Who doesn’t love that feeling of waking up refreshed after a really deep sleep? Your mind is clearer, tasks are simpler and your mood is lifted. These refreshing nights can be few and far between with shifting working patterns, family life, partying or too much screen time, so we’re investigating the economy of sleep and the ways in which hot yoga can benefit your sleeping patterns.
A new study indicates that yoga can help to improve sleep among people suffering from chronic insomnia. Researchers at Harvard Medical School investigated how a daily yoga practice might affect sleep for people with insomnia and found broad improvements to measurements of sleep quality and quantity.
A combination of meditation, slow movement and deep breathing are key to drifting off peacefully. And these postures have been said to be super effective in preparing your body for a night of relaxed sleep:
Legs Up the Wall: Lie on the ground on your back and put the back of your legs up a wall (keep your legs straight), so your body is in an L-shaped pose. Relax into the position, hold it for at least 30 seconds and focus on your breathing.
Lying Butterfly: Lie on the ground on your back. Press the bottoms of your feet against each other and let your knees fall out to the sides. You can put a pillow under your knees if this feels too strenuous.
Corpse Pose: Lie on the ground on your back with legs straight, arms by sides, and palms facing up. Breathe slowly, focusing on your inhales and exhales.
We catch up with the FG Brixton Team to find out what they’re looking forward to in 2018. It’s going to be a great year – we can feel it!
Katie: “More yoga. More peace and love”
Nigel: “Meeting new members – getting to know existing members even better – supporting members, teacher and staff in the wonders and benefits of FG hot yoga – and practising even more myself!!! Making 2018 “The Year””
Serena: “a year of growth, self expression and new possibilities”
Rebekah: “A year of happiness, family and love… and I’m really excited about getting married!”
Dilana: “I’m looking forward to completing my degree!”
Glenn: “Putting down the heavy weight of 2017 and walking into this beautiful new chapter in life.”
Jo: “More blessings, less lessons and discovering what unfolds as I continue my yoga journey.”
Lila: “More bucket list travel!”
Tori: “In 2018, I’m looking forward to dancing and having more fun. And practicing the new IN class. See you there yogis!”
It’s that time of year again; time to celebrate Fierce Grace Brixton 3rd Anniversary of proudly keeping Coldharbour Lane HOT. We have many amazing members who’ve been with us since the door flew open three years ago and lots of new faces coming into the studio every week.
We catch up with FGB studio owner, Katie about all things Brixton and how she’s seen the ripples of FGB reach far and wide…
What are you most proud about on this the third anniversary of FGB?
I’m most proud of what the yoga studio has done in building a beautiful community who are making a difference to themselves in a huge transforming way. Not only that, but making a difference to others – inside and outside the studio.
What do you love about the community?
It is so richly diverse, inquiring and nurturing. Every time I come and practice I feel connected, more aligned and happy. And that is thanks to what the members and the staff bring.
I believe it helps bring everybody’s best sides out. What is not to love about loving yourself?
Is there anything you’d like to say to the community?
Thank you for everyone who has been art of the journey over the past few years.
Is there anything you’d like to say about the future?
Here’s to many more years of transformation and bringing yoga to more friends and neighbours.
To celebrate and say ‘Thank You’ for your continued awesomeness, we’re throwing a party for all our fierce yogis on Sat 9th December. Join us for an 80’s inspired FG class with Nina, a herbal tea pop up, glasses of fizz and a very special gift for all members…
At FGB, we’re taking teachers’ injury knowledge up a level with many of our Brixton teachers recently taking part in a 6 day SOB training – even those who presently teach it.
Ex-professional dancer and Brixton teacher, Lisa Missah tells us about her experience over the 6 days.
What did the week entail?
Over the course of the week we covered detailed studies of major back issues, including problems with discs and the sacroiliac joint, as well as the psoas muscle, hamstrings and injuries to the knees.
What is an injury?
