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
Fierce Grace Brixton member, Clare Duggan practiced right up until the day before she gave birth! How’s that for motivation in February?
We chatted to Clare about her favourite postures whilst pregnant and what kept her coming back to Fierce Grace throughout. Did you know that yoga and being healthier, both in mind and body can actually help some women through their pregnancy with minimal discomfort?
Here’s what Clare has to say:
I fell into Fierce Grace Yoga after having been a regular Bikram practitioner for many years at the City studio, which subsequently evolved into a Fierce Grace studio. Having always found the heated practice a good way to keep niggling injuries at bay and enable me to continue to run and partake in more high impact exercise, Fierce Grace in addition offered more class variation making for a more interesting practice with extra benefits.
I couldn’t have been more delighted when Fierce Grace opened in Brixton, as having had my first baby and being on maternity leave, I was unable to get to the Old Street studio easily or quickly so wasn’t anticipating being able to return to practice until I returned to work in the city.
As with my first pregnancy, I practised through the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of my recent pregnancy and am sure this has kept me healthy, sane and able to keep active right up to when my waters broke (on my bike funnily enough) on the 17th January 2017. I had done a Fix class with Lisa Hood that same morning so maybe that hurried the birth along. My daughter Hettie May was born in the wee hours of the 18th January.
The main classes I practised throughout my pregnancy were Fix and Deep Core but that was more to do with the times I could get to class than anything else. I enjoyed the sets as a sequence but some of the postures I found most beneficial over this period were pigeon (all shapes and forms), down dog and dragon pose. I think that was as they were targeting areas where I was experiencing more tightness than usual. I was lucky that the Brixton FG teachers were so supportive and helped with any necessary modifications to my practice and I still had the energy to enjoy and practice regularly.
Providing my 10 week post-baby medical check-up is positive, I’d like to return to Fierce Grace classes again at that point. The main challenge will be timing classes around my daughter’s feed times. She has an insatiable appetite at the moment so we’re pretty much joined at the hip!
It’d be great to try some of the newer classes I haven’t yet had the opportunity to practise and develop my practice further. It may take a little while to stop doing the modifications I’ve been taught whilst pregnant so am sure there’ll be some corrections to be made over the coming months but I’m really looking forward to getting back to full fitness and enjoying a bit of me time, as well as catching up with all the lovely folk who work and practise at Brixton Fierce Grace studio.
At FGB, we love having such a variety of members at our studio at all stages of their lives.
We look forward to welcoming Clare back soon!
Live Life with Fierce Grace
More on the benefits of yoga in pregnancy from Michele Pernetta
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!
FG owner, Katie explains all about her unique Cakes & Shakes event and the benefits of protein high snacks…
Did you know you can bake amazing cakes with protein powder?
Its hard to believe how versatile whole food protein in powder form can be; along with your coconut oil or cocoa nibs, they’ve swiftly become staples of the new-clean eating kitchen cupboard in many families!
The protein powder we choose here at FGB is a vegan, super food made from yellow split pea, cranberry and brown rice protein. It’s clean, it’s pure, it’s gluten free, dairy free, whey free and nut free and there are no artificial sweeteners, colourings and preservatives in there either. We have our fridge stocked with our ready mixed “to go” version – for your ease straight after a class, and there’s also individual 20 grams servings sachets to blend yourself at home.
Whats more, it’s packed with 20 essential vitamins and minerals, it has a full amino acid count – which is rare to find in any plant based or vegan food, making it a delicious nutritious power-packed meal. When made as a smoothie or a cake snack it will carry you through breaks and dips in energy when you need a neat homemade superfood treat.
Why do we need protein?
In all meals you should aim to balance 20 grams of protein; whether your a vegan, pescetarian or meat eater, along with leafy greens, some of your five a day fruit and vegetables and little whole food carbohydrate – preferably slow releasing (i.e. brown rice rather than white, sweet potato rather than white potato etc). In fact, you’ll need this combination even more so after a yoga class or workout, as it’s been proven that 20 grams of easily digestible protein within 1 hour of exercise restores muscle repair and growth, prevents tears and can even illuminate those pesky achy muscles!
