Energising Morning Postures
Spring – we thought you’d never arrive!
With extra sunshine earlier in the mornings, getting up has been that little bit easier, but what about when your body still wants more snooze time?
Take a moment before reaching for the coffee. An energising morning yoga practice can work as a natural stimulant to set you up for a productive day. We explore postures to awaken the body, mind, digestion and nervous system… and FYI, some of these postures can even be done from your bed! Namaste.
1. Child’s Pose. A ‘natural’ posture is a good place to start first thing. This feels great for the body, especially at the beginning of the day, since it’s calming and relaxing. Take time to breath into the back and lower spine and enjoy the wake up effect on your spine.
2. Cat-Cow. A great morning stretch which can help to open up your whole spine. Breathing deeply in this pose will massage your organs as you alternately compress and lengthen the intestines, bringing fresh blood to the cells, which are responsible for healthy gut function. Be sure to lead from the spine and only stretch your neck as far as feels comfortable.
3. Warrior One. Feel powerful, positive and ready to face the day with Warrior One. This posture combines leg strengthening and gentle back bending, bringing energy into the body. Tilt your eyes skyward for a deeper stretch. If you’re feeling especially energetic, move into Warrior Two by bringing the arms parallel to the floor and gazing over your front arm. Maybe even set an intention for the day whilst your feeling strong!
4. Bridge Pose. Back bends are all about unlocking the energy of the spine and nervous system. Lying in a semi supine position with your head below your heart calms the nervous system and open the front of the body. Use your hands under your hips for an extra deep stretch.
5. Cobra. Open. the chest and strengthen the core body with Cobra. This posture can help align the spine and invigorate the kidneys and nervous system. A great one to do from your bed – just throw off your pillows and get ready to start the day!
Fancy seeing the sun rise in a beautiful country while practicing yoga? Check out our FG retreats here.
“Ideal for those looking to escape hectic city life and find greater balance in mind and body.” – VOGUE
Love is in the air.
This Valentine’s Day, forget the chocolate, flowers and squeezing into overcrowded restaurants!
Why not celebrate Valentine’s Day with a little bit of yogic love? Physically stretching the muscles in your chest, shoulders and belly can create a deep emotional release, helping you to appreciate and honour yourself and your loved ones.
Can Yoga help you fall in love?
Let’s look at the science: from a physiological point of view, yoga helps high cholesterol, blood sugar levels and supports the circulatory and respiratory systems. On the emotional side, Yoga promotes a healthy, open heart, can live stress and anxiety. The heart chakra is related to our ability to give and receive love.
Our FG classes are full of gorgeous heart and chest openers like backbends, Cobra, Camel pose, Wild Thing, Locust, Wheel and Bow pose. Chest openers are a great way to open up the muscles of the chest to reverse forward-leaning posture and are said to bring more joy and love into your life. Understanding the benefits of these poses will give you motivation to include them as a regular part of your practice.
Chest openers can combat the blues and improve your mood. When you open the heart by lifting the chest, your outlook improves. The typical posture of someone who is in a poor mood or depressed features hunched shoulders and a hanging head. If you roll your shoulders up and expand your chest, you automatically look more confident, open and radiant!
Start by loving yourself and opening your heart to all possibilities.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
First classes can be overwhelming and great at the same time. Even if you’re coming back to FG after a seasonal break, it’s useful reconnect with your intentions. We chat to FGB teacher, Omae about her Top Tips for hot yoga practice… one of the biggest she says: ‘be kind to yourself’. Spot on, Omae. Thank you!
What brought you to teach Fierce Grace yoga?
I’d been working at the studio and practicing Bikram for about 6 years but as soon as I tried Fierce Grace I knew I was ready for a change. So when Michele announced the very first FG teacher training it was too good an opportunity to miss! It was four intense weeks but the real life changing experience starts when you get up and teach your very first class. I was terrified! I still get nervous but I don’t allow my nerves to get the better of me 🙂
Any advice for newcomers?
