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.
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.”
‘Spring forward, fall back’ might be an easy way to remember which way the clocks go when they change but they can also be a bit of a reflection of what happens to our energy levels. Motivating ourselves to exercise in the winter months can feel a bit more of a challenge, and those early morning classes are a real pill. The days are shorter, it’s harder to get out of bed, it’s cold…the excuses are SO much easier to make. But we are here to remind you of the benefits of keeping up your Fierce Grace practice this winter, when you might think you would really rather be hugging a hot water bottle in bed…
IMMUNE BOOSTING. Hot yoga is great for your immune system, helping you combat the inevitable germ assault that is winter in the city. Think of it like one of those power packs you pick up in a video game, or the real life Ready Brek glow that keeps your Wei Qi healthy allowing you to deflect germs like Wonder Woman and her magic bracelets.
BEAUTY BOOSTING. The warmth of the studio also helps with circulation, giving your complexion a glow, your extremities a warm blooded hug, your muscles a chance to enjoy improved blood flow and your digestion a massage. All good news for anyone who finds their veg box is full of root veg, their skin drying out with central heating and cold air, and their hands and feet encased in so many layers they go up a shoe size.
ENERGY BOOSTING. The lack of sunlight affects our melatonin levels, which in turn affects energy levels. Maintaining a regular practice will help ensure you sleep well, helping stabilise energy levels. Necessary for the ‘heads down’ approach everyone gets until early December.
MOOD BOOSTING. Exercise is a mood booster, not telling you anything you don’t already know there, but Not only that but the warmth of the beautiful Fierce Grace Brixton studio, and its happy, smiling members will give you a boost that will last all day!
Earlier this month, Fierce Grace launched GoFGYourself, where we invited you to share your stories with us about how Fierce Grace has changed and enhanced your life. It has been amazing to hear your tales and to receive your feedback following the transformations that happen at the studio. In celebration, this week we have two members who have fully embraced Fierce Grace having seen what it could do for them. Introducing Barbara and Chico, two of our regulars who totally Live Life with Fierce Grace!
My name is Barbara Gillett, I am a 65 year-old pensioner and I am also a fitness instructor. I do chair exercises with the elderly in various places, including in an old people’s home and community centre.
One of the ladies at my local gym where I attended two yoga classes per week told me about Fierce Grace Brixton and about the benefits of “hot yoga”. At this time, I had started feeling pain on my right leg especially around my knee. I went to see my GP who told me I had arthritis and referred me to a specialist at the hospital. Today I am still waiting to be seen. I decided to take matters into my own hands and take the opportunity to go to Fierce Grace and to try the 30 Days.
Going along for my first session, the service I got there was one of such warm support and a great feeling of well-being in myself. During the initial few sessions of hot yoga my pain was already reducing. By the end of the 30 days, the pain was completely gone. I couldn’t believe it!
I felt so great that I realised continuing with the hot yoga was the only way for me to be pain-free from arthritis. I made it a priority to attend 3 times a week. After every session I feel energised, flexible and my joints are relieved.
I would recommend to anyone who suffers from arthritis to at least give it a try. Until today I still cannot believe how long I was suffering with arthritis. Thanks to hot yoga I can today have a normal, healthy life where arthritis does not stop me from doing my job and from having a life free from constant pain!
“You should do some yoga!!!” is the phrase that kept popping up in various conversations that occurred just after my Mum passed away. So, when it was said to me for the 5th time in one week I thought, “Hello, life is trying to tell me something so maybe I should listen.”
I’ve always been physically active throughout my life and have been aware that my emotions are in part connected to my activity levels.
When my Mum passed away I found myself lost in a sea darkness with tidal waves of emotion that kept leaving me out of breath, sleepless and highly emotional. I thought that I would need help to cope, though I didn’t want to take any sort of medication as what I’m going through is all part of dealing with acute grief and loss.
