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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
Putting Your Back Into It – Fierce Grace For a Healthy Back
It might be a cliché, but it is a busy, stressful time of year. Its easy to get caught up in the fun and the drama, but we can rush around and forget to take care of ourselves. Fierce Grace Brixton co-owner, Katie, did just that when she hurt her back doing a quick, sharp movement while not being fully aware of her body.
After being in agony for weeks, Katie says that she’s now learned a lot about herself. It might not come as a surprise that yoga has helped in her recovery. To assist her recovery she came to FG 5 days a week. The results…? She claims her back has been healed by FG!
“Heat and posture sequences, particularly Classic and Core have been life saving!”
We advise you see a medical professional to ensure you are doing what is best for you – not all back pains are the same! But if exercise is part of the prescription, here are Katie’s fierce tips for working with back pain.
Rub Tiger Balm on aching muscles before going into the hot room. The menthol works deep into the muscle for extra relief (don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards to avoid stinging eyes!) A great tip from FG teacher, Gwen.
Let the teacher know you’ve got an injury. Our teachers are trained to know the correct modifications for injury – let them guide you.
Be aware of what your body is telling you. Listen to your body completely. Use your breath, don’t push it and breathe into the full posture.
Avoid forward bends. Instead of floor bow, turn onto your back and slide up into bridge pose. Try to pull the stomach muscles in while stretching – this helps support the back and engages the core.
Be kind to yourself and REST. Katie used a heated lavender pillow under her back at night. This heat and extra support helped feel more comfortable and get a good nights sleep!
As an early preview of next month’s theme of GIVING, we are very pleased to introduce Fierce Grace Brixton member Affiong Uffort.She is currently midway through a 100 day hot yoga challenge to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) so of course we wanted to find out more…
On Discovering Hot Yoga
I discovered Hot Yoga 12 years ago. After having my twin girls, I was overweight and going through some personal challenges. I saw someone practicing hot yoga on TV, and I immediately researched it online, and joined my local branch.Prior to Fierce Grace, I was just practicing the normal Bikram yoga which was just the same series of 26 postures for every class. Fierce Grace gave me options. It allows me to go deeper into my practice. I love the variety of classes, and all the teachers bring something different to each class.Fierce Grace is amazing.
Why a 100 Day Challenge?
I previously did a 90 Day hot yoga challenge for great Ormond Street Charity in 2011. That was very challenging but thoroughly enjoyable. I went deeper with my postures. Some that I couldn’t do previously just fell into place during the challenge. I just had a beautiful little baby boy in August, and I’m just thankful for his health I just wanted to give back. Hence the challenge for charity.
I chose this particular charity because I love Great Ormond Street and appreciate the work they do. As someone with three wonderful children, sometimes we tend to forget about those who are struggling with a sick child. To have hospital like GOSH there to care for the really sick children and make them better is really amazing. Especially when you see them all grown up and adults in the community. It’s important to support them financially to ensure they can keep doing the great work they do.
The 100 Day Challenge
My practice has definitely changed. I can now do a proper back bend and the pain in my spine from my epidural has completely disappeared. I still struggle with some postures, but with time I’ll get better.I use the full range of classes to work my whole body but my favourite is classic. It’s still tough as nails, but I really enjoy it.I love triangle pose! It’s funny, but every time I do triangle I feel free, like I release the stress, the worries, the tension and everything else I want to get rid of.Standing head to knee still eludes me, but I will keep pushing.Watch this space!
I’ve lived in Tulse Hill for about 12 years and I love how vibrant Brixton/Tulse Hill is. Brockwell Park is amazing! I love hanging out here in the summer, picnicking with the kids, and I love the Ritzy Cinema, it’s very cosy and welcoming.
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.
You’ve seen it on the schedule. You’ve thought about it… twice. You were on your way and then found a burning desire to go to Wahaca on Saturday instead. You’re not sure you’ll be good at it. What if everyone can get their leg behind their head? What if everyone else is levitating when you arrive???
Now, it’s time to zip up that chatterbox and step outside your comfort zone. The worst that can happen is you fall over laughing! (I did)
Fierce is a wonderful sequence of postures, which are accessible to all, but take your practice to the next level, with fun and laughter along the way. If you’re new to it – Fierce is a friendly, safe place where you can try postures out for the first time and learn the developments of poses from other classes. If you’re experienced – Fierce will stretch and guide you to new heights.
When I did Fierce for the first time last week, I found it a really open environment, lots of encouragement to try something new and even surprised myself with what I could achieve. Yes, there are some super challenging postures to aspire to, but it’s a great feeling to get part way there. It also felt like a collective, as over half had never done the class before.
Krzystof kindly took some photos of us during the class and when we took a look afterwards, we were all really pleasantly surprised at how well we did – hey, we even looked good!!!
Alternatively, if your just starting at FG or have any injuries, get yourself down to our SOB class every Sunday. This is a user friendly class where there is more time to understand how to work safely and effectively, get to know the poses, learn modifications and ask questions. Know what works for you and your body. Better still, if you have a friend who is FG-curious, but maybe a bit unsure, bring them along as a big open-armed introduction to our classes and what can be achieved with regular practice.
It’s been said that we should aim to do 3 things each day that scare us: a daily risk quota if you will. Start this by coming to Fierce on Saturday, challenge yourself, do something that scares you; be Fierce!