Yoga at Sweaty Betty Chiswick

In September I shared with you my review of a free yoga class at Sweaty Betty, Richmond branch.  (You can read about it here.) I  enjoyed the class and wanted to see how a class at a different branch would compare. For my second free class at a Sweaty Betty branch, I chose to attend a yoga class at the Chiswick branch.

The booking process is the same as for the Richmond branch class. Classes are released up to 10 days before the event on instabook. If the class you’re interested in is fully booked, you can add your name to a wait list. As I said in the Richmond review post, I found the wait listing super stressful. Being on a wait list does not mean that you move up one place when someone cancels and eventually, if enough people cancel, you’ll automatically join the class. No, everyone on the wait list stays in the pool and once someone cancels, we all have to fight it out to get that spot. So whether you’ve been on the wait list for 10 days or 10 minutes, if a place opens up everyone has to act really fast. In fact, that’s the title of the email that Sweaty Betty will send you: “Act fast! Your class has a spot”.

I gave the wait list a miss and just checked instabook every day until I saw a Sunday yoga class at the Chiswick branch open up. Easy peasy.

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The Chiswick branch of Sweaty Betty is smaller than Richmond which means fewer people in a class – 9 at Chiswick, as opposed to 14 at Richmond.  With the fewer students and smallish floor space the class felt intimate and the instructor was able to give everyone personal attention during the Vinyasa flow.

I was able to keep up with all the poses but found it really difficult to keep my eyes closed during Savasana. How could I not stare up at the fun Ski Shop leggings and tops hanging all around me? That’s the only drawback about classes in a Sweaty Betty store – you just can’t keep your eyes off the gear! I don’t plan on doing any skiing (although I am going to do a yoga class on Friday in a rooftop ski lodge… watch this space), but by the end of class I really wanted a ski base layer pair of leggings. Those bright blue ones are so cute!

Speaking of leggings – remember my yoga in the Walkways of Tower Bridge? The day I realised my leggings were much too big for me and had sagged so far down my crotch I looked like ballsy bloke? Well, the pair in question is now part of Sweaty Betty’s recycling scheme and I have a £10 voucher to spend on a purchase of £50 or more. Score! It feels good to know that my dodgy grey leggings is going to be rehomed or recycled to make a new pair of much better fitting leggings.

I’ve been asking begging for a Sweaty Betty gift card for Christmas – and with my £10 voucher it will go even further. Fingers crossed I can buy a pair of Super Sculpt High Waisted Yoga Leggings in 2020!

Now that I’ve done yoga at Richmond and Chiswick, I think I will return to the Chiswick branch – the biggest reason being that it’s closer to my home, but also because it feels nice and intimate.

My verdict: if you enjoy yoga, if you like being surrounded by Sweaty Betty workout gear and if you like a freebie, visit Sweaty Betty instabook and book yourself a place at a free in-store class. I’m definitely doing it again!

Location: Sweaty Betty, 62 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, London W4 1QN

Time: 9:45 – 10:45 (the store opens at 11 am on a Sunday)

Price: Free

Date attended: Sunday 8 December 2019

Yoga mats provided: Yes

Yoga intensity: I forgot to activate the yoga exercise on my Fitbit Inspire HR until about half way through, but it still showed that I had burned 75 calories in 20 minutes with an average bpm of 104.

Good to know: Getting a space in a weekend London store class can be difficult. Figure out when the class you want to attend becomes available on instabook, and book your space quickly. The wait list system is a bit of a hassle.

If you like doing yoga in quirky places, outside, or in iconic London buildings, check out my list of Funky places to do yoga and pilates around London.

 

 

Terrific Tuesday #4

On a Monday morning I’m rearing to go and to take on the week, Wednesday is the middle of the work week, on a Thursday I feel good for making it this far and on a Friday I can taste the weekend.

But what about a Tuesday? For me Tuesdays are the hardest day of the week to exercise.  I’m usually tired from the Manic Monday and midweek might as well be a year away.

If you feel the same about Tuesdays, my Terrific Tuesday posts will provide motivation, a reminder of why we exercise and words of wisdom to make us feel inspired and turn Tuesday from terrible to terrific.

The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow Arnold Schwarzenegger quote

“The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow” -Arnold Schwarzenegger

If you’re going to be quoting fitness experts, it might as well be Arnie.

 

 

Bitter sweet facts about sugar

I really don’t eat much sugar. I don’t have breakfast at all (I do 16:8 intermittent fasting), I drink coffee and tea with unsweetened soy milk and no sugar, lunch is a tortilla wrap with lettuce, carrot, cucumber and cheese / roasted sweet potato & feta / tuna / boiled egg and in the evenings a vegetarian dish. If I want dessert I have 80% dark chocolate or hot cacao. I really very rarely have sugar – I don’t miss it, I don’t crave it.

That was until last week Thursday. At our office Christmas party I had Christmas pudding with custard for dessert. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but I now realise that that festive pud had actually set a series of things in motion. Over the course of the following weekend I had toast with jam. Twice. Monday I bought Christmas mince pies and ate two. On Tuesday I broke the 16:8 fast by having a croissant for breakfast and I had another Christmas pudding at a second office Christmas party.