I had tried a couple of yoga classes around Brixton and Dulwich and they just were not right for me. Then my next door neighbour told me about Fierce Grace. Mind you, he had been talking about it for the last year; I guess this time I was really listening to what he said!
I went in just to check it out. But by the time I had left, I had signed up for the Unlimited 30 Day trial! That says it all really!
The various classes work for my different daily needs: Deep Core for strength, Classic for understanding my body and Fierce Grace for movement and stamina. However, the one thing I found in all of them that has helped me cope with each passing day is the use of breath and having to centre and listen to myself each class. It has become a small journey and victory. In doing the classes I’ve learnt to breathe slowly and steadily so when I have a wobble or suddenly find myself in a torrent of emotion I breathe, find my core and do my best to keep steady, which works 95%of the time.
Though I know this journey through life is no easy feat for any one in this world, in doing Fierce Grace classes in an environment that is safe, clean and loved, with teachers that are really caring and amazing, it makes life a little easier to deal with.
Over recent years, hot yoga has got a lot of press. From miraculous tales of recovery to celebrity endorsement, we can now read about hot yoga just about as much as we can practice it. Andy Murray and Ryan Giggs have sworn by it. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told David Beckham by practising hot yoga he could add years to his football career, well into his 40s. Even the tour-de-force Beyonce said the journey of a hot yoga class can be ‘therapeutic’, finding you can do so much more than you think you can. We may be thousands of miles from Hollywood but we are lucky enough to see these transformations at our studios every day!
In celebration of these joys and benefits of the Fierce Grace system, last week Fierce Grace launched #GoFGYourself. We have invited FG practitioners to share their stories with us by posting video clips or photos on Instagram.
Kicking off what we regard as Instagram’s hottest new trend is Chris Polglase aka The Jungle Drummer, with a positively astounding tales of recovery. Chris is one of the UK’s best drummers, a prestigious live drummer in the club and festival scene, having worked with the likes of Nigel Goldrich, the producer behind Radiohead, Shy FX, DJ Fresh, Scratch Perverts and many more. Whilst playing a live show he plays up to 180 beats per minute, totalling about 11,000 per hour.
Following years of playing, accompanied by poor diet, drinking and negative thought patterns, Chris had chronic pain in his hands. He had RSI, breakages, swelling and has permanent osteoarthritis. It became so bad that he was unable to drum for two and a half years, a devastating blow to him mentally and professionally. Meeting Michele Pernetta, he came along to a Fierce Grace class where Michele could offer him modifications for his hands. After one class he went home and drummed pain-free for a full 30 minutes. After one year of regular Fierce Grace practice and lifestyle changes he is now drumming faster than ever before.
He explained “Yoga has helped me take control of my body, and my healing, without needing excessive treatments and physio appointments. When I don’t attend class for a few days sometimes the pain in my hands returns and then my mind-set changes. I then go back to class and I am again able to manage my pain and I feel better physically and mentally.” At Fierce Grace Brixton, it is a pleasure to see little changes in our members every day. Coming in to open up at 6am, we are not exaggerating when we say it is the reason we get up in the morning!
Chris added “Anyone with severe injuries, who is unable to work, or do what they love, or suffers from severe anxiety or depression, I really suggest attending a Fierce Grace yoga class. The benefits you receive from just one class are exponential and the potential to feel good and change your body and mind can happen within your first session.” With a regular practice, we have seen a member half their body size. With regular practice we have seen a member combat depression and find a happy home with us and with themselves. One of our newest recruits limped in the studio and is now skipping out, having seen the effects on her arthritis after a few days!
The Fierce Grace system is a full mind-body workout. It strengthens, it stretches. You breathe, you focus, you relax. The diversity offered by the integrated class-system provides you with a framework with which you can explore various movements, tempos and attitudes. It is YOUR Fierce Grace.
