I trained as a contemporary dancer and have been working freelance as a dance artist for about 10 years. This means I do a variety of different things but I specialise in gallery-based performance and teaching creative dance.
What do you love about your job?
I am usually doing a few jobs simultaneously. In one week I could be rehearsing for a performance, teaching dance in a community space, and choreographing opera singers. I love the variety of experiences that this versatility brings, it means, among other things, that I am constantly meeting people and travelling to new places. As a teacher, I love witnessing someone being creative with their body and exploring what they can do with it.
Why did you take one month off to do TT?
Working freelance means I have real flexibility around when I work. March is normally a quiet month for me, so I arranged cover for my regular classes and planned to do the teacher training well in advance. Of course, the autonomy afforded by freelancing is often challenged by the fear of not having enough work. As the beginning of March got closer, three jobs came my way that directly clashed with the course. All three were great opportunities that were hard to turn down, but I had already committed wholeheartedly to doing the TT so I stuck to my guns. I also started looking at the situation differently; if I was saying yes to doing something else (even if it was great work!), I was saying no to myself.
Thumb nail sketch of your yoga – how long you’ve been practicing, what you get out of it, what you love about FG
I have been practicing regularly since 2015 when my husband and I joined the Brixton studio. Before that my approach to yoga had been a bit sporadic, practicing at various studios and trying diverse types of yoga for quite a few years. When I started practicing with Fierce Grace I found I loved the focus and clarity of the classes. For me the content and structure of the different classes and the way in which they related to each other was just right. It felt like they had gotten rid of all the fluff around yoga. I became aware of the positive mental and emotional effects regular practice was having on me. I think it was the first time I started to really understand that yoga could be a physical, mental and spiritual exercise for life. I also love practicing to music!
Why did you want to do TT?
I wanted to gain another skill and develop my expertise as a teacher. In the first weeks of joining FG Brixton I remember daydreaming about teaching in such a nice space one day. I enjoy practicing there and being a part of the studio community. After some time researching different options, I realised that the structure of the Fierce Grace TT was the right one for me. I wanted to expand my knowledge of yoga, and start working as a yoga teacher so I can support others on their own journeys. I also saw the month of teacher training as a gift to myself and an exciting challenge to be undertaken.
What was it like doing TT?
It was a little like running a marathon (I imagine!). I was nervous the night before the training started, although I was well prepared I suddenly felt very insecure about my abilities. By the end of the first day there was no space left in my mind for fear! From morning until night, I was studying, practicing, thinking, dreaming about yoga in all its manifestations. It was wonderful to be so completely immersed in the subject. It was hard work and very enjoyable.
What did you get out of it – goals, personal and yoga experience?
I feel a great sense of achievement completing the course. I threw myself into it completely, remembering friends and family had said, enjoy it! It was a good mantra. When I was feeling insecure, lazy, overwhelmed.. I remembered that I was doing something I was fascinated and excited by, and that ultimately I wanted to share with other people. I decided that if I was doing my best in any moment, that was enough. That helped me relax and not worry too much about the exams! And it is a useful perspective I have taken away into everyday life.
Choosing a teacher training was not easy – I considered many other kinds of re-training routes and yoga courses. Once I made my choice I was still wondering, is this the right one? After the first few days learning more about FG from Michele, Emma and Karen, studying under the other excellent teachers, and getting to know the other people on the course, I knew I had made the right decision. It was a powerful lesson in trusting myself and my choices. My understanding of yoga has expanded and my practice has deepened.
Was it worth it?
Would you recommend others to do it – if so, why?
I would recommend the course to anyone considering becoming a yoga teacher or interested in expanding their knowledge of their own practice. It is a great, practical course that prepares you to begin teaching from where you are. You will probably learn as much about yourself as you will about yoga. The teachers and the approach of the course are authentic. There is no bullshit, no veil of mystery around what yoga is and a wholehearted acceptance of everyone.
I would like to thank DCD (Dancers Career Development) for their support in making my training possible. I would also like to acknowledge Francisco, my partner for his support and for keeping me well fed! The teachers on the FG course, and my peers from 07 teacher training are all extraordinary people. I am proud know them all and to be a part of the FG family.
