Love thyself…

February the month of love! It’s nice to recognise the one you love on Valentine’s day, and any other day of the year, but how often do you recognise yourself?

What treats do you give yourself on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?

Weekly I like to check in to a regular yoga and Pilates class. It feels so good to be part of a class and enjoy someone else’s instruction. I try and tune in to some online classes every now and then too, but it really doesn’t beat being held in a space and getting instant feedback.

Monthly I would love to have a massage. I’ve got one booked in this month, but it might be a while before the next one!

I love the benefits of massage:

  • It’s relaxing, in the right environment and with the right masseuse.
  • Relieves mental tension
  • Aids natural detoxification
  • Promotes sleep
  • Reduces muscle tension and can improve performance

These are just some of the benefits I’ve experienced during a massage. A good yoga session can also feel just as good as a massage, it definitely contains the same benefits. Both also help me to float out of the door at the end of the session and some days I’ll walk out with a spring in my step.

So why treat yourself…why not?

If you look after yourself, then looking after others becomes much easier. Many of us work so hard that if we don’t give a little time to ourselves, we can get lost! Lost in work, lost in day to day monotony.

A treat could even be having the time to sit down and watch your favourite programme for half an hour without any distractions. Treats don’t have to be expensive, as long as it feels like a treat, then you’re treating yourself. I often treat myself to a bit of chocolate! Probably too much, but it is a treat and a delicious one at that!

 

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
– Lucille Ball

 

Often loving yourself can also mean taking the time to exercise and eat healthily. It is so important to keep moving and fuel yourself in the right way. What you do exercise wise and in terms of eating will impact how your body is in later life. Perhaps if you were a smoker in your twenties, and have since stopped, you may have improved your lung capacity, whereas if you stop smoking in your forties, your body may not make a full recovery, but your health will dramatically be improved by making the change.

The same goes for exercise you may have been able to take part in lots of high energy activities when you’re younger, but as you get older you may need to be kinder to your joints. Some of us can take up running in our forties and some of us may focus more on Pilates and yoga. I fall into the latter camp. I love high energy activities, but I need to be mindful which ones they are. Running is a big no, no. I tried to get into a couple of times but have been advised to avoid it to lengthen the life of my joints. If you have a very symmetrical body then you’re one of the lucky ones, many people have asymmetrical bone structure. High impact sports will increase wear and tear on one side of the body, and when these imbalances start to increase pressure on one particular side of the body it can impact joints and muscles contributing to an even more unbalanced body.

So be kind to yourself when it comes to exercise. It’s good to build up a sweat and increase heart rate but be kind to your joints too. We need them to last as long as our heart does.

Choose an exercise that is right for your body and make it something you enjoy going too!

IMG_4122

 

January Resolutions

January…

…the month that many of us like to reinvent ourselves as better, brighter, fitter, healthier and generally remove any ounce of fun to make up for all the over indulgence we may have enjoyed in December. Why do we do this to ourselves during the month when there is probably more of a natural tendency to hibernate and give ourselves a little hygge*. Listen to your body and nurture it. There is nothing wrong with starting a new routine to make yourself healthier and fitter, but do this mindfully. Once you have a new routine established you can amend your goals.

So, tell me how your January goals are looking so far? Have you missed it by a mile, or have you smashed it? If you’ve smashed it, well done! If you’ve missed it, no problem.

Revisit your goals

As we’re nearing the end of January then you may want to revisit the goals set and adjust them for February.

  • What worked well?
  • What do you need to amend?
  • What distractions did you encounter?
  • What did you enjoy most?

Once you’ve had a think about these questions then setting new goals or adjusting the current one for February may seem a little easier. Remember to take into account anything outside of your normal routine, such as holidays or exams and factor it in to your plan.

How did my January goals go?

Normally my January goals are set three – six months before hand. This January was different due to a complete change in work/life balance. As well as teaching Yoga & Pilates I worked thirty hours in an office. This ended on 4th January, which means I technically have an extra thirty hours + a week to play with. Establishing a new routine whilst managing a bit of building work can really eat into those extra hours!! Rather than set goals I started to write down how I wanted a typical working month and week to look like. What goals would I like to achieve over the next few months and what long term goals would I like to explore.

