Summer is here, time to broaden your horizons and go exploring! But, flying at 39,000 feet has its downsides – DVT, stiffness and tension to name a few. Check out the top Yoga postures to keep you chilled and stretched out in the sky… and we can even help alleviate the dreaded jet lag!
How can yoga help regular fliers? Which areas of the body can it help relieve stiffness from sitting down for hours on end?
Having a yoga practice is the best preventative for issues to do with flying; the cramp, stiffness, swelling from poor circulation, and even reducing the likelihood of vein issues as the tissues around the veins are soft and open and circulation in general is improved. This is mainly because a yoga practice opens the fascia (the connective tissue) of the body, stretches it and improves general circulation, so that when flying you already have better circulation and lymph drainage.
Then adding a few yoga movements to your flight time will just boost the already healthy functionality your body has. However keeping moving while on a flight can help prevent DVT as well as stiffness and lack of circulation. Yoga stretches can reduce stiffness we can experience in neck, shoulders, legs, hips, lower back and calves and feet.
What other benefits does practising yoga bring?
The benefits of yoga are well documented, but include greater range of motion of the entire body, no more aches and pains, increased strength, stamina, flexibility, and a greater sense of mental and emotional wellbeing. It balances blood pressure, cholesterol levels, burns calories and prevents degeneration and wear and tear on the joints. People don’t realise that nearly every other form of exercise, specifically sports, like running, cycling, football and even the gym, are ageing the joints of the body.
People are obsessed with “cardio” fitness, but at what cost? A healthy heart and good stamina in a crippled body? Yoga is healthy for your joints, while still creating optimum fitness and stamina.
Whatever inconvenience it is to get started in a yoga practice is a tiny fraction of the inconvenience of living in a painful body or being ill.
Yoga is concentrating on the spine as the nervous system is originating from brain via spine to the entire body, so by preventing compression on the discs, the nerves benefit and therefore the entire body’s function. Other benefits are that stretching brings increased blood supply and oxygenation to the body.
Add the mental calmness and sense of vitality and wellbeing yoga brings, are what has made yoga so popular.
Hip opening, knee alignment, strength and flexibility, leg strength and full body integration and are what you should expect from any good yoga class.
What’s special about hot yoga and how does it work?
Hot yoga is taught in a room heated to between 90 degrees to 100 degrees. A reputable studio with well trained teachers will have good oxygenation and humidity, and use properly trained instructors.
The working temperature of your muscles and joints is around 100 degrees, this ensures the synovial fluid is thinned and can move around the joint lubricating it and bring nutrition. The heat warms the muscles and joints to ensure safe stretching. Far more injuries occur by exercising in cold rooms. That’s why all exercise systems have a warm up but hot yoga means your body stays warm throughout. It also means you do not feel stiff the next day. Hot yoga students will all tell you that the heat is emotionally and mentally cathartic. Seeing your body dripping with sweat, breathing deeply, feeling open, and healthy have a positive effect on our mood.
Now that Hot Yoga is mainstream, one can’t be sure exactly what you are going to get. Check your studios credentials or go to a recognized system such as Fierce Grace.
How does it work?
Classical yoga concentrates on the spine, as that is the core of physical wellbeing, hip opening, strength and alignment, leg strength and full body integration. It moves us to our “edge” physically and we press against this edge building flexibility and strength. The beauty of yoga is that it is just the body’s natural range of motion, usually done in static poses, so we can safely improve and strengthen whatever our level. Beginners and advanced alike work together to their own ability.
We have countless students who have reported lower blood pressure and cholesterol from doing hot yoga.
Sweating is the other reason people love hot yoga. It is an important way to detoxify the body, as the skin is the largest organ in the body. It is necessary to make sure we sweat regularly to help remove toxicity from the body.
What’s the best time of day to go to a yoga class?
Everyone is different, and really in our busy lives I would re commend just to go when you can and when fits best into your schedule. It is better to water a plant sometimes, than never. It’s beneficial any time of day. Some people prefer the buzz that a morning class gives them for their day, others love how relaxed it makes them and how well they sleep by going to class after work so they get home de-stressed from their day. If you are low on energy, go in the morning, if you find it hard to relax, go later in the day. Yoga gives you what you need. Traditionally yoga was practiced at sunrise, looking a the sun.
What type of yoga is best to relieve jetlag?
Many people swear by getting off a plane and getting to a yoga class as soon as they can as it seems to have an amazing effect on jetlag. I would recommend after all the rush of getting ready to fly, the body and mind need calming and relaxing, so a gentler class is probably more grounding and relaxing.