Just the other day we were delighted when a member told us she had taken the day off work to celebrate her birthday; her gift to herself being to practice not one but two Fierce Grace classes that day! She told us “After 15 years of running I started yoga because I was injured. Fierce Grace gave me the body I wanted, then it gave me the peace of mind I needed and now I just do it because it’s fun… FG is my gift to myself”. I think this means we can describe Fierce Grace as the Pringles of yoga: “Once you pop you can’t stop”!
What could Fierce Grace do for you? What has it done already? Has Fierce Grace enhanced your lifestyle? Has it helped you recover from an injury or allowed you to return to or keep doing something you love? We would love to hear from you! To be in with a chance to win 1 month Unlimited yoga, post your video clips on Instagram before 11 May and tag #GoFGYourself and @fiercegraceyoga and @fiercegracebrixton A winner will be announced then!
During this time, Fierce Grace Brixton is running: Check our Instagram for our daily posts of regulars telling us what they love about practising Fierce Grace and you can email email@example.com your words or photos for us to post, to be in with a chance to win a Brixton bag and Complimentary class for a non-member friend.
In Chris’s words, quite literally “Anything is possible with Fierce Grace”.
Last month, several of our Brixton members completed the Fierce Grace Yoga Teacher Training. This month for our ‘Member Mention’ community feature we have the lovely Kelly Garrett to tell us more about the training…
Congratulations on completing your Fierce Grace Yoga Teacher Training, Kelly!
Please give us a little background on yourself…
My background is in mental health as a Psychotherapist. I run my own private practice in Clapham and manage a ‘talking therapies’ contract for the NHS in Lambeth. Plus I supervise trainee counsellors’ with their clinical work. My earlier career included extensive work in the media industry as a Human Resources specialist.
Can you tell us about the Fierce Grace Yoga Teacher Training?
The content of the Fierce Grace Yoga teacher training programme is abundant in its offer. This isn’t just some yoga course where you might spend most of your time learning about the asanas; instead, we were taught and introduced to many subjects that reflected the twenty three years’ experience of its founder, Michele Pernetta. The rich philosophy of yoga was captured within the first couple of weeks and delivered succinctly by Peter Cherry. Not necessarily the most exciting subject for me, Anatomy gave us a greater understanding of what’s going on internally with muscle groups and bones during practise, which is very important considering the many injuries that students have when they come to yoga.
Delivering a yoga class to 60+ practitioners is no ‘walk in the park’ and confidence alone is not enough to get you through. Body language, breath and voice play an integral part in engaging your students – apparently, the deeper the voice, the better. A Voice Coach provided us with many tools on how to use our breath and voice in preparation for the podium and we were filmed regularly to observe how we delivered a class, some of which would be great material for a comedy sketch!
How did you find the guidance through the course?
Michele Pernetta, following her long history with yoga, radiates everything yoga. Her knowledge and experience permeates every page and aspect of the course and she was dedicated to making sure we got as much as possible from every minute of every hour during the training. She has an incredible sense of humour, particularly when sharing the many anecdotes from her past. At the same time, she is extraordinarily humble and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She was gentle in her approach and made the sometimes arduous task of learning accessible to us all. She has spent countless years establishing the Fierce Grace programme and has certainly developed a fantastic product. Most days began at 06.00 am and ended at 21.00 which was both physically and mentally challenging. If nothing else though, being taught by Michele was worth the thirty days in and of itself!
Karen Bellfield, or ‘mother earth’ as I liked to call her is a truly grounded Senior Teacher whose presence and energy was calm, holding and authentic. Someone who really knows her stuff, she effortlessly supported us in trying to make sense of the amount of data we had to digest during posture clinics. Her instruction was rich and meditative with added wisdom as she guided us through many morning classes. I always looked forward to our modules with Karen.
When and why did you decide to do the teacher training? What were your motivations and aspirations?
I first thought of doing teacher training in 2011 when I was practising Bikram Yoga. At the time, I just ended a long-term relationship, sold my flat and moved into full time clinical work, having spent many years in the corporate world. It was a huge transitional time and yoga felt very containing. When you fall in love with yoga, one of the first things you notice is an intense desire to share it with others. Of course you’ll talk to your friends about it and drag them along with you to classes, but for me, the possibility of teaching was exciting and after many years of practise and my love of the FG sequences inspired me to do the Teacher Training programme.
