Get away from it all in the heart of Berkhamsted
I’ve probably walked past BAYoga more times than I care to remember. It’s easily done, though – the entrance is through a tiny door squidged between Costa and Waterstones on Berkhamsted’s busy High Street. Blink and you could miss it.
But that would be a shame. I know it sounds like a bit of a cliché – I know, I know – but it’s like once you head through that door, you’re leaving all the bustle of the town behind and going somewhere very different indeed. It honestly feels like that. As you climb the stairs, reading as you go, there’s a genuine sense of calm and well-being – and that’s before you even actually get your leggings on.
One tiny door, but there’s loads going on behind it. It’s not just yoga, either. There’s a dedicated and well-equipped Pilates studio, with two instructors who teach individuals and very small groups. There are treatment rooms on the very top floor with therapists offering all sorts of things – acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, homeopathy, shiatsu, osteopathy, and loads more.
And then there’s the gloriously light and airy yoga studio. I’ve done a bit of yoga in my time – still not very flexible, mind you, but I can balance on one leg for England – and I’ve done a fair bit of that yoga in dark and draughty village halls. The BAYoga studio is about a million miles from that. It’s open, light – two of the walls are all windows – and bright.
I was a bit worried about being distracted (always a problem with me) by all the noise and traffic of the High Street. After all, the studio is right above Costa, and right on the corner where people turn into the main car park. But you know, I just didn’t really notice any of it. It all sort of blurred into nothing – and I found myself revelling in the light and being able to look at the sky and the rooftops.
I thought I’d ease in slowly, having not done any yoga for a while, so I booked into the Gentle Yoga class with Penny Cronyn. It was fairly blissful – and timed just perfectly for an afternoon of focusing on me (me!) before the chaos of the school run. And it was gentle. I felt all warm and sleepy, but well-stretched and just challenged enough.
There are less ‘gentle’ yoga classes, too – Cathy Haworth, who owns BAYoga, teaches Ashtanga Yoga, and there’s also Yin Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, and Kundalini Yoga. And more gentle – there are also meditation classes. But, seriously, everyone was so friendly and welcoming, I almost didn’t want to go home.
Can’t help thinking the BAYoga is a little gem. It’s so central – right there on Berkhamsted High Street, but tucked away between two much bigger businesses – but you feel you’re somewhere else entirely. Think of that little door as Platform 9¾, with Costa being Platform 9 and Waterstones Platform 10. But now you know it’s there, I’d totally recommend checking it out. It’s bigger than it looks, and it’s about as friendly as it gets.