Soon after I entered The Yoga House, its co-owner and managing director Ajit Tapaswi told me, “We are simply selling life here.” That pitch was lost on me. Anyway, after spending an hour at this wellness boutique, I thought the contrary. Tapaswi and his co-founder Maud Chuffart are selling a kind of Extreme Wellness—the organic, microbiotic, grainy antithesis of Health or Life, as we know it.
Yoga is part of the concept. You can buy spring water bottled in glass, hand-squeezed honey, grains grown organically on the banks of the Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh (the Yamuna’s ecological purity is a subject of debate), face packs made of natural grains and juices. The café serves breakfast, lunch, juices and teas from a menu designed by Paris-based wellness expert Christopher James Clark, author of the book The Health Freedom Cookbook.
Chuffart, who envisioned the space and is overseeing the training of the chef and tweaking the menu according to Indian ingredients, says: “The culture of structured gym training, which exists in India, is outdated in Europe. We wanted to sell holistic wellness.” She is trained in the Iyengar and Ashtanga schools of Hatha yoga. There are five teachers trained in purist schools of yoga, including Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga and B.K.S. Iyengar’s school, which enforces the use of props to achieve perfect body alignments while performing asanas. I attended a class conducted by Nikhila Trikha, who combines elements of Iyengar and Ashtanga styles.
The good stuff
The airy space—painted in white and blue—are a soothing backdrop for any form of yoga or meditation. A narrow corridor overlooking the sea has been transformed into a breezy seating area. So there’s thought in the design. Besides honey, jaggery, wheats, lentils and copper vessels—from Lonavala, Indore, Varanasi and other places—The Yoga House has a line of comfortable white shirts and T-shirts for men and women in cotton (Rs 1,200-2,300). The menu in the café is limited and almost entirely grease-free. But my tastebuds were gratified. The Orange Salad (Rs 250) has a cashew and orange dressing over a bed of vegetables and orange. The Mediterranean Salad (Rs 240) has a dressing of roasted sunflower seeds—both delicious. Quinoa Taboulé (Rs 180) is a combination of Bolivian and Lebanese grains, dressed with onion, tomato and parsley. In the Apple Pie (Rs 230), almonds, oat flour and dates replace sugar and butter. I found the Pink Juice (Rs 250), made with pomegranate, rose water and watermelon, refreshing and simple—without the tangy aftertaste of artificial sweeteners and citrus. True to Ayurvedic practice, juices are not served chilled. The yoga classes are suited for beginners. Don’t join expecting results for specific health problems.
Selling holistic well-being can’t be an easy task. The indiscriminate foodie is a thing of the past, he is politically incorrect. Everybody knows this: Drastically cut sugar, oils, caffeine, saturated fats and alcohol in your diet; and exercise. In the wellness world, where new studies and new conclusions topple old ones in months, the concern is how to achieve physical well-being with moderation. If indeed you are a revolutionary and switch entirely to microbiotic and organic, why would you not change things at home? The yoga classes can be effective for flexibility and a general sense of well-being, like all classical forms of yoga, if pursued regularly.
Each class costs Rs 600 and for three classes a week for a month, it’s Rs 4,500 (to teach at home, a qualified Iyengar teacher charges Rs 12,000 a month). A meal for two would cost around Rs 800 and products on sale are available in the range of Rs 20 (say, for 250g dalia) to Rs 2,300 for a shirt.
The Yoga House, 53, Chimbai Road, Bandra (West), Mumbai. For details, call 022-65545001.