Laura in London: Hotpod Yoga, Pho & Primrose Hill

I am really happy that I fulfilled my blogging goal of posting a 'Laura in London' every week in January - hooray! I will now be making the series less regular -  once or twice a month - so that my recommendations are of the highest quality - instead of being rushed!

You can tell it's just been pay day as this week I've been enjoying lots of delicious meals out, including an impromptu visit to my favourite restaurant, Mildred's (read about my love affair with that place here).

I've also been taking my training for the Hackney Half Marathon seriously, sticking to my running plan. I'm only a week in but it feels good to be dedicating my time and effort to something I really want to achieve. I'll be sharing all my tips for getting back into running on the blog next week, so if you're looking to rekindle your love with pounding the pavements, make sure you come back for that!

In the meantime, here are my favourite places to Eat, Sweat & Play in London this week. 

Eat: Pho

Vietnamese street food is amazing: there's no denying it. Big steaming bowls of spiced noodle soup, fresh veggie spring rolls, and so many deep-fried doughy balls of goodness! Finding street food as flavoursome and delicious as in Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi is difficult - although I'll admit, you are less likely to get ill from pho served in the UK than on the streets of Vietnam! 

I recently went to Pho in Battersea: a family-run and authentic Vietnamese restaurant in South West London. When the first Pho restaurant was opened in Clerkenwell in 2005, it was London's first Vietnamese street food restaurant, and its reputation for quality pho has blossomed since! My experience was not disappointing. I was greeted by a relaxed environment, exposed wooden furniture and fragrant scents which instantly transported me back to slurping pho bo in the unassuming eateries of Vietnam. I sat on a stool at a bare table beneath a huge window with natural light flooding in; the selection of hot sauce, soy sauce and chilli oil condiments on the table all reminiscent of an authentic Vietnamese street food stall. I had the tofu and mushroom pho bowl which came with beansprouts, Thai basil, coriander, red chilli and a wedge of lime to add to the nutritious noodle broth yourself - it was utterly delicious. Pho is naturally low in fat and calories, but it is brimming with taste and nutritional value, so it's the ultimate comfort food.

Where? All over the UK! London, Brighton, Birmingham.. but I went to the one on Battersea Rise
How much? Mains are priced between £8-£11
Best for... An authentic taste of Vietnam's national dish

Sweat: Hotpod Yoga

I recently tried Hotpod Yoga for the first time and I will certainly be back again! The pop-up yoga 'pod' is essentially an inflatable round cocoon that is heated up to 37 degrees. On climbing in, you can't help but notice its very womb-like resemblance, which is zipped shut at the start of the class. I actually found that being in this closed space helped me to shut out the outside world as well as my thoughts. 

The yoga is rooted in vinyasa flow and if you're wanting a very sweaty session, this is the place to go!  The soft music, dim purple lighting and calming voice of the instructor combined to leave me feeling more relaxed, mellow and stretched. When the wonderful instructor came round to correct my alignment, I almost wanted to warn her that she would get a wet hand from all the sweat dripping from my back (gross I know!). However I soon realised that she isn't new to the hot yoga thing like I am so she was aware of the risks already! 

It is worth noting that in the heat of the flow, it can get a little overwhelming as the air you're breathing in is hot. If you suffer from claustrophobia, you may want to think twice about going as it can almost feel suffocating at times. However, if you're able to just relax, let go and enjoy the flow without panicking, you will reap the benefits. Including super glowing post-yoga skin!

Where? All over the UK. Find London studios in Notting Hill, Brixton and Hackney. 
How much? £14 a class or package membership deals available
Best for... An immersive yoga experience that allows you to go deeper into stretches

Play: Primrose Hill

I absolutely love finding new outdoor green spaces to explore in London: they are a welcome respite from all the concrete streets shadowed by towering buildings. The view from the top of Primrose Hill is one of the most spectacular in London, in my opinion, and it's one of six protected view points in the capital too! You can absorb the entire city skyline with its conflation of traditional and modern architecture - the London Eye, BT Tower, St Paul's Cathedral, the Shard - all standing just beyond the greenery of the park and the trees. I think the park is most beautiful in Autumn, when the leaves of the trees turn to the warming shades of bronze, copper, crimson and gold, and dance in the wind. Look out for 'Shakespeare's tree' - an oak tree on the slope of the hill planted in 1864 to mark the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth.

Where? Not far from Camden
How much? Free
Best for... A brisk pre-brunch stroll with the best views of London

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