First time in the hot room can feel amazing but it can also be overwhelming! It’s different for everyone so come with an open mind. Get used to the heat by taking it very easy and pacing yourself…. get used to breathing through the nose. Rest as much as you need. Expect to feel exhausted as you are working twice as hard as anyone else but it does get easier.
What about advice if you’ve been practicing a while?
Those that have been coming a while can face their own set of challenges. Learning how to be kind to yourself can be one of the biggest. Don’t feel you have to push push all the time! Sometimes it’s about holding back and really listening to your body, accepting yourself just the way you are. There’s potential for transformation but it can be a long, hard journey. Connecting with breath is the surest way to advance your practice.
How do you encourage people out of their comfort zones?
Try out the different classes and teachers. If you always have the same spot in the room change it up a bit! Sometimes it’s small changes that make the difference. Noticing your habitual patterns is the first step, we all have them! Practice giving your full attention to any task you do, including your practice.
And tell us about evolving your own practice
This has been a real journey for me and very humbling. I love this yoga so much and it’s become such a big part of my life! However the last few months I’ve had to really learn how to hold back as an old back injury has resurfaced and it’s really affected my practice….I can’t do half the stuff I used to do, and as a teacher, that’s hard! But I see lessons everywhere and I know that there’s a huge one here for me. It’s actually given me a valuable opportunity to understand just how important breath and awareness are. I’m gradually getting stronger again and I’m strangely grateful for this experience.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m having a wonderful time teaching at FG Brixton, it’s a beautiful, well run studio with amazing staff and students, I love it here! We are all one community and this incredible practice gives us the chance to not only connect with ourselves, but also each other.
Here’s to a year of positive change, more love, more understanding, more Peace!
Wise words, Omae! Want to know more? Come to her classes on Wednesday 10am and 12.30pm at FGB.
This week we meet one of our Hot Founder members, Liz Popovich. Having regularly practiced hot yoga for six years now, she’s a great example of how yoga can keep you interested, engaged and ever evolving. Her practice today is just as exciting as it was when she discovered the sweaty delights of hot yoga, but she freely admits the variety offered by the Fierce Grace system of connected classes is her idea of bliss.
1.What brought you to yoga? How long have you been practicing?
I started practicing about six years ago. I had a back injury and my chiropractor told me that I had to stop using the cardio equipment at the gym, which was my only form of exercise at the time. When I asked what type of exercise I could do, she said: “yoga, but make sure it’s hot yoga!” I was living in Islington at the time, so I did a drop-in class at the City studio. This was before Fierce Grace – it was still the Bikram method – and I remember leaving the class, still dripping sweat even after changing and wondering what just happened to me! I was hooked. I moved to SW4 the next month and joined the Bikram studio in Balham immediately. I practiced six days a week there until the Fierce Grace studio opened in Brixton…
2. How have you been finding Fierce Grace?
I was in love with Fierce Grace from the very first class. As soon as the Brixton studio opened, I signed up for an introductory package, and knew I was going to commit to a Founder membership within the first week. The timing was perfect because I had reached the point where I was looking for more variety in my yoga practice. I actually abandoned two other yoga studio memberships to make the change. I find the classes brilliant, the teachers inspiring and the studio so friendly and welcoming. I feel like I belong there.
3. How has your practice changed or developed since coming to FGB?
I think I’m much kinder to myself in my practice now. This could be because I’m six years older, or because I’ve dealt with a nagging hip injury/condition, but I feel that I’ve moved beyond a solely physical practice into one that’s more mindful, observant and kind. It feels more comprehensive and much more satisfying this way.
4 . What is your favourite class and why?
I have to say all of them – because it’s the variety that works for me. I love the fact that in a given week, I get a mix of FG, Classic and either Core or Fix. For me that’s perfection!
5. What do you like doing in Brixton?
People watching. Every day I go there, I say to myself “you don’t see that every day!” Brixton has such a great vibe and colourful people – all you have to do is wander through the village and you’ll be entertained!