The kicker is that through all of this I was feeling bloated, constipated, anxious, extremely tired, didn’t want to exercise at all, I had a nasty pimple just above my eyebrow (WTF?) and I craved more carbs and more sugar – even though I suspected it was the sudden intake of sugar that made me feel this way in the first place. I kid you not, I had a dream about croissants!

Isn’t that a sign of addiction? You feel compelled by a force stronger than you to have more even though you know it’s bad for you? Yes it is. And sugar can be addictive.  In 2008 researchers from Princeton University found that just like drugs, it causes you to binge on it, feel unable to resist it and then show withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop.

In experiments, the researchers have been able to induce signs of withdrawal in the lab animals by taking away their sugar supply. The rats’ brain levels of dopamine dropped and, as a result, they exhibited anxiety as a sign of withdrawal. The rats’ teeth chattered, and the creatures were unwilling to venture forth into the open arm of their maze, preferring to stay in a tunnel area. Normally rats like to explore their environment, but the rats in sugar withdrawal were too anxious to explore.

Feeling unusually tired on the days I was having a lot of sugar also wasn’t my imagination. A study from April 2019 by scientists from three Universities showed there is no such thing a sugar rush and in fact, sugar will make you more tired and less alert. So on top of the addictive qualities of sugar I was experiencing, I thought that I had to have more sugar as a pick-me-up to counter the tiredness, when in fact sugar was the cause of the tiredness and incapable of giving me an energy rush.

The researchers found that 1) sugar consumption has virtually no effect on mood, regardless of how much sugar is consumed or whether people engage in demanding activities after taking it; 2) people who consumed sugar felt more tired and less alert than those who had not; and 3) the idea of a ‘sugar rush’ is a myth without any truth behind it.

These facts are shocking, but what shocks me even  more is that for years I was feeling anxious, tired and bloated day in and day out and eating sugary snacks to help me feel better. Little did I know that what I thought was the cure, turned out to be the cause.

I’ve now been back to my usual way of eating for three days and I’m feeling much, much better. But it’s only because feeling unwell is so unfamiliar to me now, that I was willing and able to cut back on the sugar again. A year ago, I would just have continued to eat sugary snacks, trying to find other reasons (excuses) for feeling tired. I was trapped in a bitter sweet spiral of ill health and had in fact gotten used to feeling tired and sluggish. No wonder I struggled to get up in the morning – never mind getting up extra early so that I could exercise! My “normal” was actually a very abnormal way of living to which I had become accustomed. Sadly in Britain most people consume almost 3 times the recommended daily sugar intake. That’s a whole nation of tired, bloated, anxious (and diabetic) people.

I just wish more people would try giving up on sugar so that they can experience how good “feeling good” really feels. Once you do, you’ll never want a sugar laden snack ever again.  The NHS published a great guide on how to cut down on sugar. It’s  basically just a case of swapping out the sugar laden foods with something less sugary.  And if in doubt, read the food label. If the swaps are done gradually – don’t go cold turkey otherwise you will suffer withdrawal symptoms – you will soon start to feel more energised which will keep you motivated to stick to the less sugary foods. For life.  Before you know it, you won’t even think about sugar any more.

And when Christmas comes around and you have a mince pie, stop at one. Don’t let the sugar addiction take hold!

 

 

Terrific Tuesday #3

On a Monday morning I’m rearing to go and to take on the week, Wednesday is the middle of the work week, on a Thursday I feel good for making it this far and on a Friday I can taste the weekend.

But what about a Tuesday? For me Tuesdays are the hardest day of the week to exercise.  I’m usually tired from the Manic Monday and midweek might as well be a year away.

If you feel the same about Tuesdays, my Terrific Tuesday posts will provide motivation, a reminder of why we exercise and words of wisdom to make us feel inspired and turn Tuesday from terrible to terrific.

I don't sweat I sparkle

I don’t sweat I sparkle.

My hair might frizz, my nose may run and I sound like a Pug, but sweat? No. I sparkle.

Exercising before eating breakfast burns more fat

Exercising before eating breakfast burns more fat

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, health scientists found that by changing the timing of when you eat and exercise, people can better control their blood sugar levels.

The six-week study found that people who performed exercise before having breakfast burned double the amount of fat than the group who exercised after breakfast. The increased fat burn is mainly due to lower insulin levels during exercise when people have fasted overnight, which means that they are able to use stored fat as a fuel.

Source: ScienceDaily, 18 October 2019

Terrific Tuesday #2

On a Monday morning I’m rearing to go and to take on the week, Wednesday is the middle of the work week, on a Thursday I feel good for making it this far and on a Friday I can taste the weekend.

But what about a Tuesday? For me Tuesdays are the hardest day of the week to exercise.  I’m usually tired from the Manic Monday and midweek might as well be a year away.

If you feel the same about Tuesdays, my Terrific Tuesday posts will provide motivation, a reminder of why we exercise and words of wisdom to make us feel inspired and turn Tuesday from terrible to terrific.

If you're persistent you'll get it, if you're consistent you'll keep it.