How long have you practiced yoga? What first brought you to yoga and what about it did you love?
I’ve been practising yoga for 6 years now. I initially started with Bikram yoga, then moved into Vinyasa flow and finally ended up at FG. I particularly love the Deep Core and FG classes. Both have helped improve my practice significantly. Hip openers and more Yin postures are my favourites. Moreover, I have a very busy schedule, often juggling many things while maintaining a complex case-load within my private practice and yoga helps me remain centred. My practise has allowed me to develop strong mental and physical strength, clarity of thought and a renewed sense of being.
What would you say have been the most enriching / positive / beneficial aspects of the training?
A deeper understanding of yoga, both from a philosophical and physical aspect. As a practitioner, I didn’t realise the challenges teaching a class may present. I always thought that it was about delivering the monologue, but it’s so much more than that. Each and every student is equally important and have different needs, whether new, injured or advanced – balancing this all while making sure you deliver an energetic class on time can be tough, so I have a new found respect for my yoga teachers.
What did you find the most challenging?
The long days were probably the most challenging – up to 15 hours per day, 6 days a week is no small feat! By the end of week 2, I felt like I was living in a bubble! Additionally, trying to absorb the enormous amount of data in a short space of time was daunting.
How did you stay motivated and energised throughout?
Laughter! We laughed a lot. Being a bit of a perfectionist, my starting point was to try and get everything right. There were definitely moments when my motivation dipped, but by the beginning of week 3, I realised that at the end of the 30 days it didn’t mean that I would somehow become a perfect yoga teacher, but that I have a good enough framework to develop and like most professions, this would take months, if not years. Michele’s encouragement and support was always a good antidote when my energy was in the basement.
Has your training changed the way you approach your own practice?
I have a different perspective. I have a much better understanding of what it means to practice yoga. I am more accepting of my limitations and have an awareness of what’s going on inside my body. I’m not preoccupied with how deep or how perfect my postures are, but being ok with where I’m at on that day. As a therapist, I’m also acutely aware of the mental benefits and approach my practise more holistically.
What would you say your own teaching style is like?
I’m still in the process of developing my own style as a yoga teacher, but I imagine my class will be challenging and energising yet equally containing and soothing. I hope that students will leave feeling more connected to themselves and their practice. I have spent many hours listening to different types of music to create a playlist that will hopefully reflect my intention to provide a space for them to have this experience.
Congratulations Kelly! We look forward to seeing you at the studio soon.
Did you miss our Runners’ Workshop last weekend? Maybe you just need a little bit more of a strettttch… Today as we are blowing the dust off our trainers ahead of summer (we defy you, rain!) we have been looking at some of the best postures for those post exercise cool-downs. If you’re anything like us, the journey from hibernation to international athlete is sure going to need a little yoga! Strengthen, improve your flexibility and prevent injury, huzzah!
Work on getting down low into Warriors I and II in order to alleviate tight hips whilst stretching the thighs and glutes. Then transition into Warrior III to lengthen running muscles, strengthen ankles and core and improve balance and posture. And don’t forget to channel your inner Warrior vibes!
Forward Standing Bend (Uttanasana)
Stretch the hamstrings and straighten the spine. Take hold of either elbow and rotate from side to side to release out of the hips and lower back.
If you are warmed up you can take all 10 fingers behind the backs of the heels and bring your forehead to your knees and belly to your thighs; use the inhalation to pull and exhalation to relax the upper body down.
Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)
Strengthen and lengthen the legs. Step one foot back about 1m (front foot facing forward and back foot 45 degrees), inhale and lean forward with the straight spine. Interlace the fingers behind the back or bring them together in reverse prayer as we all do in FG! Little mico-mm adjustments to keep on lengthening.
