Yoga by the Sea with Union Margate
Nestled down a side road amidst Margate's infamous Old Town, sits the newly opened Union, Margate; the yoga studio launched by yoga teacher Amie and her Architect partner, Sean. A true labour of love, Union was created to welcome people back home to themselves. A space where upon arrival, you're enveloped by the soothing decor and atmosphere, a space designed to feel safe and comforting, a space where you can let go of external expectations and appearances, and reconnect once more with the essence of who you truly are.
What were you aiming to create when you built and founded Union? How do you want people to feel whilst they’re there?
The first word that came to mind when designing the space was the Sanskrit word, Pratyahara, meaning 'sense withdrawal'. My partner Sean and I wanted to create a space that didn't depend on any external factors - some eyebrows were raised when we said we wanted to paint the whole studio black! We wanted a cocoon like space where people could leave the outside world behind them for an hour and turn inward. Union is designed to allow people to step into an environment they can slip into the shadows and not feel vulnerable or exposed.
From the paper moon lamps that we often use in class as an element of focus, to the harp wall that we mercilessly threaded 600 meters of danish twine to create, we spent every second of every day thinking through and designing all the tiny details to create a space that our students would love to spend time and practice in. We have been mindful when sourcing products for the studio with our bolsters and eye masks being hand made by one of our Yoga students (who happens to be an amazing seamstress!), to our mats which are 100% biodegradable rubber.
What led you to train as a yoga teacher and eventually found Union? Was this always a dream of yours?
Yoga has always been a part of my life as my mum used to take me to practice with her when I was about 12, but to be totally honest, I truly found Yoga in my twenties when my mental health was at a real low point. I was between jobs living in a tiny room in a house share in London struggling with anxiety and depression, thinking that's just the way things were going to be forever. Then I came across a free yoga class on YouTube, and the rest is history. My life changed completely in all of the best ways and I knew I wanted to share this practice with as many people as I possibly could. I wanted to show people that it's not about being super bendy, it's not about the way you look, it's about the shift in how you see yourself and the world around you. I had worked for 10 years in fashion, and the highlight was spending my voluntary redundancy money to pay for my teacher training in India. The day I got home I called every single studio within a 20 mile radius and that same week I got a job teaching at a local studio. I have been a full time Yoga teacher ever since. It's hard work, but I wouldn't want it any other way.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of launching a wellbeing business so far? What’s been the most rewarding?
The hardest part is keeping true to why I started yoga in the first place. It's really hard to stay true to your core beliefs when you are trying to run a business and earn a living. Competition is hot, which can bring up feelings of self doubt and comparing myself to others. These are the times when I need to get myself right back onto my yoga mat, because really, that's what its all about. It's all about the yoga! The most rewarding thing is sharing the space with some really wonderful teachers and students - if it wasn't for them, Union simply wouldn't exist.
It’s clear you’re proud to offer community sessions at Union. Why was this so important to you and what does community access offer?
Yoga has become something of a luxury. People tend to think that only wealthy people can have a yoga practice. This is totally not true. My yoga journey started in my bedroom and I would often go and find a quiet corner at work and do a couple of sun salutations when I was finding everything a bit much! Union offers free weekly community classes as well as concession rates for public sector workers, students and those who do not have disposable income. We fundamentally believe that Yoga should be accessible to everyone.
You hold a weekly Sound Bath. For anyone who hasn’t attended a Sound Bath before, can you explain what these are and how they can support our wellbeing?
Jo Miller is a sound magician. Her classes are fully booked and waitlisted every week and it's not hard to see why. Sound, for me, is a deeply nourishing and healing experience where your body absorbs these wonderful, high vibration sounds. It can release emotional blockages, bring about deep sleep, or even simply give you an hour where you do not have to do ANYTHING as you lie covered in blankets, propped up by cushions. Sometimes that is just what the doctor ordered!
You offer a wide range of fitness classes and holistic therapies. What inspired you to offer a variety of wellness activities rather than solely focusing on yoga? Can you talk a little bit about the classes, workshops and events that Union provides?
At Union we promote all kinds of mindful movement. I think its really important to have variety and balance otherwise we tend to get stuck in a rut with our weekly routine. It's always fun to mix things up! I believe that all of the classes on offer compliment each other really well. We offer many different workshops such as Kundalini, Yin, mini retreats and yoga brunches. We also offer educational events such our intensive anatomy workshop in June. I'm also really excited to announce that we will be Margate's first studio to offer a Yoga Alliance accredited yoga teacher training program this summer!