We’re teaming up with the awesome Shadi Activewear for a very special pop-up sale in our studio over the bank holiday weekend. From specially chosen fabric, design and quality, her designs are perfect for hot yoga and even a drink in Brixton Village after the class! Here’s the story behind the woman and the brand…
“Four years ago I found that I was struggling to find anything I liked to wear to yoga and the gym. It seemed as if everything was so generic, simple and boring and the sizing’s were completely incorrect. As a tall size 10-12, I found myself wearing size L in most well known sports brands and it made me wonder, if I was wearing the largest available – what were larger women wearing to exercise? Large white t-shirts that would get wet during practice, drag them down and make them never want exercise ever again! So I decided to create my own exercise fashion label that gave more creativity, flexibility, hold and took all women’s size and shape into consideration.
My love of fashion started very early on and straight out of school I learnt the importance of well fitting clothing and how it can empower you. Starting as a Saturday girl for Joseph Ettedgui of Joseph, then as a full time stylist and sales manager for Faycal Amor of (Plein Sud) and finally back to Joseph full-time. Watching and helping Joseph with his famous windows, I saw how important his customers and their feedback were to him. He would listen: small changes in design would make the world of difference to the outcome of a client’s day through their clothing. Joseph women were and continue to be confident, grown up, knowledgeable, sexy and sophisticated. They understand quality, cut and fabric and also value for money.
My love of fashion combined with my love of Hot yoga; I decided to start designing a collection of exercise separates that remained practical but with a fashion edge. Practically, I also needed something that would stay dry on my way home from the gym on London transport! Shadi Activewear is clothing to feel good in, for active women whether petite or tall, thin or shapely.”
Sound good? Join Shadi and the FG gang over the Bank Holiday.
The familiar ‘drip-drip’ from the forehead in Balancing Stick, the slippy-slide feel of your legs against your arms in Crow and the water-in-eyes conundrum in forward folds: In hot yoga, we sweat, a lot. If you’re working hard, hey, even if you’re not, the sweat is real. Usually we can take the heat by breathing properly, but in the instances it’s too much, were you already dehydrated?
With the average male being 60% water and average female 55%, we are essentially water-creatures without the gills. Your hydration levels within your body have to drop 2-3% in order for receptors to send messages to the brain to generate the sensing of thirst, However, at just 1% it starts to affect our overall physical and mental performance.
Water is the fuel that keeps the well-oiled machine that is the body ticking over. It allows for the digestion of food, the expulsion of toxins and temperature regulation. It is present in all cells within the body. Essentially, if you don’t put a lot in, you don’t get a lot out. Experiencing dehydration during physical exercise pressurises the joints (not very helpful in that Standing Head to Knee, is it?) and also means there is less water to create sweat for the body to cool down, further increasing the chances of cramping.
Something we learn through yoga is body awareness; understanding and listening to your body is partly knowing what to put into it. Unlike food, water is absorbed though osmosis as soon as it enters the body, starting in the mouth and the throat. It is ingested the same way the whole way down, so staying hydrated is very easy, especially if it is little and often. Unfortunately, swigging by the gallon as you run into the studio will only leave you feeling heavy and bloated… a little like offering a deluge to a sad plant after weeks of neglect. System overload and you’ll never win at the Chelsea Flower Show like that.
Water is also found in food, especially in fruits and vegetables. If you’re needing a hydration boost, coconut water can also do the trick. Low calorie, high in fibre and electrolytes, containing metabolism-balancing copper, anti-inflammatory antioxidants and more potassium than 4 bananas, plus a low sugar and sodium content, it’s no wonder it is known as “Mother Nature’s sports drink”. With the explosion of clean-eating and healthy-living in the media over recent years, it’s also got Hollywood’s seal of approval.
Following his record-breaking 11 hour long match at Wimbledon in 2010, American tennis player John Isner credited coconut water as what keeps him going on court, even in hotter conditions. The well-hydrated star said he drinks coconut water and water pre-match, coconut water laced with salts on-court then a cocktail of coconut water and protein powder for post-match recovery. The only draw-back is that it does not contain sufficient carbs or sugar to counteract a heavy perspiration resulting from 3 hours of intense heat; lucky that all Fierce Grace classes are under 90 minutes then, isn’t it! So, after class, have a break, have a Chi (not a Kit-Kat).
Make May the month where you honour your watery selves and hydrate to stay great!
Fierce Grace Brixton celebrated its 1st birthday last December. Now half way through its second year, we took the opportunity to catch up with Fierce Grace Brixton owner, Katie to learn about how the studio came to being what it is now!
What first brought you to yoga and how did it become a part of your life?
I was living in Hong Kong and found an inspirational teacher, Robin Tassie. She went on to set up Yoga Central Hong Kong. She said I was a natural! I found I stayed so much calmer in the uncertainty of moving to HK and finding a new position as a fashion design. AND walked taller!
How long has FGB been in the making?