Jetlag can make us feel very enervated. Some people love an energizing yoga class to get their metabolism kick started and their circulation boosted, others prefer a relaxing one, some deep breathing and centering, to bring them back to a grounded feeling. Either way, getting some movement, deep breathing or stretching to relieve tension is beneficial to speed up the body’s ability to return to it’s normal rhythms.
There is a yoga protocol for jetlag which is to spin (Sufi style twirling) in the opposite direction to which you flew – you stand with your arms out to the sides shoulder height. Your head is North, left hand is East and right hand is West. If you flew East to West you would twirl turning to the left. Spin slowly for about a minute, or as long as you can. It undoes the disturbance to the electromagnetic fields that have been disturbed in your body. There have been scientific studies on this and there is a book written on this by the Adi Da Samraj.
What can long haul passengers do on board to help relieve muscle tension and stiffness?
Some really good exercises are Seated Pigeon, Forward Fold, and Yogi Twists.
For Seated Pigeon you stay seated and place your right ankle across your left knee and let your right knee drop down, it may go as low as parallel with your left. Left foot flat on the floor. Flex your right foot. Lean forward until you feel a stretch through your right hip, buttock and lower back. One can add a twist by placing ones right arm at ones right foot or knee in this position and twisting to the left to release even more tension from the lower back and hip. Repeat on the other side.
For Forward Fold, go to the back of the plane and feet hip width apart bend your knees and fold forward keeping your abdomen and chest touching your legs. Hang down there, you can hold your elbows for a nice release of shoulders. Let your head hang. bend your knees more or less to feel hips lower neck and hamstrings stretch, but keep your abdomen always touching your thighs to protect your lower back.
While at back of plane or inside the washroom, you can place your feet hip width apart, arms at 90 degrees as if you were power walking and with knees only 2” bent you move one hip forward and then the other (as if your pelvis was a record on a turntable being rotated on a horizontal plane) do this fast while you pull your belly in and exhale through the nose once on each swivel. Bring one hip forward then the other, fast until you feel your entire spine moving and twisting. Powerful exhales. This irrigates each vertebra, brings circulation to hips, spine, digestive system, eliminatory system, tones the waist, prevents constipation and loosens, releases tension in your spine and makes you feel energized.
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.
It can be hard to see your friends in the big city. So what could be better than bringing your friends to FGB? Just imagine hanging out post class over a cup of green tea in the foyer or un-rolling your mats side by side in the studio…
We thought it would be great if you were rewarded for bringing your friends, so we offer a very special perk, called 1-2-3 FREE* to members who bring along 3 friends who are new to Fierce Grace Brixton and who sign up for an Introduction Offer. As a thank you from us, you’ll get 1 MONTH FREE yoga!
We chat to Valentine Ohagwa about bringing along her 3 friends, getting a free month and why she came to FGB in the first place:
“11 years ago I was reasonably fit, until I suffered a road traffic accident where I was hit by an uninsured drunk driver.The long and short of it is: 10 years and 4 operations later, I still have a damaged right leg which causes back, hip and knee problems. No only that, I can no longer wear heels or run!
Finally, I found yoga. Yoga is the only form of exercise I have done which I feel is fully helping me heal. Realistically, I can only do 70% of the class, but I have to remind myself that it’s better that nothing!I have been coming to Fierce Grace Brixton for about 1 year now and have told all of my friends about it. Over this year, they’ve seen my mood lighten, change and I’ve become more of a positive positive. I encouraged them to come along and they loved it! I’m so happy that the 1-2-3 Free offer helped me practice 1 month for free. If I was 100% able, I would be a teacher!”
So there you are folks: bring your friends and get free yoga. Simple.
Friends with benefits, really!!
*Friends must be new to the Fierce Grace Brixton studio and sign up for a package with us.
Some people like routine and the same old, same old and some people’s heads are turned by the novelty of new.
As new classes are introduced to the schedule this year, it’s the ideal opportunity to shake things up and build yourself a Fierce Grace hot yoga practice that brings you strength, flexibility, stamina, fitness and joy. But before your head is completely turned by the glitter of the new, we wanted to remind you of the gems at the heart of the Fierce Grace system.
Created as a series of interconnected classes that work together, the classes complement each other, with different focuses, because yoga is about balance. The balance of strength and flexibility, of focus and relaxation, of fierce and grace.
So if you really want to get the best out of this system of yoga, then ensuring you mix it up by engaging with as many classes as you can is really important.
If you’re new to FGB, we highly recommend S.O.B. Perfect for beginners or those with injuries the class is taken at a slower pace to get to know the poses, learn modifications and there’s the chance to ask questions throughout. It stands for Stiff, Old and Broken, but don’t let that put you off!
