21 years & counting…

The Shala Yoga Centre

This year we are celebrating the 21st birthday of our yoga studio. 21 years, 252 months, 13,104 weeks, 91,728 days of yoga for the yogis of South London. So many moments, so many connections, so many vinyasas, so many ujjayi breaths!!! Here is some of our story from those two decades. 21 years: Connections The […]

21 years – thank you

The Sangam Yoga Centre

By Gingi Lee, Founder of the Shala Twenty one years ago I climbed the stairs in an old Victorian brewery in Battersea, opened a small door into a light filled room. It was like no other space I had been in, a room with energy, nurturing, exciting, full of potential. I had spent most of […]

Derek Ireland


Derek was larger than life. He was the sort of person who walked into a crowded room and everyone there would turn to notice and gravitate towards him. Of course he understood this. He held court like any royalty or rockstar. Unabashed and loving the attention like a child. He would have everyone joining him, […]

The virtual shala

The Virtual Shala

Welcome to our Virtual Shala here to keep you sane and grounded and connected. We closed the doors of our Shala on the 17th March and with a giant leap of faith we opened our Virtual Shala the following day. We now have a full schedule of live streamed classes from our amazing team who […]

More than one type of warrior

Gingi Lee

by Gingi Lee There is a photograph of a Karate Master prominently hanging in the reception area of the Shala Yoga Centre in London. He is garbed in traditional Karate clothing (Gi). He is in a fighting stance wielding an Okinawan martial art weapon that is shaped like an old fashioned fishing oar. He looks […]

2010 escaping the city

Sussex Yoga Retreat

Summer 2010 – we take a group of students to Oxon Hoath, a 600-year old Tonbridge pile with a distinctly bohemian feel and stunning grounds. Tai chi practice in the gardens doesn’t get much more idyllic than this – in the UK at least. Find out about our upcoming retreats here. 

2008 back to island roots

Yoga Retreat Crete

The island of Crete has a legacy of yoga. For it is here that Derek Ireland and Radha Warrell set up the original Practice Place Yoga centre in the late 80s and exposed so many people to the practice of Ashtanga as well as to healthy living and holistic therapies. Gingi spent two seasons at the […]

Announcing italy, scotland & sri lanka

Gingi Lee Retreats

Our Retreat Plans In the depths of winter,  as we have been longing for warmth and SUNLIGHT, we have been focusing on where to escape to on our next retreats… Gingi  will be teaching three wonderful, very different retreats coming up in 2018 and 2019. Here are the dates for your diary for our Italy, Scotland and […]

yoga for london refugees


It has always been our intention with the new (or not so new now!) Shala to set up a scheme where The Shala can give something back to the wider community. Finally we have found a charity that resonates with us and we are delighted to announce our collaboration with Ourmala. Ourmala is a charity […]

magic moments

Family Yoga Class

Our first family yoga class for the 4+ took us on an adventure through the jungle where we met with snakes and tigers and birdlife. It was lovely to share the yoga practice with our little ones in such a joyful and bonding way. Favourite moments included upside down partner monkey pose and when we […]

2015 child refugee crisis appeal

Refugee Crisis Appeal

Thank you to everyone who came to practice at the Shala on 28 December to raise money for the Child Refugee Crisis Appeal (Save the Children). We had an amazing turnout with a full house for the event and everyone giving so generously of their time and energy. Particular thanks to Norman Blair for his yin yoga teachings and […]

2014 bienvenu au cevennes

Cevennes Yoga Retreat

As gorgeous retreat settings go, the Cevennes is a hard act to follow… No matter how exotic or idyllic a location we choose for our Shala yoga retreats, the Cevennes is always voted the number one favourite by our regulars. The summer of 2014 takes us to a new Cevennes venue tucked away in the foothills of […]

2014 kristina ireland at the shala

Kristina Ireland Yoga

In May, Kristina Ireland (wife of Derek Ireland) visits the Shala to run our first weekend workshop. It is very fitting that she is our first visiting teacher at the new Shala. In Crete in the early 90s Kristina and Gingi practiced side by side for many years under the guidance of their teacher Derek.

2014 the dream team

Yoga Teachers

The Shala has always endeavoured to offer the highest quality of teaching and has hand picked an experienced and talented team who each bring a different quality and approach to the centre. Some of our team up against the brick wall at the new Shala.