“If you’re persistent you’ll get it. If you’re consistent you’ll keep it.” – Harvey Mackay

When it comes to exercise and weight loss, you need to get into a habit of exercising and monitoring your calorie intake – that’s the persistent bit – and if you continue to do the workouts and eat sensibly  – that’s the consistent bit –  you’ll keep that lean and strong body.

Physical activity may protect against new episodes of depression

Physical activity may protect against new episodes of depression

Increased levels of physical activity can significantly reduce the odds of depression, even among people who are genetically predisposed to the condition, according to a new study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).  The team reported that individuals who engaged in at least several hours of exercise each week were less likely to be diagnosed with a new episode of depression, even in the face of high genetic risk for the disorder.

Source: ScienceDaily, 5 November 2019

Terrific Tuesday #1

On a Monday morning I’m rearing to go and to take on the week, Wednesday is the middle of the work week, on a Thursday I feel good for making it this far and on a Friday I can taste the weekend.

But what about a Tuesday? I find Tuesdays to be the hardest day of the week to exercise. I’m usually tired from the Manic Monday and midweek might as well be a year away.

If you feel the same about Tuesdays, my Terrific Tuesday posts will provide motivation, a reminder of why we exercise and words of wisdom to make us feel inspired and turn Tuesday from terrible to terrific.

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“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

I definitely found that once I was in the habit of daily exercise, it was so much easier to enjoy the workouts. For the first 21 days of getting into the habit I had to force myself to show up to the mat, but once it had become part of my morning routine, I didn’t even have to think about it anymore.

I won’t say my Sworkit workouts are an example of exercising “excellence” (have you seen my push-up attempts?!), but I am repeatedly working out. That has to count for something right Mr. Aristotle?

When exercising is a habit, all you have to think about is how good you’re going to feel afterwards.

Yoga in the walkways of Tower Bridge

Isn’t this sunrise over Tower Bridge just beautiful?! I was greeted by this pink, purple and orange sight yesterday morning. My usual morning walk to work is along the South Bank so why did I find myself in front of the Tower of London looking towards Tower Bridge at 7 am? Because dear reader, I was making my way to the Walkways of Tower Bridge for a yoga class on a glass floor. How amazing is that?!

Sunrise Tower Bridge London
Tower Bridge at 07:15

I was on a high just from seeing this sunrise – and that’s before I had even set foot inside the bridge.

The Tower Bridge Walkway

The yoga class started at 07:30 but everyone was asked to be there by 07:15. At the visitor centre, which is located about midway on the bridge, you sign an indemnity form and then everyone is taken up to the 4th level Walkway by lift. As soon as I walked onto the Walkway I knew this was going to be something special.

Yoga Tower Bridge Glass Floor

The mix of wood & glass flooring make the Walkway feel light and airy, yet cosy with a slight Victorian air. Add to that the mirrored ceiling, the spectacular view towards the north and south banks of the river, the steels of the bridge and of course the traffic and pedestrians walking below, all I could do was smile and thank my lucky stars to be having this experience.

The yoga

Class started at exactly 7:30. Our instructor Billie Woodhouse introduced herself and explained that it will be a Vinyasa class. She also told us that we could get rid of our yoga mats at any point as the glass is “grippy” enough. With it being only 3 degrees outside, the glass was still very cold so we all chose to use our yoga mats for the floor work and then ditched the mats after about 20 minutes. There are heaters in the walkway, so the air was pleasantly warm – it’s just the glass panels that were cold.

If I do yoga in the Walkways again (which I definitely will), I would happily put up with the cold glass for the whole class (or just wear grippy socks like these by Sweaty Betty and leave the yoga mat at home) because looking down onto the pedestrians and traffic on the bridge is just too awesome to spoil with a piece of foam.

I had to tell myself a few times to stop focusing on the people down below and concentrate on Billie’s instructions but it’s just so mesmerizing watching cars, trucks and men carrying ladders (can you see him in the photo below?) from above while you’re in Downward Dog!

Yoga Tower Bridge Glass Floor

When we weren’t looking down onto the bridge traffic we were looking over the Thames towards The Shard and London Bridge. You really can’t beat the views from Tower Bridge! As for the yoga, I enjoyed the energising Vinyasa flow and Billie is an excellent teacher. The class would be suitable for beginners and experienced yogis alike.

The photos

As part of Tower Bridge’s 125th anniversary, they commissioned a photographer to document the events of 2019, and that included yoga in the Walkways on 20 November 2019. The photos Lucy Hunter took will form part of the Tower Bridge archive.  It kinda blows my mind that a photo of me doing Downward Dog could potentially be looked at by someone 100 years from now! That’s amazing and very cool.

Once the yoga class had ended we all took advantage of the fact that we had a professional photographer in our midst. Lucy kindly took photos of us with our own phones. I imagined I would look something like this elegant lady:

Yoga Tower Bridge Glass Floor

Instead, here is my photo. Not quite the same.

yoga

There is a definite ensemble mishap…. I had no idea that my leggings had grown so big for me that they sagged this much in the crotch area! I only realised the extent of the droopage when when Lucy took my photo. After the event. After she had taken her photos for the Tower Bridge archives….. I decided to include the photo in this blog post anyway because I look so happy doing my tree pose on the glass floor. And if a yogi looks at this saggy situation 100 years from now, hopefully they will also choose to “build a bridge and get over” my epic leggings fail as I have.

