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Dr Stephanie Minchin is a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS, a Trainee Yoga Therapist and a Yoga Teacher with weekly yoga classes in Hackney (@theyogapsychologist)

Meet the yoga studio crew who really do give more!

Stepping into a yoga studio on a Saturday night isn’t my usual vibe… Yet swapping dance floors and beats for candles and stretching for the launch of More Yoga’s Late Night Lock Ins was a wonderful experience.

More Yoga studios are popping up all over London, offering a range of accessible and affordable yoga. As a Yoga Teacher, it is paramount to keep up my own practice (yet it is so easily overlooked!) and More Yoga is my favourite new hotspot. From Vinyasa to restorative, power to meditation, it’s got it all, with a host of fantastic teachers. And not only are they a warm an inclusive crew, but they are quite the philanthropists too, with a mission to raise £10k for charity this year!

February saw the first of a new series of workshops by More Yoga; in line with the Valentine’s theme, the yoga workshop on Self-love by Liz Joy Oaklay (@lizjoyoakley) not only included live acoustic music from Mike (@bastiancreations), but also raised £115 for Hackney Night Shelter, a small local charity to the studio.

More Yoga London late night lock ins

The studio was a cosey haven, with candles and blankets and a gift bag for each yogi. Liz greeted us all with smiles and hugs, her shiney spirit sharing a sense of happiness and fun. Liz led us through a beautiful yoga flow, gentle movements and breath work, ending with restorative poses to nurture the body.

Many of us are used to practicing yoga with music and have a range of yogi-friendly playlists to match the pace of the movements; but listening to live acoustic music whilst flowing on the mat really was something else. Mike’s acoustic guitar was the perfect compliment to the yoga, and Liz and Mike were nicely synced in sound and time with the yoga movements! The dreamy atmosphere created a sense of a community for the workshop, that we were all their together to celebrate ourselves.

More Yoga London events

After the yoga practice Liz shared some beautiful reflections about why self-love is important and invited us to think about 3 self-love intentions we wanted to set for the year – one each for the body, mind and spirit. Although this was a deeply personal exercise and potentially very emotive for some, it felt really safe to just take our own time to think and write. We then returned our writings in a sealed envelope, and Liz will post them in a few months time! I’m already excited about receiving the my writing back, and hope it’ll serve as a check-in with my intentions, encouraging me to put self-love into practice. We were then guided through a self-love meditation whilst each holding our new lovely little Strawberry Quartz crystal, for assisting in conscious living, being joyful in the moment and helps to bring more love into the heart.

I ended the evening feeling really positive, smiling in my heart and appreciative of myself. More Yoga really did give me that glow. So here’s to more yoga and more self-love.

An interview with Liz Joy Oakley, Head of Vibes at More Yoga

Steph (SM): Tell us a bit about yourself!

Liz (LJO): I started teaching yoga & meditation after being signed off work with malignant hypertension, I was suffering from stress, anxiety and was having panic attacks but it turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise and changed my life completely!

I’d always practised Yoga and found it was the only time I could really switch off and stop worrying about work. Teaching Yoga is such a gift and I feel grateful everyday for having the opportunity to share it with others. I used to work in luxury fashion with some amazing brands, I missed the creativity and being part of a passionate team so I started working with More Yoga on their events and loved their ethos of making Yoga more affordable and accessible to everyone.

I’m now their Head of Vibes and it’s my job to organise events and workshops around positive mental and physical health, building community and fundraising for local charities. This year we want to give back and our aim is to raise £10k for causes close to our hearts. I feel lucky everyday to work with such an amazing team on such an inspiring mission.

More Yoga is like a family and our goal is to spread more good vibes, create more community in London and give everyone the opportunity to do more yoga.

SM: How did you create the concept for Late Night Lock-Ins, what inspired you?

LJO: We came up with the concept for Late Night Lock In’s brainstorming about how we can offer something different on the weekends, bring people together in a unique way and also raise money for local causes. In London we are spoilt for choice with how to spend Saturday Night but it can be hard to find something healthy and fun, outside of the pub!

Late Night Lock In’s are an opportunity to take time out for yourself, try something new and spread good karma! I spent a year in Bali working for a children’s charity and living in Ubud the main social hub was the Yoga studio – I swapped cocktails for coconuts and the dance floor for my yoga mat and it was really refreshing and took me completely out of my comfort zone. I wanted to bring this vibe back to London and offer people the chance to do something good for themselves on a holistic level: body, mind & spirit and hopefully have a few laughs along the way too!

SM: Who is More Yoga for? All of our events are suitable for total beginners and more experienced Yogi’s, we believe that yoga should be accessible & affordable for all, everyone is welcome! Shamir, the founder, describes More Yoga as ‘born from the idea that high quality yoga classes should be available to everyone not just the middle class and above. The future is More Yoga for all!’

SM: Why yoga for charity? What is the power of yoga to serve wider community?

LJO: In my opinion, Yoga, charity and community go hand in hand; we practise yoga together to raise vibrations & energy, we build community through this practise and union. In a well functioning community, we support and care for each other, especially those who cannot care and help themselves.

London can sometimes feel very isolating but yoga is one way of bringing people together and combining that with a cause and selfless purpose can create some really magical shifts to occur. There is also lot of debate about Yoga being monetised globally and only available to those who can afford to pay extortionate prices for classes, trainings and retreats.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra he describes living ethically as being the first step on the true path of yoga; the fourth yama in his teachings is Aparigraha, or non-greed, and at MoreYoga we want to give back through our work whilst spreading the power of yoga to the wider community.

*The next More Yoga Late Night Lock In is on 21st April at the Haringey studio – the theme is More Renewal to celebrate Mother Earth Day, with focus on grounding

*More Yoga will be hosting a series of special events for Mental Health Awareness week on 14th – 20th May