10 years! Nigel did the Bikram yoga training 13 years ago. When he came back he taught for Michele at the City studio, wanting to open his own one day. We were just friends then, but started dating not long after! We always did yoga together as much as possible.
Starting a family (our daughters Eva, 10, and Honor, 8, sometimes help out on reception!) temporarily delayed the plans to open a studio. When we moved to South London we saw that it was really missing a hot yoga studio and we were motivated to find a space in our own neighbourhood. However, it took years for the right place to come up.
What were your aspirations with opening a studio? – Your yoga vision!
I wanted to create a beautiful and clean studio and a strong and supportive space where I could create a community. We wanted to welcome all people of all ages and abilities who were interested in challenging themselves and learning the amazing benefits and discipline of hot yoga. Having experienced the power of yoga I wanted to share it with others, who would in turn want to share it, and so on.
I wanted the studio to reflect the vibe and multi-culture that is Brixton and allow a flourishing yoga community to develop. At the same time, I wanted to provide a peaceful and tranquil ‘retreat’ from the hustle and bustle of daily London life and all its delights and challenges. And I had to make space for a touch of humour with Peter Blake’s Rainbow Babe – which somehow seems to fit perfectly with our hot yoga!
How did you get introduced to the Fierce Grace system?
We have known Michele for years; first as the person who brought Bikram to London, then as a truly inspirational teacher and then as a friend and mentor of great generosity of spirit.
When she announced she had created ‘Fierce Grace’ and was moving all her studios over to this new system it was very exciting. We knew that she was probably the only person in London with sufficient depth and breadth of knowledge and experience who could design a completely new, integrated yoga system to cater for the heavy demands of people living in a busy, stressful city, and make it work.
All her teachers had a chance to retrain in this new system so Nigel made the transition. When the site, designs, finances had been arranged to make our studio happen, we had to decide whether we wanted to embrace this new system.
Whilst on Michele’s Tuscany retreat (where we celebrated our wedding anniversary), we talked it all through, got aligned with her plans and vision, and thought “let’s go do it”. And have never looked back!
What were the biggest challenges opening the studio?
Where do I begin?! There has been a hurdle at each stage! With every challenge, I have had to find the courage, inner strength and determination to carry on, find another solution, consult a new expert, find some more money, you name it!
It took 18 months of driving it! It doubled in cost; I lost two au pairs through the stress at home. I put my other businesses on hold so I could give it my full support and be there to meet builders, interview staff and oversee everything ahead of opening.
Everything had to be designed completely from scratch: the heating and humidity, hot water, lighting and computer systems, plus always ensuring that everything is as environmentally-friendly and eco-efficient as possible. That big grey machine by the mat stands is a “heat exchanger”. It transfers heat from stale hot outgoing air to fresh cold incoming area so saves on energy, helps protect the environment and keeps costs down whilst adding to the comfort of members.
The computer booking system is synced to the accounting and banking system. Behind the scenes, it is very complex and sophisticated, all designed to give members a seamless experience where everything works (mostly!).
There is nothing which has not been carefully thought through to the nth degree with lots of research and help from other studio owners. I wanted to create a state-of-the art studio taking advantage of the latest technology and design.
There must have been some teething problems and funny tales!
The most memorable occasion was when, after two large holes had been drilled through the 18 inch thick concrete floor to allow for the hot air ducts to come through, the landlord’s chief engineer took one look and said “who the f*** put that f****** great hole in my floor?!” The whole project ground to a halt until sorted!
Another was when it unexpectedly turned out there was insufficient supply of hot and cold water for the showers. We had to design and install a hot water system which could service 12 showers operating simultaneously for up to 60 people and then re-heat 1,000 litres of water ready for the next class… and could the floor slab support one ton of water (thankfully yes!)
One week before opening, we were told it would take two months to install phone lines, without which we could not open as everything is internet-dependent, even the streamed music. Three days of frantic phone calls later and showing six different BT technicians around the same facilities – their solution? To “hijack” phone lines from the neighbouring property which was just closing down…
… And what about when you first opened?
Finally we open on 4th December 2014. Half way through the first class there is this acrid smoke coming out of the studio. It turned out that the heater had sucked in some builders’ rubble, cooked it and spewed the noxious fumes back out into the studio…but everyone was great…and even found it quite funny after they’d recovered!
How did you build up the Fierce Grace team?
We made it an aim to recruit, train and retain great reception and studio staff, helpers and teachers aligned to my vision and the Fierce Grace ethos and who take the same pride as I do in providing a great space.
It has all been worth it! I love the community which is being built. I love that our members love coming to the studio and regard our staff and teachers so highly.
Building a ‘community’ has always been a big focus, how did you do this in the beginning?
We have a collection of Founder Members. I was especially pleased when nearly all the Founder Members renewed their membership. They provide a bedrock to the studio and community, and have been great at introducing their friends and family. It is also great how more and more people are taking up the Hot Unlimited package, which provides great flexibility and value.