Like my brother said – it takes balls to do yoga on a glass floor 42 meters above water.

Yoga Tower Bridge Glass Floor

Instructor: Billie Woodcraft of Mojo Yard

Location: Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road, London, SE1 2UP

Time: 07:30 to 08:30

Price: £25

Date attended: Wednesday 20 November 2019

Yoga mats provided: Yes

Good to know 1:  Wear grippy socks so that you don’t need a yoga mat on the glass floor. That way you can enjoy the view through the glass floor and you keep your feet warm.

Good to know 2: If you want to be in the Walkways but can’t be in London, you can experience it with Google Maps. Just click here and within seconds you will be in the exact spot where I did yoga.

Something I learned: There have been yoga classes in the Tower of London since 2015. It was meant to be an one time only event, but it was so popular Billie and her team just had to keep going. Now, 4 years later, classes are held once a month.

If you like doing yoga in quirky places, outside, or in iconic London buildings, check out my list of Funky places to do yoga and pilates around London.

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Tower Bridge at 08:45

 

 

Isometric Strength Yoga workout

Last week I did a short video of myself using dumbbells and a resistance loop in a Sworkit workout. This week I’m sharing a video of myself doing an Isometric Strength Yoga workout.

This was a tough one because each pose is held for 40 seconds. That doesn’t sound like a long time, but it’s really hard to keep everything aligned, straight, tight and pulled in for every pose for 40 seconds. 

This is not the type of yoga you do with plinky plonky babbling brook music – no, this workout requires a thumping beat to help you push through. If it wasn’t for my Bad Ass Spotify playlist (which you can’t hear in the video) I don’t think I would have made it past 5 minutes. By the time I got to the second round, I could really feel it in my muscles – check out my thigh wobbles around 3:31 min. Proof.

And to put this into context, my average (heart)beats per minute in the dumbbell & resistance loop workout of last week was 133 over 22 minutes, and for the Isometric Strength Yoga my bpm was 137 over 17 minutes. I therefor worked harder over a shorter time frame. Told you this is a hard workout!

As evident from last week’s video, it’s very obvious that I really need to work on my upper body strength. Last week you could see it in my attempt at a push-up, and this week it becomes glaringly obvious when I try to hold do, Chatarunga. 

Note to self: start doing the Wall Push-ups as suggested in the “Anyone Can Do Push Ups: Here’s How” video!

 

 

Things you learn when you make a video of yourself working out

At-home exercising apps really are fantastic and I love using my Sworkit app – I’m in my living room every morning huffing and puffing, swing weights around and trying to do push-ups. The only down side of working in my living room is that I can’t see myself performing the exercises.

I just have to really listen to the instructor’s voice when he gives the instructions for each exercise, and then trust that I’m doing things right. I always try to copy the exercise exactly as I see them in the app, but how can I be sure that my form is correct?

For example, it feels as if my heel is lifted really high when I do a donkey kick, but does it feel high because it is, or because my muscle are weak or tired and even a small lift would feel much higher than it actually is? Same thing with a push-up. It’s really hard work and I feel as if I’m doing a okay job, but am I really? And when I do a bridge, how high is my bum really lifting? When I squat I push out my bum as far as I can, but could the squats be better? Do I really keep my back straight when I do a lunge?

How would I know the answers to these questions if I’m exercising on my own with no-one to tell me what I’m doing wrong (or right), and without a mirror?

The only way I could think of, was to just take a video of myself exercising.

So, here I am as recorded on Sunday morning, doing 22 minutes of the “Small Equipment Strength for Cyclists” Sworkit workout. I sped up the recording to make it a 5 minute video. (By the way, I’m not a cyclist – I just really enjoy using exercise loops and dumbbells. And I thought I was doing 20 minutes but it turns out I was at it for 22 minutes.)

Watching myself exercise was quite an eye opener for me.

I spotted a few things wrong with my form:

  • hips tilted when I do donkey kicks;
  • not going down low enough in squats;
  • when doing clams I need to bring my heels closer to my bum;
  • and my push-ups are barely noticeable. (How is that possible? I try so hard but my nose goes down barely an inch!)

On the plus side my form when doing lunges is good, and my bridge is as high as I’m going to get it.

I can’t believe I’m making this video public, but if anyone can give me constructive feedback on my form, it would have been worth it.

As for the push-ups, I found this helpful video that shows how you should work your way up to a “regular” push-up, by starting with the easier push-up type exercises.

The easiest version is to do a push-up against a wall. Once you are able to do two sets of 50, you can move on to push-up on knees, then half push-ups and eventually a full-on, regular push-up. I’ll just have to stop trying to do regular push-ups, and instead build up my strength first by doing wall push-ups. 100 Of them!

As a woman, there is something very empowering (read: bad ass) about using weights and being able to do a proper push-up – you can be sure that I will be posting a video once I am able to do a minute of push-ups!

So there you have it. The video I took of myself has pointed out areas where I need to work on my form, and in the process I’m now going to train myself to do a proper Big Boy push-up. And that was the whole point of making the video: see where I need to improve, and work on that.