What is this power-packed Recipe?
All you need is a couple of eggs, almond or rice milk and some protein powder, plus a sprinkle of your favourite extra, I use cranberries. What I’s like to add is that mostly people use their protein powder for shakes or smoothies, which is a great way to combine with your super greens, berries, flax and nuts (not your husband’s!) to make a great meal after yoga, but sometimes you want something you can bite into, and this is where the protein powder is genius for baking.
Using a large fork mix all of the following ingredients in a medium bowl:
-4 scoops Arbonne Meal Replacement Shake mix (vanilla)
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 cup egg whites
-1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Spray muffin tin with cooking oil spray and pour batter, filling each tin about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until golden on top. Yum!
On Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th, we join Katie, FG owner and resident protein lover in the studio, sharing recipes, cakes and free samples for you to try and buy all at 20% off this weekend ONLY.
A clean eating role model for us all, Katie has spent over half her life living gluten and dairy free, discovering many great and varied ways to eat well and this in turn saved her from the diagnosis of a crippling disease, Endometriosis. She is happy to answer questions on a wide range of health spectrum and also including ways to Live Life with Fierce Grace.
RSVP to reserve your cake!
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.
After a glorious Valentine’s Day at the Fierce Grace Brixton studio with Nina’s Partner Stretching class, we’re certainly in the mood for love this February; for our Teacher Spotlight this month we have the lovely Lisa Hong! Lisa got engaged to fellow Fierce Grace teacher Adam Willoughby at the end of last year. We are in awe of their fitness-filled schedule! We thought it would be a great opportunity to learn a little more about how Fierce Grace yoga supports an active lifestyle…
Congratulations on your engagement! We know you and Adam met through yoga – it must be great to partner up with someone in the same industry, do you guys work out together?
Adam and I met four years ago at the Fierce Grace studio in Old Street. He worked on reception and I had just got back from a Hot Yoga training. Two years into our relationship we decided to do the Fierce Grace yoga training together.
Do you guys train together?
We practice yoga together at the weekends and I go to Adam’s Thai Boxing classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Work It London.
We know you’re quite a gym bunny, what other exercise do you do?
Alongside teaching yoga I practice yoga twice a week, Thai boxing twice a week and follow a strength-training program that I do five times a week.
Also a Fierce Grace teacher, Adam manages a gym also. How does yoga fit into his lifestyle? Does it help his training?
Adam started professional Thai boxing 12 years ago and has been practicing hot yoga now for over 8 years. Yoga is the perfect complement to his Thai boxing! He fits in at least 4 sessions a week to keep mobile and calm him from the high intensity, high impact gym training.
How did you first come to yoga and what about it made you stay?
I started practicing around six years ago to relieve my stresses as a stylist. I initially loved that it made me lose weight! Plus the amazing effects after class of making me feel so present kept me coming back.
What’s your favourite pose and why? What do you find most challenging?
My favourite posture is Standing Head To Knee. It’s a challenge but the pure pleasure of total control coming into and out of the balance makes me feel a sense of achievement each and every single time. When I do fall out it makes me feel human.
My most challenging posture is Spine Compass. You can tell a lot about a person from Spine Compass such as how hard they will work for the rest of the practice. The mental challenge of going into it slowly but strong and holding can set your entire class.
Any tips for beginners?
My tips for beginners are the same for advanced:
And take it slow
Learn to enjoy your moment
Lisa teaches Fierce Grace and Classic at the Fierce Grace Brixton studio. Come and enjoy your moment with her for her regular 10am Classic class on Mondays and keep an eye on the schedule www.fiercegracebrixton.co.uk/schedule Congratulations to our power-house dynamic duo Lisa and Adam!
It’s really, truly Autumn now: the time of year when the clocks have gone back and you want to stay indoors with a mug of hot chocolate!
How many of you enjoyed that extra hour on Sunday? It’s easy to forget about and turn up an hour early for everything – maybe even our FG class!
