Yeehaw!!! New Classes for the New Year at Fierce Grace Brixton
We don’t know about you but we are looking forward to starting a new year. Don’t get us wrong, life at the studio has been fierce but 2016 has been a big old year for saying goodbye to some of the most creative talents who have touched many of our lives in varying degrees. And we have also seen seismic changes on the political landscape. So what will 2017 bring?
Two new classes, that’s what. That’s right, we are going to be introducing FG2 and Fly to the schedule over the coming months. We have already talked about FG2, designed to help you meet The Beast with grace, for all levels. It’s 90 minutes of getting out of your comfort zone, with expressions of each pose to challenge and surprise. If you came to our Christmas launch class with Michele Pernetta then you know all about this!
But brand new is FLY, a 60 minutes class designed to unlock the secrets to arm balancing. Look forward to building upper body strength, balance and focus, and learn the alignment protocols of inversions and arm balancing. As well as poses you have already experienced in other classes – Crow, Crane, Side Crow, Flying Pigeon, and Dolphin, – you will advance your practice with other fun balancing poses. Become super strong and light as air. Supafly.
See you on the mat, fly girls and boys.
Here’s what our studio team are looking forward to:
Katie Gerald owner, director and member
Three years ago we were laying out our plans to develop he studio and build a Fierce Grace yoga community in Brixton. Two years ago we opened. And here we are with a strong and vibrant community with wonderful staff and teachers who support our members in their commitment to maintain and develop their own physical and mental well-being.
I still continue to be wowed by it all. How supportive our members are of each other and also of staff and teachers. Some sort of magic takes place in the studio whereby members – new and experienced, young and old, fit and not so fit, healthy and not so healthy – take up the challenges, seize the opportunities and enjoy the benefits and variety of the six class integrated system of integrated yoga which is Fierce Grace.
So what am I looking forward to in 2017? Well without doubt, its going to be exciting and challenging. We’ve got a great new studio manager Serena whom I’m looking forward to seeing implement her plans to take the studio forward – to strengthen and broaden and deepen the community, focusing especially on overall service and also expanding daytime membership: there are plenty of classes, so there really is no excuse not to come practice during the day! So all you mums and dads and folk who live or work at home or nearby, come down to FGB and join me to get your day-time lift!
I’m looking forward to seeing our experienced teachers continue to develop their skills, especially for injuries, to help manage and help resolve them, reducing or eliminating pain; newer teachers honing their skills; and introducing and supporting brand new teachers – watch out for Saturday 5.30pm FG classes! All supported by ongoing training from Michele Pernetta and Emma Croft.
And some great new classes. FG2 will be starting on Friday evenings at 7pm taught by all-round star Shirley – this introduces a few little optional twists to FG to get you experimenting. Fly will be coming shortly, offering a 60 minute class working on upper body strength, complimenting Fix for when you need to get in and out quickly. And possibly a pregnancy class and more for children. And DDC – Deep Dark Core on Wednesdays at 8.45pm to take you into deep relaxation and mediation whilst practising Deep Core, completing the day, preparation for sleep – taught by Paula. All part of Fierce Grace being a living, breathing, ever-developing system of yoga.
We will also be having some great new workshops. Michele Pernetta will be comeing to lead some, and we also plan to have some tightly focused on specific areas such as breathing – get your pranayama breathing finally nailed! If possible, we’ll do another Touch Your Toes in Windrush Square.
And welcoming back the newly married Lisa Hong and also a new addition to the world when Victoria, the life force that she is, gives birth to her first child in February 2017. We wish them, and you, and Michele, well and all the best for 2017. Enjoy.
And more form our studio team on what they’re looking forward to in 2017…
I am looking forward to another fantastic year of self growth, kindness and of course being Mrs Willoughby!
‘Become who you are’
Settling into our new place: having spent some months travelling with my husband and after recently relocating to London (and living with a very generous friend for a while), we are looking forward to moving into our own place and make it our own. On a more yogic note, I look forward to overcoming once and for all a small and nagging wrist injury I’ve been nursing for some months: It has taken longer than I would have liked but I’ve learnt a lot from it (namely, how to work my planks in a healthier way by using my fingers and shoulder strength more) but I sure look forward to it being over!
In 2017 I am looking forward to always making the most of myself! This also means taking the absolute best care of myself, I intend to still be practicing the Beast when I’m 100+!
I’m looking forward to a fresh start, new happy beginnings, hanging with a loving, positive tribe, and welcoming in all the new good energy and blessings!
I’m looking forward to finding more time to relax and seeing what happens; how the year unfolds.
