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.
Happy holidays from the FG Brixton team.
Out with the old, in with the new?
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 yoga with 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.
We know that Warrior III into Airplane arms is great for balance and core. When we’ve mastered it – it can feel as free as flying!
If you’re actually flying this month (see what we did there!) whether long haul or short haul, the combination of sitting for a long period of time, air conditioning and carrying heavy luggage can take its tole on the body – just when you want to be your best for adventures or relaxing by the pool.
We’ve been looking into how you can take Fierce Grace into the air, increase circulation, avoid deep vein thromboses and practice yoga while you travel.
Seated Spinal Twist
To stretch out the spine, sit up tall, grab the sides of your seat, twist to the left and right and hold for a few seconds each side. Then try using your left arm to grab the right side of the seat and extend, lifting your spine and chest to twist your head to look further back over your shoulder. Give the person behind you a little smile!
Modified Eagle Pose
Usually done standing, but this modification is great to open up between the shoulder-blades: put your hands up in front of your face, then cross the arms at the elbows, cross your forearms and wind palms until your wrists touch, then finally lift the arms up slowly.
On your way to the bathroom, try out some mini lunges. Holding the lunge in a modified version of a Warrior I pose to fit the small space can also work the hips, legs and calves.
You can modify popular poses like cat and cow (done on your hands and knees) and do them while standing or sitting instead. Just bend your knees and place your hands slightly above your knees. Then alternate between rounding your spine like a dome (cat) and curving it like an arch (cow). Place your hands on your thighs and as you inhale, tilt your pelvis and abdomen outward and allow your chest to arch up and forward. As you exhale, curl your pelvis inwards and backwards, arching your spine outwards, lower your chin as your chest moves inwards.
This standing pose
in which you place the sole of one foot against the inner thigh of your other leg and raise your arms to your chest or over your head (you can use a wall by the bathroom for balance), can open up tight hips and relieve lower back pain. A small price to pay for the possible eyebrow raise from another passenger – they’re probably thinking it’s a great idea!
If you’re an anxious traveller, focus back to the breath to find peace within the body. Take a deep breath through your nose; allow your chest and core to fill up with air. On the exhale, lips are sealed and throat is slightly constricted creating a small hissing noise. Make the same sound on the inhale and continue for 1 minute.
Sun’s out, trainers out! One man ahead of the game is our very own Marathon Man, Tom Cassidy who is running the Brighton Marathon next month.
For a post-run cool-down Tom took a moment to tell us about how yoga helps him through and can do the same for you! Thanks for the fitspiration Tom!
What has inspired you to do the marathon?
I have known for a long time that I wanted to do a marathon eventually. And watching two of my good friends complete the London and Brighton marathons respectively I decided that this would my year.
I have been running for a few years, but nothing of any significance, just to keep fit and I enjoyed the rush you get at the end of a good run. A lot of people have talked about how it can be meditative. I find that I always hate the first twenty minutes; my body is wondering why I am doing this. Once I find a bit of stride and rhythm and I relax into it, I end up quite enjoying it. Then once I finish and I am having a shower I feel amazing, always clearer and with great outlook on the day.
What’s your training schedule like?
I have been training for about four months, which has been pretty simple. I joined a running club on Sunday mornings, so that covers my long runs. The training idea is that you train your muscles to get stronger through short runs. Then with a long run once a week, training your body to use your long-term fat stores. These have been getting longer by 15 minutes every week. This week I am up three hours.
I recently competed in my first race, the Brighton Half Marathon as preparation for the big day, and it went really well. So exciting to have supporters cheering, roads closed and water stations along my normal long run. I got a great time and got a taste of how it may be on the real thing.
How does yoga work alongside all that running?
Yoga has been a brilliant addition to training. The first thing I learnt when I started training was the need for rest and stretching. You can’t run everyday and I was going far too long and too often in the beginning. Yoga helps to rest, recover and stretch the key muscles.
What main differences do you think it has made?
I have found two surprising benefits: firstly, the strength conditioning I get from the balancing and standing series is amazing for my running posture and alignment. This is critical for good running, especially for the time I am doing it, otherwise injuries can happen.
Secondly, the relaxation and breath control I get doing yoga is excellent to practice when I am running. A lot of ultra-marathoners talk about running with your breath – a very similar nasal breathing to yoga. It’s perfect for oxygenating the blood even when my heart-rate is up.
Do you have a favourite posture?
I love the pigeon postures. Stretching deep into my glutes and hamstrings is amazing. Also the core work is fundamental to running and I feel much stronger over time.
There are two objectives now for my preparation – get to the start line uninjured. And get to the finish line uninjured!!! I am not too fussed abut the final time I run it in. Getting it done will be a big achievement. Yoga is key for that. After the marathon I can continue to work on my flexibility in class and go back to having relaxed Sunday mornings!