6. Tell us a fun fact…?
I was able to retire six years ago after being a co-founder of a medical software company. We sold the company and I took the opportunity to retire early after working way too much for the sixteen years I was part of the company. It’s not a coincidence that my yoga life started immediately after retirement – this is what anchors my days now. Bliss!
7. Anything else to add…
I am so grateful to all my teachers from FG and before whose generosity and inspiration help to keep me on my yoga journey. I hope to do this for the rest of my life.
Thanks Liz! It’s always a pleasure to have you at the studio. x
Feel the Fierce!
You’ve seen it on the schedule. You’ve thought about it… twice. You were on your way and then found a burning desire to go to Wahaca on Saturday instead. You’re not sure you’ll be good at it. What if everyone can get their leg behind their head? What if everyone else is levitating when you arrive???
Now, it’s time to zip up that chatterbox and step outside your comfort zone. The worst that can happen is you fall over laughing! (I did)
Fierce is a wonderful sequence of postures, which are accessible to all, but take your practice to the next level, with fun and laughter along the way. If you’re new to it – Fierce is a friendly, safe place where you can try postures out for the first time and learn the developments of poses from other classes. If you’re experienced – Fierce will stretch and guide you to new heights.
When I did Fierce for the first time last week, I found it a really open environment, lots of encouragement to try something new and even surprised myself with what I could achieve. Yes, there are some super challenging postures to aspire to, but it’s a great feeling to get part way there. It also felt like a collective, as over half had never done the class before.
Krzystof kindly took some photos of us during the class and when we took a look afterwards, we were all really pleasantly surprised at how well we did – hey, we even looked good!!!
Alternatively, if your just starting at FG or have any injuries, get yourself down to our SOB class every Sunday. This is a user friendly class where there is more time to understand how to work safely and effectively, get to know the poses, learn modifications and ask questions. Know what works for you and your body. Better still, if you have a friend who is FG-curious, but maybe a bit unsure, bring them along as a big open-armed introduction to our classes and what can be achieved with regular practice.
It’s been said that we should aim to do 3 things each day that scare us: a daily risk quota if you will. Start this by coming to Fierce on Saturday, challenge yourself, do something that scares you; be Fierce!
Fierce Grace is all about bringing the Fierce and there ain’t nothing fiercer than the 30 day challenge, so in the spirit of giving we’ve decided to make it a little bit more tempting. Sign up for the 30 day challenge by the end of September and if you complete it not only will you get your name on the board of fame, an FGB waterproof bag, but we will give you 2 weeks of yoga for FREE.
Whether you hit the studio a couple of times a month, or religiously do 3 classes a week, the 30 day challenge is going to be tough, no two ways about it, but it’s absolutely worth the commitment. You will be fitter, more focused, calmer, stronger, more flexible, and quite rightly mightily proud of yourself.
Making it through the 30 days with grace…
- – the 30 day challenge is an intensive course in your own body. Listen to it. You don’t need to go all out in every class, if that’s not what you can do today. Turn up, breathe and be in the studio.
- – master your ‘monkey mind’ , the voice that tells you it is too hard, that you can’t do it, that you should just give up. It’s not too hard, of course you can do it, so be the master of your mind and make it work for you, instead of letting it knock you down.
- – look after yourself outside the studio. Water, water, water, bananas, protein, sleep. You are an athlete for 30 days!
- And if you don’t believe us, here’s the skinny from a couple of members who have already done it.
Katie Smith wrote:
- Making and finding time is the main part of the challenge! I just looked at it from the perspective that I was finding 90 minutes in the day to focus on myself. Thinking of it like that took away the pressure of feeling like I was forcing myself to go just to complete the challenge.
- Naively I thought I would suddenly see loads of improvement in my practice after a week, I mean I was going every day! But I realised that it was the tiny improvements that build up over time, the ones that are barely perceptible, that made the biggest difference. When I could suddenly hook my right foot behind my left calf in Eagle without falling over, and I realised I couldn’t do that a few weeks ago, felt like a breakthrough moment! Such a small thing but it became very significant to me.