I look forward for meeting new/old people as each individual can inspire you and influence in some way, for new adventures, commitments (more hot yoga practice J) and learning opportunities. I am trying to see every obstacle and challenge as an opportunity to learn and growth, therefore, I look forward for those happy but also sad and difficult moments.
Lila C: I’m looking forward to keeping an open heart and mind, writing more and seeing where my next adventure lies…
I’m looking forward to the fresh wave of energy the start of a new year brings, travelling with friends and new adventures!
I can’t wait for the new FG2 class at FG studios (as a student more than as a teacher!). It’s the FG we know and love… and then some!I’m really looking forward to my partner and I exploring more of the gorgeous hidden mountain town of Telluride, which we discovered in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. It’s incredible any time of year, and we can’t wait to return again and again. I’m also hoping optimistically for 2017 to start undoing damage and uncertainty created in the world in general in an unsettling 2016. There’s always hope – things can and will get better.
As an early preview of next month’s theme of GIVING, we are very pleased to introduce Fierce Grace Brixton member Affiong Uffort.She is currently midway through a 100 day hot yoga challenge to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) so of course we wanted to find out more…
On Discovering Hot Yoga
I discovered Hot Yoga 12 years ago. After having my twin girls, I was overweight and going through some personal challenges. I saw someone practicing hot yoga on TV, and I immediately researched it online, and joined my local branch.Prior to Fierce Grace, I was just practicing the normal Bikram yoga which was just the same series of 26 postures for every class. Fierce Grace gave me options. It allows me to go deeper into my practice. I love the variety of classes, and all the teachers bring something different to each class.Fierce Grace is amazing.
Why a 100 Day Challenge?
I previously did a 90 Day hot yoga challenge for great Ormond Street Charity in 2011. That was very challenging but thoroughly enjoyable. I went deeper with my postures. Some that I couldn’t do previously just fell into place during the challenge. I just had a beautiful little baby boy in August, and I’m just thankful for his health I just wanted to give back. Hence the challenge for charity.
I chose this particular charity because I love Great Ormond Street and appreciate the work they do. As someone with three wonderful children, sometimes we tend to forget about those who are struggling with a sick child. To have hospital like GOSH there to care for the really sick children and make them better is really amazing. Especially when you see them all grown up and adults in the community. It’s important to support them financially to ensure they can keep doing the great work they do.
The 100 Day Challenge
My practice has definitely changed. I can now do a proper back bend and the pain in my spine from my epidural has completely disappeared. I still struggle with some postures, but with time I’ll get better.I use the full range of classes to work my whole body but my favourite is classic. It’s still tough as nails, but I really enjoy it.I love triangle pose! It’s funny, but every time I do triangle I feel free, like I release the stress, the worries, the tension and everything else I want to get rid of.Standing head to knee still eludes me, but I will keep pushing.Watch this space!
I’ve lived in Tulse Hill for about 12 years and I love how vibrant Brixton/Tulse Hill is. Brockwell Park is amazing! I love hanging out here in the summer, picnicking with the kids, and I love the Ritzy Cinema, it’s very cosy and welcoming.
You’ve heard of the 30 Day Challenge, right? You’ve seen those brave souls rock up at all hours, every day to the studio, ticking off each class on the white board? You might have noticed that Teresa McGovern has powered past the finish line of her 30 Day Challenge and is now heading towards her 60 Days!
Go Teresa! We love having you here every day with a smile on your face! You are truly Living Life with Fierce Grace.
Find out what makes her tick….
What brought you to yoga? For how long have you been practicing?
I’ve been doing FG since the Studio opened in Brixton (Dec 2014), prior to that I did Bikram (a little less regularly) , which I started in 2009 and prior to that I did other random yoga classes (but not a regular practice).
And how have you been finding Fierce Grace
I love it. I love the variety of the classes and I love the studio.
What made you decide to do a 30 Day Challenge?
I came back to London after having been away for a lot of the Summer, having done hardly any exercise. I’d put on weight and felt very unfit, and wanted to change that and challenge myself.
How have you been finding it? Have you noticed a change in your practice?
Really great, tough dragging myself out of bed some mornings (early morning is the only time I can really fit in classes) but once I’ve finished class I feel brilliant. The change in my practice has been slow but I am beginning to notice the difference.
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?
Absolutely. It’s fantastic to have the option of fix for those days when I’m short on time and I love that class. I also hadn’t really tried Deep Core before the challenge but am beginning to really like that class too and find it’s brilliant after having done a couple of days of Classic or FG, and I weirdly find this class tougher. I’ve tried wild too and liked that, but not quite ready for the Beast yet!
Do you have a favourite class?
From a purely practical point of view I love fix, as I’m always rushing around but I do love FG too. I especially like having music.
