Perched atop a bustling health food store on humming Montague Road, stepping into just is like stepping into a different world.

Just is designed to feel homely. Bunches of dried flowers and leaves adorn tables and trays around the space, and the complex yet subtle aroma of incense permeates the air. It is more than a traditional yoga studio; guests are greeted with a warm hug and a hot tea, and the sign outside welcomes visitors to “take off your shoes and stay a while”. Owner and founder of the wellness atelier Tal Derhy encourages his guests to “stay, don’t feel you have to rush out as soon as the class finishes. That’s why we offer tea, vegan treats and kirtan evenings: so that people can discover themselves in our little space, a space where they can just be.”

What Tal really aims to harness in the space is connection and understanding between members; the word yoga itself originates from the Sanskrit word for union, and Tal believes that connection with oneself and with others is a vital step to a better world. “We’re so much more than this body; we’re all the same spirit looking through the eyes of different observers. [Understanding and connecting with this idea] stops prejudice or racism and unites us in a bigger way.”

Tal’s yoga journey had a dramatic beginning. Around nine years ago, Tal was paralysed from the neck down after a shallow water diving incident. “The rehabilitation specialist suggested that I try yoga, for the simple fact that it is a good way to gain body awareness, amongst other things. It started for me as a physical practice, which then led to the more philosophical-spiritual aspects of yoga.” Almost a decade later, just was born. The studio is a culmination of Tal’s travels and experiences in more than 60 countries, in particular Bali, where after living for two years, Tal found a more “heart-centric” focus on yoga. “When I came back [from Bali], I wasn’t able to find a studio that was offering that heartfelt, safe, supportive space Ubud had offered me. Now, I feel West End has become the perfect hub for individuals in search of a deeper connection through such means as yoga/spirituality and was screaming out for that space.”

“That space” is more an atmosphere than a physical location, created by the combination of décor, music, aroma and, of course, the people. “The idea is when people come in here, they might be coming in for the physical practice, but when they leave, they leave being part of a community, a tribe, united in something greater than just themselves.” On any given day, artists congregate in the space, “incredible musicians who have travelled all over the world”. Their live music is incorporated into classes, showcasing West End’s abundance of local talent in a new setting. “Our future plan is to create a hub for artists or anyone that wants to express themselves in alignment with the yogic path.”

Coming into just, visitors should “expect an experience”, whether it is through chanting and singing in a kirtan class, or chatting over a glass of lemon and ginger tea. Just as the name suggests, it is about “being able to just be — and be happy with that”.

Readers also enjoyed this story about French culinary adventure Marche Gourmand.