Tag Archives: posture

Stiff, Old or Broken?

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.

Boost your protein with Cake!

FG owner, Katie explains all about her unique Cakes & Shakes event and the benefits of protein high snacks…
Did you know you can bake amazing cakes with protein powder?
Its hard to believe how versatile whole food protein in powder form can be; along with your coconut oil or cocoa nibs, they’ve swiftly become staples of the new-clean eating kitchen cupboard in many families!
The protein powder we choose here at FGB is a vegan, super food made from yellow split pea, cranberry and brown rice protein. It’s clean, it’s pure, it’s gluten free, dairy free, whey free and nut free and there are no artificial sweeteners, colourings and preservatives in there either. We have our fridge stocked with our ready mixed “to go” version – for your ease straight after a class, and there’s also individual 20 grams servings sachets to blend yourself at home.
Whats more, it’s packed with 20 essential vitamins and minerals, it has a full amino acid count – which is rare to find in any plant based or vegan food, making it a delicious nutritious power-packed meal. When made as a smoothie or a cake snack it will carry you through breaks and dips in energy when you need a neat homemade superfood treat.
Why do we need protein? 
In all meals you should aim to balance 20 grams of protein; whether your a vegan, pescetarian or meat eater, along with leafy greens, some of your five a day fruit and vegetables and little whole food carbohydrate –  preferably slow releasing (i.e. brown rice rather than white, sweet potato rather than white potato etc).  In fact, you’ll need this combination even more so after a yoga class or workout, as it’s been proven that 20 grams of easily digestible protein within 1 hour of exercise restores muscle repair and growth, prevents tears and can even illuminate those pesky achy muscles!
What is this power-packed Recipe?
All you need is a couple of eggs, almond or rice milk and some protein powder, plus a sprinkle of your favourite extra, I use cranberries. What I’s like to add is that mostly people use their protein powder for shakes or smoothies, which is a great way to combine with your super greens, berries, flax and nuts (not your husband’s!) to make a great meal after yoga, but sometimes you want something you can bite into, and this is where the protein powder is genius for baking.

Using a large fork mix all of the following ingredients in a medium bowl:

-4 scoops Arbonne Meal Replacement Shake mix (vanilla)
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 egg
-1/4 cup egg whites
-1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Spray muffin tin with cooking oil spray and pour batter, filling each tin about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until golden on top. Yum!


On Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th, we join Katie, FG owner and resident protein lover in the studio, sharing recipes, cakes and free samples for you to try and buy all at 20% off this weekend ONLY.

A clean eating role model for us all,  Katie has spent over half her life living gluten and dairy free, discovering many great and varied ways to eat well and this in turn saved her from the diagnosis of a crippling disease, Endometriosis. She is happy to answer questions on a wide range of health spectrum and also including ways to Live Life with Fierce Grace.
RSVP to reserve your cake!

“Anything is possible with Fierce Grace”

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 megan@fiercegracebrixton.co.uk 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”.

The science behind falling in love

Love is in the air… Love makes the world go round… It drives us to madness, to euphoria, to despair; that crazy little thing called love…

How good do you feel after you sweat it out at hot yoga? Through exercise we release endorphins giving us that post-work-out buzz, dopamine giving us a big dollop of pleasure and serotonin, providing us with a healthy appetite, a restful night’s sleep and a positive outlook. Powerful hey? Well, the science behind love is pretty similar. At Fierce Grace Brixton, we are getting loved up for Valentine’s Day this Sunday. Whether you’re a yogi with a Single-Standing-head-to-knee, some Loved-up Lunges, or a “It’s Complicated” Crow, we’ve done a little digging into the science behind love.

Research has shown there are three stages of falling in love, all with a varying hormonal response.

Stage 1: LUST
Psychologists have suggested it takes us anywhere between 90 seconds and 4 minutes to detect “fancy-ability” in someone, 55% of which is from their body language. The things we find attractive in a partner can be the result of a “love map” – things instilled in us from childhood about what we do or do not want in a partner. Furthermore, it has also been suggested we all belong to certain “chemical families”; and instinctively choose partners who balance and complement our own bodily hormone levels. Or maybe they just have a nice smile?

At this stage, the hormones oestrogen and testosterone play a key role; testosterone is not only confined to men, indeed it makes for some hot-bloodied females out there!


Cue the love-struck Stage 2! Example A: Take Shakespeare’s tragic hero Romeo: “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night” Classic Stage 2.

A whole range of hormones and neurotransmitters called ‘monoamines’ flood the bloodstream. Those giddy butterflies… the teenage giggles… staring into space at your desk fawning over your new love then boring your friends with it over dinner… Yikes. The increased levels of serotonin in the blood stream render us with temporary insanity!

Dopamine, created in the brain, secreted by the adrenal glands, affects our organs and our senses, influencing our mood and emotions with big highs and lows. And, oh, our sweat glands: those clammy palms you get around your new love-interest whilst you’re trying to be totally cool, calm and collected? Blame science. Love is quite literally a drug; nicotine and Class A’s scientifically have the same effect on the brain!

