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.
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.
Tasty and delicious and equally nutritious! Smoothies have rocked the health and fitness world for many years. Packed full of goodness, smoothies give you a daily dose of what your mind and body needs. In doing so, they help to support a strong yoga practice.
That’s why this week, during our month of healthy choices, we have put together some of our favourite smoothies for you to enjoy! So get raiding Brixton’s markets for the finest fruit and veg and get blending!
Brixton Berry Bonanza
With its vibrancy, energy and bustling atmosphere, this berry extravaganza captures our beloved Brixton in a cup. Feel your taste buds explode!
Seeds are a great addition to your smoothie, adding extra vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. After your next class, nip into Brixton Wholefoods, just around the corner from the studio at 59 Atlantic Road and see which ones get your juices flowing!
Fierce Grace Green Goodness For your everyday staple smoothie, with some fierce flavour and some graceful goodness, go green! You’ll feel the difference immediately – pretty much the same as hot yoga!
Half a banana (frozen if you would like it more chilled)
1 / 2 sticks celery
Handful of spinach
Half a dozen almonds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1 / 2 scoops protein powder (optional)
Splash of unsweetened almond milk, topped up with water
Adding protein powder to your smoothie is a great idea after class in order to repair and replenish muscles, plus it will keep you going until lunch. Our Arbonne protein powders available to buy at the studio are made from split pea. They provide 20g of vegan protein, delivering vital amino acids to support muscles, plus 20 essential vitamins and minerals and a low glycemic index.
Classic Cleansing Cosmopolitan Simply heaven in a cup. The perfect way to replenish after a strong Classic!
½ or whole avocado
½ or whole banana
1 small orange
1 tbsp honey
Avocados are a strong foodie favourite, almost what you could now describe as a cult! Remember that the stone actually contains 70% of the fruit’s antioxidants – to read more, read our blog here.
Deep Core Date Daiquiri
Dates are full of soluble and insoluble fiber and amino acids therefore helping to regulate the digestive functions of the body. They also include copper, potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamins B and K. And they are delicious.
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp oats
2-3 pitted Medjool dates, to taste
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp peanut butter or almond butter
¼ to ½ tsp ground cinnamon, to taste
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
4-5 ice cubes to chill
This smoothie includes more than 8g of protein but you can add more vanilla protein powder to boost it up to 20g. Perfect for post-Deep Core-power-up to nourish those worked muscles and tissues!
Flaxseeds might be small but they pack a good nutritional punch! See the analogy? Like our own Fix, working incredible magic in record time, you could call them the “Fix” of the seed family! 1 tablespoon of flaxseed will add some protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, including potassium for your heart and iron and zinc for your immune system. Plus a few grams of unsaturated fats and inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids. You can buy ground flaxseeds from Brixton Wholefoods or put whole ones in a coffee grinder.
220 ml coconut water
1 handful almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ scoop unsweetened protein powder
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
Take a walk on the Wild side and re-vitalise with this cocktail-inspired smoothie that will satisfy your exotic Mojito taste-buds… but avoid the headache.
2 cups ice
1 cup coconut milk
2 small limes
Handful of fresh mint
1 – 2 tbsp honey
Although smoothies are generally enjoyed to keep you zinging during the day, there are also some soothing smoothies out there. This one contains some great ingredients to ensure you’re soon counting sheep after a Sunday night Nidra!
1 cup chilled chamomile tea
1 banana (preferably frozen)
1 cup coconut milk
Handful of almonds
1 tsp honey
1 tsp nutmeg
The anti-inflammatory qualities of herbal compounds help to calm digestive systems which are ailing under stress. Bananas are high in B-complex vitamins that calm the nervous system, the muscle-relaxant magnesium and also contains melatonin and serotonin to help you sleep soundly. Nutmeg has rejuvenating qualities whilst honey has been used for years as a natural sleep aid.
Got any favourite smoothies? Share them with us! We would love to hear from you!
Earlier this month, Fierce Grace launched GoFGYourself, where we invited you to share your stories with us about how Fierce Grace has changed and enhanced your life. It has been amazing to hear your tales and to receive your feedback following the transformations that happen at the studio. In celebration, this week we have two members who have fully embraced Fierce Grace having seen what it could do for them. Introducing Barbara and Chico, two of our regulars who totally Live Life with Fierce Grace!