Hopefully when I’m strong enough to do a Big Boy push-up, I’ll also be able to do Crow Pose in yoga. I have this thing about Crow Pose. It started when I saw it being done at the OM Yoga Show (there’s a photo of it in this blog post) and it looked so cool. I want to be able to do that! But first 2 x 50 push-ups against a wall.

(If you’d like to sign up to Sworkit, use this link and you’ll get 20% off!)

Yoga under the blue whale skeleton at the Natural History Museum

My Sunday morning was a bit surreal. I was at the Natural History Museum London at 7:30 and walked into the Hintze Hall as the very first visitor for the day – before the doors open to the public. To do yoga. Under a blue whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling. How amazing is that?!

When I started on my mission to do yoga and pilates in funky places around London, this event was one of the first I signed up for. Does it get any more funky than doing a plank in the main hall of Natural History Museum? I think not.

Hintze Hall and Hope

The first thing you see as you enter the museum is the skeleton of Hope, the blue whale mounted head-down in a feeding dive. It’s huge, yet it looks absolutely at home in the Hintze Hall.

Once I had placed my yoga mat on the floor of Hintze Hall and got settled in, I was able to relax in the space and also listen to the om sounds being played over the speakers by the East of Eden team. It was a soothing sound, reminding me of whale sounds, and it also got everyone in the right frame of mind.

The photo below really sums up yoga at the Natural History Museum, and you could see people in this exact pose throughout the morning:

Yoga at the National History Museum London

The yoga

East of Eden brought a whole team of instructors for the event. Vanessa Joy lead the vinyasa flow whilst another team member demonstrated the poses from the top of the staircase. There were also three instructors on the floor to assist the 150 yogis. This was in addition to Aimee Hartley who lead the energising breath work at the start, and Simone Salvatici who ended the session with a 15 minute gong sound bath. The sound bath was really spectacular. You can just imagine how the cathedral-like space of the Hintze Hall would magnify the sound and increase the healing sound vibrations.

I really appreciated the effort that Vanessa and Aimee put into their vinyasa and breathing guidance: they referenced the natural world, the architecture of Hintze Hall and the story of Hope, the blue whale skeleton. Every now and again we were reminded of where we were – just in case we forgot about the 4.5 ton, 25.2-metre long skeleton above our heads or had closed our eyes and could no longer appreciate the Victorian hand painted botanical panels in the ceiling.

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At around 9:15 our yoga and sound bath had come to an end. Most people made a dash for the Cafe and the rest of us started our tour of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

I had seen the winning photo and a select few of the other photos in the press, but newspaper or online images really can’t do the photos justice. Seeing the photos on display was so much better. And there are many more amazing photographs on display, than what we saw in the media.
For me the best photograph was “Snow Landing” by Jeremie Villet. You can see the intensely beautiful photo here. In fact his whole portfolio was astounding – I think any of the photos in his portfolio could (should) have been the overall winner.

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My verdict

I never thought it would even be possible to have access to the Natural History Museum before the doors open to the public, never mind doing yoga with 149 other people under the iconic blue whale skeleton in main hall! It still feels a bit surreal that I really experienced it.

I highly recommend yoga at the Natural History Museum. It’s a truly unforgettable experience.


Instructors: East of Eden instructors Aimee Hartley (breathwork), Vanessa Joy (vinyasa flow yoga) and Simone Salvatici (gong sound bath)

Location: Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD

Time: 08:00 – 09:15 followed by exclusive access to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

Price: £35 (which includes the entry to Wildlife Photographer of Year)

Date attended: 3 November 2019

Yoga mats provided: No

Yoga intensity: According to my Fitbit Inspire HR, I burned 191 calories in 70 minutes.

Good to know: Only two more dates available: 19 January 2020 and 29 March 2020. Book your place here.

If you like doing yoga in quirky places, outside, or in iconic London buildings, check out my list of Funky places to do yoga and pilates around London.

The Sworkit Leaner Workout Plan

When I started using Sworkit back in May 2019, I kicked off my “New Me” fitness habit with the Sworkit Beginner Leaner Plan. The Leaner Plan is all about toning and feeling amazing.

Tone Up, Feel Amazing. Leaner is here to help you focus on toning your body feeling great about the body you’re in.

It was perfect because it got me into a habit of regular exercising – 3 times a week as suggested in the plan – and I only  had to commit to 5 minutes a day for the first two weeks. Workouts in the third and fourth weeks lasted 10 minutes and the last two weeks of the 6-week plan had me working out for 15 minutes.

If you are new to Sworkit, I highly recommend a Beginner plan (you can choose from “Stronger”, “Fitter” or “Leaner” plans) for anyone trying to get into a regular exercising habit. The Sworkit plans definitely work because it starts you off easy,  gets you into the habit of exercising and you can really see the improvement in your fitness levels – being able to go from no exercise, to 5 minutes to 15 minutes feels good! 

After completing the Beginner Leaner Plan I was ready to explore all the other Sworkit workouts for a few months. Later, I took part in the September Challenge and wrote about it here and here. In October I was back to doing my own thing for 20 minutes, 5 days a week and then, out of the blue this morning I suddenly remembered the Leaner Plan that served me so well at the beginning of my exercise journey! I’m going to give it a go again and hopefully I’ll be toned in time for the Christmas and New Year party season.