An injury can be a specific problem to a particular area of the body, back, knees, hip or shoulder. However some people who practice yoga have a general ache or pain that doesn’t necessarily have a diagnosis: this is very common with the back, in particular. Injuries can be caused in many ways, through sport, accident or general wear and tear; poor posture, long periods of sitting in the workplace and the use of our smartphones can all contribute.
What has the training brought to your teaching?
Not only are increasing numbers of people referred to yoga to assist in strengthening a weakened physical area, but also as a preventative method for further problems. Therefore, it is imperative that the teacher has a good solid understanding of possible injuries and the necessary modifications and props to apply within postures to achieve the best results.
What has the training brought to your own practice?
The training has given me a much deeper understanding of injury identification, necessary modification and how to approach students with care and a sense of empathy. I am interested in yoga from a therapeutic point of view and the SOB training has definitely enhanced this for me; especially in my own practice, as an ex dancer with 2 prolapsed discs!
An example of this understanding would be: identifying when to take the stretch a little further and when to back off. Using this knowledge enables the teacher to modify postures and give individual attention to members displaying different injuries, even in a busy class!
At FG Brixton, you’ll find SOB every Sunday 12.30pm: excellent for beginners, those with injury and we’ll help set you on your path to do the other classes with an understanding of your physical issues.
Our very own Brixton teacher and member, Lotte van Buuren talks to us about all things BEAST.
As a recent Teacher Training grad, Lotte loves seeing members try something new; so if you’ve never tried BEAST before, you might be curious about the class or even if you’re a regular at our Saturday 12.30pm class, then check out her blog below with tips and tricks to take your practice to the next level.
“Am I advanced enough to do the Beast?” is a bit like asking “am I flexible enough to do yoga?” – you will be in no time if you try and commit.
What I like about the Beast is that progress is fastest and most visible from all FG classes. You’ll be amazed what you can do after a couple of attempts at that seemingly impossible pose.
It also gives as many variations as you may need. When you feel strong there is always something more to work towards. When you’re not feeling as strong as you thought you would, you can transform the class into a long version of FG. And yes, long it is. But don’t let that put you off; take it easy and do really take a break if you need it (everyone does at some point in this class!)
So, if you’re ready to take the plunge let me give you some advice:
1 – Take it very, very easy during the first 20 minutes or so. The beginning of this class is deceptive as it’s 2 similar to FG. Be aware that it’s a warm-up for the tougher and more fun parts of the class.
2 – Be religious about keeping a calm breath through your nose, more than in any other class. There are hardly any breaks so if you lose it, do way less or sit down.
3 – Tame your ego. Be curious, not jealous.
4 – If possible, try to become aware of your breathing even before getting to the studio. Calm your breath and mind so you’re in the right state of mind when you start.
Thanks Lotte, great advice on this class.
Still not sure? Chat to our friends reception team and dive right in there. You’ll tame the BEAST in no time!
We chat to Brixton member Kat Berry, who’s begun a 30 Day Challenge for the mental health research charity The McPin Foundation.
There’s much to say about the physical benefits of hot yoga: major players in the field include improved strength, balance and flexibility. But what about the mental benefits? Many doctors suggest patients alleviate symptoms caused by stress and anxiety by taking up yoga and meditation.
Kat’s inspiration? “Regular practise encourages me to take care of myself and spending an hour and a half in a hot sweaty room gives me time to focus on myself and forget what is going on in the outside world.”
(Oh and she even moved house to be closer to FGB, now that’s dedication!)
Where did the idea to do hot yoga for 30 days come from?
I’ve always wanted to do the 30 day challenge but I have always found an excuse not to – either the time commitment or just the fear of knowing how tough it was going to be held me back. It wasn’t until I was lying in a class one day that I had the idea of doing the challenge for charity. I felt if I could do it for a good cause it would give me the motivation to power through the full 30 days. I am looking forward to challenging myself, raising money for mental health research and seeing how 30 days of consecutive yoga affects me.