My name is Barbara Gillett, I am a 65 year-old pensioner and I am also a fitness instructor. I do chair exercises with the elderly in various places, including in an old people’s home and community centre.
One of the ladies at my local gym where I attended two yoga classes per week told me about Fierce Grace Brixton and about the benefits of “hot yoga”. At this time, I had started feeling pain on my right leg especially around my knee. I went to see my GP who told me I had arthritis and referred me to a specialist at the hospital. Today I am still waiting to be seen. I decided to take matters into my own hands and take the opportunity to go to Fierce Grace and to try the 30 Days.
Going along for my first session, the service I got there was one of such warm support and a great feeling of well-being in myself. During the initial few sessions of hot yoga my pain was already reducing. By the end of the 30 days, the pain was completely gone. I couldn’t believe it!
I felt so great that I realised continuing with the hot yoga was the only way for me to be pain-free from arthritis. I made it a priority to attend 3 times a week. After every session I feel energised, flexible and my joints are relieved.
I would recommend to anyone who suffers from arthritis to at least give it a try. Until today I still cannot believe how long I was suffering with arthritis. Thanks to hot yoga I can today have a normal, healthy life where arthritis does not stop me from doing my job and from having a life free from constant pain!
“You should do some yoga!!!” is the phrase that kept popping up in various conversations that occurred just after my Mum passed away. So, when it was said to me for the 5th time in one week I thought, “Hello, life is trying to tell me something so maybe I should listen.”
I’ve always been physically active throughout my life and have been aware that my emotions are in part connected to my activity levels.
When my Mum passed away I found myself lost in a sea darkness with tidal waves of emotion that kept leaving me out of breath, sleepless and highly emotional. I thought that I would need help to cope, though I didn’t want to take any sort of medication as what I’m going through is all part of dealing with acute grief and loss.
I had tried a couple of yoga classes around Brixton and Dulwich and they just were not right for me. Then my next door neighbour told me about Fierce Grace. Mind you, he had been talking about it for the last year; I guess this time I was really listening to what he said!
I went in just to check it out. But by the time I had left, I had signed up for the Unlimited 30 Day trial! That says it all really!
The various classes work for my different daily needs: Deep Core for strength, Classic for understanding my body and Fierce Grace for movement and stamina. However, the one thing I found in all of them that has helped me cope with each passing day is the use of breath and having to centre and listen to myself each class. It has become a small journey and victory. In doing the classes I’ve learnt to breathe slowly and steadily so when I have a wobble or suddenly find myself in a torrent of emotion I breathe, find my core and do my best to keep steady, which works 95%of the time.
Though I know this journey through life is no easy feat for any one in this world, in doing Fierce Grace classes in an environment that is safe, clean and loved, with teachers that are really caring and amazing, it makes life a little easier to deal with.
Paula joined us this year, with her energising and warming 6:30am Monday class creating the best start to the week. With the addition of an extra Yoga Nidra class each month, starting in June we thought we would take the opportunity to get to know Paula a little better and learn more about the benefits of ‘Yogic Sleep’…
Paula! Tell us a little about yourself to start…
I’m a proud Kiwi, born and bred! However I lived a great deal of my life in Perth, Western Australia, before moving to London over 11 years ago – I was only supposed to stay two years! Clearly my love of travelling and all things exciting about London drew me in. However, the call of my mountain and my ocean back home is strong, and New Zealand will always be home to me.
Before becoming a yoga teacher I was a Social Worker for over 14 years, both in Australia and UK.
Throughout my Social Work career I chose to specialise in therapeutic areas such as counselling, group work, training, mentoring, developmental and policy work, and practice development; working in areas such as substance misuse, domestic abuse, mental health, and hospitals, to name just a few.
Healing and striving to reach one’s potential is accomplished by working organically and at each person’s pace. I have always enjoyed forming positive relationships with people, as it is the positive connection which enables that growth and that healing. I wanted to work ‘with’ people, rather than ‘on’ people, and I find this with yoga as well.
How long have you been practising yoga?
I started practicing Bikram yoga in 2008 at North studio and continued on when it transitioned to Fierce Grace. Clearly the choice of classes, the interconnected system, the flow and freedom of the practice resonated with me, and I completed my teacher training with Fierce Grace Yoga in March 2015.
This year I chose to take the leap of giving up my full time Social Work career to focus on teaching yoga full time, and I am loving every minute!
