When we took over our space in West Norwood, it was a vast 250 meter square cavity with no natural light, no heating, minimal plumbing and a severely leaking roof. It took some imagination to picture just what an amazing space it could be. Our vision was to create a bespoke yoga centre dedicated to mind body practices. It was to be a beautifully simple, serene and warm space, which retained the warehouse character of the building. We wanted loads of natural light with views of the sky. We wanted it to be intimate, yet spacious, personal but uncluttered, airy, but cosy. We wanted our carbon footprint to be as small as possible. It was to be a place for self-nurture, healing, and community. The beautiful purpose-built centre we have created has the luxuries of a big yoga centre (showers, underfloor heating, wooden floors), whilst retaining the charm and character of a small independent studio. The space is a sanctuary, peaceful, but vibrant and always warm and welcoming.
the main space
the main space
The Mysore studio is our main studio, named after the city where the ashtanga system of yoga was established. The light-filled studio has a brickwork feature wall, exposed beams and large new windows. The ash wood floor is underfloor heated to a lovely ambient 25 degrees. Hidden away from any roads, the studio looks out on to a cobble-stone mews and is unusually peaceful. By day, we love to see the sky and the elements as we practice, by night we soak up the quietude, enhanced by mood lighting and the scent of aromatherapy oils.
Since hanging out and drinking tea and coffee has long been a part of the Shala yogi culture, one of our priorities when we designed the space was to create a place that felt like a home-from-home where we could do just that. A formal reception area may have been more practical but we love the fact that walking in to the Shala feels like walking in to someone’s living room. Central to the lounge area is the Gaggia coffee machine. Also know as the guru, it fires many a practice at the Shala and is a fairly integral part of life as we know it here.
Once a Victorian furniture warehouse and showroom, our building on Norwood Road was in desperate need of repair when we took over the third floor premises. We undertook a massive internal refurbishment and thanks to a grant from Lambeth council we were also able to restore the beautiful façade. It causes some confusion that our address is on Norwood Road but the entrance to our building is at 1 Chestnut Road through a 1920s building, which was once part of Harry Day’s furniture empire. Look out for our bright orange pavement sign on Chestnut Road. See contact for more on how to find us.
The Hampi Studio takes its name from a village in Karnataka, India, where director Gingi Lee first discovered ashtanga yoga. This is our largest studio, an airy, bright space with lofty ceilings. Features include the beautiful high wavy ceiling, ash wooden flooring, central heating and three large windows overlooking Norwood Road.
The Pushkar Studio is named after the Rajasthani town where the owner Gingi first came across yoga with Swami Shyam. It was here that he came to see that yoga was to be his true calling in life. Overlooking the peaceful Ebury Mews, this is our smallest and most intimate studio, which is also used for therapies.
The Pushkar Studio is named after the Rajasthani town where the owner Gingi first came across yoga with Swami Shyam. It was here that he came to see that yoga was to be his true calling in life. Overlooking the peaceful Ebury Mews, this is our smallest and most intimate studio.
artwork at the shala
The main focal point of the reception/lounge area is Territory, a stunning three-dimensional piece by Jack Milroy. Milroy, father of the co-director Ella, is an established contemporary artist who regularly exhibits in London.
Also on display is The Heavens, a print by long-time Shala student and talented artist Miriam Escofet.
The graphics throughout the centre were designed by friend, student and graphic designer Lisa Kosky.
Our designs for the centre incorporate two showers – which keep our early morning practitioners happy – mens and womens changing rooms.
Adding to the sense of luxury, is the underfloor-heating which heats the bathroom, reception and Mysore studio to a lovely ambient temperature. It is always warm and cosy, no matter what the weather outside.
dedication to derek ireland
The Shala is dedicated to Derek Ireland (1949–1998), Gingi’s principal yoga teacher. Derek 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 instrumental in bringing ashtanga yoga to Europe in the 80s and 90s. Derek was one of the most inspiring and charismatic men you could ever meet – he would have you laughing until tears rolled down your face. His picture hangs in the lounge area and in the entrance (thank you Mick Lawton).