I don’t imagine these goals will stay the same, goals can be organic, they grow and adapt as you do. Don’t stick to them if they don’t feel right. Trust your judgement and allow yourself to dream, adapt and go with the flow.

Help your plans come alive!

Write and talk. Write down your plans and split them out into categories.

Must do tasks such as:

  • Pay invoices
  • Update accounts
  • Answer emails
  • Planning

Creative or nice to do tasks/goals:

  • Blog posts
  • Podcasting
  • Workshops
  • Attend classes
  • Courses
  • Research

Think about what makes your business tick over on a day to day basis and incorporate that into the lists.

Write these plans in a note book, use an app or Office applications. Use what comes naturally to start with. You can then start to add how often you’d like to do these activities or how often they need to be looked at. Personally I love a good note book from paper chase to start planning.

photo 23-01-2019, 08 26 18

Fancy notebook

Talk about your tasks/goals. You may not necessarily want to talk about the must do tasks, but it might be useful to see how other people achieve their tasks such as accounting. Do you do your own or would you like someone else to pick up this task?

Most of us may enjoy talking about the nice to haves. I’ve found over the last few years that by talking about my goals with friends and work colleagues that in some ways they have enabled my goals to come alive. This has been through a combination of morale support, idea sharing, leads and opportunities. This is the same for networking groups too. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to join one, but there are so many great groups out there with genuine support from people wanting to see others do well.

Now is the time to plan for spring/summer

Look at where you want to be in summer and start making changes to achieve that now.

Do you want to increase you overall health and fitness? Maybe it is just making one change to your diet this week, perhaps adding fruit to your breakfast, five minutes of meditation or a ten minute walk at lunchtime. Start with baby steps and over time it will feel much easier to make additional changes. You wouldn’t run a marathon without building up first!

If your goal is to run a marathon then you break that goal down over a number of weeks/months into smaller manageable chunks. Perhaps your first task will be to walk/jog one mile, breaking it down into intervals or one minute walking and thirty seconds running. The following week you may increase the distance and switch to one minute running and thirty seconds walking.

It’s all about SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound

Good luck with your goals and don’t forget spring is just round the corner!

photo-23-01-2019-08-29-05.jpg

More fancy planning tools!

Yoga teacher – Two years on

When I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training with Yoga London in July 2016 I knew I had only just scratched the surface of my yoga journey…

So what has changed since last year? I’ve continued with the part time office job and along the way, opportunities to teach have kindly presented themselves. My teaching voice has developed, but I feel there is still room for improvement. I hope that people leave my classes feeling light and relaxed whilst having had a work out that strengthens and conditions the body.

Additional training

At the beginning of the year I attended Yoga Bananas Kids Teacher training course which was great fun. I’ve not had the capacity to utilise this training much; however, I’m hoping to create some opportunities soon. Get in touch if you’re interested in Yoga for children between 3 – 11 that incorporates original rhyming and sequencing.

I completed my Pilates teacher training and was very lucky to take on a regular class at the start of the year. It felt like starting to teach yoga all over again, particularly as this was an established class with an established teacher. Big shoes to fill. I learnt a lot in the first few weeks of that class.

I’ve also completed the Pilates pre and post-natal qualification and have been able to teach a couple of pre and post-natal classes. There will be a new and regular pre-natal Pilates class starting in September.

What’s on the training list menu? There are still so many wonderful courses to choose from and I haven’t quite decided which one I would like to take next. The list is still very long! If anything, I would like to attend more Pilates and Yoga classes to develop my own practice as this is just as beneficial as attending any additional courses and perhaps I maybe be able to treat myself to a Yoga and Pilates retreat soon!

What have I missed in the last year? As the teaching opportunities have increased, I’ve really missed attending regular classes with local teachers. I managed to attend a couple of classes, but they are few and far between at the moment. As time moves on, you start to realise it can be quite lonely as a self-employed teacher, so it is important to create opportunities to meet with like-minded people. I’m still working on this, and once I create more space in my diary, this will become easier!

