Tag Archives: fitness

Forming that habit

It is said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. No coincidence that our Introductory Offer also lasts for 21 days. It’s almost as if we planned it that way!

We encourage our new members to practice unlimited classes during this Introductory period and make the most of our full schedule. This gives you the opportunity to experience the full spectrum of our Fierce Grace System:series of postures which are designed to compliment each other, building strength, alignment and flexibility.

These 21 days might involve learning to touch your toes, figuring out what time of day suits your practice best, which classes support what you want to achieve or mastering side crow – everyone it different!

At Fierce Grace Brixton we embrace everyone at all stages of their practice, whatever you are working on. Naturally, this is also reflected in our classes: SOB for new members and those with injuries or who want go “go back to basics”; FG for a user-friendly challenge, enjoying the graceful and fluid movement of your body and mind from one posture to next set to music; Classic for concentration and focus – a linear stretch, working deeply on alignment, building a solid base; Deep Core to explore your Yin side, opening up those hips, releasing tension and pressure in joints; FG2 for an explorative expression; Fix for a burst of energy – a “pick me up”; and then Fierce (aka The Beast) for intermediate/ advanced students who want to take their practice to the next level – not to forget late night Deep Core Dark to deeply relax and calm the mind and spirit, ready for the night ahead in preparation for the day ahead.

Here are some tips to forming that new habit: 

1 Pick just one habit to form at a time. Streamlining is key here. It’s tempting to write a long list, but start simple and specific, like ‘I’d like to build my core strength’.

2 Start small. Set a ridiculously small goal to start and your motivation will sky rocket.

3 Forget performance, only focus on starting. Turn off the chatterbox and focus on yourself being in the moment. The FGB staff love Yoga Nidra on Sunday 5.30pm and Tuesday 5pm – it’s the perfect chance to switch off and calm the mind.

5 Have a plan for failure. Everyone has bad days, and just because you fell over in tree pose, don’t mean endgame for your yoga practice. After all, who hasn’t been in a class where a someone has fallen over? Embrace it – it happens to us all.

6 Enjoy yourself and reward your achievement. Work on habits that make you feel good and when it goes well – give yourself a ‘gold star’! Maybe treat yourself to a new yoga mat, clothes for class (I always do a great class with new leggings on!) or something delicious from Brixton Village.

Chances are if you’re reading this – you’ve already begun, but if you’re still thinking about it… we say go for it. Traditionally January is the time to start anew, but February is a month full of love, change and motivation.

Live Life with Fierce Grace

Click here for more on our classes and how they compliment each other.

Our new manager, Serena!

Meet our New Studio Manager – Serena Sabala

 

Filling the shoes of Sophie Munson is no small feat, but our new studio manager Serena Sabala is looking forward to getting to know everyone over the coming weeks as she settles in. We thought you’d like to know a bit more about her…

 

Moving to London from Italy in 2005 for a career in fashion sales, she started Bikram yoga classes in 2008 and fell in love with it, becoming a teacher in 2012. After meeting her husband while travelling and teaching she lived in the US for a couple of years where she first managed a yoga studio and realised this was a role that combined both her corporate skills and her passion for yoga.

 

I love being able to put my organisational and managerial skills to work in a yoga related environment. I love teaching yoga but as I teacher I felt like some of the skills I had developed during my many years of corporate work weren’t being put to use (and I did enjoy using them!); managing a studio allows me to do that within a context that resonates to me more than anything.

 

From my previous experience I have learnt that managing a studio requires a very wide and varied skill set. There are so many different aspects to the business (from customer service to staff management, budgeting, marketing and maintenance of the premises), most of which actually have very little to do with the yoga itself. I have to continuously remind myself that the ultimate goal still is to maintain a space where people can come in and change their life around, inside and out, for the better through the practice of yoga.”

 

We know how special Fierce Grace Brixton in so we asked her what she will be bringing to the party:

 

Fierce Grace Brixton is already a well established and thriving community. The aim is for it to always be a place where the staff LOVE to come into work and members feel at home. The struggles we sometimes face in the day to day running of the business should never take away from a fun, laid back yet professional atmosphere we want to create and maintain for all those involved. 

 

I try to never forget the higher purpose and to never lose a greater perspective: my life has changed and improved in ways I can’t even begin to explain thanks to the practice of yoga and to be able to now pass this gift onto others is worth all the hard work it takes.”

 

Sounds like Serena is pretty much the right woman for the job! We ended our chat with asking her to share something of her life philosophy with us. “In life, very much like in yoga, progress is not linear: some days feel like you’ve gone forward ten steps, others feel like you’re suddenly going back. I always try and remind myself that, as long as I’m doing my best, I can be assured that I’m moving forward. Maybe not at the pace that I’d like but there’s a lot to learn from what look like set backs or challenges.”

 

Putting your back into it: FG for a healthy back

Putting Your Back Into It – Fierce Grace For a Healthy Back

It might be a cliché, but it is a busy, stressful time of year. Its easy to get caught up in the fun and the drama, but we can rush around and forget to take care of ourselves.  Fierce Grace Brixton co-owner, Katie, did just that when she hurt her back doing a quick, sharp movement while not being fully aware of her body.

After being in agony for weeks, Katie says that she’s now learned a lot about herself. It might not come as a surprise that yoga has helped in her recovery. To assist her recovery she came to FG 5 days a week. The results…? She claims her back has been healed by FG!

Heat and posture sequences, particularly Classic and Core have been life saving!”

We advise you see a medical professional to ensure you are doing what is best for you – not all back pains are the same! But if exercise is part of the prescription, here are Katie’s fierce tips for working with back pain.