The cornerstone of the practice, Fierce Grace founder Michele Pernetta suggests that everyone take this class at least once a week; and that anyone new to the practice do at least two or three Deep Core classes before diving in more deeply.
More floor based than other classes, this class is about alignment, helping correct postural issues and using deeeeeeep stretches to juice up the joints and release the muscle groups, all helping bring balance to your musculoskeletal system.
CLASSIC. With a traditional hot yoga class format, this class focuses on alignment and breathing, bringing strength and stability to your poses. Excellent for building stamina, this class offers an opportunity to think about posture technique as many of them are repeated.
FIERCE GRACE. Combining Hatha, Power and Ashtanga yogawith interval and Core Training for a fully rounded workout that works 100% of the body, this is the heart of the Fierce Grace system and the class around which all other classes are designed. Set to music, it offers strength and flexibility, fitness and relaxation.
FG2. An evolution of the Fierce Grace class, hit up FG2 once you have a handle on Fierce Grace and challenge yourself to the limit of your capabilities. General level, variations and advanced poses keep you interested, challenged and ever improving. Excellent for experienced and intermediate alike, this class will help get you ready to tackle The Beast.
WILD. High energy and fast paced, Wild combines Kundalini Yoga, Barre, resistance stretching, HIIT and Super Slow training for strengthening and sculpting. Core power, stamina and strength, this is a class for the curious to explore how yoga can be combined with other disciplines.
THE FIX. A mix of Classic and FG, this class is short, super charged and super sweet. Ideal when you want to squeeze a class in but are strapped for time, this class is for topping up your practice.
Aka ‘The Beast’, this class is user friendly Intermediate/ Advanced class. Take practice to the next level, learn developments of poses from other classes and if you’re advanced, we will guide you to new heights!
The Brixton studio teachers are always on hand to give advice, so if you find you struggle with certain classes or have specific goals to achieve, do have a chat with them and keep playing.
Tales of Teacher Training – Meet Feng Cal, One of This Year’s Graduates
So many members express an interest in finding out more about the Fierce Grace Teacher Training. Whether you want to change career or just go even deeper, this intensive course is guaranteed to take you to a whole new level. So we thought we’d have a chat with Brixton member and one of this year’s graduates, Feng Cal.
What do you do?
My day (and sometimes night!) job is a finance lawyer in the city.
What do you love about your jobs?
I love the fast paced nature of my day job – building client relationships, working in a team and executing deals. It’s a busy and often stressful environment where you have to think on your feet and respond quickly. Teaching yoga actually uses a lot of same skills – building relationships with your students, encouraging teamwork and making sure that we all finish the class together without any dramas or mishaps!
Why did you take one month off to do teacher training?
It was a “now or never” opportunity! I happened to have a natural pause in my career development so used my 6 weeks of unpaid leave to do my TT. It really was a case of everything lining up perfectly.
Tell us about your own yoga practise
I have been practising yoga for over 4 years now and I have hugely benefitted from my practice, both physically and mentally. Physically, yoga has developed my strength and flexibility, helping to prevent injuries and protect my body from damage from other high impact sports such as running and rock climbing. Mentally, yoga helps me to relax and set aside time (and space) for myself, helping me to find balance in my daily routine. I was drawn to FG by the flexibility of the 6 class system, the friendly and knowledgeable teachers and the strong sense of community.
Why did you want to do it?
I wanted to do the FG TT so that I could teach at FG Brixton! For me, yoga has been this amazing journey which was bought so many benefits into my life. I want to share those benefits with the local community, regulars and newcomers, advanced practitioners and those who are just starting. I know how much of a difference it makes to have a supportive yoga teacher and doing the TT is hopefully just the first step in helping me to become the best teacher I can be.
What was it like?
It was a very demanding TT but also a very supportive TT. You are fully immersed for the month, trying to absorb as much as you can from the senior teachers and the excellent guest lecturers and benefitting from the support of your fellow students.
What did you get out of it?
I learned so much from my fellow students. We were a diverse group, from all walks of life and a wide range of ages yet we all supported each other. We recognised our own strengths and weakness and improved our teaching through feedback and supporting others.
Was it worth it?
Definitely! I know the TT is an expensive course but personally I loved being able to completely focus on the yoga and do it full time for a month. Plus, the second half was held in Italy, in the gorgeous retreat house with sun, pool and home-cooked Italian food – what’s not to love?
Would you recommend others to do it – if so, why?
Yes – if you want an in-depth hands-on training course that focuses on helping you learn how to teach more than anything else, the FG TT is one of the best out there.
