With extra sunshine earlier in the mornings, getting up has been that little bit easier, but what about when your body still wants more snooze time?
Take a moment before reaching for the coffee. An energising morning yoga practice can work as a natural stimulant to set you up for a productive day. We explore postures to awaken the body, mind, digestion and nervous system… and FYI, some of these postures can even be done from your bed! Namaste.
1. Child’s Pose. A ‘natural’ posture is a good place to start first thing. This feels great for the body, especially at the beginning of the day, since it’s calming and relaxing. Take time to breath into the back and lower spine and enjoy the wake up effect on your spine.
2. Cat-Cow. A great morning stretch which can help to open up your whole spine. Breathing deeply in this pose will massage your organs as you alternately compress and lengthen the intestines, bringing fresh blood to the cells, which are responsible for healthy gut function. Be sure to lead from the spine and only stretch your neck as far as feels comfortable.
3. Warrior One. Feel powerful, positive and ready to face the day with Warrior One. This posture combines leg strengthening and gentle back bending, bringing energy into the body. Tilt your eyes skyward for a deeper stretch. If you’re feeling especially energetic, move into Warrior Two by bringing the arms parallel to the floor and gazing over your front arm. Maybe even set an intention for the day whilst your feeling strong!
4. Bridge Pose. Back bends are all about unlocking the energy of the spine and nervous system. Lying in a semi supine position with your head below your heart calms the nervous system and open the front of the body. Use your hands under your hips for an extra deep stretch.
5. Cobra. Open. the chest and strengthen the core body with Cobra. This posture can help align the spine and invigorate the kidneys and nervous system. A great one to do from your bed – just throw off your pillows and get ready to start the day!
Fancy seeing the sun rise in a beautiful country while practicing yoga? Check out our FG retreats here.
“Ideal for those looking to escape hectic city life and find greater balance in mind and body.” – VOGUE
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.”
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.
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.
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.
This week we meet one of our Hot Founder members, Liz Popovich. Having regularly practiced hot yoga for six years now, she’s a great example of how yoga can keep you interested, engaged and ever evolving. Her practice today is just as exciting as it was when she discovered the sweaty delights of hot yoga, but she freely admits the variety offered by the Fierce Grace system of connected classes is her idea of bliss.
1.What brought you to yoga? How long have you been practicing?
I started practicing about six years ago. I had a back injury and my chiropractor told me that I had to stop using the cardio equipment at the gym, which was my only form of exercise at the time. When I asked what type of exercise I could do, she said: “yoga, but make sure it’s hot yoga!” I was living in Islington at the time, so I did a drop-in class at the City studio. This was before Fierce Grace – it was still the Bikram method – and I remember leaving the class, still dripping sweat even after changing and wondering what just happened to me! I was hooked. I moved to SW4 the next month and joined the Bikram studio in Balham immediately. I practiced six days a week there until the Fierce Grace studio opened in Brixton…
2. How have you been finding Fierce Grace?
I was in love with Fierce Grace from the very first class. As soon as the Brixton studio opened, I signed up for an introductory package, and knew I was going to commit to a Founder membership within the first week. The timing was perfect because I had reached the point where I was looking for more variety in my yoga practice. I actually abandoned two other yoga studio memberships to make the change. I find the classes brilliant, the teachers inspiring and the studio so friendly and welcoming. I feel like I belong there.
3. How has your practice changed or developed since coming to FGB?
I think I’m much kinder to myself in my practice now. This could be because I’m six years older, or because I’ve dealt with a nagging hip injury/condition, but I feel that I’ve moved beyond a solely physical practice into one that’s more mindful, observant and kind. It feels more comprehensive and much more satisfying this way.
4 . What is your favourite class and why?
I have to say all of them – because it’s the variety that works for me. I love the fact that in a given week, I get a mix of FG, Classic and either Core or Fix. For me that’s perfection!
5. What do you like doing in Brixton?
People watching. Every day I go there, I say to myself “you don’t see that every day!” Brixton has such a great vibe and colourful people – all you have to do is wander through the village and you’ll be entertained!
6. Tell us a fun fact…?
I was able to retire six years ago after being a co-founder of a medical software company. We sold the company and I took the opportunity to retire early after working way too much for the sixteen years I was part of the company. It’s not a coincidence that my yoga life started immediately after retirement – this is what anchors my days now. Bliss!
7. Anything else to add…
I am so grateful to all my teachers from FG and before whose generosity and inspiration help to keep me on my yoga journey. I hope to do this for the rest of my life.
Thanks Liz! It’s always a pleasure to have you at the studio. x
Whether you are new to yoga, or hot yoga, or Fierce Grace; or you are someone who has been practicing for a few years, one of the truths of yoga is that your practice is different every time you get on the mat. Class after class your practice changes and evolves. Mood, energy levels, stress levels, different teachers, there are lots of factors that contribute to your practice being a living, breathing, every-changing thing. But how to evolve more consciously? And how can we help?
