Yoga Haven is the only place in Birmingham city centre that offers ashtanga (hot) yoga. Serving the inflexible and bendy folk, with bite-size yoga classes six days a week, it is the perfect spot for a bit of shallow breathing, deep stretching, and mind-clearing. I practice yoga at home, but I've always wanted to go to a class, so my sister and I booked the intermediate (90 minutes) class, yoga mats in hand.
We were in a large room with at least thirty other yogis, mostly women. With the instructor at the front looking round with a toothy grin, we assembled on our mats in crossed leg position and began our practice.
The room is hot. Yoga is not easy. Combine the two and you have a room full of people half loving it, with the other half doing their best to breathe through each pose.
We started off with relatively simple positions, doing a sun salutation sequence; downward facing dog, plank, chaturanga dandasana and warrior poses. I was working up a sweat but was far from dripping with sweat beads like the other yogi's beside me.
After about twenty minutes we got a much needed break after the gentle warm up. Then the yoga teacher hit us with these unbelievable poses. Everyone was equally struggling to get in position and I gave an audible 'ooft', which caused a low giggle. The teacher merely said, "I understand everyone, work with it, you're doing well", in his booming clear lisp-ridden voice.
Ninety minutes up and I felt fantastic. Not only did the yoga provide an intense workout but the heat cleared my mind and I felt terribly centred.
You book the class online via their website, turn up with a mat or towel, and get started. If you forget your mat they're available from reception for £2, as are bottles of water for £1.
Monthly, weekly, and one-on-one classes are available, so you can enjoy yoga around your schedule. The monthly subscription is a money-saving option if you're serious about your practice, and want to develop a leg-lengthening, leaner frame.