What have I loved?  I’ve really valued seeing people enjoying themselves and leaving my classes feeling relaxed and happy in their bodies. The positive power of movement and breath, whether it is in Pilates or Yoga, is clear to see. It has also been lovely to hear how attending my classes each week has helped people to manage long term health issues. As we get older, Pilates and Yoga is much kinder to the body than other forms of exercise, and I love seeing the great age ranges that both these classes attract. The biggest age range so far is 84 years!

My teaching voice seems to have been my nemesis and a selling point! I have quite a soft voice which doesn’t always travel well but over time I’ve become much better at projecting my voice. Even with greater vocal projection I’ve still been able to maintain a calm and relaxing voice, something I didn’t think would achievable!

Tips from year two.

These 5 tips are similar to those from the end of year one and I’m sure they’ll work for anyone at any stage in their career.

  1. If you have a soft, quiet voice, practice projecting your voice or even singing! I started to sing in the car on the way to one of my classes to warm up my voice.
  2. Create your own opportunities – Write ideas down and chat to people who may be able to help or bring the ideas to life
  3. Keep learning – New material will inspire your teaching and keep your classes fresh
  4. Cross train – Whether cross training in a different exercise or cross training to learn a new skill, both will make you more supple and stronger. Seeing how a different discipline works will strengthen your existing knowledge.
  5. If you don’t enjoy it, stop! Simple. But…pause and understand what it is you don’t like.

If you have attended one of my classes I would just like to say thank you for your support. It’s a pleasure to have you in my class.

IMG_8389

 

Meditation on Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia, specifically located on the island of Borneo. It was climbing this mountain that made me appreciate living in the very present, where the focus is just about the placing of one foot in front of the other and taking the next breath. It all sounds very dramatic, but the environment forces you to slow down and just be in this moment. Everything else pretty much fades into the background.

IMG_1867

I’m sure many of us can think of a time when we have experienced something like this, but at this altitude the experience is heightened as our basic breathing becomes laboured, making it harder to walk and even think. In some cases, people are affected so much they vomit and become rather ill, the only way to overcome this is to return to a lower altitude.

Focussing on a mantra can get you through the toughest of tasks

It’s only now that I look back that I realise this particular climb was a form of meditation. It was pretty much just me, my legs, breath and mind. The last stretch to the summit wasn’t an easy climb but I stayed focussed, and I kept repeating the positive mantra of ‘I can do this’, which at the time was only slightly stronger than the ‘This is too hard, I can’t breathe, I feel sick, everyone else has already made the summit and is coming back down!’ That one little phrase and the ability to focus on the present breath is what got me to the top! And what an amazing feeling it was to get there, that incredible sense of achievement and battle against the elements, ok it wasn’t Antarctic, but it was my own battle and I won! I’m still very proud of that moment, and if I’m having a bad day I’ll think of how I got there and that feeling at the end.

Reaching the top doesn’t mean the hard work is complete

IMG_1865

Admittedly reaching the top didn’t mean it was over. I’ve always found climbing down a hill or mountain just as hard as going up it, if not harder. In this instance my water bladder sprung a leak, and all the water escaped, leaving only a 330ml can of Diet Coke to get me back down to the bottom, and at altitude fizzy drinks just taste like a thick syrupy liquid, not the best back up drink to have available. When we had the chance to stop off for food I was so dehydrated that I couldn’t eat. My friend who I caught up with on the way down got the brunt of me in the worst ‘hangry’ state I’ve ever been in! Thankfully he had a spare bit of food, water and a sense of humour to share, forever thankful for that.

Being in the present

So, whenever you hear someone talk about meditation, and it conjures up images of people sitting silently in a crossed legged position, try and think about it as a way of being in the present moment of whatever activity you are engaged in. You might find you have been in states of meditation more than you realise. When was the last time you experienced being in the present forgetting about past and future worries or cares?