What have been your greatest moments and milestones in opening the studio?
Having people come and thank us for providing this studio for the community! I have been bowled over by people’s support and gratitude, especially in the early period.
The ‘Touch Your Toes’ charity event raising £500 for Brixton Soup Kitchen was a particular highlight. Looking at the world upside during Separate Leg Stretching, seeing the faces of passers-by in buses, cars, taxis, lorries and on bicycles, motorbikes and on foot as they saw Michele teaching 80 people yoga in Windrush Square, cars hooting, ambulance and squad cars’ sirens wailing and passers-by cheering us on with the amazing Solomon and his colleagues was terrific!
What has helped things along the way?
Having a dedicated team that run the studio and are an inspiration to work with and serve our members. Having fabulous teachers who love working at the studio and teaching – and also knowing that Michele is always there, just a phone call away to offer her wisdom and insight into running the studio and, most importantly of all, sharing her knowledge of how to support any members who have particular injuries or medical issues to deal with.
And now some of our members have just completed the Fierce Grace Teacher Training! The momentum is building…
How do you make it work? Juggling so many things at once, on top of family life!
Work smart, work hard, plan my time in all areas, go with what feels simplest, work together, find great partners, do what I’m great at and find others who are great at what they do. And stay focused on the vision.
What are your favourite things about Brixton?
Brixton Village, vintage shops and gyoza in Pop Brixton, Ritzy Cinema on date nights with Nigel. And Fierce Grace Brixton, of course!
Over recent years, hot yoga has got a lot of press. From miraculous tales of recovery to celebrity endorsement, we can now read about hot yoga just about as much as we can practice it. Andy Murray and Ryan Giggs have sworn by it. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told David Beckham by practising hot yoga he could add years to his football career, well into his 40s. Even the tour-de-force Beyonce said the journey of a hot yoga class can be ‘therapeutic’, finding you can do so much more than you think you can. We may be thousands of miles from Hollywood but we are lucky enough to see these transformations at our studios every day!
In celebration of these joys and benefits of the Fierce Grace system, last week Fierce Grace launched #GoFGYourself. We have invited FG practitioners to share their stories with us by posting video clips or photos on Instagram.
Kicking off what we regard as Instagram’s hottest new trend is Chris Polglase aka The Jungle Drummer, with a positively astounding tales of recovery. Chris is one of the UK’s best drummers, a prestigious live drummer in the club and festival scene, having worked with the likes of Nigel Goldrich, the producer behind Radiohead, Shy FX, DJ Fresh, Scratch Perverts and many more. Whilst playing a live show he plays up to 180 beats per minute, totalling about 11,000 per hour.
Following years of playing, accompanied by poor diet, drinking and negative thought patterns, Chris had chronic pain in his hands. He had RSI, breakages, swelling and has permanent osteoarthritis. It became so bad that he was unable to drum for two and a half years, a devastating blow to him mentally and professionally. Meeting Michele Pernetta, he came along to a Fierce Grace class where Michele could offer him modifications for his hands. After one class he went home and drummed pain-free for a full 30 minutes. After one year of regular Fierce Grace practice and lifestyle changes he is now drumming faster than ever before.
He explained “Yoga has helped me take control of my body, and my healing, without needing excessive treatments and physio appointments. When I don’t attend class for a few days sometimes the pain in my hands returns and then my mind-set changes. I then go back to class and I am again able to manage my pain and I feel better physically and mentally.” At Fierce Grace Brixton, it is a pleasure to see little changes in our members every day. Coming in to open up at 6am, we are not exaggerating when we say it is the reason we get up in the morning!
Chris added “Anyone with severe injuries, who is unable to work, or do what they love, or suffers from severe anxiety or depression, I really suggest attending a Fierce Grace yoga class. The benefits you receive from just one class are exponential and the potential to feel good and change your body and mind can happen within your first session.” With a regular practice, we have seen a member half their body size. With regular practice we have seen a member combat depression and find a happy home with us and with themselves. One of our newest recruits limped in the studio and is now skipping out, having seen the effects on her arthritis after a few days!
The Fierce Grace system is a full mind-body workout. It strengthens, it stretches. You breathe, you focus, you relax. The diversity offered by the integrated class-system provides you with a framework with which you can explore various movements, tempos and attitudes. It is YOUR Fierce Grace.
Just the other day we were delighted when a member told us she had taken the day off work to celebrate her birthday; her gift to herself being to practice not one but two Fierce Grace classes that day! She told us “After 15 years of running I started yoga because I was injured. Fierce Grace gave me the body I wanted, then it gave me the peace of mind I needed and now I just do it because it’s fun… FG is my gift to myself”. I think this means we can describe Fierce Grace as the Pringles of yoga: “Once you pop you can’t stop”!
