In our recent cover story, Rosie Blau examined the effect light has on our health. The eye perceives three main colours in light – red, green and blue. Morning light has the highest concentration of blue, which tells the brain to be alert and regulates our body clock, helping us to sleep soundly and function well. With this in mind, I dragged my bleary-eyed self to an early-morning yoga class on the 68th floor of The Shard.
I’m used to practising yoga in a fluoro-lit, often musty, studio at my local gym in south-west London. There are no windows. Achieving a state of Zen can be a challenge there, but even so, I rave to my friends about the benefits of yoga – increased flexibility and strength, improved circulation, healthier joints and organs, a calmer nervous system, boosted immunity. The prospect of doing downward-facing dogs 800-feet up, surrounded by sky, was an enticing one.
The classes are held on the viewing platform, the highest vantage point in Western Europe. After zooming up in the lift, we were allowed a few minutes to take photos. The windows stretch three storeys high and run 360 degrees around the floor. It is flooded with light. Far below, the buses and trains looked like miniature children's toys. I made sure to nab a yoga mat facing Tower Bridge – which had to be the best spot.
The hour-long class was open to all abilities (only a few people wobbled when we tried "dancer’s pose"). As we held "tree pose", one of the two instructors said, “In this concrete jungle, you're the tallest tree". Gazing out of these windows certainly made it easier to clear our minds and – as the instructor suggested – "turn our awareness inwards". He also said it was also OK if, from time to time, we broke the yoga mantras (focus and breathe) to sneak a peek at St Paul’s.
It was an overcast morning, not as blue as I'd hoped. But the bright, silver sky, blanketed in soft white clouds, had an ethereal quality. Very Zen, I thought. Not quite so Zen was the cost: £40. Still, we did get the novelty of hanging our heads upside-down and looking across at the Gherkin (41 floors high) as its dome poked into the clouds.