Well, the time has come to say goodbye after a wonderful two years with Fierce Grace Brixton. Times of change always trigger pause and reflection, so here are a few words I’d like to share…
Why did you want to do the job?
I love yoga and I love Brixton, so when I heard that there was a studio opening up on my turf I was duly excited. Having been here since before there were even doors to throw open, I feel like part of the fabric of the building itself, so it made so much sense for me to progress into the role of manager.
What do you love about the job?
As with any place it is the people who give it soul, and there have been many great ones here, both past and present, staff and members, that have made the job truly enjoyable. So many interesting personalities walk through that door, varying in so many ways but with one unifying factor: a thirsts for self improvement. (This same drive for learning is actually what drew me to the position of studio manager in the first place!) Whether that’s to be stronger, more mindful, or whatever, we are all here because we are making an effort to be a better version of ourselves. You are a special group of people and I will definitely miss you. I have learnt so much from you and hope that you continue to succeed in your life journeys.
What do you feel you have created?
My Fierce Grace Brixton family.
Any last words?
I would like to sincerely thank each and every one of you for every experience shared, opportunity offered and friendship made during this time. I feel honoured to have been given the privilege to see the studio blossom, along with all those inside it.
Thanks for all the good times! It’s been a journey.
As an early preview of next month’s theme of GIVING, we are very pleased to introduce Fierce Grace Brixton member Affiong Uffort.She is currently midway through a 100 day hot yoga challenge to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) so of course we wanted to find out more…
On Discovering Hot Yoga
I discovered Hot Yoga 12 years ago. After having my twin girls, I was overweight and going through some personal challenges. I saw someone practicing hot yoga on TV, and I immediately researched it online, and joined my local branch.Prior to Fierce Grace, I was just practicing the normal Bikram yoga which was just the same series of 26 postures for every class. Fierce Grace gave me options. It allows me to go deeper into my practice. I love the variety of classes, and all the teachers bring something different to each class.Fierce Grace is amazing.
Why a 100 Day Challenge?
I previously did a 90 Day hot yoga challenge for great Ormond Street Charity in 2011. That was very challenging but thoroughly enjoyable. I went deeper with my postures. Some that I couldn’t do previously just fell into place during the challenge. I just had a beautiful little baby boy in August, and I’m just thankful for his health I just wanted to give back. Hence the challenge for charity.
I chose this particular charity because I love Great Ormond Street and appreciate the work they do. As someone with three wonderful children, sometimes we tend to forget about those who are struggling with a sick child. To have hospital like GOSH there to care for the really sick children and make them better is really amazing. Especially when you see them all grown up and adults in the community. It’s important to support them financially to ensure they can keep doing the great work they do.
The 100 Day Challenge
My practice has definitely changed. I can now do a proper back bend and the pain in my spine from my epidural has completely disappeared. I still struggle with some postures, but with time I’ll get better.I use the full range of classes to work my whole body but my favourite is classic. It’s still tough as nails, but I really enjoy it.I love triangle pose! It’s funny, but every time I do triangle I feel free, like I release the stress, the worries, the tension and everything else I want to get rid of.Standing head to knee still eludes me, but I will keep pushing.Watch this space!
I’ve lived in Tulse Hill for about 12 years and I love how vibrant Brixton/Tulse Hill is. Brockwell Park is amazing! I love hanging out here in the summer, picnicking with the kids, and I love the Ritzy Cinema, it’s very cosy and welcoming.
You’ve heard of the 30 Day Challenge, right? You’ve seen those brave souls rock up at all hours, every day to the studio, ticking off each class on the white board? You might have noticed that Teresa McGovern has powered past the finish line of her 30 Day Challenge and is now heading towards her 60 Days!
Go Teresa! We love having you here every day with a smile on your face! You are truly Living Life with Fierce Grace.
Find out what makes her tick….
What brought you to yoga? For how long have you been practicing?
I’ve been doing FG since the Studio opened in Brixton (Dec 2014), prior to that I did Bikram (a little less regularly) , which I started in 2009 and prior to that I did other random yoga classes (but not a regular practice).
And how have you been finding Fierce Grace
I love it. I love the variety of the classes and I love the studio.
What made you decide to do a 30 Day Challenge?
I came back to London after having been away for a lot of the Summer, having done hardly any exercise. I’d put on weight and felt very unfit, and wanted to change that and challenge myself.
How have you been finding it? Have you noticed a change in your practice?
Really great, tough dragging myself out of bed some mornings (early morning is the only time I can really fit in classes) but once I’ve finished class I feel brilliant. The change in my practice has been slow but I am beginning to notice the difference.