Garland Pose / Squat (Malasana)
Free up the front and back torso and stretch out the groin and ankles. Keep your feet as close together as possible then as you exhale lean forward and press your elbows lightly against the inside of your knees.
From here, you can always take it FG style into Crow to work on your balance, focus and confidence!
Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
… And breathe… Although this foundation posture can sometimes be a challenge on tired muscles, the yoga favourite Downward Dog is immensely restorative. It’s great for stretching the entire length of the spine and legs. Pull in the belly to simultaneously strengthen the core.
Cobblers’ Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Opening up the groin, hips and inner thighs. With every exhalation take the body a little further forward to release tension in the back.
Similar to Cobblers’ but with your legs straight out, this is a great stretch for the hamstrings and calves. Maintain a straight spine and with every inhalation lengthen up and pull in the belly to keep your front and back core engaged. With every exhalation continue to deepen until you comfortably reach the maximum point of your stretch.
Reclining Pigeon (Sucirandhrasana)
Stretches thighs, groin, hips, psoas and IT band. Deeply stretches glutes preventing sciatica. Increases circulation into these areas and stimulates abdominal organs.
TOP TIP: Relax into this as much as you can and breathe: your body will respond best to the stretch and allow you to open more deeply
Cow-Face Fold (Gomukhasana)
This can be a little tricky to get at first but it is an absolute winner in getting into those deep hip muscles. It works into the IT band and the piriformis, a hard-to-reach muscle in the glutes which gets tighter with exercise such as running. If one or both hips start to come up off the ground you can always use a block. Too much? Stick with Half Cow Face and breathe!
Spine Twist: Half Lord of the Fishes Twist (Ardha Matseyendrasana)
After a long run, twisting that spine can feel incredible! A healthy spine will help with your posture and mobility whilst running. Maximise the benefits by focussing on twisting through the belly rather than just the neck.
You can learn more about these postures in our series of inter-connected classes. To learn more about them look here and you can also book in online.
In our busy 21st century schedules, devoting hours to maintaining a strong and healthy body is a serious hats-off pastime. It would be really great if we could install a high-fives giving machine as you walk out the FGB door. After a Fierce Grace class, your body is singing from the inside out (even if you feel like you could savasana forever). That’s why it is essential to give your body what it needs to repair. In the fitness world, not balancing your nutrition alongside your work-out is like hiring builders to tear down some walls in your house and asking them to rebuild them… without giving them any bricks. And we want strong houses!
Exercise is a physiological ‘stressor’: challenging the body to make it better. Side-effects such as sore muscles and the need for more sleep or food is the body’s way of telling us that we have depleted our fuel resources and that we need to replenish. This pattern of temporary depletion allows our bodies to adapt to the demands being placed upon it. For example, with increased cardio, the body becomes a more efficient respiratory mechanism (#cleanleanbreathingmachine) and with weight training, muscle fibres are broken down to create bigger and better ones. This process, known as ‘re-modelling’, (cue the cloning generation) works best when we are giving the body what it needs. Alongside complex carbs, good fats, minerals and vitamins, protein is a major power-player. All hail the protein!
During exercise, we break down carbohydrate stores and protein structures in the muscles. It is considered best to replenish as close to the end of the work-out as possible as the body is keenly awaiting the arrival of new recruits! Muscles need 10g-20g protein to maximise recovery post work-out.
Humans are protein beings. Protein accounts for about 15% of the average person’s body fabric and mass. It is an essential component of every cell. In fact nails and hair are mostly protein. The body needs protein to repair tissue, to make enzymes, hormones, and antibodies for the immune system; to carry messages within the body, follow instructions and perform basic to complex bodily functions. In a nutshell: protein is essential.
Protein is a ‘macronutrient’ meaning that along with fat and carbohydrate, we need it to stay healthy. Unlike fat and carb, however, the body does not store protein, meaning that we need a constant flow. Recommended daily intake is estimated to be in the region of 56g for men and 46g for women. 7g equates to a large egg, half a cup of lentils, 1 tbsp of peanut butter, 1 cup of milk.