Sworkit Leaner Intermediate workout plan

My Intermediate Leaner Plan

As I’ve been Sworking it for a while now, I’ll be able to do the Intermediate level where workouts last from 15 to 30 minutes, 3 days a week.

I would however still like to exercise every working day because I’m in that habit, so on my non-Leaner-Plan days I will do yoga or stretches.  I’m also booked to attend at least two yoga classes in November – one in The Gherkin and the other on the see-through walkways of Tower Bridge (!) I’ll time it so that these classes fall on a non-Leaner-Plan day.

I have to admit I’m a bit intimidated by the idea of exercising for 30 minutes, but when I started the Beginner Leaner Plan at 5 minutes I thought 15 minutes might as well be 15 hours, so I know I’ll be able to get there. It’s just a bit daunting at the moment.

What’s driving me to do the Intermediate Leaner Plan, is the anticipation of seeing the changes in my body over 6 weeks. Bring it on!

I start on Monday 11 November. Wish me luck.

(If you’d like to sign up to Sworkit, use this link and you’ll get 20% off!)

 

Homemade Granola

Have you ever tried making your own granola? I always thought it would be really tricky but it turns out it’s one of the easiest and satisfying things you can bake! It’s quick, healthy and as a bonus, the house smells lovely.

I will happily make this granola every Saturday – I actually think I may have to because it’s so good that it only lasts a week in our house. 

We have it for breakfast and we even took it with us on our walk in Hyde Park yesterday. 

Homemade granola as a snack

It’s the perfect breakfast and snack – containing oats for good carbs and fibre, hemp oil for the high levels of omega-3 & omega-6 and dried fruit for healthy sweetness. And did I say it’s yummy? So yummy.

 

My homemade granola is based on the Homemade Granola With Hemp Seed Hearts recipe from the Good Hemp website. You can find it here

I just amended the ingredients slightly. I think for this granola to be a success, you shouldn’t mess about with the amount of oats, hot water or oil. The other ingredients can be played around with but these three make up the bulk of the granola and needs to be in the right ratio.

This is the ingredients list according to the Good Hemp granola recipe:

  • 250g jumbo rolled oats
  • 50g almonds and walnuts or mixed nuts roughly chopped
  • 50g mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp Good Hemp Seed Hearts
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 50g raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots
  • 50 ml Good Hemp Oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or to taste
  • 1 good pinch sea salt
  • 200 ml hot water

And here are my ingredients:

  • 250g jumbo rolled oats
  • 50g ground flax seeds
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 50g raisins
  • 50g chopped apricots
  • 50 ml Good Hemp Oil
  • 50 ml Agave
  • 1 good pinch sea salt
  • 200 ml hot water

See, not so much different to the original. I have to leave out the nuts due to my husband’s nut allergy and I didn’t have hemp hearts but I did have flax seeds. Hey presto, a healthy substitute.  (I’ve added dried coconut to the granola in earlier attempts, but you don’t really taste it so I wouldn’t recommend it.)

I stick to the mixing and baking instructions from the original recipe and the granola turns out perfect. 

Once everything is cooled, you have to store it in an airtight container. Or do what we did and immediately have about half of it for breakfast. 

Thank you Good Hemp for the Homemade Granola recipe. It’s a winner! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga at NikeTown London

Free yoga in London? Yes it does exist! Nike and Jessica Skye of Fat Buddha Yoga brings us “NTL Yoga Series with Jessica Skye” at NikeTown once a month. Not only do you get to do a  yoga class with Jessica in the empty NikeTown London, you also get a free breakfast and goodie bag. Needless to say, this is one very sought after yoga class. I should know – I’ve been trying for three months to get a place.

Waitlisting

To book, you can follow the link from Fat Buddha Yoga, or go directly to the NikeTown London booking page. Either way, you will have to log into, or create, a Nike account. From there you add your name to the waitlist and cross your fingers.

Nike Town London yoga waitlist

The first time I signed up for the class, I thought the class is full and that’s why I’m going onto a waitlist, but it turns out everyone that signs up is added to the waitlist. 48 Hours before the session, you will get an email if you have been picked in the random draw.

I have been trying since August to get in, and then in October my luck turned. I was in! I got my email from Nike on Monday afternoon confirming my place at Thursday’s class.

It was totally worth the wait, because in addition to the usual free goodie bag and light breakfast, this time a Nike sports bra fitting was also included! Third time lucky indeed!

Sports bra fitting

Everyone had to be at NTL by 7:30 for a 7:45 start. The sports bra fitting started 7:30 and the yoga at 7:45.  We were all given beautiful teal green Indy Logo sports bras to try on. I headed to the changing room, tried on the Medium and it felt and looked really good. Then I thought: what now? Do I keep it on, do I give it back, what? I took it off and gave it back, but saw other ladies had kept theirs on so I asked the assistant what the deal is. Turns out – we keep it! So “free bra fitting” was actually “try on a bra and if it fits its yours”. I feel so lucky to have experienced this, because with my recent weight loss my old sports bras were too big and just looked a bit naff. Now I have a beautiful Nike sports bra and it didn’t cost me anything.  Thank you Nike!