How did you come across Fierce Grace? What did you love about FG in particular?
I had always been intrigued by yoga but had somehow never properly made it happen, and then I heard about this popular hot yoga, Bikram. Honestly, I’m not someone who even enjoys the intense heat. I have never been a fan of saunas, for example – in fact before my knee injury I used to save most of my (then) annual leave to go snowboarding at least three times a year in the winter. However, I was really curious and ready for something to challenge me. I went, suffered all throughout the class, went home, felt amazing, and kept on coming!
FG in particular, the choice, the flow, the freedom, you can choose a class with music or without and choose a class for your schedule, mood and day. Like life, days and moods change, and it is great to be able to change it up accordingly.
How many times do you practice a week?
I try to practice formal classes in the studios at least 3-4 times per week. I supplement this with self practice, sometimes after teaching classes, and also with using the gym facilities following teaching my health club classes.
I really notice it if I don’t practice regularly. I don’t feel as light or as strong, I can’t ‘shake things off’ as easily, and it means I don’t get that ‘me’ time to breathe and centre. I always feel better physically, mentally and energetically when I practice, and so, I keep practicing!
What is your favourite posture?
I feel amazing after Camel (Ustrasana). I love the feeling of the big backbend. While I do also enjoy Standing Bow, Camel without the balance gives the opportunity to go deep, get the stretch all the way up through the throat, and to truly open up the front side of the body. I think the release and the feeling of spaciousness is so precious, and it’s so easy to go through day to day life never moving in this way. I appreciate what Camel gives me, to the point where I look forward to two of them when I practice the Classic class!
Another favourite for me is Frozen Cartwheel (Ardha Chandrasana). I love the expansiveness of stretching my arms and legs out like a starfish! And the balance gives more challenge – I can feel it working every part of my body and I know there is always room to grow in it, so the pose for me is continually evolving.
And the most challenging?
One of my most challenging postures would have to be Utkatasana Advanced Chair Twist. If you do this properly and really sit the hips down and back with the weight in the heels trying to get the thighs parallel to the mat whilst pressing the inner thighs together, and engaging the core while emphasising a back-bending twist, you really start to feel it! There is a lot going on at once, and I always feel it deep in the quads!
What differences would you say yoga made to your life?
I love the way practicing yoga makes me feel in my mind, in my body, and how that lifts my spirit.
Physically I feel exhilarated after class – I’ve noticed I stand differently – literally stronger and taller, and I can feel all the different parts of me working together. It’s hard to describe.
I used to be someone who held their breath, even if concentrating on the smallest thing, and I have been able to become more breath aware, not just in the hot room, but in life, which has made such a difference, particularly when the inevitable difficulties of life crop up. It changes perspective and experience.
There is a mindfulness where there feels like there is more space in between ‘stuff’. It’s like it creates more room, not just between my vertebrae and joints, but in my mind and my heart.
The more I practice the more I feel a sense of things moving more slowly, less chaos, more calm. It’s definitely time and space for me, and a truly safe space. I’m almost always last out after Savasana, I just love that time. I always feel better on the mat. And afterwards. I always leave feeling lighter.
And now I have been able to make it my vocation, still working with people, still forming positive relationships, and still focusing on healing and therapy, but in a way which is also good for my own health and wellness. I am so grateful.
When you’re not in the studio, you are…
I am also a big Nature girl! I am lucky enough to live fairly close to Hampstead Heath, and it, alongside my kelpie and my mat, is my absolute oasis. I start to definitively wither if I don’t get my time out in nature. And my dog loves it as well.
London is the first place I’ve ever lived that isn’t on the coast, so I do miss the ocean, very much, but there is a real sense of happiness and calm when I am on the Heath and by the lakes. It really uplifts me.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra literally translates as “yogic sleep”. In Yoga Nidra you lay very still, settled and comfortable and allow yourself to be guided by a Nidra teacher – you just close your eyes, be still and follow the voice.
Where did you first encounter Yoga Nidra?
I remember encountering this in our FG Teacher Training and it really impressing upon me.
It just took me off on a journey and I felt like I had all this space afterwards. Yoga asana does this for us, but through physical effort of yoga asana. Yoga Nidra does this through effortlessness, relaxation and stillness.
What are the benefits of Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra allows us to move within and between different levels of consciousness. It takes us away from our everyday lives. It is said to help us recognise ourselves as pure awareness.
