Gymbox member Genevieve Teevan shelves her cynicism and self-consciousness to soak up the Burning Man vibe at Buti Yoga class.
6.31 PM, my office:
“Bye everyone. I’m off to try, um, Buti Yoga.”
Yes, that’s Buti as in: shake your. It’s a word I prefer to spell rather than say.
“No, not butt yoga. It’s a fusion of power yoga, tribal dance and plyometrics.”
“Tribal dance – isn’t that cultural appropriation?” says my oh-so-woke desk buddy.
“Quite probably,” I agree, having done no research.
6.58 PM, Gymbox Bank, outside Studio 1:
Buti instructor and earthy Canadian goddess Rachel Tailbone-Potter gives us glow bracelets. After my long day toiling over a keyboard, this triggers instant giddiness. It’s not easy to wrangle them on, so I help the guy next to me and ask Rachel, “Is this to make us interact with each other?” That hadn’t occurred to her.
7.01 PM, Gymbox Bank, inside Studio 1:
Wrists aglow, feet bare, we’re squatting and pulsing on yoga mats in the dark whilst a solid backbeat blocks out the world.
7.10 – 8 PM, On a journey with my tribe (still inside Studio 1):
It’s impossible to dislike Buti. This combination of yoga, South African stomping, shamanistic ritual-meets-Shakira and gawd-knows-what-else should be ridiculous – but in fact feels very natural and light-hearted. The darkness, crescendo-pumping soundtrack, and glow jewellery are effective dis-inhibitors: this is the most relaxed I’ve felt in weeks. Note: relaxed is not quite the same thing as unself-conscious. There is much hip shaking, but it’s okay because dark.
Yoga, I love – but find effortful. Breathing slow is hard. And, while I appreciate talkative yoga teachers who are able to articulate detailed corrections, I spend a lot of time feeling acutely aware of my own inadequacies. Not an issue at Buti – partly because the music is too loud for Rachel to speak over, but also because this isn’t about being perfect. You just have to show up and follow her. Then – presto: enlightenment AND a sixpack.
The yoga poses are familiar, but Buti expands the repertoire with lots of core isolation exercises, squatting, and cardio moves – some of which, like mountain climbers and plank jacks, are familiar from Hardcore, Frame and other Gymbox classes but Rachel makes each one flow in to the next with amazing ease. There’s a bit of balancing and stretches are held long enough to “find your breath”, so the cardio element isn’t overwhelming. The opportunity to jack up the intensity is there and we’re definitely sweating, but you don’t feel pushed.
“Movement should feel cathartic,” summed up Deanna Brash, another Gymbox instructor and dancer, to whom I tried to describe the daft-but-delightful Buti experience. I floated out of Buti like a blissed-out hippie – not my default mode and very incongruous when the Bank of England is just steps away.
8.30 PM, back home on the internet:
I discover Buti Yoga was invented by excrutiatingly groomed Arizona entrepreneur Bizzie Gold, who has Ivanka Trump hair and a fondness for the hashtag #SpiritualGangster. Her website credits Buti with fostering self-love, female empowerment* and spirituality in ways that don’t resonate with me. I possess all the spiritual depth of a chunk of cheddar. Yet, I’ve been drawn back to Buti since that first class.
Bizzie is actually a lovely person, according to Rachel whose playlists are more hip-hop than birdsong. I don’t want to get her in trouble with the Buti massive, but I have a duty to the Gymbox membership to say that these classes aren’t heavy with spirituality and the ‘power of she’ element goes unspoken. There are even blokes there.