- The third week was the hardest for me. I felt quite stiff and inflexible when I went into week 3 but I realised that I didn’t need to push myself hard every class, and I learnt to listen to what my body was telling me it would do today, and what it wouldn’t!
- Sometimes the classes I wanted to go to the least ended up being the ones I enjoyed the most. It sounds daft, but I often found the most benefits from my practice, or improvements, on the days when I felt like I would much rather just go home and have a large glass of wine after a particularly stressful day at work.
- There was so much support and friendly advice from all the teachers, staff and fellow yogis. Although doing the challenge was a very personal experience, I never felt like I was on my own.
- But by far the biggest benefit for me committing to practicing yoga every day was how I felt mentally and emotionally. As someone prone to anxiety it gave me a sense of calm and positivity, as well as accomplishment, by allowing myself the time to focus solely on me, my practice and my meditation.
and Katie Brown wrote:
I really enjoyed the 30 day challenge but it was definitely challenging! At times I found it difficult to make sure I was getting enough liquids and rest in-between consecutive classes. Since finishing the challenge I have noticed a big improve in my yoga practice, particularly with my alignment, and my upper body strength has drastically improved!
You heard it. It’s worth it. See you on the mat!
Before I did my first 30 Day Challenge in 2014, I read all the blogs and all the tips. The ones I found most useful were the most personal, so that’s what is going to happen here.
First, it is called a “Challenge” for a reason. Breaking up with your ‘snooze’ button is hard. As much as you want to hold on, you have to let it go… Your friends are going out for pizza; instead, you are trundling along to Day 12, cursing under your breath, halfway between moody teenager and deranged delinquent. Just like when you are on a ‘diet’ and you suddenly want to eat everything, even if you practice every day normally, psychologically the challenge of embarking on an official 30 Day Challenge is REAL. However, with that said, it is hands down one of the most rewarding months I’ve ever spent and I would implore each and every single one of you to do it, or as Fierce Grace says “laugh trying!”
- Water. A lot of it. How much? OK, pretend you are on fire. Douse yourself in the stuff.
- Replenish nutrients and minerals. Electrolytes. TIP: I heard Himalayan salts contain the same natural minerals and elements found in the body.
- Sleep. Eat well. (You will start to do this naturally as your body needs the good stuff. Let your friends keep their pizza. Or at least most of it.
- Get another towel, unless you can tumble-dry as fast as Concorde.
- Listen to your body. During my Challenge I felt like punching the next person to say that to me (cue the “moody teenager/deranged delinquent”) but it’s true. Give it what it needs. That applies to food, to sleep and to class. If you worked hard yesterday, maybe ease off today. Maybe that pose where you can usually do the full expression is weirdly causing discomfort today – take a step back. In one class, I did just a few postures and spent the rest lying down (tired and *cough* hungover). Interestingly from a meditational point of view, this was one of the best yoga classes I’ve ever had. The experience also completely transformed my practice; it taught me acceptance. Show up and work with what you’ve got. For yoga and for life.
Fierce Grace Brixton is set up for a 30 Day Challenge. It makes such a difference to walk into the studio and have a staff member ask you how your challenge is going then congratulating you as you leave. Over the 30 Days, community becomes really important. At Fierce Grace Brixton, we are truly blessed that this “community” already exists. If learning names was an Olympic sport, the Fierce Grace Brixton team would be bringing the gold medal home. (To confirm, we absolutely do not have your mug-shots up on our walls at home). The changing rooms are pretty much where 90% of Brixton’s gossiping is done and as you step into the studio there are waves and plentiful bright smiles. One big happy Fierce Grace Brixton family. Family got your back on this Challenge and are here for you 100% of the way.
There are days where in no way does the end appear in sight. However, the continual sense of achievement is astronomical. There is a childlike pleasure in ticking off another day under your name on the studio’s 30 Day Challenge white-board. The Kanye West swagger with which you can conduct around the studio is completely legitimate. In fact, it will be actively encouraged. Completing your 30th class can be likened only to when Halle Berry won that Oscar and the certificate is still on my wall, a level above my university degree certificate.