What is your favourite pose and why? And what is your most challenging?
I like Camel, although it’s challenging it has such an immediate impact. Challenging – well loads – big to stretch, froggie, side crow…
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?
We’ve been in Brixton since 2014, but were in Stockwell before this so were in the area. In terms of things to do…I think we are really lucky in Brixton with loads of great eating and drinking places around the market and at Pop now, and also some great haunts locally for us up Brixton hill. The cinema is fantastic, and I have a 5 year old, so we spend alot of time at Brockwell park.
Anything else to add…
Just thanks to all the crew at Fierce Grace Brixton. All the staff are amazing, it really is the friendliest studio I’ve attended!
Thanks so much Teresa and keep up your excellent work!
Release the grip of your Ego during class by following these simple, self-awareness steps.
Embrace the good and the bad days. Sometimes the last thing you want it to leave Netflix, central heating and chips and get yourself down to the studio. We know, we feel it too! But often they are the most rewarding classes; when you don’t really feel like it, you leave your chatterbox behind and boom, head up, knees locked, stomach in – it’s a rewarding class.
You are not your ego. You’re not in competition with yourself or anyone else. Ah yes, the wandering eye in the mirror checking out what someone else is doing, how low their Eagle posture sinks, or how impressive their bind looks. Practice is for you at your own speed and pace and experience.
Compare = Despair.Don’t judge or compare. You could balance longer yesterday, but today your body is doing something different – that’s ok, it might even mean that you can go even deeper into another posture. Surprise yourself. You don’t always know which postures are going to feel like a second skin and which ones will leave you hanging.
Let yourself fail. It’s on our FG poster, right? Laugh trying. We mean it. Fall on your face in crow pose, slide out of dancer like Bambi on ice; its how we learn where our daily limits are and how we become friends with our body.
Be grateful. You were kept late at work, someone is in your favourite mat space, your forgot clean pants, yeah a bit rubbish, but in the grand scheme of things – it’s all ok. Be grateful for the class, for the teacher, for the focus, for your strong legs and determination for getting to class like trooper. Be grateful for yourself. Don’t be your own enemy.
Listen to yourself. Give yourself permission to rest when needed, let your body adjust and develop at your own pace, practice proper alignment before depth, listen carefully to the teacher’s corrections and always try to leave your ego at the door. You never know, it might just lead to a breakthrough!
It’s all about gratitude this month, inspired as we are at this time of year by the harvest festival and the sheer abundance of crops we enjoy in the UK. We have been scrumping, brambling, crumbling, preserving, chutney-ing and making various fruit gins to our hearts content!
Gratitude is a central part of a yoga practice, so here’s five things we are grateful for at Fierce Grace Brixton – let us know what you are feeling grateful for….
YOU. Awww, schmaltzy maybe, but so true, we never fail to be grateful for the wonderful members that make this studio such a friendly, happy place to practice.
We are also grateful for your personal hygiene, your thoughtfulness to other members, your not using aerosols in the changing rooms, your turning up dressed appropriately, your cleanliness, and most of all for your turning up to your classes on time, so as not to disrupt everyone else. Keep up the sterling work!
The Fierce Grace system and Michele Pernetta, who created this perfectly formed system of interlinked classes, have both created a fierce yoga practice that works, for balance, for strength and flexibility, and for living life with Fierce Grace. We are grateful for the fact that it continues to challenge us, keeps us hot and keeps us mindful.
Our staff. The teachers who share their knowledge with such passion, and who encourage us to do our best, work our hardest, and understand our bodies and our minds in a whole new way. The cheerful, lovely reception team and those excellent members who volunteer to help us clean mats, clear the studio and support the team.
The studio space itself. We have practiced in some pretty awful studio spaces, and hot yoga studios can be the worst, but we hope you agree that Fierce Grace Brixton is a pretty decent space to spend time, learn and grow.
Nope, not a blog post about the clocks changing, but a brand new type of membership we are introducing at Fierce Grace Brixton. For just £69 a month the Daylight Savings membership will give you access to any class starting between 10am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Yes my friend, you heard that right. £69 a month.
Why? We know our neck of the woods here in South London is knee-deep in freelancers, creative types, and people who work nights (Brixton’s nighttime economy is the epitome of booming), as well as parents whose only hope of exercising is when the kids are at school.
And it’s no swizz. The schedule at Fierce Grace Brixton is packed with options. There are at least two classes on weekdays which fall into this time slot; one at 10am and one around lunchtime, so whether you come after you drop the kids off at school, or take a class before starting your afternoon’s work you can really get your moneys worth.