According to yogic philosophy, there are three everyday states of consciousness: waking, dreaming, and sleeping. It is understood however that there is a secret, fourth state, called turiya, which is the experience of pure awareness and which can be accessed by meditation. The practice of Yoga Nidra can facilitate access to this fourth state.
Yoga Nidra gives you what you need in that moment, and can vary with each practice. If your need is purely physical, for instance, you are very tired – then it will be relaxing and rejuvenating.
However it can also help aspire to heartfelt longings, it can help us realise solutions, increase creativity and achieve a higher state of awareness.
Letting go, which is still a task in our asana practice, is an effortlessness practice in Yoga Nidra. It gives the mind and body a ‘time out’ and allows healing and awareness to occur on a deeper, more profound level. And truly letting the process naturally and organically unfold can bring unexpected benefits even whilst having intention. So if you just want to relax, then Yoga Nidra is for you. If you want to aspire towards solutions, awareness and creativity, then Yoga Nidra is for you. If you want to aspire towards Samadhi, then Yoga Nidra is for you. Whatever your intention, and whatever your mind and your body need, you will find some benefit. Yoga Nidra is for everyone.
Thank you Paula! Join Paula every Monday morning at 6:30am and now also for Nidra every fourth Sunday of the month, starting in June!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
Sun’s out, trainers out! One man ahead of the game is our very own Marathon Man, Tom Cassidy who is running the Brighton Marathon next month.
For a post-run cool-down Tom took a moment to tell us about how yoga helps him through and can do the same for you! Thanks for the fitspiration Tom!
What has inspired you to do the marathon? I have known for a long time that I wanted to do a marathon eventually. And watching two of my good friends complete the London and Brighton marathons respectively I decided that this would my year.
I have been running for a few years, but nothing of any significance, just to keep fit and I enjoyed the rush you get at the end of a good run. A lot of people have talked about how it can be meditative. I find that I always hate the first twenty minutes; my body is wondering why I am doing this. Once I find a bit of stride and rhythm and I relax into it, I end up quite enjoying it. Then once I finish and I am having a shower I feel amazing, always clearer and with great outlook on the day.
What’s your training schedule like?
I have been training for about four months, which has been pretty simple. I joined a running club on Sunday mornings, so that covers my long runs. The training idea is that you train your muscles to get stronger through short runs. Then with a long run once a week, training your body to use your long-term fat stores. These have been getting longer by 15 minutes every week. This week I am up three hours.
I recently competed in my first race, the Brighton Half Marathon as preparation for the big day, and it went really well. So exciting to have supporters cheering, roads closed and water stations along my normal long run. I got a great time and got a taste of how it may be on the real thing.
How does yoga work alongside all that running? Yoga has been a brilliant addition to training. The first thing I learnt when I started training was the need for rest and stretching. You can’t run everyday and I was going far too long and too often in the beginning. Yoga helps to rest, recover and stretch the key muscles.
What main differences do you think it has made? I have found two surprising benefits: firstly, the strength conditioning I get from the balancing and standing series is amazing for my running posture and alignment. This is critical for good running, especially for the time I am doing it, otherwise injuries can happen.
Secondly, the relaxation and breath control I get doing yoga is excellent to practice when I am running. A lot of ultra-marathoners talk about running with your breath – a very similar nasal breathing to yoga. It’s perfect for oxygenating the blood even when my heart-rate is up.
Do you have a favourite posture? I love the pigeon postures. Stretching deep into my glutes and hamstrings is amazing. Also the core work is fundamental to running and I feel much stronger over time.
What’s next? There are two objectives now for my preparation – get to the start line uninjured. And get to the finish line uninjured!!! I am not too fussed abut the final time I run it in. Getting it done will be a big achievement. Yoga is key for that. After the marathon I can continue to work on my flexibility in class and go back to having relaxed Sunday mornings!
Best of luck Tom! If you see Tom around the studio, don’t forget to cheer him on!
If that wasn’t inspiration enough, come along to our Runners’ Workshop on Saturday 2nd April 5:30pm : The SOB class with special focus on deepening that stretch, protecting your muscles and preventing injury.
FREE to members, £5 to non-members.
PLUS pre and post class talks on what your body needs for you to perform at your best, including optimum levels of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Plus learn how to speed up recovery and repair so you can maximise the benefits of your work-out.
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