Also enhancing the release of testosterone, our sexual desires are ignited and we more aggressively and passionately pursue our beloved.

The neurotransmitters norepinephine and PEA act as a stimulant. In our alert state, we begin to notice all those ‘small things’ that make us fall in love. The brain actually starts to re-wire itself through the central nervous system, creating a rewards-type reaction when we are with our loved one.

Here, two more hormones that come into play. Oxytocin, is the hormonal creator of strong bonds. It is secreted into the bloodstream by mothers during childbirth. It is also secreted along with vasopressin to strengthen our feelings towards our partner, released in its greatest form after ‘mating’. What a wonderful place the body is.

Science aside, this Sunday we will be celebrating the theme of love with our fabulous Partner Stretching class, taught by senior teacher Nina Rashid. Nina will guide you through some partner stretches and balances that may have you falling out of postures, but certainly more in love… Maybe you want to gaze into each other’s eyes, maybe you want to giggle along with a friend or maybe you want to come along solo to soak up the FGB love, come along and live and love life with Fierce Grace. And enjoy strawberries and fizz afterwards. Win win. Book here.

Barre Concept: ballet, pilates & yoga fusion

The Barre Concept is one of the latest fitness concepts taking the UK by storm. Founded in ballet and Pilates techniques, with a focus on strength and conditioning, the Barre Concept is a high powered, fast paced and fun way to sculpt your body.

The low impact, total body workout lifts the butt, tones the thighs, flattens the abs and sculpts the arms, whilst protecting the joints. Small isometric contractions are performed and integrated with an interval training approach that burns fat and develops cardiovascular fitness. Posture, alignment, flexibility, stamina and core strength improve. The result is a body that is realigned, rebalanced and works harmoniously and efficiently.

This is an intense yet accessible work out offering a wide range of variations and modifications, making it suitable for all abilities and experiences; no previous ballet experience required. Barre Concept is the perfect complement to your yoga practice, helping you to feel grounded and strong on the mat, from head to toe.

When can I try it out? Fierce Grace Brixton will be hosting two Barre Concept sessions in the up coming weeks.

13:30-14:45 Saturday 26th September

13:30-14:45 Saturday 24th October

The sessions will be led by our very own Grace Farmer. Grace is a fully qualified Barre Concept teacher and has been teaching across the country for the last two years. Previous to teaching Barre, Grace has 20 years of dance and performance experience and is of course, a dedicated yogi at Fierce Grace Brixton.

“My sessions are always set to fun, upbeat music to help motivate you as we work through some tough exercises that are guaranteed to make you ‘feel the burn’. Expect to get sweaty, feel energized and push yourself. I promise you’ll enjoy it!”

Michele Pernetta core poses

Can you name the 7 core poses of the Fierce Grace system?

Tonight, Fierce Grace creator and founder, Michele Pernetta herself, is venturing south of the river to teach an extra special Fierce Grace class here in Brixton. It’s going to be popular! In preparation, she explains the 7 principle postures behind our classes…

Fierce Grace is a system of interconnected classes. These classes work together to allow the body full expression, full range of motion, full functionality. The classes have a core set of poses running throughout them, poses that ensure we never lose our core, our support system, and build a powerful foundation.

These core poses recur in various forms throughout the FG system in order to ensure the correct alignment of the body is regularly re-patterned into the musculo-skeletal system. They provide the “skeleton” to all the classes so that continuous progression is made, structural alignment is regularly repeated, as well creating a template for safety, as the key muscles are continuously strengthened and conditioned in every class. This approach provides a structure on which the other more than 100 poses of the FG system can be safely supported.

“Hanging a beautiful, heavy coat on a bent flimsy hanger will only cause the hanger to bend and eventually snap. That’s why one must create a solid and aligned foundation in the body, while building musculature and before attempting more advanced poses.”

~ Michele Pernetta

To progress in our goal of having a strong, flexible, aligned body, which will prevent wear and tear, injuries, ageing and degeneration and last us a lifetime, we must develop and maintain:

  • A strong flexible spine
  • Flexible pelvis and hips
  • Aligned and flexible shoulders
  • Strong quads
  • Aligned ankles, knees and wrists
  • Strong hands and feet
  • Strong Core muscles
  • Strong back muscles
  • Flexibility of hamstrings and glutes
  • Upper body strength

To this end, the following poses repeat throughout all the lasses, albeit sometimes fast, sometimes slow, and in beginners and advanced forms, as well as with variations:

1) Spine compass series (Half moon, Backbend, Hands to feet)

2) Chair / Utkatasana, advanced (3 parts)

3) Standing Separate Leg Stretching

4) Bow

5) Warrior 2

6) Reclining Pigeon

7) Down Dog

Although the FG philosophy is that one needs to move the body in every possible way, fast, slow, linear, circular, static, flowing, and to confuse muscles with new poses so we can not rely on habitual patterns and awaken dormant muscles, there is a need to core poses in order for our main alignment needs to be met. These poses neutralize the wear and tear of our daily lives. Sitting in chairs, cars, at computers, the lack of movement, the compression of the front body, the weakening of the back body, these potentially degenerating habits need regular, even daily, countering and neutralizing.