After the fitting we had a bit of time to wander around the third floor and check out the merch (displayed on Regular Woman and Prosthetic Leg Man mannequins – Love!). Nike really do have the coolest, yet still feminine, workout gear.

Nike Town London

The yoga

Laid out for us were Nike yoga mats, Nike water bottles, a huge tote bag with Nike and Fat Buddha Logos and a smaller cotton bag with Champo Vata shampoo and conditioner.  Thank you Nike, Jessica and Champo!

NTL yoga series with Jessica Skye

As for the yoga, it was just as Jessica describes it on her website: Perfect for the yoga virgin, rookie and pro. Expect creative sequences, to strengthen your core, release tension and go upside down to bumping beats. Designed to leave you feeling energised and grounded with a heap of zen.

True story. This is exactly what the class was, and I loved it.

The breakfast

After yoga we were treated to a lovely spread of breakfast goodies. Usually at these kind of things it’s a bottle of orange juice and granola pot, but we were offered that plus boiled eggs pots, mini bagels with salmon & cream cheese (yum), granola bars and mini sandwiches.

NTL yoga series with Jessica Skye breakfast

My verdict

I loved my morning of yoga at Nike Town! I had been to one of Jessica’s classes before (on the roof of Coq d’Argent) but this was even better because 1) I got to experience Jessica’s class for a second time, 2) I could browse the Nike Woman gear with no-one else around, and 3) I really like a freebie. That’s the trifecta of a great morning!

Instructor: Jessica Skye of Fat Buddha Yoga

Location: NikeTown, 3rd Floor, 236 Oxford St, London, W1C 1DE

Time: 07:45 to 08:45. 45 Minutes of yoga followed by lite breakfast

Price: Free

Date attended: 24 October 2019

Yoga mats provided: Yes. And filled water bottle. And goodie bag.

Yoga intensity: According to my Fitbit Inspire HR, I burned 134 calories in 50 minutes.

Good to know: You won’t have access to any other parts of the Nike store. Entrance is via the staff entrance in Great Castle Street.  You have to take stairs all the way to the 3rd floor and on your way there, sign in at two security desks. At the end of class, you exit the same way. You can however walk around on the third floor and look at all the Nike Women gear (which is beautiful by the way) but all the other floors are off limits.

Something I learned: Nike sports bras are really comfy.

If you like doing yoga in quirky places, outside, or in iconic London buildings, check out my list of Funky places to do yoga and pilates around London.

OM Yoga Show London 2019

The OM Yoga Show London was held at Alexandra Palace from 18 to 20 October 2019. It was my first time visiting the biggest yoga gathering in Europe, and one of the largest events in the world. They are not kidding. It’s big and there is a lot going on!

I was lucky enough to get an early riser £7 ticket for the Sunday. (Tickets to the OM Yoga Show also include entry to the Mind Body Soul Experience.)  Being there when the doors opened at 10 am, I was able to walk around a bit and orientate myself. There are so many exhibition stalls! Luckily Alexander Palace is a big space with lots of light, high ceilings and of course the iconic stained glass windows. So beautiful.

OM Yoga Show 2019

The first free class I wanted to attend started at 10:30.

10:30 – 11:00 Vedic Teachings: The Roots of Yoga with Rachel Porquet-Chanmugam

I have been reading Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, the yogi who brought yoga to the West, so when I saw this open class in the programme, it sounded perfect.

OM Yoga Show Rachel Porquet-Chanmugam

“Let’s add a gentle spiritual approach into our yogic experience! Because we can significantly deepen our practice by focusing on additional aspects, other than just only asanas, breath and meditation. Rachel is a French certified Kundalini yoga teacher.”

I have to be honest here and say that the class wasn’t really what I had expected. It also didn’t help that there was a man demonstrating Vitamix machines only a few meters away, who was blending and talking very loudly absolutely non-stop while we were trying to listen to Rachel and meditate.

Despite Vitamix Man, the meditation was a nice and relaxing start to the morning and set the tone for my day.

11:00 – 11:30 Yoga Ritual for work – life balance lecture with Sinead Duffy

I only attended one lecture, and it was Sinead’s. It was a very informative, practical talk. She didn’t even use a podium, she just sat on the raised step and had a nice chat with us. When I saw her relaxed style and heard her confident voice, I knew I was going to enjoy this talk.

Yoga Rituals are an underused way to bring your practice into your day. Yogandha founder Sinead Duffy will teach how Fragrant Ritual will bring Calm and Balance to your every day both on & off the mat.

It totally makes sense that adding fragrance to your breathing, yoga or meditation practice has the ability to “take you back” to how you felt when you did the breathing, yoga or meditation with a mere whiff of the fragrance. When I smell jasmine, I’m immediately taken back to my first holiday in Corfu.  That means that if you smell the fragrance you applied this morning when you said your mantra, at any other time of he day, it will evoke the same feeling and remind you of your mantra.

I really loved the mantra Sinead taught, and I’ve been using it since hearing it for the first time. I actually say this to myself in the shower while using my Rose Caudalie shower gel. Sorry Sinead, I’m not applying your Yogandha products, but I’m applying your teachings.

