Chroma Yoga – the new class combining yoga with LIGHT therapy

Chroma Yoga is combining light therapy, scent and yoga to create a multisensory fitness experience – Healthista writer Parisa Hashempour gave it a go

Multisensory fitness is set to be THE next big trend in the wellness world. And after trying out a class at East London studio Chromayoga, I am jumping into this trend head-stand first. Walking into the bright, airy reception area, I was greeted with a friendly smile by Nina Ryner, the brain box behind the Chroma Yoga concept. ‘We use light, sound and scent to enhance the yoga experience… I’ve done research into light therapy and how light can be healing. There is lots of scientific research into the ways light can affect our life. For example, red light can be really beneficial physically –  I thought that the physical and mental effects of yoga could work really well alongside this,’ she explained.

nina ryner, REVIEWED Chroma Yoga by healthista

Nina Ryner is the driving force behind the unique experience that ChromaYoga offers

The place was the epitome of Shoreditch trendy, more like an art space rather than a fitness studio. Mats were laid out throughout the room and a bright blue light lit up the studio space. This collision of wellness and art was no accident revealed Ryner. ‘I’m inspired by artists like James Turrell, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Liz West. That’s really where my original idea came from, it was from going to art exhibitions and installations and things that you can be immersed in.’ Ryner wanted to harness the way that being in an art exhibition transports you to another place.

The blue light class is created with the intention of helping you to feel alert, awake and energised.

In a blue light cocoon

And in this, she completely succeeded. From the second the studio door shut behind us until the class ended I felt separate from the world outside. The combination of all-enveloping blue lighting, a light perfumed, fresh scent paired with relaxing sound frequencies made for an immersive experience. Each class is created with a different purpose. The blue light class that I attended is one of Ryner’s favourites, ‘I find it really helpful to do in the morning or in the early afternoon to stop me from having that midday slump or feeling tired all the time.’ The blue light class is created with the intention of helping you to feel alert, awake and energised.

Blue light VS coffee

Ryner explained that blue light has an effect on our production of melatonin (the hormone that controls our sleep cycle). Exposing yourself to blue light can have the ability to wake you up – in one study, researchers compared the effects of both coffee and blue light and found that blue light actually has the ability to make you perform better and feel more alert than when drinking coffee (and for a longer amount of time). And while it gives us an energy buzz, it can also be a curse come evening. ‘We won’t ever do a blue class after 2 pm,’ revealed Ryner. ‘You shouldn’t expose yourself to too much blue light as the day goes on otherwise you’ll end up with a sleep disorder,’ (which is why we often struggle to fall asleep at night after staring at our blue screens – iPads, phones, laptops – for too long).

I must admit, by the end of this class I was feeling completely energised and ready to tackle my day head on. Blue classes are Vinyasa style and the particular class I went along to was a mandala class which meant we rotated around our mat throughout the practice. The combination of concentrating on my coordination combined with the sensory aspects of the room created a feeling of being almost inside a bubble. And while it was a pleasant place to relax throughout practice when the door opened, the world outside looked orange and glowing and I was more than ready to jump straight out into it and bounce along to the office.

the orange classes are about really watching and learning and building the foundations you need to bring that into other classes

Circulation boosting, digestion enhancing – there’s a light for that

But the blue light class is just the start. Chroma Yoga offers a variety of classes, each lit with a different colour and serving a different purpose. According to Ryner, red light is known to help boost circulation, speed up metabolism and help boost energy. In keeping with the theme, Chroma Yoga created a Rocket Yoga centred class to match this. The pink class is calming, incorporating yin yoga (a slow style of yoga in which poses are held for a few minutes at a time), yellow classes are used in conjunction with twists and opening postures to aid digestion and alleviate mood swings and both red and yellow classes are supposed to be perfect at the end of the day to help you get to sleep.

Class sizes are small so there is absolutely nowhere for poor form to hide. Instructor Clara Baker was helpful throughout the class and made sure she corrected any incorrect form. But for anyone that really wants to master their poses Chroma Yoga also run weekly workshops under an orange light. Ryner wanted to create classes in which people could work towards a peak pose and make sure that they’re practising with good form and in a way that will prevent them becoming injured. ‘I have gotten injuries myself from doing yoga classes in the past and not really knowing what I’m doing and just copying people… so the orange classes are about watching and learning and building the foundations you need to bring that into other classes.’

clara baker chroma yoga, REVIEWED chroma yoga by healthista

Instructor Clara Baker has been teaching yoga for 15 years

Chroma Yoga offers both a completely different space and experience to any other class in London. If you’re looking for a way to encourage yourself to practice more often, this is the place to go. I haven’t stopped thinking about the class since I tried it and I’m sorely disappointed that there isn’t a studio closer to my home. This class is a MUST try, I couldn’t recommend it enough.

Chroma Yoga classes start at £11 for drop-in sessions. The studio is at 45 Charlotte Road London, EC2A 3PD. Log onto chromayoga.co.uk for more information.

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