Ciara, Yoga Mela (South Drawood exhibition)
- Year Invented: 2018
Yoga Mela is a yoga studio which offers several different types of yoga class, both in person and online and catering to all abilities. Some examples of the classes they run include hatha yoga, chair yoga, pregnancy yoga and even a Dads and Dudes class which often involves a trip to the Craft Beer Cabin afterwards! The studio opened in January 2020 although Ciara, the owner, had been running yoga classes from Stanley Halls (now Stanley Arts) for about four years prior to that. The studio has been home to several different businesses in Norwood before it became Yoga Mela, including a discount store, car garage and carpet shop. The back room which is used for drinking tea after class was formally the MOT station in the garage and now is a world away from what it used to be.
Ciara worked in fashion before she decided to go travelling and fell in love with yoga. She notes that she felt so different and much happier practising yoga, having let go of her previous stressful life. She wants to help others feel the same way. Yoga can do so much for people but Yoga Mela has the added bonus of bringing a yoga community to South Norwood.
Alike to so many other people you see here today, Ciara is so happy she moved to South Norwood, saying it is “full of hidden gems”. She says she is seeing more people take care of the area but notes that more bins are needed to keep rubbish off the streets. She is grateful to be part of the regeneration of South Norwood and likes the diversity of the area wanting it to cater to everyone’s needs.
Words by Elizabeth Walters
Interview with Ciara, owner of Yoga Mela, January 2022
239 Selhurst Road, SE25 6XP
This project was part of the South Drawood exhibition in 2022 by artist Jonny Kemp. A community art project celebrating the people of South Norwood, SE25.
From autumn of 2021 to summer 2022, Jonny drew 40 portraits of independent business owners, volunteers, and other movers and shakers from South Norwood, his local area. His partner Lizzie interviewed them.
South Norwood is regenerating yet doesn’t want to gentrify: it wants to keep its character and support people who already live in the area to prosper. This was Jonny and Lizzie’s way of ‘giving South Norwood a hug’: by representing the diverse people of SE25 through portraits in fine liner pen, and their own stories.
The portraits were displayed in Stanley Arts, a beautiful Edwardian arts venue on South Norwood Hill. Over 150 people attended the opening night: Friday 29th July 2022.