What could Fierce Grace do for you? What has it done already? Has Fierce Grace enhanced your lifestyle? Has it helped you recover from an injury or allowed you to return to or keep doing something you love? We would love to hear from you! To be in with a chance to win 1 month Unlimited yoga, post your video clips on Instagram before 11 May and tag #GoFGYourself and @fiercegraceyoga and @fiercegracebrixton A winner will be announced then!
During this time, Fierce Grace Brixton is running: Check our Instagram for our daily posts of regulars telling us what they love about practising Fierce Grace and you can email email@example.com your words or photos for us to post, to be in with a chance to win a Brixton bag and Complimentary class for a non-member friend.
In Chris’s words, quite literally “Anything is possible with Fierce Grace”.
Last month, several of our Brixton members completed the Fierce Grace Yoga Teacher Training. This month for our ‘Member Mention’ community feature we have the lovely Kelly Garrett to tell us more about the training…
Congratulations on completing your Fierce Grace Yoga Teacher Training, Kelly!
Please give us a little background on yourself…
My background is in mental health as a Psychotherapist. I run my own private practice in Clapham and manage a ‘talking therapies’ contract for the NHS in Lambeth. Plus I supervise trainee counsellors’ with their clinical work. My earlier career included extensive work in the media industry as a Human Resources specialist.
Can you tell us about the Fierce Grace Yoga Teacher Training?
The content of the Fierce Grace Yoga teacher training programme is abundant in its offer. This isn’t just some yoga course where you might spend most of your time learning about the asanas; instead, we were taught and introduced to many subjects that reflected the twenty three years’ experience of its founder, Michele Pernetta. The rich philosophy of yoga was captured within the first couple of weeks and delivered succinctly by Peter Cherry. Not necessarily the most exciting subject for me, Anatomy gave us a greater understanding of what’s going on internally with muscle groups and bones during practise, which is very important considering the many injuries that students have when they come to yoga.
Delivering a yoga class to 60+ practitioners is no ‘walk in the park’ and confidence alone is not enough to get you through. Body language, breath and voice play an integral part in engaging your students – apparently, the deeper the voice, the better. A Voice Coach provided us with many tools on how to use our breath and voice in preparation for the podium and we were filmed regularly to observe how we delivered a class, some of which would be great material for a comedy sketch!
How did you find the guidance through the course?
Michele Pernetta, following her long history with yoga, radiates everything yoga. Her knowledge and experience permeates every page and aspect of the course and she was dedicated to making sure we got as much as possible from every minute of every hour during the training. She has an incredible sense of humour, particularly when sharing the many anecdotes from her past. At the same time, she is extraordinarily humble and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She was gentle in her approach and made the sometimes arduous task of learning accessible to us all. She has spent countless years establishing the Fierce Grace programme and has certainly developed a fantastic product. Most days began at 06.00 am and ended at 21.00 which was both physically and mentally challenging. If nothing else though, being taught by Michele was worth the thirty days in and of itself!
Karen Bellfield, or ‘mother earth’ as I liked to call her is a truly grounded Senior Teacher whose presence and energy was calm, holding and authentic. Someone who really knows her stuff, she effortlessly supported us in trying to make sense of the amount of data we had to digest during posture clinics. Her instruction was rich and meditative with added wisdom as she guided us through many morning classes. I always looked forward to our modules with Karen.
When and why did you decide to do the teacher training? What were your motivations and aspirations?
I first thought of doing teacher training in 2011 when I was practising Bikram Yoga. At the time, I just ended a long-term relationship, sold my flat and moved into full time clinical work, having spent many years in the corporate world. It was a huge transitional time and yoga felt very containing. When you fall in love with yoga, one of the first things you notice is an intense desire to share it with others. Of course you’ll talk to your friends about it and drag them along with you to classes, but for me, the possibility of teaching was exciting and after many years of practise and my love of the FG sequences inspired me to do the Teacher Training programme.
How long have you practiced yoga? What first brought you to yoga and what about it did you love?
I’ve been practising yoga for 6 years now. I initially started with Bikram yoga, then moved into Vinyasa flow and finally ended up at FG. I particularly love the Deep Core and FG classes. Both have helped improve my practice significantly. Hip openers and more Yin postures are my favourites. Moreover, I have a very busy schedule, often juggling many things while maintaining a complex case-load within my private practice and yoga helps me remain centred. My practise has allowed me to develop strong mental and physical strength, clarity of thought and a renewed sense of being.
What would you say have been the most enriching / positive / beneficial aspects of the training?
A deeper understanding of yoga, both from a philosophical and physical aspect. As a practitioner, I didn’t realise the challenges teaching a class may present. I always thought that it was about delivering the monologue, but it’s so much more than that. Each and every student is equally important and have different needs, whether new, injured or advanced – balancing this all while making sure you deliver an energetic class on time can be tough, so I have a new found respect for my yoga teachers.
What did you find the most challenging?
The long days were probably the most challenging – up to 15 hours per day, 6 days a week is no small feat! By the end of week 2, I felt like I was living in a bubble! Additionally, trying to absorb the enormous amount of data in a short space of time was daunting.
