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We sent intrepid "Anti-Jan Gem" to find out if Disco Yoga with those dazzling sequins really can conquer the Winter Blues... take it away Gemma Higgins!

Let’s face it, January is miserable. Broken resolutions, toxic diet culture, the pressure to go dry or go vegan or go buy the last of the crap nobody wanted with the money you don’t have. It’s no wonder it’s the most popular time of year to change your job, book a holiday or get divorced. Blimey!

It’s certainly the last time of the year you want to leave the house in the evening unless absolutely necessary. Ironically, it’s probably when you most need to. So, having prized off my slippers (which, as a freelancer, really takes some convincing), I’m making my way to Shoreditch for a spot of ‘Disco Yoga’ (yes, you heard that right - don’t worry, I’ll get to it) in minus 1, just 24 hours after ‘Blue Monday’: statistically the most depressing day of the year. I could do with a bit of sparkle. 

Heading in the opposite direction to a sea of tired, cold commuters in the hope of a karmic kick up the arse, I’m wearing as many layers as was physically possible without having to invest in a bigger coat. I can’t feel my toes. But for an hour of “blissful, energising” rejuvenation for my “mind, body and soul”, I know it’ll be worth it. My body definitely needs the reboot. All aboard the 18.32 to Boogie Wonderland (or rather, Crystal Palace to Highbury & Islington). Which, in true January style, is cancelled. Looks like I’ll be starting that deep breathing earlier than planned. 

Having emailed my apologies and messaged my friend to save me a spot, when I finally sneak in at the back of the class, Sarah (our lovely yogi host for the evening whose sequinned hotpants warrant a review of their own) beams in acknowledgement and waves me into a sea of “Disco” downward dogs. A variation on the classic, but with more sass and more booty; the Beyonce of downward dogging, if you will. Consider me converted. 

Disco Yoga

She leads us through a sequence of warm-up stretches to a soundtrack of disco classics that the DJ appears to be enjoying as much as the rest of us. And it’s a full house - the room is packed. Evidently I’m not the only one craving a bit of physical (not to mention emotional) revival. We’re asked to pick a word - not a resolution, or a goal perse; an intention. The one word we’d like this year to be. Ever the optimist*, I go for ‘Better’. And my toes are no longer numb, so I guess I’m off to a good start. Always helps to set your aspirational bar low, I find. 

*Note the sarcasm.

Don’t tell 10-year-old me, but disco has never been my forte, and I use a strategic “Freestyle!” break to nip to the toilet, haphazardly Vogueing my way back via the ‘glitter station’. Prior to class, my fellow yogis had the chance to ‘Glitz Up’ and, spotting that more than a couple have bravely gone full-on Studio 54, I seize the opportunity to douse myself in the stuff. And you know what? My return Vogue definitely feels more authentic.

We “Snap!” in high lunge, shimmy our warriors to Sister Sledge, strike a (power) pose or two and follow Sarah and Diana Ross ‘Upside Down’. Literally. My friend squeals when the Bee Gees come on and I’m reminded just how good Madonna’s ‘Immaculate Collection’ is. It’s funny how much easier it is to plank when the beat’s on your side. My core high-fives the DJ.

Sarah takes us down to the floor to ‘Lovely Day’ and we twist the last of our stressful days out under the neons. It’s rather fitting. And appreciated. ‘Damn do I miss those Christmas lights.’ We settle back into our intentions and I sit quietly, hoping I’m in for an easier year. That we all are.   

After class, we head upstairs to claim our drinks - preordered 'Virtuous Cocktails', lined up and ready at the bar. I’ve gone for ‘Blame It On The Blueberry’ (see what they did there); a gorgeous mix of spiced rum, acai, and fresh blueberries, topped with fresh mint and served in a mirror ball glass. Obviously. I could have opted for a non-alcoholic version, but I’m sure I read somewhere that rum has medicinal qualities. My friend’s ‘Goin’ Coco Down In Acapulco’ (seriously, you’ve got to admire their commitment to a pun) comes in a coconut shell. And with chia seeds as well as Cointreau and Tequila. We are in Shoreditch after all. It’s practically a superfood. 

Sarah greets us all with a huge smile to check we’ve enjoyed ourselves (the looks on people’s faces suggest a unanimous ‘Yes’, although I’m not going to say a free cocktail doesn’t help to boost one’s mood). We have. And it’s no mean feat. To cater to a class of so many different levels - I’m a hot junkie, my friend’s an instructor and there were clearly absolute beginners, relative newbies and, apparently, some serious pros busy hand standing before class (quite glad I came late, on reflection!) all saluting the same sun. And loving it. 

The bar is warm and cosy, dimly-lit but with an unmistakable glow...the atmospheric lighting has one hell of a hint of karma. Night-cap done, we file out into the cold and my toes are numb again within minutes. Still, you can’t expect miracles. At least my train arrives on time. 

It’s only later that night, as I wash the glitter off my face, that I realise, I feel better already. Looks like I might not need that holiday after all. Come at me, February: I’m ready for you. Namaste, bitches...


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