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 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.
This Valentine’s Day, forget the chocolate, flowers and squeezing into overcrowded restaurants!
Why not celebrate Valentine’s Day with a little bit of yogic love? Physically stretching the muscles in your chest, shoulders and belly can create a deep emotional release, helping you to appreciate and honour yourself and your loved ones.
Can Yoga help you fall in love?
Let’s look at the science: from a physiological point of view, yoga helps high cholesterol, blood sugar levels and supports the circulatory and respiratory systems. On the emotional side, Yoga promotes a healthy, open heart, can live stress and anxiety. The heart chakra is related to our ability to give and receive love.
Our FG classes are full of gorgeous heart and chest openers like backbends, Cobra, Camel pose, Wild Thing, Locust, Wheel and Bow pose. Chest openers are a great way to open up the muscles of the chest to reverse forward-leaning posture and are said to bring more joy and love into your life. Understanding the benefits of these poses will give you motivation to include them as a regular part of your practice.
Chest openers can combat the blues and improve your mood. When you open the heart by lifting the chest, your outlook improves. The typical posture of someone who is in a poor mood or depressed features hunched shoulders and a hanging head. If you roll your shoulders up and expand your chest, you automatically look more confident, open and radiant!
Start by loving yourself and opening your heart to all possibilities.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
First classes can be overwhelming and great at the same time. Even if you’re coming back to FG after a seasonal break, it’s useful reconnect with your intentions. We chat to FGB teacher, Omae about her Top Tips for hot yoga practice… one of the biggest she says: ‘be kind to yourself’. Spot on, Omae. Thank you!
What brought you to teach Fierce Grace yoga?
I’d been working at the studio and practicing Bikram for about 6 years but as soon as I tried Fierce Grace I knew I was ready for a change. So when Michele announced the very first FG teacher training it was too good an opportunity to miss! It was four intense weeks but the real life changing experience starts when you get up and teach your very first class. I was terrified! I still get nervous but I don’t allow my nerves to get the better of me 🙂
Any advice for newcomers?
First time in the hot room can feel amazing but it can also be overwhelming! It’s different for everyone so come with an open mind. Get used to the heat by taking it very easy and pacing yourself…. get used to breathing through the nose. Rest as much as you need. Expect to feel exhausted as you are working twice as hard as anyone else but it does get easier.
What about advice if you’ve been practicing a while?
Those that have been coming a while can face their own set of challenges. Learning how to be kind to yourself can be one of the biggest. Don’t feel you have to push push all the time! Sometimes it’s about holding back and really listening to your body, accepting yourself just the way you are. There’s potential for transformation but it can be a long, hard journey. Connecting with breath is the surest way to advance your practice.
How do you encourage people out of their comfort zones?
Try out the different classes and teachers. If you always have the same spot in the room change it up a bit! Sometimes it’s small changes that make the difference. Noticing your habitual patterns is the first step, we all have them! Practice giving your full attention to any task you do, including your practice.
And tell us about evolving your own practice
This has been a real journey for me and very humbling. I love this yoga so much and it’s become such a big part of my life! However the last few months I’ve had to really learn how to hold back as an old back injury has resurfaced and it’s really affected my practice….I can’t do half the stuff I used to do, and as a teacher, that’s hard! But I see lessons everywhere and I know that there’s a huge one here for me. It’s actually given me a valuable opportunity to understand just how important breath and awareness are. I’m gradually getting stronger again and I’m strangely grateful for this experience.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m having a wonderful time teaching at FG Brixton, it’s a beautiful, well run studio with amazing staff and students, I love it here! We are all one community and this incredible practice gives us the chance to not only connect with ourselves, but also each other.
Here’s to a year of positive change, more love, more understanding, more Peace!
Wise words, Omae! Want to know more? Come to her classes on Wednesday 10am and 12.30pm at FGB.
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.”
You’ve heard of the 30 Day Challenge, right? You’ve seen those brave souls rock up at all hours, every day to the studio, ticking off each class on the white board? You might have noticed that Teresa McGovern has powered past the finish line of her 30 Day Challenge and is now heading towards her 60 Days!
Go Teresa! We love having you here every day with a smile on your face! You are truly Living Life with Fierce Grace.
Find out what makes her tick….
What brought you to yoga? For how long have you been practicing?
I’ve been doing FG since the Studio opened in Brixton (Dec 2014), prior to that I did Bikram (a little less regularly) , which I started in 2009 and prior to that I did other random yoga classes (but not a regular practice).
And how have you been finding Fierce Grace
I love it. I love the variety of the classes and I love the studio.
What made you decide to do a 30 Day Challenge?
I came back to London after having been away for a lot of the Summer, having done hardly any exercise. I’d put on weight and felt very unfit, and wanted to change that and challenge myself.
How have you been finding it? Have you noticed a change in your practice?
Really great, tough dragging myself out of bed some mornings (early morning is the only time I can really fit in classes) but once I’ve finished class I feel brilliant. The change in my practice has been slow but I am beginning to notice the difference.
We see you have been attending the full range of classes (Classic, FG, Deep Core, Fix plus SOB) therefore making full use of the integrated Fierce Grace system. Has this been helpful for the 30 Day Challenge?