This week features a guest post by Rebekah, our new marketing assistant at FGB. Sun’s out, so lighten up!
Lighten up on yourself to take better care of yourself: true long lasting progress comes from self love, not self flagellation in life and in yoga.
We’ve all had those days where we don’t feel good enough, were hard on ourselves because we didn’t reach the goals and expectations we set ourselves, wether it was to read that book we’d been meaning to for ages or to master side crow successfully, we beat ourselves up and make ourselves feel bad for not achieving them.
Well Brixton yogis, flagellate no more! Life is to be embraced and not to make us feel defeated. Lets start praising ourselves just for being us, we are amazing and need to begin giving our selves credit for the many things we achieve and tick off on our mental check lists daily.
Life can be hard and we are still standing. The same goes for yoga; the next time you fall out of standing bow dust yourself off and get back up. Instead of slapping your wrist, give yourself a pat on the back for trying.
Taking care of yourself means not always giving yourself a hard time but loving yourself for the efforts you make, like William Hickson said “If at first you don’t succeed try and try again.” But be sure to try with a smile on your face and a light hearted attitude. When it comes to yoga practice equals progression and the same applies with every aspect of life.
Lightening up can be difficult at times especially when you feel things aren’t going your way, but a change of attitude often brings a change of mindset and what a perfect way to help the process along by practising yoga.
Yoga has been proven to promote a positive mindset and encourage self love, so the next time your feeling defeated instead of sitting in your sorrow, grab your mat and come to practice. Lighten up your mind and body at the same time and show your self some self love, TLC and appreciation.
Two of our amazing Fierce Grace Brixton members are taking part in Rough Runner on Saturday 16th September; an event like no other which brings a range of obstacles so massive, so ambitious, and so much fun into the centre of the capital!
We chat to Virginia and Cyndii about forming the group – Yoga Gangster, donating funds raised to local charities and why they’re looking for YOU to join them!
Virginia & Cyndii:
We are two yoga enthusiasts who met at the beginning of the year at the Fierce Grace Brixton studio. Since then we have become firm friends bonding over our shared love of fitness, good food, music and socialising. We both also believe in the importance of charity work and the benefits of building strong inclusive social networks. We have recently decided to enter Rough Runner, Clapham Common and are extending the invitation to the Fierce Grace Brixton family to join us in this challenge.
This invitation is open to all FG members of all fitness levels. It really doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned challenge taker or if you sit at the other end of the spectrum and have not yet quite managed to sign up for your local fun run. Our ideal team would be one that is diverse, inclusive, supportive and fun. It’s all about the camaraderie!! We will prepare for the challenge together. There will be a training schedule which will involve yoga classes, group jogs / runs, boot camps and a few cheeky nights out to get us prepped for the main event. You are welcome to join in as little or as much as you like.
So, come on all of you lovely yogis and yoginis it’s now time to embrace your inner warriors and join team Yoga Gangster in our bid to conquer the Clapham Common Tough Runner obstacle course.
We’re hosting a very exciting workshop at FG Brixton this June. It’s going to be popular, so get booking!
A workshop by Pete Cherry
Saturday 24th June – 2.30pm to 5pm
An introduction to the theory and practice of Pranayama – “breathwork”, consciously harnessing the breath for yoga practice and meditation. Starting with a discussion of “Prana” as integral to yoga, exploring breathing methods – calm and quiet to vigorous and powerful, infusing the body with vitality, well-being and peace as a potent tool for positive transformation concluding with a led meditation.
Pete Cherry is a Zen Meditation and Mindfulness teacher and regularly teaches and lectures on yoga and the philosophy of yoga, and teaches on the Fierce Grace Teacher Training.
Early Bird price – £25* (until Sunday the 4th of June, includes free 5.30pm FG class taught by Karen Bellfield)
Karen has a background in Psychology, Philosophy, Counselling and Addiction Therapy. She has been studying and practising yoga for 15 years and has been teaching for over 10 years, holding the highest level of certification with the Yoga Alliance (SYT). Karen was among the first teachers in the UK to train in Bikram Yoga, Baptiste Power Yoga, Vinyasa and has studied for 2 years in Yoga Therapy with the Yoga Biomedical Trust. She also holds certification with renowned yoga teachers Erich Schiffmann and Paul Grilley and has studied Thai Yoga Massage with Kira Balaskas.
Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from a great teacher and put into immediate practice the new principles learnt on Pranayama.
This class will be free for all members who purchase the Early Bird offer for the Pranayama workshop (included in all unlimited memberships or standard drop in rate will apply).
Frozen Cartwheel is an exceptionally good posture at creating space within your body. As your arms and legs expand out in different directions: your muscles lengthen, your joints are relieved from compression and the brain re-orientates your balance, relaxing into the new space created with every exhale.
As well as exercising the brain, frozen cartwheel challenges the muscles throughout the body, building strength and stability. As your practice develops there is room to evolve this posture, opening up extra space, building more strength and becoming more confident and stable in the posture.
Benefits: Expands your chest and shoulders. Increases mobility of your hip joints. Increases neck mobility. Lengthens your spinal muscles. Strengthens and tones muscles of your thighs and calves. Stretches your hamstrings and groin muscles. Increases proprioception (the sense of position in space) of feet and ankles. Good for core stability and balance.
It’s that time of year when your runner mates are pounding the pavements and parks to raise their game in the Marathon world.
We catch up with FG Brixton regular, Isabelle – who’s just completed the Paris Marathon. Deep Core really saved her during her training: “My favourite thing to do is run to DC; a lovely four mile run and I’m on top of the world after, would strongly recommend!”
She even cut down on booze and partying in order to make the 9am Sunday class. Now that’s dedication!
1.What brought you to yoga? How long have you been practicing?
I have been practising at Fierce Grace Brixton for two months now, I’ve dabbled in hot yoga before but never fully committed. That’s why FGB is fab, such a mixture of classes and all different lengths!
I’ve found that my outlook has changed; yoga is no hobby or exercise – it’s now an engrained part of my life. Waking up at 5.30am on a Tuesday or Thursday to make the morning classes before work doesn’t faze me: I leave ready for the day ahead and literally cannot stop smiling.
I love walking through the market enroute to the station and saying good morning to the stall owners. I can really feel the energy radiating out of me!
2. How have you been finding Fierce Grace Brixton?
About six months ago I signed up for the FULL Paris marathon, oh yes people 26.2 miles! Why on earth did I decide to do this? Well I do love a challenge; I also competed a half marathon in September and it was easier than I thought it was going to be… I should also note that my big boss at work signed up and I wanted to impress him.
Another major reason: I am 25 and it’s probably a good idea to cut down on the booze and partying. I have absolutely no regrets, my favourite part of the weekend is going to yoga on a Friday night and on a Sunday morning!
3. What is your favourite class and why?
DC has to be my favourite class; I find it a perfect level of relaxation and also a workout that gets you concentrating on your breath whilst pushing you to your limit. I visualise my core being engaged during every class, which has really impacted on my running and I genuinely believe it has make me run for longer.
My favourite thing to do is run to Deep Core; a lovely four mile run and I’m on top of the world after, would strongly recommend!
4. Tell us about your Marathon training. What classes have helped?
I have been on such a journey over the past few months – from euphoric highs to incredible lows during my training. The lows I have experienced are injuries, injuries oh wait and more injuries! I severely hurt my ankle about ten weeks ago and couldn’t train for nearly two weeks, then I fell over and grazed my leg really badly and I have also done something to my hip – where I found that after long runs I wasn’t able to lift my leg.
Apart from the fall (as that was me being an idiot) all other injuries have been nurtured back to greatness with FG yoga. My ankle was helped by warrior pose and my hip by frog. I love that I now know my body well enough to diagnose the muscle tension and know how to work around it – I really believe that not enough people can say that.
5. How has your practice changed or developed since coming to FG Brixton?
Through incredible highs – some of the runs I have done have made me so ecstatically happy that I have had to scream… then occasionally hysterically cry. Again aided by FG Yoga, I feel in control of my body and I know what I’m capable of. I know how to breath through pain and I know how to completely zone out and meditate.
