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Is light therapy the next big thing in yoga? Here’s what happened when I tried it


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Photos: Stephanie Sian Smith/ChromaYoga | Art: W+G Creative
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Imagine this: Your go-to yoga studio (you know, the one that’s *basically* your second home) gets a high-tech makeover. Now, it resembles a chromatic art installation featuring classes that enhance your practice with light therapy in all the colors of the rainbow. And to make matters even more cutting-edge, the tunes match your brainwaves and an essential oil diffuser is working overtime to set the ideal mood.

It kind of sounds like a yogic fairy tale, right? Well, in London, it’s an IRL asana option called ChromaYoga. And with any luck, it’ll be hitting the States soon. “A lot of people think I’m a yoga teacher. I’m not; I’m an artist,” says founder Nina Ryner, who opened the UK studio’s doors less than a year ago. “My interest is really about creating a transformative space that can take you to somewhere without all the distractions.”

“My interest is really about creating a transformative space that can take you to somewhere without all the distractions.”

Ryner thought of the idea for ChromaYoga after scoping out the London fitness scene and finding it lacking in one crucial area: creativity. Rather than tweaking the yoga practice itself, the studio drills down on all the external factors of the room to enhance the experience. So, while you’ll recognize your downward dog, crow pose, and savasana, all of your surroundings will be modified to optimize your practice.

“We have six different classes, and the classes are grounded in research into either light therapy or color therapy,” Ryner says. “Color therapy is the psychological relationship that we have with color or color perception, and light therapy is the actual psychological change that can occur with certain wavelengths of light.”

Whether you’re sore, lethargic, or jonesing for a better night’s sleep, this studio doles out the brightly hued prescription you didn’t even know you were looking for.

Whether you’re sore, lethargic, or jonesing for a better night’s sleep, this studio doles out the brightly hued prescription you didn’t even know you were looking for. Take the yellow class, for example, and you’ll experience an energizing flow designed to aid your digestion and balance your mood swings; the pink will lead you through a gentle stretch, while the chromatic option replicates the body’s natural response to circadian rhythms.

Earlier this month, British fashion designer Stella McCartney debuted her Spring/Summer ’18 Adidas by Stella McCartney collection at the upscale activewear boutique Bandier in New York City, which hosted a series of ChromaYoga classes to celebrate the collab. I immediately grabbed my sweat towel and enrolled in the yellow class.

Keep reading to see how I fared in this next-level, vibrant yoga class.

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ChromaYoga light therapy visits New York

Getting my glow on

The first thing I think when I walk into the room is, “Oh my god, the yellow lights are actually making everyone’s skin radiant.” A silly thought, maybe, but good lighting is hard to come by in New York City (where fluorescent fixtures reign supreme). The folks at Studio B have draped what could only be described as golden yellow sheets across the ceiling, so the entire room basks in an otherworldly glow.

I make my way to my mat to run through my usual pre-class stretches. And a few minutes later a very new age-y thing happens: Stella McCartney appears at the front of the room… in holograph form. After a short intro to ChromaYoga, her holograph steps aside to let the teacher’s holograph take the stage.

I make my way to my mat to run through my usual pre-class stretches. And a few minutes later a very new age-y thing happens: Stella McCartney appears at the front of the room.

When I ask Ryner about this choice later, she explains that the instructors leading the London classes usually appear in the flesh, but McCartney, being the eco-conscious designer she is, decided on holographs as a means of decreasing the carbon footprint of the preview.

Once the excitement over the holograph subdues, everyone settles in for class. According to ChromaYoga’s website, the yellow light mimics the sunrise and the sunset to stimulate cheerfulness and confidence. The sequence is challenging, but inclusive for all levels: Along with classics like wheel, pigeon, and Warrior I, our virtual teacher throws in side crow as a mid-class wild card.

Lying under the yellow light stimulates all the sunny feels of spending a long, scorching day at the beach (minus the potential for sunburn).

To no one’s great shock, savasana is by far the best part of the 50-minute class. Lying under the yellow light stimulates all the sunny feels of spending a long, scorching day at the beach (minus the potential for sunburn). Once we bid namaste to the holograph, I have to admit that I have a cheery afterglow. It’s dark in the city, but I feel bright and energized enough to hit another workout class. Hopefully, ChromaYoga will make it over the Atlantic—stat. I could get used to this.

While you’re waiting for ChromaYoga to land in the US, you can add a boost of color to your practice with these aesthetically pleasing mats. Oh, and make sure you’re treating those hammies right—yoga butt is more common than you think

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