How did you stay motivated and energised throughout?
Laughter! We laughed a lot. Being a bit of a perfectionist, my starting point was to try and get everything right. There were definitely moments when my motivation dipped, but by the beginning of week 3, I realised that at the end of the 30 days it didn’t mean that I would somehow become a perfect yoga teacher, but that I have a good enough framework to develop and like most professions, this would take months, if not years. Michele’s encouragement and support was always a good antidote when my energy was in the basement.
Has your training changed the way you approach your own practice?
I have a different perspective. I have a much better understanding of what it means to practice yoga. I am more accepting of my limitations and have an awareness of what’s going on inside my body. I’m not preoccupied with how deep or how perfect my postures are, but being ok with where I’m at on that day. As a therapist, I’m also acutely aware of the mental benefits and approach my practise more holistically.
What would you say your own teaching style is like?
I’m still in the process of developing my own style as a yoga teacher, but I imagine my class will be challenging and energising yet equally containing and soothing. I hope that students will leave feeling more connected to themselves and their practice. I have spent many hours listening to different types of music to create a playlist that will hopefully reflect my intention to provide a space for them to have this experience.
Congratulations Kelly! We look forward to seeing you at the studio soon.
Did you miss our Runners’ Workshop last weekend? Maybe you just need a little bit more of a strettttch… Today as we are blowing the dust off our trainers ahead of summer (we defy you, rain!) we have been looking at some of the best postures for those post exercise cool-downs. If you’re anything like us, the journey from hibernation to international athlete is sure going to need a little yoga! Strengthen, improve your flexibility and prevent injury, huzzah!
Work on getting down low into Warriors I and II in order to alleviate tight hips whilst stretching the thighs and glutes. Then transition into Warrior III to lengthen running muscles, strengthen ankles and core and improve balance and posture. And don’t forget to channel your inner Warrior vibes!
Forward Standing Bend (Uttanasana)
Stretch the hamstrings and straighten the spine. Take hold of either elbow and rotate from side to side to release out of the hips and lower back.
If you are warmed up you can take all 10 fingers behind the backs of the heels and bring your forehead to your knees and belly to your thighs; use the inhalation to pull and exhalation to relax the upper body down.
Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)
Strengthen and lengthen the legs. Step one foot back about 1m (front foot facing forward and back foot 45 degrees), inhale and lean forward with the straight spine. Interlace the fingers behind the back or bring them together in reverse prayer as we all do in FG! Little mico-mm adjustments to keep on lengthening.
Garland Pose / Squat (Malasana)
Free up the front and back torso and stretch out the groin and ankles. Keep your feet as close together as possible then as you exhale lean forward and press your elbows lightly against the inside of your knees.
From here, you can always take it FG style into Crow to work on your balance, focus and confidence!
Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
… And breathe… Although this foundation posture can sometimes be a challenge on tired muscles, the yoga favourite Downward Dog is immensely restorative. It’s great for stretching the entire length of the spine and legs. Pull in the belly to simultaneously strengthen the core.
Cobblers’ Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Opening up the groin, hips and inner thighs. With every exhalation take the body a little further forward to release tension in the back.
Similar to Cobblers’ but with your legs straight out, this is a great stretch for the hamstrings and calves. Maintain a straight spine and with every inhalation lengthen up and pull in the belly to keep your front and back core engaged. With every exhalation continue to deepen until you comfortably reach the maximum point of your stretch.
Reclining Pigeon (Sucirandhrasana)
Stretches thighs, groin, hips, psoas and IT band. Deeply stretches glutes preventing sciatica. Increases circulation into these areas and stimulates abdominal organs.
TOP TIP: Relax into this as much as you can and breathe: your body will respond best to the stretch and allow you to open more deeply
Cow-Face Fold (Gomukhasana)
This can be a little tricky to get at first but it is an absolute winner in getting into those deep hip muscles. It works into the IT band and the piriformis, a hard-to-reach muscle in the glutes which gets tighter with exercise such as running. If one or both hips start to come up off the ground you can always use a block. Too much? Stick with Half Cow Face and breathe!
Spine Twist: Half Lord of the Fishes Twist (Ardha Matseyendrasana)
After a long run, twisting that spine can feel incredible! A healthy spine will help with your posture and mobility whilst running. Maximise the benefits by focussing on twisting through the belly rather than just the neck.
You can learn more about these postures in our series of inter-connected classes. To learn more about them look here and you can also book in online.
In our busy 21st century schedules, devoting hours to maintaining a strong and healthy body is a serious hats-off pastime. It would be really great if we could install a high-fives giving machine as you walk out the FGB door. After a Fierce Grace class, your body is singing from the inside out (even if you feel like you could savasana forever). That’s why it is essential to give your body what it needs to repair. In the fitness world, not balancing your nutrition alongside your work-out is like hiring builders to tear down some walls in your house and asking them to rebuild them… without giving them any bricks. And we want strong houses!