How does the body adapt to the day-light saving time change? It would seem that gaining an hour is easier to absorb than losing an hour in the Springtime. By changing the time, we are resetting our 24-hour natural cycle, or circadian rhythm; “circa” (about) “dian” (a day). A good rule of thumb, even for time changes in air travel, is that it takes one day to adjust for every hour of time lost or gained.
Why do we have daylight-saving time? Since we live in a country where there are large shifts between Summer and Winter daylight hours, we love the extra sunlight in Summer, spending it outside in the park (or in beer gardens!), giving that extra hour in Springtime means we can enjoy longer evenings. Similarly, when we ‘Fall Back’ and gain an hour in Autumn, we have lighter, brighter mornings to help us out of bed and darker evenings, to set us up for winter hibernation. Economically, the extra daylight was also used to save costs on energy, fuel and candles.
Here are some great tips to help you stay balanced:
Expose yourself to plenty of light. When it starts to get dark out early, turn on the lights around the house, he says, to remind your brain that it’s not quite time for bed. Get outside during the day, maybe during your lunch break, for natural light. If it’s too cold, open your blinds to at least let some sunshine into your home.
Exercise late. Typically, experts don’t recommend working out too close to bedtime, but a late-afternoon or early-evening sweat session can help keep you energised during those dreary evenings.
Try light therapy. You could try buying a small box to keep on your desk at the office, or for women to turn one on while putting on makeup in the morning. The gadget mimics natural sunlight, so a regular lamp won’t do the trick.
Enjoy the light mornings!
Fierce Grace presents WILD, a new, multi-system, cardio yoga workout unlike any other, designed by Michele Pernetta, one of the UK’s top yoga-fitness gurus. Few classes bridge the gap between conventional gym workouts and yoga, but WILD, a weightless gym, manages to fire up the body with the strengthening benefits of weight training, non-stop movement of cardio and the muscle lengthening and alignment of yoga, all in a dynamic one hour class.
Based on a unique structure of modern/ancient exercises from Martial Arts, Kundalini Yoga, Ballet Conditioning, Qi Gong, Physiotherapy, resistance stretching, HIIT and Super Slow along with strength conditioning. Simple functional movements allow the body to make it’s own micro adjustments to loosen, tone and integrate safely.
Experience WILD at one of our upcoming FREE taster classes:
- City – 5PM Wednesday, 14 October with Gwen* – BOOK
- City – 7PM Wednesday, 14 October with Michele Pernetta* – FULLY BOOKED
- West – 6PM Thursday, 15 October with Michele Pernetta* – FULLY BOOKED
- Primrose Hill – 6:45PM 21 October with Gwen* – FULLY BOOKED
- Brixton – 2-3pm 31 October. BOOK
- Taster session are FREE but they must be pre-booked.
After this initial taster session, FG Brixton will be scheduling a WILD class every Saturday in November at 2-3pm. Like our other classes, Wild will be included in your FG package. So there’s no reason not to come along! As ever, we welcome feedback from our classes and hope you enjoy the challenge.
WILD was specifically designed by Michele Pernetta to bring cardio fitness and build stamina, core power and strength, along with yogic breathing to help oxygenate the entire body and purify and balance the nervous system.
Michele explains “I wanted to develop a class that targeted strength, oxygenation and stamina, while remaining in the arena of yoga wisdom. Many cardio activities can wear out the joints. This new, dynamic class speeds up the development of building long lean muscle, core stability, cardio fitness and helps prepare the body for every expression, whether it be yoga, the gym, sports or just living a fun, active life”.
WILD is a new approach to improve your general overall fitness, help build strength, stamina, mobility and burn serious calories, whilst sculpting every inch of your body. It is nothing short of transformational. We can vouch for the positive effects it can have on muscle tone, overall fitness, vitality, flexibility, injury prevention AND skin.
Suitable for all levels, except the lazy…
WILD classes launch at City, West, Hothouse and Primrose Hill on 2 November. The schedule will be announced shortly.