2014 in memory of derek


The new Shala is dedicated to Gingi’s extraordinary yoga teacher, Derek Ireland (1949–1998). He started out as a semi-professional football player, moved on to become a punk rock promoter and then found his true calling as a yoga teacher. He was an inspiring and charismatic man who could have you laughing until tears rolled down your […]

2013 all systems go

Yoga studio in West Norwood

It is all systems go from the moment we take ownership. Builders who have been on standby for over half a year, steam in and start tearing the place apart. It is an amazing sight to see all 250 square meters as one complete void. And a terrifying one to see the vast pile of […]

2014 stretching into west norwood

Yoga Open Day

On the 1st February 2014, with toilet doors hung just a few hours earlier and builders hot-footing out the door in the early hours, we start laying down yoga mats for a full-house opening weekend. It is wonderful seeing so many old-timers who make the trek from all over London, and to meet the many […]

2014 in need of tlc

The Shala Building Project

537 Norwood Road had a faded grandeur but was in dire need of some TLC with peeling paint and crumbling plaster. It was bringing West Norwood high street down and we are grateful to Lambeth for the grant they awarded us to restore the façade. We like to think it is now the prettiest girl […]

2013 derelict dreams

Yoga Centre West Norwood

A vast 250 square meter cavity of a space – is ours. For a year the dream of the West Norwood Shala is continuously under threat. There are so many obstacles and so many hoops to jump through but finally we secure funding, planning and the purchase of the lease. At the end of October […]

2013 catching some italian rays

Yoga Retreat Puglia

After a steamy yoga practice the crystal clear beaches of Puglia were beckoning. Oh life as a yogi on retreat….  Find out which retreats we currently have coming up here. 

2013 under-floor heating, insulation and jaccuzzis

Yoga Retreat Eco Yoga Scotland

It is with great relief that we escape lawyers and bank managers and estate agents and the stresses of setting up the new centre, to head to the Scottish lochs at Eco Yoga. Blissfully removed from internet (mostly) and mobiles (completely) we spend days walking and yogaing and bathing on our third retreat here. One evening […]

2012 the dream space

Yoga in West Norwood

After yet another rent increase and more issues with our Clapham premises, we put it out to the universe to find a new space. That very same evening by the wonder of Google, we discover a vast warehouse for sale, 10 minutes from our house. We are blown away by the size of it. It […]

2012 garden of eden

La Gomera Yoga Retreat

Returning to the Finca in La Gomera without the 20 kids this time means we can fully appreciate the serenity of this idyllic Garden of Eden. This particular trip brings together a lovely group of ashtangis including Simon and Jude. It is a great honour to share this retreat with Simon who is an inspiration. […]

2011 moroccan adventures

Morocco Yoga Retreat

Venturing beyond the European borders we take the Shala students to the Moroccan coast in 2011. Shacked up in an exquisitely designed riad with a to-to-die for rooftop Shala, we have a week of practicing, feasting, surfing, shopping and lazing under the African sky.  Find out which retreats we currently have coming up here. 

2010 la gomera family yoga retreat

La Gomera Family Yoga Retreat

Now whose brainwave was it exactly to take 35 people (including 20 kids) to the island of La Gomera? It seems like a fine plan at the time but we soon understand why noone offers family yoga retreats. It works. But the logistics are mindboggling. We turn the place upside down. It is certainly the most […]

2010 off the rails

Yoga in Clapham

The search for another permanent home was a long one. With sky high London rents and very few large commercial spaces we despaired at ever finding somewhere. And so it was that we eventually made this railroad unit in Clapham our home for a few years. The “Shack” as Gingi calls it had it’s intimate […]

2009 italy retreat

Italy Yoga Retreat

Returning to InSabina for a second year running, with many of our regular students, this retreat is filled with laughter and music. This is the first of many when Rob Davis brings his guitar and acts as our personal dukebox, heroically enduring our best singing efforts. Find out which retreats we currently have coming up here. 

2008 flirtation with chelsea

Yoga Classes in Chelsea

The Shala is invited to run yoga classes from a somewhat exclusive riverside holistic health centre. It is the closest the Shala ever ventures to leaving South London. Here Bella Galt and Gingi Lee are running a workshop at the newly built Riverside Très.

2008 the search continues

Yoga Classes in Streatham

The Shala branches out to Streatham (whilst still running in Balham and Chelsea) and starts running classes in this gorgeous Georgian Stately home. We would have loved to make this magical spot our permanent abode but it wasn’t to be.

2008 institutionalised

Yoga Classes in Balham

Bursting at the seams in our tiny mews house in Balham, the Shala overflows into the the Balham library hall on the weekends where we are able to host larger classes. The space had Edwardian grandeur but it takes much energy to infuse it with yogic prana and rid it of its institutional feel. Needless […]

2007 marriage vows in the south of france

Yoga Wedding Vows

The yoga glitterati are out in numbers for Gingi and Ella marriage in a small town registry office in the Cevennes south of France. The three-day celebration kicks off with a beautiful yoga practice where even the non-yogis roll out a mat. Memorable.

