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Great Britain

Spectrum colour yoga and meditation – like being stuck inside a traffic light

‘I am not good at yoga” is the main thought I have in any yoga class. I am definitely thinking it today. My warrior II would have been discharged from military service. My eagle pose looks like a cheese plait. It is not even clear I can lie on the floor properly. Sweating, shaking, constantly on the verge of toppling over, at least here I can partially blame the fact that the room keeps changing hue.

That is because I am trying a 90-minute Spectrum yoga and meditation session, conducted in a special colour-shifting studio in Whitechapel, east London (available via a MoveGB membership, £19.99 a week). On the wall at the front of the class are panels of large bulbs, emitting bright light. It is very Sunday Night at the London Palladium. I feel as if I am dying, but at least I am in good company.

This variety of yoga was created by Mandy Jhamat, my tutor today, who developed the concept with Pierre Van Obberghen, a “colour expert”. The class is based on vinyasa flow, incorporating salutations, standing poses and balances – or, in my case, a blancmange of all three.

We start with the room full of white light (which contains all the colours of the spectrum) before moving into aquarium turquoise, buttery yellow and breakdown-at-the-nuclear-plant red.

The flicker-free, deep-colour immersion is striking: it is as if I am in a music video or a Tate Modern installation. It is pretty cool – or would be if I could remove my knees from my ears. I am not sure the colours are aiding me, but I am too all over the place to be sensitive to it.

The connection between colour and energy is plausible, though. Colour has a biochemical, psychological, emotional effect on us. Think about food, or art, or the eyes of your beloved. The inside of McDonald’s isn’t bright red and yellow because it was designed by a clown; it is because those colours make us feel hungry and eat quickly, encouraging a high turnaround. (Actually, the seating these days is soft green and lower-lit. Nudging our minds to believe they are in Starbucks, perhaps? Why are you so stupid, mind?)

After the yoga, there is a 25-minute guided meditation, in which we lie on the floor. This will, I think, be a better way for me to experience the vibrational potentialities of colour and focus on Jhamat’s concept. We are offered the option of a blanket or a weighted eye mask, the latter of which surely defeats the point of bathing yourself in a colour field. Jhamat leads us through a guided meditation exploring our chakras, each of which – according to tantra – has a corresponding colour. We start bathed in red, the root chakra, before the bulbs soften into the orange of the sacral chakra and lighten into the yellow of the solar plexus chakra, the best chakra. “Team Plexus for the win!” I chuckle inside my head, because I have difficulty controlling my stupid thoughts.

Meanwhile, Jhamat is having trouble controlling the lights. They are meant to move through the spectrum, but are stuck on the green of the heart chakra. She is talking about the blue of the throat, the purple of the crown, but it doesn’t match the mossy light filling the room. It is like being inside a faulty traffic light. Imagine if all traffic lights were stuck on green, I think, struggling to focus on “the indigo of my third eye”. That would be the same as having no traffic lights. I see cars piling up on one another; twisted metal. This is not the class’s intended effect.

I peek to see Jhamat fiddling with the control box, then turning one of the light panels off and on, then giving up. I feel for her. She continues to talk to the class in a measured way, as if nothing is wrong. Behind me, someone is snoring. It has been an excellent yoga class, followed by a strange meditation experience with some gorgeous nu-rave colours. But I am not sure how much can be said for Spectrum, at least when the equipment isn’t working properly. I am not convinced. Perhaps someone greenlit this too soon.

Open your mind

Studies have indicated that if we got rid of traffic lights, there would be fewer accidents.

Wellness or hellness?

Yellow? Is it me you’re looking for? No. 2/5

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