I was very lucky to get to spend one month practicing here with the very welcoming community at Ashtanga Yoga London. This shala is run by certified teacher Hamish Hendry and his wife Anna. Not surprisingly the shala is full and busy from 5.30am – 10am (which was the time slot I would attend) and they also have classes running mid morning, evenings and on Sundays.
I practiced with Hamish and loved every aspect of my time spent here. The guidance and teaching here is delivered with a humble and kind energy which you can feel in the whole room. A small and simple space with a few changing areas, a bathroom and you can also pick up a copy of the Magazine created within this community – Pushpam.
Drop- in classes are available, Mysore style, monthly conferences and regular events and philosophy classes. You can see their timetable here.
If you would like to read a bit more about AYL founder Hamish you can read my interview with him here.
Location 92-94, Drummond Street, NW1 2HN, London
I’m not going to lie, the time I visited here it was for the amazing food and to check out their awesome yogi shop.
This place is very cool and the facilities and rooms here are spacious, modern, clean and perfect for yoga classes of all types. They have numerous locations across London, I was at the Camden studio.
The changing rooms alone were seriously impressive!
It has a no-shoe policy past the door of the centre (I always love a no-shoe opportunity!), they have a really gorgeous cafe serving an array of delicious vegan and veggie food, cakes (we were given a HUGE slice of chocolate cake for free!) and the best chai served in the nicest chai pots I’ve seen in London.
The timetable and selection of classes here has something to suit everyone and they run an excellent variety of workshops, events (there was a cinema night on when I was in town) and yoga trainings.
You are sure to find a class to suit you here, at the very least a delicious lunch in a relaxing and friendly environment. (Get the oat milk chai!!)
Location 57 jamestown road, London, NW1 7DB (Other locations here.
I happened to pass by a pop-up therapy morning that Holistic Hub were running in a church in Belsize park. Intrigued, I popped in and got a free twenty minute massage from one of their lovely therapists. The other options on the day were reflexology or acupuncture.
I spoke with some of the Holistic Hub team afterwards about what they do. Holisitic Hub is a mobile therapy company that offers different types of treatments, nutrition sessions, yoga classes and much more straight to your door or office in less than one hour. How amazing is that?
I am a huge believer in having more access to things like yoga, meditation and alternative therapies in the workplace and to also offer it to people in their homes is a really wonderful incentive – with our busy lives it can be very hard to get to a class or session sometimes!
Check them out and maybe set up a session for you and your workmates, friends or family!
Location 2 Angel Square, Torrens Street, London, EC1V 1NY
Eating & Drinking
I first came across these guys on Instagram and had it in mind to visit when I was in London. To my delight I accidentally walked by this cosy little cafe on my walk home one day.
This is a really gorgeous cafe, run by Gavin and team. I had seen them announce their decision to become a fully vegan cafe which I was really inspired and impressed by. I spoke with Gavin about the story and inspiration behind this decision and it is a truly wonderful thing to see businesses and cafes like this making a change and standing for what they believe in, in an honest and real way.
Also the food is seriously impressive – vegan crossaints, burritos, chilli, bento boxes and so much more ( GO check their instagram pics! – those vegan cinnamon buns anyone? ).
Also pretty important to note that their coffee is quality, all vegan milks available of course ( Oatly milk being my staple choice).
I love seeing this place evolving (and hopefully soon growing into a bigger space) and I always follow all of the great work they are doing to share and encourage healthy, delicious plant based food and other ways they are spreading the message for a healthier plant based world.
Be sure to pop by and say hi to Gavin and the crew when you are in London.
Location 52a, Prince of Wales Rd, London NW5 3LN
After a morning of dancing my feet off at the early morning alcohol free nightclub, Morning Gloryville I was wandering around Elephant and Castle hoping to come across somewhere nice to sit. I was not expecting to come across this gem inside the Artworks complex.
This cosy and inviting little cafe is the perfect place to come to after a morning of dancing and to top it off they have some seriously mouth-watering vegan cakes (they have recently become 100% vegan- check out the pics of the cakes and wedding cakes they make!). With a great menu for breakfast and lunch (Savory menu on offer at the weekends). With some tasty coffee and teas to go alongside all of that, you can sit outside in the covered square or cosy up on the cushioned seats indoors.