  1. Rub Tiger Balm on aching muscles before going into the hot room. The menthol works deep into the muscle for extra relief (don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards to avoid stinging eyes!) A great tip from FG teacher, Gwen.
  2. Let the teacher know you’ve got an injury. Our teachers are trained to know the correct modifications for injury – let them guide you.
  3. Be aware of what your body is telling you. Listen to your body completely. Use your breath, don’t push it and breathe into the full posture.
  4. Avoid forward bends. Instead of floor bow, turn onto your back and slide up into bridge pose. Try to pull the stomach muscles in while stretching – this helps support the back and engages the core.
  5. Be kind to yourself and REST. Katie used a heated lavender pillow under her back at night. This heat and extra support helped feel more comfortable and get a good nights sleep!

 

Strike a Pose: Paula Cronin explores Side Crow

This month we discover Posture Secrets from FG Teacher Paula Cronin.

Paula is a regular teacher on a Monday morning and evening. She’s the one setting you off for the week ahead with that oh-my-goodness-it’s-so-dark-outside 6.30am FG class. We thank you Paula!

 

Posture: Side Crow – Eka Pada Koudinyasana. (Arm balance or Circus trick?!)

BenefitsArm and hand strengthening. Upper body strength. Balance. Lower spine flexibility.

Side crow was always my nemesis.  It was the one pose I couldn’t do in the whole FG integrated system.  I always figured that it was because of my knee injury or due to my thoracic outlet syndrome.  I tried, but didn’t get it and felt very frustrated in the posture.

However, I first did Side Crow in my FG teacher training.  We were doing one of our many posture workshops, and even though I was really scared (and quite frankly ashamed), I got up in front of everyone to admit this was a posture I had never managed to do.  Then in front of everyone Michele talked me through it: I did everything she said (and it truly is all about the set up), I took my time, and I was in. Not only was I in my first ever Side Crow, but I STAYED in, for like, ages!  I even remember looking up at Michele while I was holding the posture, and mouthing an expletive which could, for the purposes of this piece, be described as ‘Wow!’ I even cried. I will never forget it. 

I see so many students in every FG class struggling in the same way and the chatterboxes in their heads are winning; “this is too hard, I’ll never be able to do this, oh this is for the advanced yogis, I will fall, I will embarrass myself, who do I think I am thinking I can do Side Crow.”  Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the most “I’ll just sit this one out” posture around. To be honest, I used to do the very same thing as I thought I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to do it, that it was ‘too advanced’ for me.

But the truth is  – everyone can do Side Crow (of course as long as injuries such as wrist strain don’t contraindicate it). 

So it is important to listen to the teacher and follow instructions step by step.  If one step is missed out, the set up is incomplete and it won’t come together.  I see lots of people trying to get into it before setting up properly.  This just causes frustration, disappointment, and a misconceived belief that the pose isn’t for them.

So here we go – The Setup

Firstly, the key part of making Side Crow work – is having the forearms vertical. You are, in a sense, creating an upper arm shelf and moving the weight onto the vertical forearms; a bit like resting on a table or chair. 

– Ground the base of the knuckles down into the floor (like crow claws!)
– Bend your elbows to create a vertical shelf with your forearms to take the weight
– Lift your hips high to drop your knees on top of the elbows
– Look forward
– Lift you legs!
Mindful set up.

Mindful movement.

Successful Side Crow!

So next time you are taking the Fierce Grace class don’t hesitate to ask the teacher to assist in giving it  try – it’s easier done than said!

Leave your Ego at the door

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!

What are you grateful for?

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.

So thank you everyone!

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Feel the Fierce!

You’ve seen it on the schedule. You’ve thought about it… twice. You were on your way and then found a burning desire to go to Wahaca on Saturday instead. You’re not sure you’ll be good at it. What if everyone can get their leg behind their head? What if everyone else is levitating when you arrive???

Now, it’s time to zip up that chatterbox and step outside your comfort zone. The worst that can happen is you fall over laughing! (I did)

Fierce is a wonderful sequence of postures, which are accessible to all, but take your practice to the next level, with fun and laughter along the way. If you’re new to it – Fierce is a friendly, safe place where you can try postures out for the first time and learn the developments of poses from other classes. If you’re experienced – Fierce will stretch and guide you to new heights.

When I did Fierce for the first time last week, I found it a really open environment, lots of encouragement to try something new and even surprised myself with what I could achieve. Yes, there are some super challenging postures to aspire to, but it’s a great feeling to get part way there. It also felt like a collective, as over half had never done the class before.

Krzystof kindly took some photos of us during the class and when we took a look afterwards, we were all really pleasantly surprised at how well we did – hey, we even looked good!!!

Alternatively, if your just starting at FG or have any injuries, get yourself down to our SOB class every Sunday. This is a user friendly class where there is more time to understand how to work safely and effectively, get to know the poses, learn modifications and ask questions. Know what works for you and your body. Better still, if you have a friend who is FG-curious, but maybe a bit unsure, bring them along as a big open-armed introduction to our classes and what can be achieved with regular practice.

It’s been said that we should aim to do 3 things each day that scare us: a daily risk quota if you will. Start this by coming to Fierce on Saturday, challenge yourself, do something that scares you; be Fierce!

Staff spotlight: Lila’s Shakespearean adventure

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!

 

 

Airplane Yoga: practice while you travel

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.

Mini-Lunge

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.

Cat-Cow

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.

Tree-Pose
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!

Breathing

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.

 

Happy Holidays!

Shadi Activewear

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.