According to Wiki, Winston Churchill argued that daylight savings enlarged “the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people who live in this country.” We’re with Winston.
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.
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 that made the biggest difference; like hooking my right foot behind my left calf in Eagle without falling over felt like a breakthrough moment.
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.
As someone prone to anxiety, by far the biggest benefit for me committing to practicing yoga every day was how I felt mentally and emotionally. 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!
We meet Lila, our reception and marketing gal who’s recently been working with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
What have you been up to recently?
I’ve just returned from performing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Royal Shakespeare Company; I’m an actor as well as FGB employee!
We toured 11 venues in the UK, as well as performing at the legendary RST in Stratford Upon Avon and Barbican in London. It was a real bucket list job – the RSC is a company I’ve always wanted to work with and the experience definitely lived up to its expectations. I even managed to get a Blue Peter badge along the way!
How did you find Yoga on tour?
To be honest, it was tricky to find a studio that offered the variety and quality at FG and teamed with the fact that our rehearsal/ performing schedule was pretty demanding; “A Play for the Nation” meant we had a band new set of actors playing the rude mechanicals and 30 children playing Titania’s fairy train every week in each new city. In fact the total number of people involved in the production came to 682 – which is pretty incredible when you think about it!
What are your tips for maintaining Yoga while travelling?
We travelled 3882 miles over 6 months, so becoming portable is pretty up there! I’d do yoga backstage while another scene was going through its technical rehearsal or sometimes in the quiet room in the attic of the RST. A towel can easily double as a yoga mat if your suitcase (like mine) was majorly limited for space.
Most cities have gyms as standard, where I’d sneak off to the mats and do some yoga. Some of the best studios I found were: a Hot Yoga studio in Norwich, then a beautiful converted warehouse studio in Belfast and a pint size warm studio in Truro, Cornwall where I learned that I hyper-extend my knees and should focus on lifting the kneecap in balancing postures.
There were others where I didn’t feel very welcome as I wasn’t a ‘regular’ on a block booking, these classes weren’t great and I really missed the freedom and frequency of Fierce Grace.
How did yoga help you maintain performance stamina?
Doing 8 shows, 1 full day technical rehearsal, 3 technical rehearsals with different fairy children and often extra rehearsal for special performances such as British Sign Language (BSL) or for an understudy role – every week, was pretty challenging and I needed to eat a lot and stretch out before/ after a performance. There was also the occasional back stage plank-off with other members of the cast… which I can now confirm is difficult in a corset!
Many of the theatres we performed in were on a rake, where the stage is on a slope, upstage being higher than downstage, so we had to take extra special care of our knees and hamstrings. I’d always incorporate extended side angle, wide-legged forward bend, tree, deep squats and wheel into my warm ups to protect myself from any rake-damage…and I finally mastered crow pose!
Any other elements of class that help you with performance?
The mindfulness side of Yoga is incredibly helpful as a performer: from dealing with nerves to finding peace with rejection when you don’t get the job.
Early in the run, during the physical warm-up – I was told that I was going on as an Understudy for a role I’d hadn’t finished rehearsing. Panic! The show was a bit of an out of body experience, but I made sure I did a little meditation in my dressing room before going onstage and thanks to the support of everyone around – it all went well!
We know that Warrior III into Airplane arms is great for balance and core. When we’ve mastered it – it can feel as free as flying!
If you’re actually flying this month (see what we did there!) whether long haul or short haul, the combination of sitting for a long period of time, air conditioning and carrying heavy luggage can take its tole on the body – just when you want to be your best for adventures or relaxing by the pool.
We’ve been looking into how you can take Fierce Grace into the air, increase circulation, avoid deep vein thromboses and practice yoga while you travel.
Seated Spinal Twist
To stretch out the spine, sit up tall, grab the sides of your seat, twist to the left and right and hold for a few seconds each side. Then try using your left arm to grab the right side of the seat and extend, lifting your spine and chest to twist your head to look further back over your shoulder. Give the person behind you a little smile!
Modified Eagle Pose
Usually done standing, but this modification is great to open up between the shoulder-blades: put your hands up in front of your face, then cross the arms at the elbows, cross your forearms and wind palms until your wrists touch, then finally lift the arms up slowly.
On your way to the bathroom, try out some mini lunges. Holding the lunge in a modified version of a Warrior I pose to fit the small space can also work the hips, legs and calves.
You can modify popular poses like cat and cow (done on your hands and knees) and do them while standing or sitting instead. Just bend your knees and place your hands slightly above your knees. Then alternate between rounding your spine like a dome (cat) and curving it like an arch (cow). Place your hands on your thighs and as you inhale, tilt your pelvis and abdomen outward and allow your chest to arch up and forward. As you exhale, curl your pelvis inwards and backwards, arching your spine outwards, lower your chin as your chest moves inwards.