Well, start by looking at the foundations of your practice. Is it solid? By this we mean paying attention to the building blocks of the poses. Set yourself up properly; even if you think you know how a pose should look and feel, or you have been practicing for a while, listen to the teacher and their instructions for getting into position. You may hear something different. Use your breath, use your focus and work to your limits, whatever they are that day.
Try some of the new classes on the Fierce Grace schedule. They have been created to help you work in specific areas, taking some poses further and breaking down others into different steps. Fly for upper body strength, Deep Dark Core to add a more meditative dimension, FG2 to take some poses into different expressions to keep you challenged, interested and evolving.
Go back to some of the old classes in the schedule. We all have our favourites, and the classes we aren’t so keen on. Sometimes we aren’t keen on them because they challenge us in ways that make us physically or mentally uncomfortable. Work through it, man!!! That’s what Fierce Grace means!
When you first get back on the mat in 2017, or you step on the mat for the first time, think about your practice. How has it changed? What do you want from it? Fitness, health, flexibility, free heating? Whatever it is you want to get out of Fierce Grace, bring your fierce, bring your grace and remember to bring a towel, appropriate clothing, no aerosols, plenty of water and practice evolution.
Yeehaw!!! New Classes for the New Year at Fierce Grace Brixton
We don’t know about you but we are looking forward to starting a new year. Don’t get us wrong, life at the studio has been fierce but 2016 has been a big old year for saying goodbye to some of the most creative talents who have touched many of our lives in varying degrees. And we have also seen seismic changes on the political landscape. So what will 2017 bring?
Two new classes, that’s what. That’s right, we are going to be introducing FG2 and Fly to the schedule over the coming months. We have already talked about FG2, designed to help you meet The Beast with grace, for all levels. It’s 90 minutes of getting out of your comfort zone, with expressions of each pose to challenge and surprise. If you came to our Christmas launch class with Michele Pernetta then you know all about this!
But brand new is FLY, a 60 minutes class designed to unlock the secrets to arm balancing. Look forward to building upper body strength, balance and focus, and learn the alignment protocols of inversions and arm balancing. As well as poses you have already experienced in other classes – Crow, Crane, Side Crow, Flying Pigeon, and Dolphin, – you will advance your practice with other fun balancing poses. Become super strong and light as air. Supafly.
See you on the mat, fly girls and boys.
Here’s what our studio team are looking forward to:
Katie Gerald owner, director and member
Three years ago we were laying out our plans to develop he studio and build a Fierce Grace yoga community in Brixton. Two years ago we opened. And here we are with a strong and vibrant community with wonderful staff and teachers who support our members in their commitment to maintain and develop their own physical and mental well-being.
I still continue to be wowed by it all. How supportive our members are of each other and also of staff and teachers. Some sort of magic takes place in the studio whereby members – new and experienced, young and old, fit and not so fit, healthy and not so healthy – take up the challenges, seize the opportunities and enjoy the benefits and variety of the six class integrated system of integrated yoga which is Fierce Grace.
So what am I looking forward to in 2017? Well without doubt, its going to be exciting and challenging. We’ve got a great new studio manager Serena whom I’m looking forward to seeing implement her plans to take the studio forward – to strengthen and broaden and deepen the community, focusing especially on overall service and also expanding daytime membership: there are plenty of classes, so there really is no excuse not to come practice during the day! So all you mums and dads and folk who live or work at home or nearby, come down to FGB and join me to get your day-time lift!
I’m looking forward to seeing our experienced teachers continue to develop their skills, especially for injuries, to help manage and help resolve them, reducing or eliminating pain; newer teachers honing their skills; and introducing and supporting brand new teachers – watch out for Saturday 5.30pm FG classes! All supported by ongoing training from Michele Pernetta and Emma Croft.
And some great new classes. FG2 will be starting on Friday evenings at 7pm taught by all-round star Shirley – this introduces a few little optional twists to FG to get you experimenting. Fly will be coming shortly, offering a 60 minute class working on upper body strength, complimenting Fix for when you need to get in and out quickly. And possibly a pregnancy class and more for children. And DDC – Deep Dark Core on Wednesdays at 8.45pm to take you into deep relaxation and mediation whilst practising Deep Core, completing the day, preparation for sleep – taught by Paula. All part of Fierce Grace being a living, breathing, ever-developing system of yoga.
We will also be having some great new workshops. Michele Pernetta will be comeing to lead some, and we also plan to have some tightly focused on specific areas such as breathing – get your pranayama breathing finally nailed! If possible, we’ll do another Touch Your Toes in Windrush Square.