A pleasure to sit in this cafe and there are markets and different events happening in the Artworks space and nearby from time to time. Definitely worth a visit – again check out their website and social media to get an idea of what exactly those cakes are all about!
Location 10, The Artworks, Elephant Rd, London SE17 1AY
Ginger Jules Cafe ( Gordon Square Garden)
So one thing London has no shortage of is parks – there are many open spaces where you can sit and enjoy the city life. Having some nature to balance out the hectic element of London life and also take in the sun which shines quite a lot here during the summer.
In my (Irish) experience when you come across a kiosk in a park , the likelihood that they may have a vegan friendly milk for your cappucino is low not to mind something that you can eat with it. When I saw this space not only served up a vegan capp but also a whole range of veggie loving food – vegan mung dahl, vegan cakes and on top of that everything is homemade and they serve the take-away food in biodegradable containers! Doing their bit for the planet, the animals and your health.
It was a real treat to find this and to have the sun filled Gordon Square Garden to enjoy alongside it.
Location Gordon Square Garden Kiosk, WC1H 0PD London
I was brought to this Indian restaurant by my fellow India-loving Yogini friend, she knew I would love it -which I did. It really felt like I was back eating in a local Indian restaurant , the food was as good as anything I have tasted in the mother land, the decor is your standard Indian dining experience – no frills and straight to the point!
We tried some poori, dahl and obviously – a chai. I felt like I had stepped from London right into the heart of Indian dining.
It is right across the road from the Ashtanga Yoga London shala, so well worth adding this place to a trip you make to London if you want to go from an authentic Mysore yoga room to an authentic Indian meal.
Location 121-, 123 Drummond St, London NW1 2H
When I came across this Ethiopian food stall in the Borough Market with all its vibrant colours and smells I knew this was my place to eat for the day. Merkamo is 100% vegan and when I got to chatting with the lovely woman serving this feast , I discovered that Ethiopian food is by nature mostly Vegan and that as a culture they fast for periods seven times per year and during these periods they don’t eat any dairy or animal products.
I discovered ingeras – which are sort of like chapattis or pancakes made from fermented lentil batter. So good and healthy too! So not only did I try Ethiopian food for the first time but I discovered that it is delicious.
Location Old Spitalfields Market, 65 Brushfield St, E1 6BG London.
I do have to keep myself out of health food stores as much as I can because I end up spending all my money quite easily. I do prefer to spend my money on things like organic and wholesome food and products that nourish my body and the environment when and where I can though.
I had the absolute blessing to be living in Belsize park during my London trip and I had this Organic and natural health food store right on my doorstep.
This shop was really well stocked with everything from organic fruit, veg to other vegan essentials like tempeh, organic coffee (obviously for the early Ashtanga rising), oils, natural cosmetics, wines and well everything one needs from a health food shop. It was always a pleasant shopping experience and I found the staff very helpful and warm.
Location 179 Haverstock Hill, London NW3 4QS
As I have mentioned before, my shopping is less clothes shopping (I do love a good charity shop though) and more perusing health food shops to see what delights or things I can pick up.
It is not strange for me to go from one health food shop to the next for hours on end in whatever city or town I find myself in, is that weird?
When I came across Earth Natural Foods in Kentish town I had to take a look inside as it is a nice big shop for me to spend lots of time in ! They have a #zerowaste section, an organic fruit and veg section, a really well stocked freezer with lots of vegan stuff, a deli, freshly baked pastries, cakes and breads – and a pretty impressive shop with all you could ever need for a natural, vegan (or non vegan) home. There is a great range of natural cosmetic and beauty products here.
Location 200-202 Kentish Town Rd, London NW5 2AE
This health food store is another great place to stock up the cupboards and shelves as Earth Natural Foods- I would alternate between the two on my way home from practice. This store also has a #zerowaste section where you can refill your own jars or tubs to reduce the use of single-use plastic.
They have a fantastic selection of products ranging from food, homecare and natural cosmetics. The staff here were really friendly and helpful and to top it off you get a free tea or coffee with purchases above a certain amount. I did enjoy that little touch and you can have your tea or coffee with some of the delicious cafe food or cakes (vegan options available) and sit inside or out and watch the London life go by.