It has been a really emotional week. When I practiced Deep Core on Friday morning – I felt on top of the world and so prepared for the marathon ahead.
6. What do you like doing in Brixton?
I love that FG is based in Brixton. I live in Forest Hill and work in Kingston so it’s a great meet in the middle. I have always felt a connection with Brixton, despite having never lived there myself. My sister moved there about ten years ago and I remember staying with her, getting my first taste of the excitement and buzz of London, going around Brixton village and exploring all the amazing food.
7. Tell us a fun fact…?
I am sat up in bed writing this at 6am. I’ve been waking up extremely early the past couple of days due to excitement and nerves. Tomorrow is the big day and I can’t stop smiling!
After two months of going to yoga 4/5 times a week I can now do downward dog and get my heels on the ground (I proudly rang my mum after class on Thursday and told her!) I am slowly getting there with compass – it’s not natural yet but I know it will be.
I am stronger and far more flexible than I ever thought possible and that just makes me want more!
8. Anything else to add…
Thank you Fierce Grace Brixton for being fab, can’t wait to keep practising!
You’ve seen our posters: they say ‘Laugh Trying’ and that’s exactly what we want you to do in class.
Fall out of crow because you’re sweaty knees meet your sweaty arms: laugh. Lose your balance in Standing Bow because you headed for the ground a bit too fast: laugh about it. Uncontrollable leg shakes in scissors abs work: have a laugh at yourself. Easy.
It’s healthy to laugh and let it go. Lights up. Don’t be so serious. You’ve heard our brilliant FG teachers remind you to smile mid-posture; they mean it and it will help your practice.
Michele Pernetta, FG Founder says,
“I push people to their edge, I try to bring a light-hearted feeling to the class. People get so uptight and serious about yoga sometimes. It is already a hard class – strenuous and cathartic – so I feel some humour is very useful, and a playful mind-set allows people to feel free to experiment, go out of their comfort zone and enjoy the process.”
There it is – straight from the top; don’t leave your sense of humour on Brixton tube.
Some people think that yoga is just for girls – think again. FG Brixton has a fantastic mix of men and women practicing at the studio. From firefighters to boxers and dancers to lawyers, we cover it all.
Flying the flag for guys in our reception team is Alvaro: a gym enthusiast and South London lad. Yoga for him? It’s the “missing piece to the puzzle”.
We chat to Alvy about all things fitness…
1.What brought you to hot yoga? How long have you been practising and how have you been finding FG?
I was introduced to yoga by a close friend of mine about a year ago. It’s only been recently that I’ve decided to take my fitness seriously and as a result, I’ve been experimenting with different practises to push my limits to new levels – Hot Yoga being one of them. I find Fierce Grace very enjoyable and it doesn’t feel like I’m walking into a strange new world, but rather a home as everyone is very friendly and welcoming.
2.How does hot yoga fit into your fitness regime?
Its like the missing piece in the puzzle! Hot Yoga for me is a safe environment to do a variety of stretches – the heat relaxes my muscles I am able to stretch that extra mile. Once I do a class, my muscles are stretched and I’m ready to hit the gym and smash those big weights.
3.How has your practise and body changed since coming to FGB?
I have much more control of my body and my balance has improved greatly. Also, now I can touch my toes!
4.What is your favourite class and why?
The FIX is up there – it’s snappy and has little time to rest. The reason I enjoy it is because it really tests me!
5.What do you like doing in Brixton?
EAT! Brixton village is my second home when my mum has not prepared me a warm loving Peruvian dish. El Racho De Lalo is my favourite restaurant.
The buzz has started. The first FLY class south of the river.
Saturday 15th April 3.30pm
FLY (60 MIN)
A new one hour class with energetic flows and the secrets to arm balancing: building upper body strength, balance and focus. Learn the alignment protocols of inversions and arm balancing, and turn yourself upside down, get fit, and enjoy new challenges. Prepare to advance your practise and learn user friendly “glamour poses” such as Crow, Crane, Side Crow, Flying Pigeon, Dolphin and other fun arm balancing poses. The class is woven together within the Fierce Grace framework of flow, intensity, rest and challenge, to get you super strong and as light as air.