Beautiful sequences for a beautiful body

breathe fierce grace brixton

Why you need to breathe correctly

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.

As part of your Fierce Grace practice, your teachers tell you when to breathe, or how to breathe as you move.  Part of this is because, let’s face it, it’s easy to forget when you are concentrating.  It’s nice to be reminded.  But there are some very practical reasons why pranayama, to give it the yoga name, is a as important as the poses themselves.

The O2 / CO2 exchange:  When you breathe in, you are filling your lungs with O2, aka oxygen.  The lungs take it to the chamber of the heart that releases it into the bloodstream, and this act also increases the blood flow, in order to take all the life giving O2 round the body.   On the exhale, your body is getting rid of CO2, carbon dioxide, which is a byproduct created by the mitochondria (energy production cells) as they burn sugars, fats and proteins.  CO2 is biochemical waste and it makes the blood more acidic – which can impair the function of the body’s cells.     By changing the length of the breath in and the breath out, you can help your body do its job more efficiently.

The nervous system:  this is a simple one.  Fast breathing dials up the stress hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and anxiety, while slowing the breath down dials down all of the above AND turns up relaxation, mental clarity and calm.

Maximising the benefits of your practice:  each pose, or asana, has been carefully chosen for whichever Fierce Grace sequence you are doing, because of its benefits to the body.  Using the breath properly not only enhances the physical benefit to the body but helps you get deeper into the pose, and power boosting the benefits.

So don’t just look at what your fellow yogis are doing, listen to your teacher and try and follow their directions on breathing for a healthier, calmer, deeper practice. Breathe.


A big shout out to South London cyclists, as Fierce Grace Brixton is hosting a dedicated cyclists class for non-members on the 11th July 2015.   The price for the class is just £5 so if you have a budding Bradley Wiggins or Victoria Pendleton in your life you would like to get excited about Fierce Grace please do send this on to them.

We know that South London is a hotbed of cyclists clubs, so teacher Victoria Grove will run a specially adapted Fierce Grace session, focusing on addressing cyclist-specific conditions and complaints – perfect for those who have never practiced hot yoga before and are curious about what it can offer them.

The special class is ideal for cyclists – enthusiastic amateurs and two-wheel commuters alike – who are looking for something else to complement their fitness.   Designed to be educational, as well as fun, Victoria will take cyclists through poses from the Fierce Grace series, explaining the pose and its benefits at each step, to facilitate a really deep stretch, and strength and stamina building.

Studio owner Katie Young says: “Cyclists often find their posture suffering as their natural position on the bike can leave them with rounded shoulders, and it also has a real impact on knees and thighs.  A regular hot yoga class will help realign the spine and strengthen essential muscles for a more balanced approach to fitness.”

Yep, true dat.

The class is at 5.30pm on the 11th July, costs just £5 and pre-registration is essential to guaranteed a place – just email info@fiercegracebrixton.co.uk with CYCLE SPECIAL in the email header.

Marija hot yoga

Fierce Grace for Health: some of the benefits of hot yoga explained

Fierce Grace Brixton studio manager Marija Jovanovic explains some of the benefits of a hot yoga practice this week.  So if you want to know how good it is for you, read on….

1. Practicing yoga in a heated room increases pulse rate and metabolism, increasing blood flow to the limbs. This allows you to move more freely from posture to posture. In addition, a warmed up body can twist, bend and stretch further and more safely, which also allows for an internal organ massage. All inner glands, organs, ligaments and muscles benefit.

2. Yoga promotes the relief of stress and connection of mind and body and spirit. Through regular you will challenge yourself  – as they say, life begins when you step out of your comfort zone! When you can stay calm and focused during hot yoga, you may find that that carries through to any given situation occurring in everyday life – enabling you to retain peace of mind as you face the challenges of life.

 3. Hot yoga encourages elimination of toxins from the body by sweating. Your body burns fat more effectively in the heat, and fat may redistribute and be used as energy during the class. You may notice a your muscle definition and tone improves fairly quickly with regular practice as does your flexibility and strength.

 4. The increase in sweat also benefits your skin; it’s the hot yoga glow!  After all, the largest organ of our body is the skin, and a 90-minute class will help clear out the pores.

5. You may become better equipped to fight infection with regular hot yoga practice. Similar to when your body raises its temperature to fight infection, the raised temperature in the room assists in improving T-cell function and the proper functioning of your immune system.

So enjoy the experience – exploration of your own body, mind and soul. It’s a journey well worth taking and it’s really good for you.