After a stressful career in architecture left her with a back injury, Kasia Poremna knew she needed to make changes in her life.
One yoga class later and a dream was born – to open a yoga studio of her very own that would help other busy Londoners lead a more balanced life too.
It may have been 12 years in the making, but the Flying Yogi opened last summer in Goldhawk Road, Shepherds Bush, to bring a peaceful retreat to the bustling area.
“Life is so stressful and people are overwhelmed,” explains 39-year-old Kasia, who has trained in different forms of yoga, including hot Bikram, power yoga and the more gentle hatha style in the US, India and the UK.
“Yoga can help to develop an ability to make your mind more peaceful – and as yoga is a physical practice, it can be more approachable than something like meditation.” She adds that focusing on the poses – or asanas – means the mind learns to concentrate on one thing, rather than flitting from one thought to another.
“In London, we really need that control over our mind to make life less stressful, more peaceful and less overwhelming,” she points out.
Entering the light and welcoming studio, a sense of calm is immediately apparent.
Kasia – who lives a few moments away near Askew Road – spent four hectic months project managing the creation of the new yoga studio to ensure every detail met her exacting standards.
The separate men’s and women’s changing rooms feel more like a luxury spa hotel, and the spacious yoga practice room is light and airy, with room for 20 mats. “It was the toughest period of my life,” admits Kasia. “But it has been worth it.”
It may seem like a huge jump to go from working in architecture and interior design to becoming a yoga teacher, but Kasia reveals she ‘never felt so relaxed’ as when she attended her first ever yoga class in Notting Hill, 12 years ago.
“I decided there and then to become a yoga teacher,” she explains. Three years ago, Kasia began searching for suitable premises, and eventually found the ideal spot in Goldhawk Road. “It was quite run down, but we knocked down walls and completely gutted the place,” she says.
Having decided to offer ‘warm’ yoga classes, the practice room is fitted with 12 infrared panels in the ceiling, which radiate a gentle heat. Classes take place under the warming panels, which heat the room from 25C to 30C – a much lower temperature than the controversial hot Bikram yoga, which can be performed in rooms heated to 40C.
“I didn’t want the room to be too hot,” explains Kasia, who is originally from Poland but moved to the UK 18 years ago. “I wanted something gentle so the heat is nice and welcoming, not off-putting.”
As Kasia demonstrates poses including the camel back bend, downward facing dog, triangle and forward bend, the warmth is a definite boon to flexibility.
But bendiness is not a prerequisite: the Flying Yogi’s six teachers offer classes to suit all abilities, from a basic yoga class, to more dynamic vinyasa flow sessions, and even a 45-minute lunchtime fix for those who fancy limbering up during their lunch break.
Men, women, old, young, all are welcome at the studio, emphasises Kasia, adding ‘we want to create a real sense of community here’.
Mum and baby yoga is set to launch on Sundays at 2pm, while pregnancy yoga will be on offer on Saturdays from March.
“We want to provide options for people,” she says. “Lots of people like traditional styles, something gentle and relaxing, while others want something more challenging. Our approach is to get to know people and what poses will be right for them, so the sequence may be slightly different each time.”
Ultimately, Kasia’s goal is to reduce stress, in the same way that she feels yoga has helped her. “It’s kind of saved my life,” she reveals. “Once you are in a cycle of stress it can be hard to step back. Yoga helps to redress the balance, and once you have that power over your mind, you realise you also have more control over your time.”
For more details call 020 8746 7191.