*Please note WILD will be replacing the classes regularly scheduled at the above times. At Fierce Grace City the 5PM class on 21 Oct will be switched to a Fierce Grace class (hot) and the 15 Oct 20:30 class at Primrose Hill will be switched to a Fierce Grace (Hot) class to accommodate anyone that may not wish to attend a WILD tasters.
Yoga Nidra is an ancient yoga practice, a systematic form of guided relaxation. It is also called yoga sleep but it is actually a state between sleeping and waking. It restores our body, senses and mind to their natural function. Regular practitioners say it often brings immediate physical benefits, even after the first class. It helps to reduce stress, improve sleep, lower blood pressure and it has the potential to heal psychological wounds.
In a typical Yoga Nidra session, Nina will guide you through several stages, setting intention, Sankalpa, then you learn to focus your awareness on your breath, bodily sensations, emotions and thoughts. Going on a gentle journey through your body and mind, allowing you to reach the most profound level of relaxation possible. It is a very simple practice, asking you to let go and surrender.
Yoga Nidra after the 3.30pm Classic class is a fabulous way to cool down, relax and let go. The strong Yang postures in the Classic class need a calming counterbalance, and what better than an hour of yoga Nidra! It is also a nice way to prepare yourself for a calming Deep core class at 7pm, taught by Nina, deep relaxation will energise and calm the mind, focusing more and letting your body go deeper into the postures. The benefits of Yoga Nidra are cumulative, the more you do it, the more you benefit.
Nina has been practicing and teaching yoga since 1998. Nidra has always been a soothing balance to the different styles she teaches and practices and is very keen to to broaden and deepen understanding and experience of Yoga Nidra in its totality, join her on a on the second Sunday every month on the transforming, healing and awakening practice of Yoga Nidra. Don’t forget your eye masks, cushions and blankets!
“I liked learning about the connectedness of my body, the atmosphere and Nina’s instruction.”
“It had a massive impact on me.”
“I feel completely relaxed and instead of trying to block everything out I have embraced thinking about the things I need to.”
“Nina is a superb teacher – she did an excellent job of leading us through the process. I achieved a state of deep relaxation – I’d love to do it again.”
Sunday 5.30-6.30pm on: 13th September, 11th October, 8th November and 13th December
£12.50 per class or £40 for all four
To believe that yoga is just for the body is to miss a world of experience and pleasure; an opportunity to process emotions, burn off mental anxiety or to enjoy the freedom of mindlessness… says Fierce Grace founder Michele Pernetta.
In my years of observing practitioners go through the myriad of feelings, thoughts and sensations that arise in their yoga practice, I have come to this conclusion:
Alpha types, high achievers and the very fit, often like to ram and cram, push, confront, struggle and strain, and they tend to avoid any “softer” more internal classes, that might get them in touch with how they feel. If this is you, those are the classes you need occasionally – to balance you and connect you with the parts of yourself you are out of touch with and actively avoiding! Although having a lot of energy and willpower is wonderful, if you only practice this way you could become insensitive, disconnected from your feelings, angry and hard, and tire out your nervous system.
On the other hand, unfit, lazy or weak people whose energy may be low, tend to be attracted to easier, softer classes, where they can carry on resting, not engaging their force, and not risking confrontation with anything uncomfortable or demanding. But if this is your tendency, you actually need to go into the uncomfortable, disciplined or challenging classes to balance yourself and develop your male energy, get fitter and develop your willpower and strengthen your nervous system. If you never challenge yourself you could end up getting weaker, overweight, and unable to meet life’s challenges with the feeling you have a strong “backbone”.
I was so alpha that any soft class, with breath or “going within” used to make me impatient and angry. If that’s you, get into what that actually is – isn’t it interesting?! Your fire is looking for things to burn, but it may just burn you if you aren’t mindful of it. More sensitive types can find challenge upsetting and frightening, they close down, “feel sick”, get too hot, leave the room, make excuses. Look at this refusal to accept the challenge of life. Be patient with yourself, but don’t succumb to this weakness. Life will not treat you gently so you may as well confront some difficulty and work on getting stronger in the safety of a yoga class.
So go out of your comfort zone a little and get curious about the things you avoid, they might be what could balance you!