Protein is made up of chains of amino acids which the body absorbs and breaks down to turn into different amino acids. Imagine amino acids made up of letters of the alphabet which the digestive system re-arranges to find the words it wants to spell out.
The fact that protein creates hormones which regulates metabolism makes protein the serious King of the Castle when it comes to health. High levels of sugar and simple carbs can spike our insulin levels. Therefore, it is worth setting yourself up each day with some high protein and fat-rich fuel to maintain optimum blood sugar levels. If you aren’t an egg enthusiast, a sucker for the smoked salmon or a peanut-butter proponent, there are other quick and easy solutions to increase your protein intake and maximise your workout!
This brings us on to one of our favourite recipes!
2 scoops vegan protein powder (available to purchase at FGB reception)
1 tbsp coconut oil (great also for skin and hair)
1 tbsp flax seeds (balances hormones, source of omega 3, reduces inflammation)
1 tbsp chia seeds (fibre, antioxidants, fatty acids)
Handful of leafy greens (kale / spinach)
Handful of berries (strawberries, blueberries)
If you are interested in learning more about how you can fuel your practice, come along to our Runners’ Workshop at 5:30pm on Saturday 2nd April. We will be having a pre and post talk where you can ask any questions to Katie Young, who will be delighted to help with your nutritional queries! We look forward to seeing you there. Book now at www.fiercegracebrixton.co.uk/schedule
This workshop is free to members and £5 to non-members
When you first visited Fierce Grace Brixton, you were probably told about the inter-related system of classes. But what exactly does that mean? This week’s blog explains the cutting-edge, unique system, which was “25 years in the making” and designed specifically for YOU. AND for the person next to you.
Having brought Bikram Yoga to the UK in 1994, Fierce Grace founder, Michele Pernetta, has long steered the revolutionary course of hot yoga. Over the course of two decades Michele has taught over a quarter of a million bodies, of all different shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. Fierce Grace is the culmination of these years of learning and practising, experimenting and innovating.
Through yoga, we cultivate a greater self-belief and self-awareness, experiencing mental and emotional benefits. However, it starts with moving the body. In its simplest form, yoga is a scientific method to maintain, explore and enhance the body’s natural range of movement. This is, in itself, vast… equally as vast as the many facets of our personalities and individuality. Michele began to see that this was not all catered for or drawn out by the existing yoga market or a fixed one-class system. Individuality is not a one-size-fits-all.
Michele therefore devised a menu of classes, each built on the same principles but reflecting the varying ways which we can move our bodies. This also accommodates the changes in our minds and emotions from one day to the next. We have the capacity and need to be inward and softer one day and outward and fiery the next. The Fierce Grace system supports this 360 degree approach. Working with over 150 postures, the six classes all share the same skeletal system, using the same core postures and the same attention to building a strong and solid foundation within the body. However, they vary in their energy levels and “different moods” and movements, so that you every day you are changing it up in order to get deeper into the bones, the muscles, the joints and ligaments, getting at them from all angles, nurturing their every need and unlocking their potential. As well as exploring different aspects of your own personality: the quieter sides against the out-there sides, the yin and the yang, masculine and feminine, the fierce and the grace.
Fierce Grace yoga is the yoga-system for everyone: from the ‘stiff, old and broken’ (may we present to you the S.O.B. class! – With our senior teacher Krzysztof breaking the postures down, focussing on alignment and providing any modifications where necessary), your average Joe off the street, to the super fit and the athletes. A lot of media imagery surrounding yoga focuses on the pretzel-bending ‘wrap your leg around your head’ elite – (Michele: “I have always found the images used to promote yoga in the press very offensive! The tall, blonde, skinny girl in Lotus position in white organic cotton is so off-putting; and I am a tall, blonde, skinny girl! So I can’t imagine how put-off a big bloke with a beer belly must feel.”) Not at Fierce Grace. Here it’s OK to fall over (or would we say actively encouraged?) and to “laugh trying”; we tell students to let go of their pride and “stretch don’t pose”.