 

Special thank you to Anuj and the team at Feedspot who featured me in the Top UK Yoga Blogs!

https://blog.feedspot.com/uk_yoga_blogs/

 

 

 

Breathe Through Your Pregnancy

Breathing, we all do it. Simple as that, or is it?

 How often have you thought about your breath?

Maybe you’ve got stressed about something and the next thing you notice is you can’t breathe. Or perhaps you have paid attention to your breath, and realised how calming it can be, which in turn slows the breath further and makes you feel even more relaxed and calm.

During pregnancy, breathing may take on a whole new experience.

 Your body may feel more fatigued due to the extra weight and hormonal fluctuations. As your body changes your blood volume increases by up to 50%, which in turn makes your heart work harder. Not only that but as your bump grows and requires more room, this will leave you with less space for the lungs to expand. No wonder pregnancy can sometimes feel like hard work.

How will yoga help me with these changes?

Yoga will help you to focus on the breath enabling you to notice how the body is feeling on that day or moment in time. Moving through poses will help the breath to carry oxygen around the body more easily and will help to loosen up the muscles supporting the lungs in the upper body. As space becomes a premium the muscles may feel shorter and tighter and gentle movements will help to feel like the muscles are lengthening and creating the sensation of more space for breathing.

Are there different ways to breathe?

 Yes, there are many types of breath such as the traditional yogic Ujjayi breath, breathing in and out of the nose making an audible noise that sounds like a calm ocean. In my pregnancy classes the favourite breath work is; the Golden thread breath, or Mother’s breath. It is a discreet breath; in that you don’t make any audible noises and you can practice this anywhere at any time.

To start with find a comfortable seat and allow the body to relax and keep the eyes soft or closed. Inhale though through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Keep the lips soft with a small gap, imagine you are holding a thin piece of paper between the lips, just enough space for the air to pass through. You may find the exhale is naturally longer than the inhale, which is fine and you may find with each round of breath the exhale gets longer each time. It’s important to note that in pregnancy you mustn’t hold your breath at any point, keep the breath flowing. With each exhale imagine that the breath is being carried away on a golden thread, and with it any pain, discomfort or tension.

Sometimes it can take a while to find a new way of breathing comfortable, so stick with the practice where and when you can, eventually it will become second nature. You may find that during times of stress your favourite breath may kick in to help keep the body calm.

Breathing alone may not help us sail through pregnancy and birth, but it may help create a sense of space and calm, and if we feel in control of it, then it is a definite win.

sea 1

5 benefits of breath work during pregnancy

  1. Reduces stress
  2. Creates a sense of calm
  3. Helps you to feel in control
  4. Helps to reduce blood pressure
  5. Helps you to feel connected with your body and baby

Do you have a favourite breath that you come back to in times of stress?

Pregnancy yoga – But I’ve never done yoga before?!

You don’t have to be a yogi to be able to take part in antenatal yoga, you just need to be pregnant!

Pregnancy yoga is a wonderful way to adapt to the constant changes in the body and allows you to be with yourself and become more aware of these changes. Yoga will allow you to stretch and create space for you and your bump, both mentally and physically.

Sunflower 2

When is the best time to join a class?

The yoga and fitness industry in general recommend that you join a specific pregnancy class from 14 weeks onwards.

Why?

  • Not everyone finds out they’re pregnant until quite late on.
  • If you know quite early on, then you may not want to share the news until you’re certain.
  • If you’re part of a regular exercise group, you may want to keep this up.
  • If you’re new to exercise it is recommended to wait until you’re 14th week as your body will be going through many changes during those first few weeks, and you may wish for those changes to settle.

 

What can I expect from a pregnancy yoga class?

 Classes will generally take you through:

  • Breath work
  • Movement
  • Stretching
  • Strengthening
  • Pelvic floor work
  • Relaxation

All the above are great tools to help you with the pregnancy, birth and beyond.

I’m an experienced yogi, can I still take a regular class?

Yes of course, but be prepared to adapt and modify. As your body changes during pregnancy it is advisable to chat with your teacher to seek out the best options for you. Your body will start to release the hormone relaxin, making you more flexible and rather than using this to work into poses, you will benefit from working within a reduced range of movement to avoid over stretching the joints. Work within approx. 60 – 80% of the available range of movement.