Exercise is a physiological ‘stressor’: challenging the body to make it better. Side-effects such as sore muscles and the need for more sleep or food is the body’s way of telling us that we have depleted our fuel resources and that we need to replenish. This pattern of temporary depletion allows our bodies to adapt to the demands being placed upon it. For example, with increased cardio, the body becomes a more efficient respiratory mechanism (#cleanleanbreathingmachine) and with weight training, muscle fibres are broken down to create bigger and better ones. This process, known as ‘re-modelling’, (cue the cloning generation) works best when we are giving the body what it needs. Alongside complex carbs, good fats, minerals and vitamins, protein is a major power-player. All hail the protein!
During exercise, we break down carbohydrate stores and protein structures in the muscles. It is considered best to replenish as close to the end of the work-out as possible as the body is keenly awaiting the arrival of new recruits! Muscles need 10g-20g protein to maximise recovery post work-out.
Humans are protein beings. Protein accounts for about 15% of the average person’s body fabric and mass. It is an essential component of every cell. In fact nails and hair are mostly protein. The body needs protein to repair tissue, to make enzymes, hormones, and antibodies for the immune system; to carry messages within the body, follow instructions and perform basic to complex bodily functions. In a nutshell: protein is essential.
Protein is a ‘macronutrient’ meaning that along with fat and carbohydrate, we need it to stay healthy. Unlike fat and carb, however, the body does not store protein, meaning that we need a constant flow. Recommended daily intake is estimated to be in the region of 56g for men and 46g for women. 7g equates to a large egg, half a cup of lentils, 1 tbsp of peanut butter, 1 cup of milk.
Protein is made up of chains of amino acids which the body absorbs and breaks down to turn into different amino acids. Imagine amino acids made up of letters of the alphabet which the digestive system re-arranges to find the words it wants to spell out.
The fact that protein creates hormones which regulates metabolism makes protein the serious King of the Castle when it comes to health. High levels of sugar and simple carbs can spike our insulin levels. Therefore, it is worth setting yourself up each day with some high protein and fat-rich fuel to maintain optimum blood sugar levels. If you aren’t an egg enthusiast, a sucker for the smoked salmon or a peanut-butter proponent, there are other quick and easy solutions to increase your protein intake and maximise your workout!
This brings us on to one of our favourite recipes!
2 scoops vegan protein powder (available to purchase at FGB reception)
1 tbsp coconut oil (great also for skin and hair)
1 tbsp flax seeds (balances hormones, source of omega 3, reduces inflammation)
1 tbsp chia seeds (fibre, antioxidants, fatty acids)
Handful of leafy greens (kale / spinach)
Handful of berries (strawberries, blueberries)
If you are interested in learning more about how you can fuel your practice, come along to our Runners’ Workshop at 5:30pm on Saturday 2nd April. We will be having a pre and post talk where you can ask any questions to Katie Young, who will be delighted to help with your nutritional queries! We look forward to seeing you there. Book now at www.fiercegracebrixton.co.uk/schedule
This workshop is free to members and £5 to non-members
For those of you who love a good Fierce Friday, you’ll have enjoyed the Sara Sandwich: 7am Fix, 10am Deep Core or 12:30pm Fierce Grace. Having celebrated Mothers’ Day earlier this month and currently launching our Off Peak membership (available to use for 10am and 12:30pm classes Monday – Friday, making it perfectly-post-school-run) we thought for this month’s Teacher Close-up we would catch up with our favourite yoga mama: introducing the fabulous Sara!
Sara, how did you first come to yoga? What about it made you stay?
I first did yoga when I was at dance college back in the late 90’s and l didn’t like it! Then when I moved to London I tried hot yoga and everything changed. I just loved it and I ended up working in a studio just so I could do it as much as possible. For me it has been a real slow burner. I have been practicing since about 2004 but at first it was purely the physical aspect I was into. The way I practice now is completely different.
Tell us a little about your ‘yoga journey’…
In 2011 I decided to go to LA to complete the Bikram Teacher Training. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. After practicing 2 classes a day for 9 weeks I felt like a shiny new being. I taught my first ever class at Bikram Headquarters in LA the day after I graduated (talk about deep end!) They loved my accent so I got away with the class being 98 minutes long! I have been teaching full time since and I am so happy I had the opportunity to become one of the first Fierce Grace teachers.
You have a dancing background; how does yoga work alongside your dancing?
Perfectly! Yoga has kept me onstage keeping up with the young ones right up until I became pregnant last year.
How old is your little one? How have you found motherhood?
Cosmo has just recently had his 1st Birthday; he is the best boy. l am really lucky he’s just such a happy baby. I have found motherhood the most crazy, amazing, tearful and joyful time of growth.
Did you practice during your pregnancy? How did you find practice and teaching after having a baby?