And welcoming back the newly married Lisa Hong and also a new addition to the world when Victoria, the life force that she is, gives birth to her first child in February 2017. We wish them, and you, and Michele, well and all the best for 2017. Enjoy.
And more form our studio team on what they’re looking forward to in 2017…
I am looking forward to another fantastic year of self growth, kindness and of course being Mrs Willoughby!
‘Become who you are’
Settling into our new place: having spent some months travelling with my husband and after recently relocating to London (and living with a very generous friend for a while), we are looking forward to moving into our own place and make it our own. On a more yogic note, I look forward to overcoming once and for all a small and nagging wrist injury I’ve been nursing for some months: It has taken longer than I would have liked but I’ve learnt a lot from it (namely, how to work my planks in a healthier way by using my fingers and shoulder strength more) but I sure look forward to it being over!
In 2017 I am looking forward to always making the most of myself! This also means taking the absolute best care of myself, I intend to still be practicing the Beast when I’m 100+!
I’m looking forward to a fresh start, new happy beginnings, hanging with a loving, positive tribe, and welcoming in all the new good energy and blessings!
I’m looking forward to finding more time to relax and seeing what happens; how the year unfolds.
I look forward for meeting new/old people as each individual can inspire you and influence in some way, for new adventures, commitments (more hot yoga practice J) and learning opportunities. I am trying to see every obstacle and challenge as an opportunity to learn and growth, therefore, I look forward for those happy but also sad and difficult moments.
Lila C: I’m looking forward to keeping an open heart and mind, writing more and seeing where my next adventure lies…
I’m looking forward to the fresh wave of energy the start of a new year brings, travelling with friends and new adventures!
I can’t wait for the new FG2 class at FG studios (as a student more than as a teacher!). It’s the FG we know and love… and then some!I’m really looking forward to my partner and I exploring more of the gorgeous hidden mountain town of Telluride, which we discovered in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. It’s incredible any time of year, and we can’t wait to return again and again. I’m also hoping optimistically for 2017 to start undoing damage and uncertainty created in the world in general in an unsettling 2016. There’s always hope – things can and will get better.
This month we discover Posture Secrets from FG Teacher Paula Cronin.
Paula is a regular teacher on a Monday morning and evening. She’s the one setting you off for the week ahead with that oh-my-goodness-it’s-so-dark-outside 6.30am FG class. We thank you Paula!
Posture: Side Crow – Eka Pada Koudinyasana. (Arm balance or Circus trick?!)
Benefits: Arm and hand strengthening. Upper body strength. Balance. Lower spine flexibility.
Side crow was always my nemesis. It was the one pose I couldn’t do in the whole FG integrated system. I always figured that it was because of my knee injury or due to my thoracic outlet syndrome. I tried, but didn’t get it and felt very frustrated in the posture.
However, I first did Side Crow in my FG teacher training. We were doing one of our many posture workshops, and even though I was really scared (and quite frankly ashamed), I got up in front of everyone to admit this was a posture I had never managed to do. Then in front of everyone Michele talked me through it: I did everything she said (and it truly is all about the set up), I took my time, and I was in. Not only was I in my first ever Side Crow, but I STAYED in, for like, ages! I even remember looking up at Michele while I was holding the posture, and mouthing an expletive which could, for the purposes of this piece, be described as ‘Wow!’ I even cried. I will never forget it.
I see so many students in every FG class struggling in the same way and the chatterboxes in their heads are winning; “this is too hard, I’ll never be able to do this, oh this is for the advanced yogis, I will fall, I will embarrass myself, who do I think I am thinking I can do Side Crow.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the most “I’ll just sit this one out” posture around. To be honest, I used to do the very same thing as I thought I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to do it, that it was ‘too advanced’ for me.
But the truth is – everyone can do Side Crow (of course as long as injuries such as wrist strain don’t contraindicate it).
So it is important to listen to the teacher and follow instructions step by step. If one step is missed out, the set up is incomplete and it won’t come together. I see lots of people trying to get into it before setting up properly. This just causes frustration, disappointment, and a misconceived belief that the pose isn’t for them.
So here we go – The Setup
Firstly, the key part of making Side Crow work – is having the forearms vertical. You are, in a sense, creating an upper arm shelf and moving the weight onto the vertical forearms; a bit like resting on a table or chair.
– Ground the base of the knuckles down into the floor (like crow claws!)
– Bend your elbows to create a vertical shelf with your forearms to take the weight
– Lift your hips high to drop your knees on top of the elbows
– Look forward
– Lift you legs!
Mindful set up.
Successful Side Crow!
So next time you are taking the Fierce Grace class don’t hesitate to ask the teacher to assist in giving it try – it’s easier done than said!