6 key benefits to yoga during pregnancy

  1. Higher energy levels
  2. Improves quality of sleep
  3. Reduces stress levels
  4. Reduces back pain
  5. May help to reduce common ailments throughout pregnancy
  6. Improves your overall sense of wellbeing

Tell me more…

The next blog I will go into more detail about the benefits, and some of the tools in pregnancy yoga, such as breath work. In the mean-time join me at one of my regular Monday evening 7-8pm classes in Ewell, Surrey.

Contact me.

 

 

Yoga Teaching – One Year On

When I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training with Yoga London in July 2016 I knew I had only just scratched the surface of my yoga journey. It was a fantastic experience and rather daunting, as at the start of any career you realise there is a long road ahead, and exciting one with lots of work to put in.

Picture 1

So how have I approached my first year? Rather than put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve I thought I’d start by taking one class a week to put into practice the skills I had learnt. In the meantime, I took a part-time office job to ensure a regular income, whilst I continued to build my confidence and find my voice as a teacher.

My first regular class was in the gym at my old work place and it felt strange to have had a conversation with one of the attendees in January 2016 explaining what my plans were for the year ahead, I had to pinch myself that the goal had been realised!
My first regular class had a shelf life of a few months as the site was closing, and so I began plans to start a couple of my own classes that would fit in around my current work pattern.

Additional training
Yoga London offered an additional course to teach pre and post natal yoga. I booked myself on and started September 2016. I really enjoyed this course for many reasons, and I will blog about that at a later date. Overall my confidence grew a little bit more on this course, being able to put into practice what we had already learnt whilst learning new skills.

New year new classes
In January 2017 I had a couple of new classes ready to start. This is where the hard graft really started. How do I get people into my classes? How does social media work? Will my website get any traffic? So many things to think about as well as delivering a good yoga class.

I went in hoping that I would have a couple of people coming to my classes but knowing the reality could be no one turns up. The reality was sometimes only one person, however I enjoyed the opportunity to teach one on one, and if no one turned up it meant I could enjoy a solo practice in a beautiful big space. As the months went by a couple of the classes began to flourish and a couple of the others diminished. The ones that never picked up I finished, enabling more time to look at other opportunities, knowing that perhaps I’ll pick them up again in the future. It’s an expensive way of doing market research, but it is invaluable experience. Sometimes you don’t know how these things will pan out until you try them. Always review and make a note of what you have tried and note down what you could have done differently.

What next?
The list of training courses available is endless and there are so many interesting ones to choose from. I had a top three for this year and it took a while to decide on one, based on what would increase my customer base and what would I benefit from, in terms of building upon my current experience. In the end I decided on taking a sideways move to re-discover Pilates. Yoga has made me realised how poor my core generally is, it used to be really strong from martial arts and horse riding, but a desk job changed that.

Pilates would be great for:

• Improving my core
• Re-visiting the anatomy from yoga
• Add a different dimension to my teaching

All of these are equally important to me, however being able to diversify into another area of health and fitness stood out as a way to demonstrate that I’m serious about pursuing a new direction in life. Yoga is fantastic and I will continue my studies with it, however it is always great to cross-train in other areas, this applies to any industry. I first became aware of this when I was competing at Tae-kwon-do competitions. It’s great to be an expert in your field, however seeing and speaking to people who have cross-trained in other martial arts, demonstrate a better understanding of how the body works, and their flexibility and agility seemed to be so much greater. So, here’s to continued learning and development.

Thank you
I’m so very thankful to the teachers who gave me my first paid classes. I learnt so much from them, and it is always scary filling someone else’s shoes whom you admire. I will never forget it! A huge thank you to all my mentors you’ve been amazing, this includes friends and family for supporting me on this new adventure. Without your continued support and encouragement, it would have been so much harder, if not impossible.

Have you been teaching or are interesting in becoming a teacher. I would love to hear how your year as a teacher has been, new or experienced or even if you have aspirations to become a teacher.