Hayley Jones-Dowling takes on the 30-day Yoga Lounge challenge and discovers an exhilarating and enjoyable way to keep fit


Like many others I am always on my own personal journey when it comes to diet and exercise, I have joined multiple gyms, from the big leisure centres to the newstyle CrossFit and bootcamps.

I’ve tried running, I jumped on the Zumba craze – you name it I’ve tried it. But for some reason I never seem to be consistent. Exercise can sometimes feel like such hard work, especially after a long day in the office and the last thing I want to do is go and pound a treadmill or lift heavy weights.

When a friend recommended the 30-day trial at the Yoga Lounge, I was up for a new challenge.

I have tried very basic yoga in the past but nothing could have prepared me for the Yoga Lounge – this is the real deal. They offer 15 different types of classes, 36 classes a week, hot, cool and warm styles to choose from.

For my first class I opted for Bikram hot yoga a 90-minute class held in the hot studio where the temperature can reach around 80- 100 degrees!

I had no idea what to expect. but the teacher, Lucy, was welcoming and made me feel at ease. They advise to take it at your own pace, do as much as you can, just try and stay in the room. I found myself very quickly dripping with sweat, which is not an easy task for me even in the most strenuous gym class.

I managed to make my way through most of the positions but at any stage I felt it too much I simply sat on my mat and stretched until I was comfortable to get back in. There were all different ages, men and women all shapes and sizes, all levels and I felt very comfortable, with nobody judging my lack of yoga experience.

At the end of the class I was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt. I was straight away looking at the timetable booking my next class!

Next, I decided to challenge myself with Ariel Yoga, which uses a suspended fabric hammock to aid traditional yoga postures by supporting your body weight. The weightlessness removes compression from the spine and provides greater comfort and freedom of movement.

This type of yoga is very different to the other classes, its a lot more fun and less serious – you can laugh and chat and be completely free, unlike other classes where you are asked to remain quiet so as not to interrupt practice and relaxation. Tutor Celine took it slowly helping me get in and out of my cocoon-like hammock. I watched in awe at some of the unimaginable positions the more experienced users were getting themselves in and out of it really is an art and I was mesmerised by the beauty of it. Eventually after lots of pulling myself up and enveloped in the material and with lots of help from Celine I found myself upside down just hanging weightless. It felt exhilarating – the most peaceful floating experience imaginable.

The 30-day trial entitles you to try 15 classes and I was keen to try as much as I could – the hot, the cool and even the Sunday morning Yoga Nidra, where I found myself in a state of dynamic sleep, a systematic method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation. The mind stays awake while the body sleeps. Immersed in burning incense and the softly spoken teacher, I found myself in a deep meditation bringing a sense of complete tranquility and wellbeing.

The Ashtanga class was probably the most challenging for me and I did at times feel a little out of my depth. It moves very fast and I found some of the positions difficult to get into, however the very experienced teacher Eduardo was so patient with me, he really helped to move my body into positions that he advised were stretching and opening my spine. As hard as I found this, I did go back for more as I enjoyed pushing myself and mixing it up from the hot classes.

As my 30 day trial came to an end I started to panic as I didn’t want it to end, my Yoga Lounge experience had been so unique and enjoyable something I haven’t found from any other exercise. I didn’t dread the classes as I do with the gym, I didn’t find myself thinking of excuses not to go and talking myself out of it, in fact the opposite I was desperate to go and found myself changing plans to make sure I could always fit in a class.

I am now a fully fledged member and excited to continue on my yoga journey!