This standing pose in which you place the sole of one foot against the inner thigh of your other leg and raise your arms to your chest or over your head (you can use a wall by the bathroom for balance), can open up tight hips and relieve lower back pain. A small price to pay for the possible eyebrow raise from another passenger – they’re probably thinking it’s a great idea!
If you’re an anxious traveller, focus back to the breath to find peace within the body. Take a deep breath through your nose; allow your chest and core to fill up with air. On the exhale, lips are sealed and throat is slightly constricted creating a small hissing noise. Make the same sound on the inhale and continue for 1 minute.
This month we meet one of our teachers who knows a thing or two about travel, as his non-yoga alter ego is a full time flight attendant.
What brought you to yoga and what about it made you stay?
I’ve always been interested in fitness & exercise, and so a few years ago, like many others, I decided to try out the phenomenon that was Bikram yoga. Straightaway I was fascinated by it; trying to use my body in a different way, becoming so much more aware of it, understanding its capabilities and limitations, all simply by striking a pose on a mat. Not long afterwards, I discovered Fierce Grace, and I loved it even more – I found it to be a much better fit for me. In terms of attitude, variety, humour, and approach, I knew immediately that my yoga had found a new permanent home.
Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?
I don’t think teaching yoga is something to take up on a whim. I spent a long time deciding whether or not to train. Teaching (anything) is a humbling and rewarding experience, and should always be approached as such. Too many times I’ve been in yoga classes whose teachers are disinterested, or overpowering, or serious, or massaging their egos, or ignorant of the varying abilities in the class. All of these qualities only serve to turn people away. So I wanted show that yoga can be taught without any of these things, but with quite the opposite; playfulness, alignment, professionalism, passion. And above all, a sense of humour.
You’ve recently started to teach Wild at Brixton – what do you like about Wild? Why would you recommend it to members?
I love Wild because it’s tough. But still satisfyingly so. I think yoga or exercise or fitness of any type NEEDS to be challenging – this works your body, maintains your interest, and suggests ongoing improvement. Wild definitely offers all this. Throughout the class there’s usually groans of pain, sighs of relief (and disbelief!), and even the odd smile…!
Also, back on the issue of trying to get more men into yoga, I think Wild helps to address this through its format – a brilliant yoga/bodyweight/cardio crossover. Wild offers a more strength-based repetition-style workout, which still uses yoga influence & techniques, which I think is more appealing to men with little yoga experience/background.
So for men AND women I’d recommend trying Wild for the variety it offers.
As a flight attendant, can you share your ‘Top Tips For A Good Flight’?
I’ve flown long-haul for many years now, so I’ve seen people have good flights… and bad flights! A lot of it comes down to preparedness – physical and mental. Especially for longer flights, I’d try to be at least a little prepared; take water and snacks, load your iPad with things to read and watch, be aware of the flight length AND time change.
On board, just try to take things in your stride – sharing a confined space with other people for a prolonged time is going to push your buttons at some point. Like a busy yoga class!
Long-haul flying isn’t always a pleasant experience, but you can make it much easier on your body & mind by approaching it well. Arriving at a destination I ALWAYS try to stay with the sun – if it’s light, try to stay awake, then try to wind down and sleep when it goes dark. I find my body responds better to light/dark triggers than anything else.
Which Yoga Poses do you recommend when flying?
In terms of yoga on boardspace is very limited – unless you’re sitting further forwards! Neck stretching is an easy ad obvious exercise – side to side, and rolling forwards. Gentle spine twisting when seated is something I do on board. Also a quick Standing Pigeon hip stretch each side, maybe while waiting for the washroom!
When trying to battle jetlag post-flight, try calming postures which work into the hips after sitting for so long, like Half Tortoise, Reclining Pigeon, full Pigeon.
What’s on your Fierce Grace playlist?
I love the use of music in a yoga class, I think it can really enhance it. But… it can also detract from it too! Mismatched or obscure music during class can really spoil the experience.
I have four different playlists I use for the FG class, but I’m always looking for music to help me create more! I’ll hear a tune, anywhere, and think “Oh that would be perfect for Sun Salutation!”, or for the abs section, or for the final 4 postures. So my playlists include disco, to 80s, to recent, to RnB, to chill-out, and more.
I teach Wild too, which is faster paced than Classic or FG, so that definitely calls for an upbeat playlist – keeping you motivated when your muscles are starting to scream at you! For that I use some ‘happy house’, some 80s retro, and a couple of my own discoveries.