Best of luck Tom! If you see Tom around the studio, don’t forget to cheer him on!
If that wasn’t inspiration enough, come along to our Runners’ Workshop on Saturday 2nd April 5:30pm : The SOB class with special focus on deepening that stretch, protecting your muscles and preventing injury.
FREE to members, £5 to non-members.
PLUS pre and post class talks on what your body needs for you to perform at your best, including optimum levels of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Plus learn how to speed up recovery and repair so you can maximise the benefits of your work-out.
‘The Beast’ is our toughest class yet, Fierce aka The Beast is guaranteed to challenge even the most experienced yoga practitioner to take their practice to new heights. Try it for yourself at Fierce Grace Brixton on 5th December 12.15 -2pm
What is ‘Fierce’? Blending arm balancing poses, deep hip opening, inversions, lotus, shoulder opening, deep backbends and deeper meditation, this class is 1 hour and 45 minutes of intense hot yoga challenge. Requiring strength, flexibility, balance, patience and a sense of humour, it is taught in an encouraging atmosphere; you are encouraged to work at your own pace while learning the correct stages of entry into these challenging poses, whilst advanced yoga students are encouraged to explore new horizons under expert guidance.
“Fierce” makes us superhuman with its wide alphabet of physical, emotional and spiritual expression. It’s the ultimate expression of Fierce Grace. Ready?
Health Warning: This class should only be undertaken if you have at least three years practice under your belt and are proficient at the Fierce Grace class. If unsure, ask a senior teacher if they think you are ready.
A user-friendly Intermediate / Advanced class. Learn the developments of the poses you have learned in the other classes. We will encourage you, while pushing you. If you are new to it, we will help you learn the steps to master some of the most glamorous poses in yoga. If you are an advanced practitioner, we will guide you to new heights.
Key benefits: Stamina, grace, flexibility and strength. Learn to use the body to deepened awareness, meditation, lack of ego. Take your practice to new heights.
Fierce Grace presents WILD, a new, multi-system, cardio yoga workout unlike any other, designed by Michele Pernetta, one of the UK’s top yoga-fitness gurus. Few classes bridge the gap between conventional gym workouts and yoga, but WILD, a weightless gym, manages to fire up the body with the strengthening benefits of weight training, non-stop movement of cardio and the muscle lengthening and alignment of yoga, all in a dynamic one hour class.
Based on a unique structure of modern/ancient exercises from Martial Arts, Kundalini Yoga, Ballet Conditioning, Qi Gong, Physiotherapy, resistance stretching, HIIT and Super Slow along with strength conditioning. Simple functional movements allow the body to make it’s own micro adjustments to loosen, tone and integrate safely.
Experience WILD at one of our upcoming FREE taster classes:
- City – 5PM Wednesday, 14 October with Gwen* – BOOK
- City – 7PM Wednesday, 14 October with Michele Pernetta* – FULLY BOOKED
- West – 6PM Thursday, 15 October with Michele Pernetta* – FULLY BOOKED
- Primrose Hill – 6:45PM 21 October with Gwen* – FULLY BOOKED
- Brixton – 2-3pm 31 October. BOOK
- Taster session are FREE but they must be pre-booked.
After this initial taster session, FG Brixton will be scheduling a WILD class every Saturday in November at 2-3pm. Like our other classes, Wild will be included in your FG package. So there’s no reason not to come along! As ever, we welcome feedback from our classes and hope you enjoy the challenge.
WILD was specifically designed by Michele Pernetta to bring cardio fitness and build stamina, core power and strength, along with yogic breathing to help oxygenate the entire body and purify and balance the nervous system.
Michele explains “I wanted to develop a class that targeted strength, oxygenation and stamina, while remaining in the arena of yoga wisdom. Many cardio activities can wear out the joints. This new, dynamic class speeds up the development of building long lean muscle, core stability, cardio fitness and helps prepare the body for every expression, whether it be yoga, the gym, sports or just living a fun, active life”.
WILD is a new approach to improve your general overall fitness, help build strength, stamina, mobility and burn serious calories, whilst sculpting every inch of your body. It is nothing short of transformational. We can vouch for the positive effects it can have on muscle tone, overall fitness, vitality, flexibility, injury prevention AND skin.
Suitable for all levels, except the lazy…
WILD classes launch at City, West, Hothouse and Primrose Hill on 2 November. The schedule will be announced shortly.
*Please note WILD will be replacing the classes regularly scheduled at the above times. At Fierce Grace City the 5PM class on 21 Oct will be switched to a Fierce Grace class (hot) and the 15 Oct 20:30 class at Primrose Hill will be switched to a Fierce Grace (Hot) class to accommodate anyone that may not wish to attend a WILD tasters.