Yes I practiced and taught throughout my pregnancy and I loved it; maybe that’s why Cosmo is so chilled! After having Cosmo I think I did my first class when he was 3 months old and it was so hard!!! It was a strange feeling for me to have no strength. I had to build up really slowly and I learnt not to push myself. In the early days with Cosmo we would do mummy and baby yoga every evening before bath time. It was really good for me to put some routine into place or the days can seem endless. Practicing for me now is all about the stolen moments: 20 minutes before or after I teach a class or in the evening at home once I put him to bed, but when I do manage to get to a class it’s magical because to have that small bit of time to yourself is so energising in so many ways and I enjoy it and appreciate it more now than ever before.
Has being a mum changed your dance / yoga schedule?
Yes I have to plan much more now. As my family are all in Scotland my childcare is not around the corner, although I have some great friends who are like family to me. Teaching yoga is a great job as a mother as it has meant I am working but not full-time so I still feel like I spend most of my time with Cosmo. I am lucky that my parents are only 55 and retired so they are regular visitors to London.
What’s your favourite pose and why? What do you find most challenging?
It changes all the time and at the moment l think it’s Toestand. I am loving having the strength again to lift my hips from my heel. Standing head to knee is an all-time fav though because it takes ages to get and you have got to be up for it and even then when you get your forehead to your knee you might still wobble so you just have to laugh and try again.
Any yoga tips for mums?
I have 3 wee tips!
1. Get a mat at home and practice with your baby. There are loads of classes on youtube. It’s not the same as coming to the studio, but in the early days it will get you stronger.
2. When pushing the buggy, make sure you relax your shoulders. I have to remind myself all the time not to tense whilst pushing.
3. Practicing in the studio a few times a week will allow you to just be you again. It’s one of the only places where you have to focus so much on what you are doing that you can’t think about being a mum; you need this for you body and your mind.
When you first visited Fierce Grace Brixton, you were probably told about the inter-related system of classes. But what exactly does that mean? This week’s blog explains the cutting-edge, unique system, which was “25 years in the making” and designed specifically for YOU. AND for the person next to you.
Having brought Bikram Yoga to the UK in 1994, Fierce Grace founder, Michele Pernetta, has long steered the revolutionary course of hot yoga. Over the course of two decades Michele has taught over a quarter of a million bodies, of all different shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. Fierce Grace is the culmination of these years of learning and practising, experimenting and innovating.
Through yoga, we cultivate a greater self-belief and self-awareness, experiencing mental and emotional benefits. However, it starts with moving the body. In its simplest form, yoga is a scientific method to maintain, explore and enhance the body’s natural range of movement. This is, in itself, vast… equally as vast as the many facets of our personalities and individuality. Michele began to see that this was not all catered for or drawn out by the existing yoga market or a fixed one-class system. Individuality is not a one-size-fits-all.
Michele therefore devised a menu of classes, each built on the same principles but reflecting the varying ways which we can move our bodies. This also accommodates the changes in our minds and emotions from one day to the next. We have the capacity and need to be inward and softer one day and outward and fiery the next. The Fierce Grace system supports this 360 degree approach. Working with over 150 postures, the six classes all share the same skeletal system, using the same core postures and the same attention to building a strong and solid foundation within the body. However, they vary in their energy levels and “different moods” and movements, so that you every day you are changing it up in order to get deeper into the bones, the muscles, the joints and ligaments, getting at them from all angles, nurturing their every need and unlocking their potential. As well as exploring different aspects of your own personality: the quieter sides against the out-there sides, the yin and the yang, masculine and feminine, the fierce and the grace.
Fierce Grace yoga is the yoga-system for everyone: from the ‘stiff, old and broken’ (may we present to you the S.O.B. class! – With our senior teacher Krzysztof breaking the postures down, focussing on alignment and providing any modifications where necessary), your average Joe off the street, to the super fit and the athletes. A lot of media imagery surrounding yoga focuses on the pretzel-bending ‘wrap your leg around your head’ elite – (Michele: “I have always found the images used to promote yoga in the press very offensive! The tall, blonde, skinny girl in Lotus position in white organic cotton is so off-putting; and I am a tall, blonde, skinny girl! So I can’t imagine how put-off a big bloke with a beer belly must feel.”) Not at Fierce Grace. Here it’s OK to fall over (or would we say actively encouraged?) and to “laugh trying”; we tell students to let go of their pride and “stretch don’t pose”.
At Brixton, we work hard to create an ego-free, down-to-earth, “all-in-it-together” attitude. We say “work hard”, and work hard we do, but in many ways it seems second nature as we all share the same vision of normalising yoga, spreading its joys and encouraging every single person who walks in through our door! One of our many valued members said to us recently “When I walk into this studio, I immediately feel love. To me, I’m not just coming here to ‘do yoga’, I’m coming here to do yoga with my friends. It’s like a family.” That is what a Fierce Grace studio is: somewhere where you can be yourself, explore yourself and learn to appreciate yourself, whether you can touch your toes or not. (But honestly, laugh trying).