We see you have been attending the full range of classes (Classic, FG, Deep Core, Fix plus SOB) therefore making full use of the integrated Fierce Grace system. Has this been helpful for the 30 Day Challenge?
Absolutely. It’s fantastic to have the option of fix for those days when I’m short on time and I love that class. I also hadn’t really tried Deep Core before the challenge but am beginning to really like that class too and find it’s brilliant after having done a couple of days of Classic or FG, and I weirdly find this class tougher. I’ve tried wild too and liked that, but not quite ready for the Beast yet!
Do you have a favourite class?
From a purely practical point of view I love fix, as I’m always rushing around but I do love FG too. I especially like having music.
What is your favourite pose and why? And what is your most challenging?
I like Camel, although it’s challenging it has such an immediate impact. Challenging – well loads – big to stretch, froggie, side crow…
On a different note – just to learn more about our Brixton community – how long have you lived in Brixton?What are your favourite things to do in Brixton? What do you like about the area?
We’ve been in Brixton since 2014, but were in Stockwell before this so were in the area. In terms of things to do…I think we are really lucky in Brixton with loads of great eating and drinking places around the market and at Pop now, and also some great haunts locally for us up Brixton hill. The cinema is fantastic, and I have a 5 year old, so we spend alot of time at Brockwell park.
Anything else to add…
Just thanks to all the crew at Fierce Grace Brixton. All the staff are amazing, it really is the friendliest studio I’ve attended!
Thanks so much Teresa and keep up your excellent work!
Release the grip of your Ego during class by following these simple, self-awareness steps.
Embrace the good and the bad days. Sometimes the last thing you want it to leave Netflix, central heating and chips and get yourself down to the studio. We know, we feel it too! But often they are the most rewarding classes; when you don’t really feel like it, you leave your chatterbox behind and boom, head up, knees locked, stomach in – it’s a rewarding class.
You are not your ego. You’re not in competition with yourself or anyone else. Ah yes, the wandering eye in the mirror checking out what someone else is doing, how low their Eagle posture sinks, or how impressive their bind looks. Practice is for you at your own speed and pace and experience.
Compare = Despair.Don’t judge or compare. You could balance longer yesterday, but today your body is doing something different – that’s ok, it might even mean that you can go even deeper into another posture. Surprise yourself. You don’t always know which postures are going to feel like a second skin and which ones will leave you hanging.
Let yourself fail. It’s on our FG poster, right? Laugh trying. We mean it. Fall on your face in crow pose, slide out of dancer like Bambi on ice; its how we learn where our daily limits are and how we become friends with our body.
Be grateful. You were kept late at work, someone is in your favourite mat space, your forgot clean pants, yeah a bit rubbish, but in the grand scheme of things – it’s all ok. Be grateful for the class, for the teacher, for the focus, for your strong legs and determination for getting to class like trooper. Be grateful for yourself. Don’t be your own enemy.
Listen to yourself. Give yourself permission to rest when needed, let your body adjust and develop at your own pace, practice proper alignment before depth, listen carefully to the teacher’s corrections and always try to leave your ego at the door. You never know, it might just lead to a breakthrough!
It’s all about gratitude this month, inspired as we are at this time of year by the harvest festival and the sheer abundance of crops we enjoy in the UK. We have been scrumping, brambling, crumbling, preserving, chutney-ing and making various fruit gins to our hearts content!
Gratitude is a central part of a yoga practice, so here’s five things we are grateful for at Fierce Grace Brixton – let us know what you are feeling grateful for….
YOU. Awww, schmaltzy maybe, but so true, we never fail to be grateful for the wonderful members that make this studio such a friendly, happy place to practice.
We are also grateful for your personal hygiene, your thoughtfulness to other members, your not using aerosols in the changing rooms, your turning up dressed appropriately, your cleanliness, and most of all for your turning up to your classes on time, so as not to disrupt everyone else. Keep up the sterling work!
The Fierce Grace system and Michele Pernetta, who created this perfectly formed system of interlinked classes, have both created a fierce yoga practice that works, for balance, for strength and flexibility, and for living life with Fierce Grace. We are grateful for the fact that it continues to challenge us, keeps us hot and keeps us mindful.
Our staff. The teachers who share their knowledge with such passion, and who encourage us to do our best, work our hardest, and understand our bodies and our minds in a whole new way. The cheerful, lovely reception team and those excellent members who volunteer to help us clean mats, clear the studio and support the team.
The studio space itself. We have practiced in some pretty awful studio spaces, and hot yoga studios can be the worst, but we hope you agree that Fierce Grace Brixton is a pretty decent space to spend time, learn and grow.