Absolutely. It’s fantastic to have the option of fix for those days when I’m short on time and I love that class. I also hadn’t really tried Deep Core before the challenge but am beginning to really like that class too and find it’s brilliant after having done a couple of days of Classic or FG, and I weirdly find this class tougher. I’ve tried wild too and liked that, but not quite ready for the Beast yet!
Do you have a favourite class?
From a purely practical point of view I love fix, as I’m always rushing around but I do love FG too. I especially like having music.
What is your favourite pose and why? And what is your most challenging?
I like Camel, although it’s challenging it has such an immediate impact. Challenging – well loads – big to stretch, froggie, side crow…
On a different note – just to learn more about our Brixton community – how long have you lived in Brixton?What are your favourite things to do in Brixton? What do you like about the area?
We’ve been in Brixton since 2014, but were in Stockwell before this so were in the area. In terms of things to do…I think we are really lucky in Brixton with loads of great eating and drinking places around the market and at Pop now, and also some great haunts locally for us up Brixton hill. The cinema is fantastic, and I have a 5 year old, so we spend alot of time at Brockwell park.
Anything else to add…
Just thanks to all the crew at Fierce Grace Brixton. All the staff are amazing, it really is the friendliest studio I’ve attended!
Thanks so much Teresa and keep up your excellent work!
Release the grip of your Ego during class by following these simple, self-awareness steps.
Embrace the good and the bad days. Sometimes the last thing you want it to leave Netflix, central heating and chips and get yourself down to the studio. We know, we feel it too! But often they are the most rewarding classes; when you don’t really feel like it, you leave your chatterbox behind and boom, head up, knees locked, stomach in – it’s a rewarding class.
You are not your ego. You’re not in competition with yourself or anyone else. Ah yes, the wandering eye in the mirror checking out what someone else is doing, how low their Eagle posture sinks, or how impressive their bind looks. Practice is for you at your own speed and pace and experience.
Compare = Despair.Don’t judge or compare. You could balance longer yesterday, but today your body is doing something different – that’s ok, it might even mean that you can go even deeper into another posture. Surprise yourself. You don’t always know which postures are going to feel like a second skin and which ones will leave you hanging.
Let yourself fail. It’s on our FG poster, right? Laugh trying. We mean it. Fall on your face in crow pose, slide out of dancer like Bambi on ice; its how we learn where our daily limits are and how we become friends with our body.
Be grateful. You were kept late at work, someone is in your favourite mat space, your forgot clean pants, yeah a bit rubbish, but in the grand scheme of things – it’s all ok. Be grateful for the class, for the teacher, for the focus, for your strong legs and determination for getting to class like trooper. Be grateful for yourself. Don’t be your own enemy.
Listen to yourself. Give yourself permission to rest when needed, let your body adjust and develop at your own pace, practice proper alignment before depth, listen carefully to the teacher’s corrections and always try to leave your ego at the door. You never know, it might just lead to a breakthrough!
It’s all about gratitude this month, inspired as we are at this time of year by the harvest festival and the sheer abundance of crops we enjoy in the UK. We have been scrumping, brambling, crumbling, preserving, chutney-ing and making various fruit gins to our hearts content!
Gratitude is a central part of a yoga practice, so here’s five things we are grateful for at Fierce Grace Brixton – let us know what you are feeling grateful for….
YOU. Awww, schmaltzy maybe, but so true, we never fail to be grateful for the wonderful members that make this studio such a friendly, happy place to practice.
We are also grateful for your personal hygiene, your thoughtfulness to other members, your not using aerosols in the changing rooms, your turning up dressed appropriately, your cleanliness, and most of all for your turning up to your classes on time, so as not to disrupt everyone else. Keep up the sterling work!
The Fierce Grace system and Michele Pernetta, who created this perfectly formed system of interlinked classes, have both created a fierce yoga practice that works, for balance, for strength and flexibility, and for living life with Fierce Grace. We are grateful for the fact that it continues to challenge us, keeps us hot and keeps us mindful.
Our staff. The teachers who share their knowledge with such passion, and who encourage us to do our best, work our hardest, and understand our bodies and our minds in a whole new way. The cheerful, lovely reception team and those excellent members who volunteer to help us clean mats, clear the studio and support the team.
The studio space itself. We have practiced in some pretty awful studio spaces, and hot yoga studios can be the worst, but we hope you agree that Fierce Grace Brixton is a pretty decent space to spend time, learn and grow.
Nope, not a blog post about the clocks changing, but a brand new type of membership we are introducing at Fierce Grace Brixton. For just £69 a month the Daylight Savings membership will give you access to any class starting between 10am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Yes my friend, you heard that right. £69 a month.
Why? We know our neck of the woods here in South London is knee-deep in freelancers, creative types, and people who work nights (Brixton’s nighttime economy is the epitome of booming), as well as parents whose only hope of exercising is when the kids are at school.
And it’s no swizz. The schedule at Fierce Grace Brixton is packed with options. There are at least two classes on weekdays which fall into this time slot; one at 10am and one around lunchtime, so whether you come after you drop the kids off at school, or take a class before starting your afternoon’s work you can really get your moneys worth.
According to Wiki, Winston Churchill argued that daylight savings enlarged “the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people who live in this country.” We’re with Winston.
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!