Yoga in Cambridge: CamYoga

I want to spend 2018 being a bit more active. I do cycle as much as possible but I need to have some activity other than that.

Back when I lived in Germany, I did Bikram yoga once a week, and I really enjoyed it. The heat in the room meant that my dodgy knees were happy, and the intensity was such that I got a really good work out each time.

I decided to go back to yoga in 2018. Luckily Haley was on the same page (guys you need to read her post about food marketing messages you need to ignore) and we both signed up to a taster month at CamYoga.

CamYoga is the queen bee of the Cambridge yoga world. The yummiest of mummies can be found here, and certainly the demographic of the classes I attended were made up of these people.

Haley and I took a free taster session first, which was really great, inclusive, and made me feel at ease. Then the next week I tried “Jivamukti”. Described as “strong asana (posture) practice, often to music” I thought it would be quite a fun one to start with.

When I arrived, the other women in the class were FANCY. I recognised many of them – oh, so-and-so who’s the director of that company, oh look there’s whatsherface, the owner of that place! They all knew each other and were chatting happily, having not seen each other since before Christmas.

I felt very out of place.

The teacher came in, and put a little keyboard thing at the front of the class, inviting us to move forward around her. We all shuffled forwards, and she asked if anyone was new to this yoga. Other than me, one other girl put her hand up and the teacher asked her if she had any injuries. It could be that she just didn’t see my hand, but she didn’t ask me.

The chanting began. Now, chanting was in the description as well, but I wasn’t prepared for the level of chanting. Or the singing. Everyone in the room knew the words except me. She also talked about how the theme of the class was “abundance” and being kind to everyone we meet; that even she as a vegan is nice to meat eaters. If you’re a vegan and you don’t tell at least 20 people a day, are you even a vegan?

I felt very alone.

After what seemed like an eternity of not knowing the words, we were relieved back to our mats and the poses began.

It. Was. Hard.

Although I’m pretty out of shape, due to have hard Bikram yoga is – and I was kinda good at it back in the day – I would consider myself to be an intermediate yogi. Despite this, the pace was really tough and I was very obviously struggling through the poses. It’s one of those things where you want to give up and sit down but literally no one else is struggling so you feel like, actually, it’s you who is terrible and so you force yourself through it.

During one section of downward dog, the teacher came round with what felt like Vicks vapour rub on her hands, which she started rubbing on my shoulders then moved her hands down my back, under the back of my bra.

Now, as it happens I was OK with that, but I was very surprised that she didn’t check with the class beforehand to see if we were all OK with being touched like that. I could be on the Autism spectrum and not want to be touched, I could be a rape victim, I could have a number of reasons why being suddenly touched is completely out of the question.

I really disliked the class. As you can see. I felt like a failure. I felt alone. I felt worthless and fat and everything I shouldn’t be feeling in a yoga class.

The friendly face of Faye from Novi was there, and she assured me that that particular class was challenging but that I should try others.

A few days later I tried Forrest yoga. It had been recommended to me by the CamYoga staff who I tore into on my exit of the previous class. It’s described as a “modern style” that allows you to “release tension, build strength and connect with yourself on a deeper level”.

Looking over the classes that are open to non-experts, happening in the evenings, Forrest seemed to be the least painful choice. I set up my mat near the front and hoped for the best.

If the previous class was 90% spiritual craziness, this was a solid 40%. I could cope with the level, but I did roll my eyes a bit when the focus on the session was announced to be “tribes” and surrounding yourself with good people. Sure, it’s a great thing to think about but when I’m trying to keep up with moves it’s hard to focus on converting toxic people around me into friends.

The teacher came to speak with me, asked me my injuries and kept an eye on me through the lesson. It was really making me work hard, without making me feel like a failure – much better than the previous class. The demographic had changed slightly as well, being full of…much more regular people. The teacher also adapted the moves for different levels which was great. She was a lot more in touch with her class.

Following the class, Haley joined me and we had a beginners’ session with a guy called James. James is a beautiful human being, with wit and kindness while he taught. The room was packed with scared looking people looking to try yoga for the first time.

James took us through basic moves, really slowly. Correcting form and completely doing away with chanting, veganism and focus themes. It was amazing. Sadly, I wasn’t the only person who through that the class was the best one; it’s been fully booked the next couple of times I’ve tried to attend.

It’s been a whole month now, and I went to classes four times. I’ve dropped off of the CamYoga train purely because the classes were mainly too chanty, too busy, or happening during the day. I won’t be joining full time.

The studio is great for people who have had experience of yoga before, for those who don’t mind the spiritual side (even more so if you enjoy that kind of thing) and if you want to network with the poshest ladies in town. For me, I want to do yoga to lose weight, in the evenings and I’d like interactive teachers who can help me improve. So, for me it’s not a good match.

I have another yoga studio in mind, so I’ll be making a mini series of these! I hope it’s been of use! Like yoga? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Boah, was habe ich mit Dir gelitten beim Lesen! Ich kann Dich so gut verstehen. Ich bin schon aus vielen Sportkursen früher den Tränen nah herausgegangen und habe mich missachtet und gedemütigt gefühlt. Yoga ist nicht mein Fall. Zwei Abende haben mir gereicht – auch mit zwei verschieden Versionen. Ich bin froh, seit ich Nordic Walking gefunden habe.
    Alles Gute für Dich, dass Du den passenden Sport findest!

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi Ines! It’s been a while – I should bring back Mutiger Montag! Nordic Walking is a very German thing – I’ve not seen it here at all! Maybe I should start it 😉

  2. This was really interesting to read. I have zero yoga experience but I’d love to give it a go so I’ve just been trying YouTube. It’s not quite the same but at least I’m not worrying how bad I am.
    I hate people I don’t know invading my personal space so being touched by a complete stranger would make me more than a little cranky. I think it’s really rude she didn’t ask your first!
    I hope you like the next studio you try and I look forward to reading all about it.

    • Yay thank you Gemma! ALL the people have recommended various YouTube channels to me, but I am so lazy I need to tell myself I’ll be in this session for X amount of time, or I’ll just do one pose and finish. You’re a lot more disciplined than me!

  3. I just started doing yoga this year, as a part of NY resolutions and after being inspired by my best friend. I was and still am the worst student in the class, but it wasn’t hard and I didn’t feel unwelcome. The teachers have been lovely and they let us do the poses based on our own ability. So, in short, I do love yoga and plan to doing it for the rest of my life 😛
    Kal recently posted…The World Culture Postcards ProjectMy Profile

    • Charlotte says:

      I think (and sorry for being cliché here) that it’s the journey not the destination. I’m really very bad at it and have to take all the easy options, but it’s still enjoyable!

  4. I like yoga, but it’s often a victim of my inability to set aside time for self care. If we had a standard 36 hour day, maybe I would do better.

    I’m with you, by the way- the super chanty spiritual side of yoga gives me eye-strain from all the rolling, but I do like the physical sensations and stretching from all the poses.
    Steven recently posted…Two They Might Be Giants Shows, Twenty Years ApartMy Profile

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