Our advice to you this week FGB-ers is to take FULL advantage of the system put in place for you. Embrace the diversity. Mix it up. Use it to explore the different parts of your body and your self. Get to know yourself. If you are a Fierce Grace fanatic how about dipping into a Deep Core? Or converting to a Classic? You’ll be surprised what happens when you let loose and throw yourself (please not literally) into different parts (outside) of your comfort zone. Quite soon, you won’t only be Living Life with Fierce Grace, you’ll be living Fierce Grace. x
New this year, every month we will be hearing from one of our own FGB members. At Fierce Grace Brixton we are blessed with a fantastic community. You only have to walk in through the door to feel the buzz and the love! This month’s Members’ Mention is Cheryl Briscoe.
Cheryl joined us earlier this February and has quickly become part of the furniture, fully embracing her 30 Day Challenge as soon as she stepped in through the door! Now on Day 20 of her 30, we wanted to find out a little more about her Challenge and experience so far at the studio.
What brought you to yoga? For how long have you been practicing?
I started in 2014 – I practiced Bikram for a year then some injuries meant I had to take an indefinite break from practicing and I became quite depressed. I met Katie Gerald, Fierce Grace Brixton owner, in Brockwell Park when she was handing out fliers last summer. I had a voucher for a £5 class but I never redeemed it. Then my time had come! It was the new year, new 2016, I needed to get my head and my body straight. As I had heard so much about Fierce Grace I wanted to have a new experience!
And how have you been finding Fierce Grace?
Amazing! They should call it “Amazing Grace”!
I have old knee injuries. I suffer from periodic sciatica and lower back/coccyx issues. Since being here I have built more flexibility in my hips than ever before in my adult life, largely thanks to Nina. She is very patient – as are all the teachers, all very patient and thorough – so I have reached depths I would never have imagined.
What made you decide to do a 30 Day Challenge?
I needed something for myself and being able to give yourself 30 days in this day and age is practically impossible so when presented with the opportunity presented by the Introductory Offer I jumped at the challenge. It’s my “I” time!
How have you been finding it? Have you noticed a change in your practice?
Yes. My sleeping has improved; I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat! I have noticed my mood to be much lighter once I have had my practice – my mood is heated into sedation! Physically, I have strengthened my knees which were quite painful – I can now get into a comfortable Fixed Firm posture which also opens my lower back – an area which never got any attention but now gets a good seeing to! I am also able to get into Sleeping Swan comfortably, which was initially more difficult with the tightness in my hips.
We see you have been attending the full range of classes (Classic, FG, Deep Core, Fix plus SOB) therefore making full use of the integrated Fierce Grace system. Has this been helpful for the 30 Day Challenge?
Yes – very helpful! I like the diversity. And it is like going to 5 different studios to do 5 different sessions, all under the same roof. It has the right intensity with the correct gentleness.
Do you have a favourite class?
I have a Magic Monday with Lisa Hong to kick-start the week; Terrific Tuesday with Nina so my whole body gets therapy; Winner Wednesday where I work out my wobbles with Omae; Thorough Thursdays with my strengthening Shirley, Fabulous Fridays with lovely Sara and my spectacular Saturdays for SOBs with crystal-clear Krzysztof and my Splendid Sundays with my cup of ‘Chi, he’s like a big daddy with his children, spoon-feeding us every move, I like his patience and attentiveness and he smiles as he talks which makes you believe you can achieve it!
What is your favourite pose and why? And what is your most challenging?
My favourite pose is Standing Bow Pulling because it opens up my hips like never before so I can lift my leg higher and tilt gracefully! My worst one is Standing-Head-to-Knee – it is a passionate pain because I want to be able to get there – once I have I will have achieved my ultimate yoga goal!
What advice would you give to anyone considering a 30 Day Challenge?
I would say GO FOR IT! It is a generous gift one should give to themselves at least once a year. It cleanses your mind, detoxes your body and purifies your soul.
On a different note – just to learn more about our Brixton community – how long have you lived in Brixton?What are your favourite things to do in Brixton? What do you like about the area?
I’ve lived in Brixton all of my life, so I’m a local. I love the market and the fresh fruit and veg. My favourite Brixton attraction is the Ritzy because I like going in the evenings and dancing – they have some brilliant live jazz. It’s one of Brixton’s gems. They have a band called Future Groove and it is very much representative of Brixton – the future developments in sight! Not just a cinema!
Anything else to add…
Just some words about Fierce Grace Brixton as a studio! I think it is a super fantastic facility; the showers are the best in the business; the location is perfect and the studio is 100% clean. Great reception staff. Marvelous Megan! And Tremendous Tori, Fabulous Federico and Delightful Dilana! And to top it all, you get a tea when you finish!
Thank you Cheryl, you’re a Fierce Grace Brixton rockstar and now a Brixton celebrity!
If you’ve been inspired like Cheryl to do the 30 Day Challenge, just ask at reception!