2006 a new shala era

The Shala, Balham

At the eleventh hour just before leaving the Sangam, we manage to find a sweet muse house in Balham, which we make our home for the next couple of years. Practices are cramped but the energy is always charged. It feels right to change our name for a new era and the simplicity of The Shala […]

2006 meeting of the rivers

Sangam Yoga Centre Battersea

Between 1997 and 2006 the Sangam (meaning Meeting of the Rivers) is the epicentre of the South London yoga scene. A strong and lasting community evolves in this bohemian warehouse space just off Battersea Rise. During 2006, it is with great sadness that the centre has to move on to new premises. It is the end […]

2005 chateau shala

Chateau des Pauses Retreat

A haven in the foothills of the Massif Central. Times of river bathing, gourmet vegetarian food, steamy practices and lazing in the Cevennolle sunrays. Each retreat we hold here has it’s own special moments and special people. Find out which retreats we currently have coming up here. 

2000 the london crew

Ashtanga Yogis in Mysore

During the four months Gingi is in Mysore studying with Pattabhi Jois, he lives with a group of London yogis at the famous Post Office guesthouse in Lakshmipuram, near the Mysore Institute. Among them: Cathy Louise, Shayna, Jennifer and Sabel (above).

1999 pattabhi jois and the new millenium

Pattabhi Jois

In 2000 Gingi returns to Mysore in the new millennium to practice with Pattabhi Jois. The old shala can only hold 12 people and on the first day of practice, he finds himself facing a wall with no room to manoeuvre. Gingi feels a great sense of history and excitement of being at the ashtanga […]

1997 yoga ambassador

Gingi Lee Healing Arts Festival

It is the Healing Arts Festival in the mid 1990s that really boosts the awareness of ashtanga yoga in the UK. For a few years Derek Ireland and Gingi Lee (above), and Kristina Ireland do demonstrations at the festival to promote the Practice Place in Greece. “We would switch on an album by Deep Forest, move […]

1997 sangam yoga centre opens

Sangam Yoga Centre Battersea

In 1997 Gingi Lee sets up his first yoga centre in a warehouse in Battersea, South London. Named the Sangam, the centre is one of the first yoga studios in London and the only dedicated ashtanga centre. Yoga at this time in London is still pretty underground and word starts to spread about the ashtanga […]

1995 early blistering practices

Gingi Lee Crete

“There is nothing quite like the practices in the old days with Derek. Intense. Exhilarating. Full of humour and it always feels like you were going to the breaking point, and laughing all the way.”

1995 baga beach is the place

Derek Ireland & Gingi Lee

Gingi’s main yoga teacher training with Derek Ireland takes place in a beach hut on Baga Beach, Goa. Three intense practices a day: Gingi is living, eating, dreaming and breathing yoga during the winter of 1995-96. At the end of the training, Derek grants Gingi permission to teach ashtanga yoga and he goes on to apprentice […]

1994 yoga oasis in crete

Yoga Retreat Crete

It is at the Practice Place in Crete that Gingi fully immerses himself in the ashtanga practice, studying under the inspirational and inimitable Derek Ireland and Radha Warrell. This is a time of challenging practices and the beginning of longstanding friendships with Hamish Hendry, John Scott, Kristina Ireland and Michaela Clarke. During this time Gingi […]

1993 mysore no money

GIngi Lee in Mysore

Fired up to meet Sri K Pattabhi Jois and search out the holy grail, Gingi heads for Mysore. No money. No practice. Alas. He returns to London determined to save and return to Mysore to study with Guruji. It is not until 2000 that he manages to return.

1992 seduced by ashtanga yoga

Gingi Lee Sketch Book

Gingi continues his trips to India on a pilgrimage seeking out ashrams and yoga centres wherever he travels. This leads him to meet many sadhus and swamis and fascinating characters – some enlightened and some most unenlightened! Along the way in Hampi, Karnataka, he comes across an Australian student of Sri K Pattabi Jois who invites […]

1991 beckoned by a swami

Swami Shayam

While teaching tai chi students in Pushkar, India in 1991, Gingi Lee is summoned to meet Swami Shyam Yogi whose students have told him of Gingi’s teachings. Gingi has no inclination to study yoga but is curious to see what it is that this swami wants with him. That first meeting at 5am in a mud […]

1990 india calls

Gingi Lee Art

In 1989 Gingi Lee makes his first trip to India where he travels extensively, painting and teaching tai chi. While teaching in Pushkar he paints this watercolour – and has his first encounter with yoga.

1985 karate kid

Gingi Lee Karate

Aged 12, Gingi Lee begins his study of the Martial Arts with his Father’s original Master, Sensei Richard Kim in San Francisco. There are no children’s classes, so Gingi practices with the adults. He follows Sensei Kim in his Tai Chi forms with not a word spoken for what seemed like hours. Aged 18, Gingi […]