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!
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.
Yoga Nidra is an ancient yoga practice, a systematic form of guided relaxation. It is also called yoga sleep but it is actually a state between sleeping and waking. It restores our body, senses and mind to their natural function. Regular practitioners say it often brings immediate physical benefits, even after the first class. It helps to reduce stress, improve sleep, lower blood pressure and it has the potential to heal psychological wounds.
In a typical Yoga Nidra session, Nina will guide you through several stages, setting intention, Sankalpa, then you learn to focus your awareness on your breath, bodily sensations, emotions and thoughts. Going on a gentle journey through your body and mind, allowing you to reach the most profound level of relaxation possible. It is a very simple practice, asking you to let go and surrender.
Yoga Nidra after the 3.30pm Classic class is a fabulous way to cool down, relax and let go. The strong Yang postures in the Classic class need a calming counterbalance, and what better than an hour of yoga Nidra! It is also a nice way to prepare yourself for a calming Deep core class at 7pm, taught by Nina, deep relaxation will energise and calm the mind, focusing more and letting your body go deeper into the postures. The benefits of Yoga Nidra are cumulative, the more you do it, the more you benefit.
Nina has been practicing and teaching yoga since 1998. Nidra has always been a soothing balance to the different styles she teaches and practices and is very keen to to broaden and deepen understanding and experience of Yoga Nidra in its totality, join her on a on the second Sunday every month on the transforming, healing and awakening practice of Yoga Nidra. Don’t forget your eye masks, cushions and blankets!
“I liked learning about the connectedness of my body, the atmosphere and Nina’s instruction.”
“It had a massive impact on me.”
“I feel completely relaxed and instead of trying to block everything out I have embraced thinking about the things I need to.”
“Nina is a superb teacher – she did an excellent job of leading us through the process. I achieved a state of deep relaxation – I’d love to do it again.”
Sunday 5.30-6.30pm on: 13th September, 11th October, 8th November and 13th December
£12.50 per class or £40 for all four
Fierce Grace Brixton studio manager Marija Jovanovic explains some of the benefits of a hot yoga practice this week. So if you want to know how good it is for you, read on….
1. Practicing yoga in a heated room increases pulse rate and metabolism, increasing blood flow to the limbs. This allows you to move more freely from posture to posture. In addition, a warmed up body can twist, bend and stretch further and more safely, which also allows for an internal organ massage. All inner glands, organs, ligaments and muscles benefit.
2. Yoga promotes the relief of stress and connection of mind and body and spirit. Through regular you will challenge yourself – as they say, life begins when you step out of your comfort zone! When you can stay calm and focused during hot yoga, you may find that that carries through to any given situation occurring in everyday life – enabling you to retain peace of mind as you face the challenges of life.
3. Hot yoga encourages elimination of toxins from the body by sweating. Your body burns fat more effectively in the heat, and fat may redistribute and be used as energy during the class. You may notice a your muscle definition and tone improves fairly quickly with regular practice as does your flexibility and strength.
4. The increase in sweat also benefits your skin; it’s the hot yoga glow! After all, the largest organ of our body is the skin, and a 90-minute class will help clear out the pores.
5. You may become better equipped to fight infection with regular hot yoga practice. Similar to when your body raises its temperature to fight infection, the raised temperature in the room assists in improving T-cell function and the proper functioning of your immune system.
So enjoy the experience – exploration of your own body, mind and soul. It’s a journey well worth taking and it’s really good for you.
We could bang on forever about the benefits of hot yoga, but today’s lesson from the health pulpit is about cortisol, A.K.A. the belly fat hormone, and how yoga kicks its big fat butt. Most of us would like a slimmer, flatter waist, or the sculpted abs flaunted by those annoying healthy selfie types, but if your body’s cortisol levels are out of whack then you are going to be fighting a losing battle.
Cortisol is the stress hormone released by the adrenal glands in order to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and the immune system. It’s really handy if you are running from a herd of predators (muggers, in modern times) but chronic stress is the scourge of our time. Sources that can contribute to chronic stress include:
– Lack of sleep
– Negative thoughts and worry
– Sugar and carb-heavy processed foods
– Caffeine abuse (more than 2 coffees per day)
– Loads of other things. Getting on the tube every morning. Sexism. Driving in London during rush hour. Night buses. Automated answering systems.
So anyway, chronic stress can create a nasty cascade of side effects – try these on for size:
– Excess belly fat
– Serious drop in testosterone (important for men AND women)
– Bone and muscle loss
– Low libido
– High blood sugar and insulin resistance
Bad, yeah? Reducing stress from your life, your diet and cutting out sugar and processed foods will help, but this will only get you so far. Guess what? It seems the most effective thing you can possibly do to normalize your cortisol levels…is yoga.
Why? It’s an amazing combination of deep breathing, mindfulness, and cardio vascular activity that seems to work together like the 3 witches in Charmed to burn off the excess cortisol, i.e. the ‘flight’ element of the ‘fight or flight’ equation, whilst at the same time helping the body take its metaphorical foot off the adrenalin button.
A regular practice will help regulate your cortisol levels, and the Fierce Grace system will help you redefine your body shape. Easy!