In all seriousness, a 30 Day Challenge really does transform your practice. It is a feat in itself to make time in your schedule, regardless of what else is thrown at you. However, it is so much more about creating the mental space. In prioritising your practice, you are prioritising yourself and if that isn’t worth 30 days I’m not really sure what is.
Good luck! Megan
We love to use Coconut Oil in the kitchen, in smoothies, even on our faces. In fact, there are very few products that we can honestly say can do it all, but coconut oil comes pretty close.
Coconut oil has a multitude of health benefits, which include but are not limited to skin care, hair care, improving digestion and immunity against a host of infections and diseases.
There are various health benefits of coconut oil. The Coconut Research Center has compiled a list of potential benefits of coconut oil in both traditional and modern medicine:
Skin & Hair care: As we mentioned, Coconut oil is excellent massage oil that acts as an effective moisturiser on all types of skin, including dry skin. It’s also a great make up remover, especially tricky waterproof eye make up. It also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. There are also excellent uses for hair: a fantastic hair mask can be made with warm coconut oil and a few drops of lavender oil, leaving hair very smooth. It also been known to provide the essential proteins required for nourishing and healing damaged hair.
Heart diseases: Perhaps surprisingly, coconut oil is very beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in actively preventing various heart problems like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Coconut oil does not lead to increase in LDL levels, and it reduces the incidence of injury and damage to arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis.
Weight loss: Coconut oil is super useful for weight loss. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and endocrine system. Furthermore, it increases the body’s metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, thereby burning more energy.
Immunity: Coconut contains two special ingredients that make it excellent for immunity. These are anti-viral properties, commonly referred to as lauric acid and caprylic acid. Both are well-known for fighting off yeast overgrowth (candida), along with bacterial infections. Coconut is actually comprised of 50 percent lauric acid, which the body converts to monolaurin, an antiviral agent that fights off a variety of pathogens and viruses.
Digestion: Internal functions of coconut oil occur primarily due to it being used as cooking oil. Coconut oil helps to improve the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion-related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties.
So there we have it. A well know super-food for the body, inside and out!
As part our new campaign to ‘Touch Your Toes in 30 Days’, we’ve linked up to support the valuable local charity – Brixton Soup Kitchen. As a thank you for your support, we will also match fund donations to £5 per person raised by our Touch Your Toes event on 17th October in Windrush Square.
We thought you might like to know a little bit more about Brixton Soup Kitchen, which incidentally, sits on Coldharbour Lane just along the road from our FG studio.
Brixton Soup Kitchen was founded in January 2013 by Solomon Smith and Mahamed Hashi. Before setting up the Soup kitchen, Solomon, a support worker at Lambeth Youth Centre began by driving around Lambeth one particularly cold Winter with donations of warm clothes and flasks of hot tea and coffee for those in need. Since finding a Brixton base, their aim is to help homeless people and Londoners in need by providing free food, support and company. The environment they provide is warm and friendly, which in turn can help people regain confidence, self worth and eventually get them back on their feet. Since 2013 they’ve provided 10,000 meals to those in need, seeing 35-40 people every day and also life skills such as CV writing workshops, advise on housing and benefits, filling out forms and job guidance.
Although initially set up for the homeless, Brixton Soup Kitchen also provides support for elderly people who are lonely and young people who have behavioural issues and may have been excluded from school.
“It’s crazy when you speak to people and see their experiences and how they have become homeless” said Solomon. “Some used to have successful business, but now have lost their business or their job and are homeless, many people suffer from depression because they can’t get work. It’s really opened my eyes and it’s made me realise that anyone could become homeless in a day.” (Solomon Smith)
Visit Brixton Soup Kitchen, Brixton Dominoes Community Centre, 297-299 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8RP.
Call 07538 419 514