How did you get involved in hot yoga?
A friend encouraged me to try Bikram with her, and I found it really tough for the first class, but afterwards I felt better than I had for ages and I was ready to try it again. Not long after that I tried Fierce Grace and I loved the variety of classes, 3 years on I have never looked back.
Have you got any tips for people looking to try Hot Yoga?
Take your time, pace yourself and have a rest if you need one. Yoga is not a race and it is easy to keep comparing yourself with others in the room. I have been practising long enough now to realise where my strengths and weaknesses are, and I am no longer fighting my body but trying to work with it. Progress may be slow but it is always fantastic when you can stand that bit straighter or reach that millimetre further.
Why did you pick the McPin Foundation as your charity?
I’ve recently started working for the McPin Foundation, a mental health research charity that puts people with lived experience at the heart of the research process. For me the importance of mental health and wellbeing is all too often overlooked. Having previously worked in research I have always been passionate that research can help to build our understanding of mental health problems and build better wellbeing for everyone. Personally, I have found that practising yoga regularly helps me with my own mental health and dealing with stress. Regular practise encourages me to take care of myself and spending an hour and a half in a hot sweaty room gives me time to focus on myself and forget what is going on in the outside world.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges you’ll face in your hot yoga marathon?
I think for me the biggest challenge will be making sure I’m motivated to get up early for those early morning classes before work. I’ve been on yoga retreats in the past and the longest back to back stretch I have done is ten days, which was challenging enough. One of the biggest obstacles is going to be battling through the muscle ache to get myself into that next class!
What is your favourite class and why?
My favourite class is Fierce Grace, I find it challenging and invigorating at the same time, but I do hate all those ab crunches sometimes! Fierce Grace2 is always fun to try out new things and tie myself in new knots, Shirley Williams always keeps it fun.
How have you been finding Fierce Grace Brixton?
I moved to Camberwell about 2 years ago and I’ve got to admit that having a Fierce Grace studio nearby was quite a big part of my decision to move here. I really love the studio environment – Maria and Tori at reception are always welcoming and after going on the Indian and Spanish retreats I often bump into friends and end up nattering with the teachers after class. It’s great being part of the FG community!
If you would like to sponsor Kat’s 30 day hot yoga challenge and support lifesaving mental health research please visit:
When was the last time you practiced a class that was different to your routine?
Autumn is here. Change is in the air. A fresh season and a chance to shake things up. Try something new and take your practice to a another level. Learn to FLY at FG Brixton.
“Fly challenged my core and I surprised myself that I could do Dolphin and lift my whole body…wow the strenght of my mind at Fierce Grace Yoga.” FG Brixton member, Jo Thomas.
Every Tuesday at 4.30pm, Wednesday at 5.45pm and Saturday at 2.30pm.
Yes, folks – that’s three times each and every week to challenge yourself!
A new one hour class with energetic flows and the secrets to arm balancing: building upper body strength, balance and focus. Learn the alignment protocols of inversions and arm balancing, and turn yourself upside down, get fit, and enjoy new challenges. Prepare to advance your practise and learn user friendly “glamour poses” such as Crow, Crane, Side Crow, Flying Pigeon, Dolphin and other fun arm balancing poses. The class is woven together within the Fierce Grace framework of flow, intensity, rest and challenge, to get you super strong and as light as air.
This week we are catching up with our much loved and super loyal staff member Tori, who has just reached her two year anniversary here at Fierce Grace Brixton. Tori isn’t just a smiley face behind our reception but is also a professional dancer and dedicated yogi who practises regularly at our Brixton studio. Find out what she loves about Brixton, practising yoga and working at Fierce Grace Brixton.
What’s it been like working at FGB?
Best job in Brixton! What I love most about working at FGB, is seeing members completely transform through yoga. It can be life changing -within a matter of weeks, new yogis are calm, confident, strong, healthier, happier, full of energy and so motivated. A totally upgraded version of themselves. One member even completely healed her Arthritis through practicing FG yoga. I therefore came to the conclusion that yoga is magic.