Location 136-138 Kentish Town Road, Kentish Town NW19QB
Ever been to a massive organic and natural products supermarket? Well if you want to then check this place out. They have everything you could ever ask for, by the aisle and basket load! When you get tired walking around and trying to remember what you actually came in for then you can take a break in their on-site cafe for healthy, organic food.
Location Several locations can be found here.
I actually came in here briefly but I loved what I found. It is like an old school pharmacy with a focus on natural treatments and ayurvedic principles mixed with the more modern health food and natural products. They have created and produced a lot of the products that they sell and actually sell online also. I was sorry to not have had more time to look (and buy) here. Next time!
Location 15-17 S End Rd, Hampstead, London NW3 2PT
So – Markets in London, there are many many! After a day wandering through the (rainy) city I came across a few that were pretty awesome. It is great to see markets like this filled with people and so much delicious food to eat. If you are if you are in the shopping mode then you have an abundance of clothes, jewelry and crafts to choose from.
Borough Market is a food market and on a Saturday afternoon in the super popular Shoreditch area you can imagine that it was buzzing and full of weekend city life.
There is so much to choose from and the three places that stuck out for me – seeking vegan food – were Hot Felafel, serving the go-to vegan meal for many. The Big V London which is a 100% vegan burger bar, serving all sorts of delicious burgers, sausages and sauces that are plant-full and animal free. Their salad and veg comes from the chemical-free veggie vendor Ted’s farm, also with a stall in this market. Finally there is Gujarati Rosoi, serving the most delicious 100% vegan Indian food – the constant queue of enthusiastic customers here certainly reflects the quality and taste of the food. Not only do they serve tubs filled to the brim with a proper Indian thalis but they have samosa and onion bhajis that you would think have been served straight from the street vendors in Mumbai. So good!
Location 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL
This was one of those markets where I wanted to buy stuff from practically every stall – which is not always the case when I go to some markets. I loved all of the clothes here – some handmade, vintage and upcycled. I found some gorgeous jewelry stalls that have something for every taste.
Natural beauty products, food, coffee and art. Defintely worth checking out if you are in the uber-funky area of Bricklane.
Location 146 Brick Ln, London E1 6QL
People ask me a lot about where you can do on longer meditation retreats. All of the retreats I have been on were in the Buddhist Thai Forest tradition. I have included two monasteries in this tradition which are not far from London city and which regularly have retreat or meditation sittings. Both are fully funded by donations and run everything on a donation basis.
This Theravadan Moastery is nestled away in the absolutely stunning surrounds of Hampshire. Also known as Chithurst monastery, is a Buddhist monastery in the Thai Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah.
This monastery does not have a formal retreat centre but if you write to the guest monk or guest nun (nun for females monk for males) you may have the opportunity to spend a few days or weeks here.
I first visited here after having attending a couple of silent 10 day retreats and having had some epxerience with meditation and an understanding of the general running of monasteries and retreat centres.
I love my time here, it is a very peaceful space, the nature here is something to experience – the forest, walking paths, sitting by the lake or just sitting in the beautifully kept gardens.
As a guest you will be given daily chores which are usually completed in the morning after breakfast, you will rise for 5 or 6am mediation and have the opportunity for group sittings at other times.
You can read more about the structure of the days here and guidelines if you are considering visiting. You can also just visit here to take some time out, join in on the group lunch or sit in for talks or workshops held here on specific days.
Every thing is offered by donation and is open to everyone. If you do wish to stay here you must contact them first regarding availability and if this space would be suitable.
Location Chithurst, Petersfield GU31 5EU
Amaravati is another, larger, monastery in the Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Buddhist tradition near Heatfordshire village of Great Gaddesden.
This is both a monastery and has a separate retreat centre which regularly runs silent 10-day silent retreats, weekend retreats and longer retreats. Some being offered in the Thai language. This may ne more suitable for those who have may be new to meditation or to longer retreats and could benefit from the structure of a formal retreat.
The may also be a possibility to stay in the monastery, again if you write to the guest monks or nun and ask beforehand. There is a large community here and so there is a lot of events and talks and opportunities to practice or visit here.
I both spent some time in the monastery and also a ten day formal retreat in the retreat centre.
The nearby forests and walking areas are another delight to have here, especially when on longer retreats.
You can check their full retreat calendar here.
Location St Margarets, Hemel Hempstead HP1 3BZ