At Brixton, we work hard to create an ego-free, down-to-earth, “all-in-it-together” attitude. We say “work hard”, and work hard we do, but in many ways it seems second nature as we all share the same vision of normalising yoga, spreading its joys and encouraging every single person who walks in through our door! One of our many valued members said to us recently “When I walk into this studio, I immediately feel love. To me, I’m not just coming here to ‘do yoga’, I’m coming here to do yoga with my friends. It’s like a family.” That is what a Fierce Grace studio is: somewhere where you can be yourself, explore yourself and learn to appreciate yourself, whether you can touch your toes or not. (But honestly, laugh trying).
Our advice to you this week FGB-ers is to take FULL advantage of the system put in place for you. Embrace the diversity. Mix it up. Use it to explore the different parts of your body and your self. Get to know yourself. If you are a Fierce Grace fanatic how about dipping into a Deep Core? Or converting to a Classic? You’ll be surprised what happens when you let loose and throw yourself (please not literally) into different parts (outside) of your comfort zone. Quite soon, you won’t only be Living Life with Fierce Grace, you’ll be living Fierce Grace. x
For those of you who practiced with us this Monday 29th February, you’ll have enjoyed our free fruit give-away of 29 bananas, 29 apples and 29 oranges to celebrate a whole extra day of the year to practice yoga! We’ve since been feeling a little bit fruity, so this week we are bringing you some sweet facts about your lunchbox favourites:
Useless but nevertheless fun facts about bananas
·The clever name for the banana is musa sapientum, meaning “fruits of the wise men”… We knew it.
·Bananas were initially brought to the Americas in 16th century from West Africa by Portuguese sailors – bananas, we had no idea you were so exotic!
·Bananas gained their popularity at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Celebration where they were sold in foil wraps
·Fyffes, the British Banana supplier, received its first order in 1888.
·There are almost 1,000 varieties of bananas worldwide, growing in over 150 countries, producing 105 tonnes a year.
·More than 100 billion bananas are eaten every year globally, making it the 4th most popular agricultural product.
·In the UK, we average 10kg bananas a year per person, about 100 each and collectively over 5 billion.
·Uganda is the highest consumer of bananas, with an average of 500 pounds of bananas per person per year. In fact, the Ugandan word for food ‘matooke’ means both ‘banana’ and ‘food’.
·India and China are the largest producers of bananas.
·Bananas grow on plants, rather than trees, which are actually classified as a herb, making them the world’s largest herb. They are also classified as berries.
·Banana plants can grow up to 25ft high with leaves measuring over 9ft long and roots over 100 years old.
·About 75% of banana’s weight is water, where as apples are made up of 25% air. Both fruits therefore float in water, as do watermelons.
Useful fun facts about bananas
·The riper a banana gets and the greater the amount of brown spots forming on the skin (the point that most of us aim our ripe bananas at the dustbin), the higher the amount of TNF they contain. Tumor Necrosis Factor is a chemical which has the ability to rebalance abnormal cells within the body, combating tumour cell growth.
·Full of antioxidants, bananas boost our immune system and increase our production of white blood cells.
·A low glycemic carbohydrate, they are packed with vitamins and minerals. Our body converts the high levels of the protein tryptophan into serotonin which helps us to relax and maintain a happy mood!
·The low sodium, high potassium ratio contributes to healthy hearts and blood pressure; Eat your heart out!
·Rub the inside of a banana skin on a mosquito bite and the natural oils will stop it itching and reduce inflammation. Apply it also to a burn for a speedy recovery or fix it on top of a splinter so as the natural enzymes can draw the offending item to the surface of the skin!
The inside of the peel can also whiten teeth and shine your shoes!
Ultimate banana tip: Peel a banana from the other way up to avoid the stringy bits! GAME CHANGER