How have things changed?
We have got so much busier and as a result, the studio’s energy and strong sense of community is blooming. One of the best additions to the studio has been the garden. What was once an empty space is now a little peaceful, secret, Jasmin scented sanctuary in Brixton. We’ve even got our very own lemons.
What have been the biggest challenges?
Not so long ago when I was cleaning up, a rather sweaty and used mat came of the rack, and planted itself directly on my face – that was pretty challenging! However, I would have to say my ultimate challenge was standing in as studio manager, during the busiest time of the year in 2016. The experience gave me an excellent opportunity to develop strong decision making and problem solving skills! Regular yoga practice hugely supported me throughout this time, allowing my mind to be left clear and focused.
How often do you practice – and what are your favourite classes?
I practice regularly. I absolutely love the Fierce class – otherwise known as The Beast! I love being challenged and pushing myself, which is exactly what the Beast class gives me. I feel most satisfied when I feel like I’m growing and advancing. I also love practicing Fly, Fierce Grace and FG2. However I must say, as I have a tendency to be a bit ‘Yang’, it’s very important for me to do a Deep Core every so often, so I can get a dose of ‘Yin’ and therefore balance myself.
What do you like about Brixton?
The energy! Brixton is always buzzing, I call it the Brixton Buzz.
The never-ending list of great places to eat.
The enchanting tree on Windrush Square.
The diversity of people and the happy sense of community Brixton holds.
The fact you can get five avocados for a pound at the market.
Anything else you’d like to tell us…!
For anyone new to the studio: Welcome to FGB! I promise you that a regular yoga practice, will be the best health insurance you could ever invest in!
For those who have been with us for a while longer: It has been such a privilege to not only support you and your yoga practice over the years, but to see you grow and achieve great things through yoga. Keep going!
Love Tori :o) x
Thank you Tori for all you do here at Fierce Grace Brixton we appreciate you and love having you as part of our team.
Brixton – we love it. From our great position on Coldhabour Lane, we are surrounded by so much great stuff; you never need get on the Victoria Line again!
Food, drinks, entertainment, you name – it’s local. We explore our fave spots to hang out in SW9.
Mamma Dough. A stones throw away from FGB, Mamma Dough can be found serving up “great tasting and good value sourdough pizza and a selection of homemade dishes & desserts”. Some of our staff claim it to be the best pizza is Brixton!
Federation. Literally our next door neighbour in Brixton Village and a hotspot for FG staff meetings. It’s the perfect route to the tube following those 6.30am classes for those early birds among us indeed of caffeine.
Want something to wear? Phillip Normal is king. Also in Brixton Village, Phillip Normal specialises in funky, individual prints: from T-shirts of Pat Butcher to the eponymous pug dog – it’s all original and very, very Brixton. We love it!
Nan Ban. Get a fix of Japanese Soul Food just along the road on Coldharbour Lane. Chef and founder, Tim Anderson was Masterchef’s youngest winner and this place is featured in the 2017 Michelin Guide. Using ingredients found locally in Brixton, expect flavourful, soulful ramen amongst other favourites.
Pop Brixton. Shoreditch ain’t the only Box Park about town. With cinema showings, Tai Chi, street food and independent shops, Pop Brixton is a very cool place to hang our day and night. “Pop Brixton is a temporary project that has turned disused land into a creative space for local, independent businesses. Come and discover South London’s most exciting start-ups working in food, retail, design and social enterprise.”
Need a a place to work in Brixton? CAYA is a coffee shop and workspace for you the freelance life. Become a member or pay-as-you-go, but know that you’ll find your focus here… that and a great flight white. Freelance dream, really.
Then there’s this really amazing Hot Yoga studio, with great teachers and staff, big changing rooms and it’s called Fierce Grace… oh yeah – that’s us! Another popular Brixton hangout.
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.