Client Feature: Yoga Brunch Club
We took the time to catch up with the busy and formidable force that is Clem Balfour. Both food and yoga obsessed, Clem founded Yoga Brunch Club in 2014 with Gaia Pabla – to bring these two great loves of theirs to the public.
Yoga Brunch Club is a welcoming environment to both the beginner and the experienced yogi – providing yoga alongside excellent music from the resident DJ. Then comes the food! Collaborating with amazing chefs and the very best supper clubs in London and beyond – the post yoga brunches are a great way of relaxing and meeting new people.
Hi Clem –
it’s exciting to see Yoga Brunch Club arrive in Bristol! What made you decide to bring YBC here?
I had been looking for a new location for a while and felt that Bristol’s laid back, vibrant and creative energy would be the perfect backdrop. I love the city and am increasingly spending more and more time here, my boyfriend lives not far from Gloucester Road so I am constantly sampling all the new foodie spots that keep popping up and there’s some great yoga spaces too. I was at school near Westbury so Bristol almost feels like a second home.
I have been running YBC as a monthly pop-up in London since 2014 and this feels like a great opportunity to grow and offer YBC to a wider audience. After collaborating with ASIA POP! on an event in London and discovering the beautiful space at The Forge that Silkie has created, it all started to fall into place almost as if it was meant to be.
And how did YBC come to be?
I realised early on that Yoga can be intimidating to people who have never tried it or feel they aren’t ‘flexible’ enough. When I first started teaching I wanted to get friends involved. I ran classes at a local community centre round the corner from my house in Brixton, where I would cook up different themed meals at home and serve them up post yoga in the little cafe next door to the venue. It was such a lovely way to get friends together, to do yoga and then reward themselves afterwards with some wholesome food sat chatting around a big table.
I have a background in events management, and the idea for The Yoga Brunch Club came out of an ongoing passion for combining my two passions, food and yoga. I realised that there was a bit of a gap in the yoga world, runners and cyclists often have their social clubs and meets post training sessions. Yoga can often be seen as a very personal and private time on the mat but there are so many lovely and like minded people who practice yoga or that want to try it.
The main focus is to provide fun, playful and approachable classes in beautiful space. The food is a key part of the experience, collaborating with some great chefs and supper clubs to provide a post yoga feast and chance to meet new people. There’s something pretty special about practicing yoga in a large group and a beautiful space, there is an incredible energy that is created in the room. The food is then all dished up in large platters so it’s served family style, it’s a Sunday so no one has to rush off to work or needs to be anywhere else. I want people to leave feeling relaxed and ready for the week.
So how long have you been practicing yoga for?
I have been practicing yoga for the last 10 years. I started attending regular classes when I was studying at art school up in Manchester. After a pretty serious illness yoga became a huge part of my everyday life, it still amazes me most days how much I learn about myself and my body on and off the mat. That is the incredible thing about yoga and why I think why it becomes almost so addictive or perhaps integrated in your day to day routine. Your always learning no matter how many years you’ve practiced or how ‘flexible’ you are. Yoga teaches you to slow down, to breathe, to stretch out the body and to sit, confront and work through whatever is going on at that time.
Tell us your favourite yoga position?
Ah that’s a hard one, there’s so many amazing poses and it really depends on how I’m feeling. But if I have to chose I would say pigeon it’s a very grounding position that works beautifully into the hips. The pose I love teaching the most is Tree as it takes students out of their comfort zones, people tend to take balances way to seriously which can often make their whole body tense up. The tree pose is an easy one to fall out of(encouraging you to smile and let go a little) however it’s also a lovely pose that helps the body feel lighter and more graceful.
What and where do you want YBC to be in 5 years time?
It’s been wonderful and exciting to see how organically YBC has grown over the last 18 months, with pop up events in London and at festivals such as Wilderness, and collaborations with The Guardian, and The Nudge London. Right now I am happy to keep running it as a monthly event in London and hopefully Bristol too. I would love to continue travelling with the business and see it pop-up in new cities around the UK bringing yoga and great food to as many people as I can.
How do you choose the food collaborations you work with?
I am really lucky in London as there is such a buzzing food scene with events and pop ups happening all the time. I have worked with some fantastic chefs and supperclubs over the last 18 months, who I have met either through friends, recommendations or even social media. I have had the travel bug instilled in me from a young age as I lived abroad, so I am always keen to try new flavours and sample different cuisines. I am also not a veggie or a vegan even most people think that as I am yogi! I am always on the look out for new collaborations that are going to bring something different to each event. I have an event running in London this month with a Sri Lankan brother and sister duo who run HopperShop, and they are going to be serving up hoppers alongside other typical Sri Lankan dishes. The hoppers will be cooked up during the brunch, so it will be a great way to get people trying something new and also interacting with the food and each other.
Obviously you love food AND yoga so tell us what is your favourite post yoga snack or meal?
If I’m teaching and it’s between classes it will be fruit or handful of nuts. For a post class dish I could eat breakfast probably for every meal. I had a great Israeli inspired breakfast when I was in south India that I always try and recreate. It’s two fried eggs, in coconut oil to be a little healthier, toasted sourdough bread, big dollop of homemade humus and a little mango, tomato and chilli salsa.
In the manic, technology packed world of 2016 – do you have any sage advice on how to relax?
Obviously I would recommend practicing yoga, any chance you can get to move your body especially fist thing in the morning is the best thing to do. Invest in a yoga mat, set the alarm a little earlier, don’t look at your phone/emails/facebook and do 10-15 mins of sun salutations a day. Yoga has so many benefits, from helping you sleep better, boost your immune system and circulation, fight food cravings or at least being more mindful of what you eat and generally just makes you feel good.
It’s also really important to remember to set aside a little time for yourself. We all live pretty manic lives trying to balance way too much at the same time. There is way to much of a fear of ‘FOMO’ these days especially when everything is posted online. It’s easy to overlook how important it is to switch off, I am definitely guilty of this too. If I know I’m going having a manic day I will try to get up a little bit earlier at least so I can have chance to sit down and have cup of tea in silence. There’s an amazing breathing exercise called Nadi Shodhana, also known as alternate nostril breathing wish you can just do for 10mins in the bathroom at work, it can help to calm the mind and nervous system.
Failing all that, cooking and glass of wine singing along to the radio in the kitchen always help!
Find out more?
Twitter – @yogabrunchclub
Facebook – www.facebook.com/yogabrunchclub
Website – www.yogabrunchclub.com