With multiple locations across Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, Asia’s largest yoga chain has unrolled its Manduka mats on the Mainland. Managing to overcome a somewhat soulless setting in the IAPM Mall, the recently-opened Shanghai outpost is already drawing a crowd of regulars thanks to a seamless package that combines just about every kind of yoga imaginable with streamlined surrounds, hip instructors and state-of-the-art facilities. This is yoga for hyper-connected city slickers who can only unplug from the matrix for the duration of a class, hence the free WiFi, iMac terminals and banks of mobile phone charging units in the changing rooms. Touch-screens allow you to check the class schedule, view instructors’ bios and find out more about the types of yoga on offer.
The mod cons extend to the four massive, light-flooded, bamboo-lined studios (each can hold a whopping 40 people), divided by screens that retract for especially big events such as teacher training courses (see www.pure-yoga.com.cn
for details). A special air purification system means you’re not breathing in the nasty stuff that circulates endlessly round the mall, fancy heating panels create evenly-distributed thermal ‘columns’ during hot yoga sessions and during the shavasana
, the final resting part of every class, remote controlled blinds descend automatically.
Students are positively encouraged to loiter in between classes in a comfy relaxation suite equipped with free ginger tea and a fireplace for chilly days, while the plush changing rooms wouldn’t look out of place at a five- star hotel, with individual vanity counters, luxe toiletries, rainforest showers and even a state-of-the-art mini spin-drier so you don’t have to lug sweat-soaked, stinky togs into work after an early morning class. For those who want to buy lock, stock and barrel into the Pure lifestyle, the studio has recently launched its own line of stretchy candy-coloured yogawear, Pure Apparel (495-540RMB/tank top, 680RMB/leggings) which they’re flogging alongside yoga mats, water bottles, bags and the like in the shop adjoining the studio.
All this is just window-dressing for the huge range of classes on offer, however. Taught by a seven-strong bilingual team (all of Pure’s teachers are on constant rotatation through its various centres across Asia), sessions range from traditional hatha yoga for beginners to more physically challenging variants including upside-down, detox, anti-gravity (where you hang off the wall on a rope) and one-on-one private sessions in your own mini-studio.
There are also a few Shanghai exclusives including Universal Yoga (main image), a relatively new method based around harmonising and balancing the seven mayakoshas (shells or layers of being) – physical, energetic, emotional, mental, intellectual, bliss, fluctuating mind and karmic – through multiple techniques. It’s practiced ‘in the round’ on two crossed mats with a strong focus on arm poses. Jivamukti, meanwhile, claims to stimulate body, brain and ‘karmic consciousness’ alike with a physically vigorous practice that takes in chanting, asanas, music, meditation and even the devotional study of simple Sanskrit scriptures.