“Ooh, you know they’re serious about life when they’re spelling “African” with a K”. – Angel Dee 2013.
I was invited to this event through a friend of my homegirl, Tahirah and upon investigation I was sold at the idea of exploring Afrikan Yoga. Simplicious marketed the event they held in conjunction with the founder of Afrikan Yoga, Pablo Imani as an evening “combining movement, reflection and discussion”. And it was certainly that.
After a very long and tedious day at work, I was very tired and fed up before I had even set foot on the bus to Stratford. So when the man next to me released his bladder all over the seat, I seriously thought about going home. I arrived at Stratford Circus with a very tense body and was full of stress. That started to disperse when I turned to see Tahirah stroll through the centre doors. We were initially greeted with a warm welcome by the team from Simplicious and directed to the studio before they went to finish setting up. After a quick change, I met Tahirah and we made our way to the studio where her friend Michelle and some of the other ladies taking part had already convened. We waited for a while talking before Pablo arrived and greeted everyone individually before we started the class.
Lying down for a few minutes as the drums started to be honest was all that I needed. Pablo came around the room preparing everyone for the hour ahead giving encouragement and reminders to relax where needed. By the time we started the warm up, the majority of ladies in the room seemed to be a lot more cantered (myself included). Warm up consisted in stretches and dynamic movements in preparation for poses, as we weren’t aware the warm up was so long, most of us were surprised when Pablo told us this when a few wanted to get water. He explained the water would undo the work of warming up, which I understood, but the room was warm and we had undergone a series of quite vigorous movements including intense stretches. There were moments where I did feel uncomfortable, a room full of women gyrating to “warm up the hips” and being asked if we felt the fire wasn’t my favourite moments of the night. I also had to focus so hard in order not to get the gunfinger out or laugh when we were rolling backward like Shabba Ranks circa Mr Loverman.
It was apparent that Pablo’s style drew on a martial art/tai chi style as well as Kemetic yoga, dance and African roots to create his unique style. The warm up where we were grounded and creating air with our arms did remind me of the groups in the local park practicing Tai Chi, but it did feel natural and admittedly I did get into the whole thing.
We were talked through the poses as Pablo had us follow his lead and soon found ourself in shoulder stands, intense cobras, wheel poses, and a mixture is seated and standing poses; all very demanding on the body. Yoga can be seen as slow and boring, I’d dare anyone to say this after an hour and half of Pablo’s class. The last portion of the class had everyone sat meditating after using the energy created during class to remember to be thankful and we went around the room offering peace and thanks to each other. Meditation for me was very necessary. Despite a few reservations, the class was invigorating and I did feel recharged.
The finger food was pretty good, I’ve been to many events and their idea of finger food was meagre. Simplicious put on a very decent spread, including sandwiches, rolls, vegetarian pizza, breaded chicken and spring rolls was very necessary after our evening. We sat afterward with Pablo for a while for a Q&A and photos. I left the building feeling very tired from what was a good evening with a group of lovely people having had an intense moment with them. Not sure I would be comfortable with the hip warming again, but I definitely did not hate the evening and glad that I went.
Simplicious put on a very nice evening which was relatively well organised despite a later than expected start, thank you!