stretched in the heat. I really enjoy taking lots of different yoga classes and learning under teachers with so many different styles.

The beginning of the class was reminiscent of the first 5 or 6 poses in Bikram (including the first breathing exercise), but then, just as my brain was taking me onto the next Bikram pose in the sequence, something strange happened. We did something else! A couple of people had a sip of water. Someone nipped out to the loo. I felt completely joyous- all the good bits of super-hot yoga, but free to play with the practice, have fun and enjoy it. This felt so incredibly different to what I was used to in such a hot room, and I really liked it.

The rest of the class was made up of a mixture of Bikram and other, more traditional yoga poses, although we still adhered to the standing-lying-sitting series. As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t been expecting such a hot room and my lunch was probably a bit too heavy for the practice, so I had to leave the room for a few minutes to get over rising nausea. This hasn’t happened to me before, but is indicative of the way that every practice should be grounded in the present, and you should listen to your body. What happened in the last class has nothing to do with the practice you experience the next day.

It wasn’t a big deal and I went back in as soon as I felt a bit more human, rejoining the class seamlessly. Our teacher didn’t say a word (I have been to some places in the past where you get heckled or told off for leaving the room, which I find really demotivating. True, it’s not ideal but if you ask me, listening to your body and nipping out is ALWAYS a better option than trying to prove something, and vomiting in the studio).

Anyway, the fact that I could excuse myself momentarily and then rejoin the class with minimal fuss reinforced the feeling that Fierce Grace studio offering all the best bits of Bikram and hot yoga, but in a less rigid and more relaxed mind-space that what I had experienced in some Bikram classes in the past. A real breath of fresh (warm) air.

The class ended with a version of the final Bikram breathing exercise, and a savasana to sit for a moment and enjoy the feelings that practically overwhelm you at the end of a hot yoga practice.

We left the room with sweaty foreheads and pink cheeks, and enjoyed a chilled out chat and a shot of juice (with the option to buy more) from the little juice bar in the big waiting area. On with the jumpers and coats and off home for a good night’s sleep!

THE VERDICT: This is no different to any other hot yoga class in terms of practicalities- so sip water from 2 hours before you practice and avoid a heavy meal, and you’ll be fine with the 40 degree heat. Fierce Grace is also probably a less intimidating way to start hot yoga practice than Bikram. It’s still very challenging, but the emphasis of having a joyous practice and the variation of poses is something that is less daunting than going to a Bikram studio for your first hot yoga experience. For seasoned hotties, you will love the space in the studio and the variation in practice is incredibly welcome.

THE EXTRAS: The people on the Fierce Grace website are just fantastic. I love the models who have been chosen to represent the studio- it says a lot about the ethos behind Fierce Grace to have chosen such an awesome array of everyday people to showcase their brand. Good work!

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