Getting to Know Bristol with YogawestPosted on: 05 Sep 2017
Bristol is the European City of Sport in 2017. Whilst not all of us can get around a football pitch, tennis court or running track, more and more people are adopting a healthier lifestyle. Yoga is proving to be a growing hobby and activity of choice for over half a million people across the UK. 365Bristol caught up with owner of Yogawest, Diana Penny, to find out more about what Yoga really is and how people of Bristol can get involved.
Tell us a bit about Yogawest
Yogawest was the first yoga studio in Bristol and has been in its iconic building just off the Gloucester Road since the early ‘80s. We (Diana and Mike Penny) took over in 2011, and completely renovated the building with the aim of providing a warm and welcoming space to come to Yoga classes. It is now a beautiful and peaceful sanctuary: we are just off the Gloucester Road (at the end of Denmark Place, behind Bishopston Hardware).
What sort of services and classes do you offer?
There are 20 teachers at Yogawest and between us we teach over 50 yoga classes a week to all levels and abilities. Our speciality is Iyengar Yoga: the most popular type of yoga in the UK, having been brought here in the ‘50s. Iyengar yoga is known for its anatomical precision, use of props in order to achieve poses safely and effectively, and the wide variety within classes: famously no 2 classes are the same! Iyengar teachers undergo an intense and thorough 2-year training before they are allowed to teach, and we all continue our training throughout our teaching career. As well as daily classes, we also offer specialist workshops and Yoga days. View Yogawest's class schedule here.
Can anyone join?
All are welcome: there are suitable classes for all levels and abilities. Newcomers are recommended to start by booking a 5-week foundation course to learn the basics of a safe practice: they can then go to any beginner or general level class on the timetable. For those who are older or stiffer, or just want to work at a slower pace there is a Gentle class. Children and teenagers have their own classes after school, and there are classes for pregnancy, postnatal and baby massage.
What separates you from other yoga studios?
We have 2 fully equipped bespoke studios. One holds 65 people so we can hold large workshops with visiting international teachers. We have changing rooms, showers, a beautiful south-facing garden to drink tea in after class, friendly receptionists and most of all highly experienced, passionate Iyengar Yoga teachers.
What advice would you offer for someone looking to get into yoga?
There are many types of yoga, and it’s a good idea to try a few styles to find the one that you enjoy. At Yogawest, although all our Iyengar teachers are trained to the same high standard, we all have different and unique characteristics, and it’s a good plan to try a few different teachers to find the one that feels right for you. It usually takes a few classes to get the hang of how yoga works, and to start to feel the physical, mental and emotional benefits: its well worth sticking at it because a regular yoga practice, especially Iyengar, can take you all the way through to old age, enhancing your fitness – mind and body!
Are you originally from Bristol?
We are both from the North of England, but have had connections with Bristol for over 30 years: it was only a matter of time before we moved here!
You are part of Bristol’s Independent District for business in and around Gloucester Road. How does this help attract new customers?
We are proud to be part of the vibrant and support community of independent business owners in the Gloucester Road area. With co-promotion events, local care of the area and a big range of services, we can better serve the people of Bristol in a street famous for its quirky and independent businesses.
What have been the challenges posed by running a business in Bristol?
There are substantial overheads in running a business that requires a building. With rents and business rates rocketing and the 20% VAT liability on all our takings, alongside the cost of staff salaries, its hard to compete with sole traders who don’t have the same costs. We need to work hard to make full use of our building!
Any advice you can give those looking to take the step into managing their own business?
Talk to as many people as you can in the sector you are planning to be in. There’s lots of help out there from Council-sponsored Enterprise agencies.
Where are your favourite places to eat, drink and shop in the city?
The Gloucester Road really does offer something for every taste: I can stroll down and enjoy fantastic cuisine from any culture. My favourite's are both South Indian: Hari Krishnan’s Kitchen in Zetland Road, and Dev’s Kerala in Pigsty Hill.
If you were Mayor of Bristol for the day, what would you change?
Transport: it would take more than a day, but we need far better coordinated eco-transport options to be implemented in this vehicle-crowded, car-reliant city. I would look to some forward-looking European cites leading the way by banning cars completely from city centres: this can only work where there is a brilliant transport network and a real incentive for cyclists and transport users. Bristol prides itself on its green credentials: we can do much better!
You can contact Yogawest in many ways! Tel. 0117 924 3330, visit their website at www.yogawest.co.uk, catch up with them on social media through Facebook and Twitter or just pop by and say hello at Denmark Place (behind Bishopston Hardware), Bristol, BS7 8NW.
Bristol born and bred despite the name, Brendan has been working in the digital media sector for the last 10 years and advertising for the last 20 years. A wealth of knowledge about the city and more importantly at how to help businesses get as much online exposure as possible. Call Brendan on 07876 735153 or email Brendan@365bristol.com or pop in for a coffee and a chat at Aardman.