The mantra is “I choose to be balanced. I am becoming balanced. I am balanced.” And if you feel really good, add the doozy “I am balance”.

I really “get” aiming for more balance. If you for instance have equal amounts of “empathy” and “don’t mess with me”, equal amounts of “listen” and “speaking”, equal amounts of “watching calories” and “eating what you like”,  you will have a pretty cool life. Now add a fragrance to the balance mantra, and you’re on your way to greatness.

Mind Body Show

I used 45 minutes before I had to be at my next workshop, to visit the Mind Body Show Experience area. It was so much quieter and calmer that the Yoga Show, and I really felt at home in this space. (Strange how I went for the yoga, and ended up enjoying the non-yoga part of the show the most.)  I had always wanted to know what my aura looked like, so when I saw the Psychic Hands stall where you could have your aura photographed, I made a beeline for them. I immediately knew that this experience was the real reason I had come to the Yoga Show. For £25 my photo was taken and for an additional £10 Naz, a clairvoyant, would give me a reading. Sign me up!!

Taking the aura photograph takes just a few minutes. You are then presented with a laminated printout of your aura which also includes a break down of your chakras. On the back is an explanation of what your aura colours, and their position, mean for you. Naz can give you a reading on your chakras and/or your aura, but I just chose to only have an aura reading. 

I’m not going to go into detail of what Naz said to me (it was good!) but I will tell you that my aura looked freakishly the same as one the team members at the stall!   We both have white at the bottom right of our aura, changing into varying degrees of red and orange. Chandra showed me his older aura which had a lot more green. With the guidance from Naz he has been working on clearing blockages and now his aura looks like this. Naz told me that the white light coming into my aura  is my learning from the past three years which had put my life on a new path, and I now just need to continue doing the work and follow the new path, wherever that may be. Chandra has been doing the same, and we both say Bring It On!

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12:15 – 13:45 Balancing the Hrit Chakra for Heightened Consciousness with Jane Clapham  and Shahn Ahmad

I just about made it in time for this workshop in the Palace Room.  Armed with the knowledge from my aura reading, I was very excited to attend the Dru yoga workshop.

OM Yoga Show 2019 Balancing the Hrit Chakra workshop

The Hrit chakra is said to be the seat of intuition and sits within the heart chakra and is powerful and essential to all seven main chakras. In this session you will activate the Hrit chakra and open your awareness to hear the guidance of the universe or your ‘inner teacher. This sequence will help strengthen your inner voice and, by focusing on the Hrit chakra, will bring you a sense of joy and wellbeing, returning you to a place of stillness… an inner sanctuary.

The Hrit chakra has eight petals or powers within your body and the salutation to the Hrit chakra will awaken those powers. You will be using the Eagle mudra, the mudra of Empowerment as well as a mudra called ‘the Eye of Wisdom’.”

I found Shahn Ahmad’s mudra sequence the most valuable to me. Considering I had just seen my chakras on the aura photograph printout, doing a yoga sequence to open up my chakras, seem very, very appropriate.  I enjoyed learning and doing the sequence. Just a pity I can’t remember it exactly because I would love to practice it regularly. If you are a member of Dru Yoga Online, you can view the whole Balancing your chakras – Hrit Chakra sequence here. The second half of the workshop was two guided meditations lead by Jane Clapham.  I felt centered, calm and positive – not just positive in that moment, but positive about life – after this workshop.

The workshop ended at 13:45 and by this time the Yoga Show had really filled up with people and was getting quite busy. I chose to end my day at this point. There was nothing I wanted to buy at the stalls – so many leggings, so many yoga mats! – and I knew I had received from the day what the Universe had intended for me.

Others looked like they had just gotten started. Here is Lydiana Abbott’s Playing with Balance class:

OM Yoga Show 2019

And this is David Kam leading his Athletic Artist class in crow pose – what an impressive  murder of crows in leggings:

OM Yoga Show 2019 crow pose

My Verdict

I had a great morning at the OM Yoga Show and the Mind Body Show Experience. The highlight for me was the aura reading.  It was an unexpected bonus, exactly what was looking for (without even realising it) and Naz gave me advice which I applied the next day with great success.

If you plan to visit a OM Yoga show in future, here are a few pointers.

  • Use the show guide, which you can get from the website weeks in advance, to plan your day. There is a lot going on and you don’t want to be sorry you missed out on something really special because you spent too much time faffing about at the leggings stall.
  • Join the queue for the open classes at least 10 minutes before the start. If you plan ahead, you can put a reminder on your phone so you won’t get distracted by leggings.
  • I would recommend paying the bit extra to attend a workshop if there is a topic that interests you. All workshops are between 1 and 1.5 hours long and held in private rooms which gives you a bit of respite from the buzz on the main arena. It only costs an additional £5 or £10.

If you like doing yoga in quirky places, outside, or in iconic London buildings, check out my list of Funky places to do yoga and pilates around London.

Fitbit, Sworkit and MyFitnessPal

Whilst on holiday in Spain last week (amazing!) I went for walks on the beach twice a day. I mostly walked barefoot in the loose beach sand and I certainly felt the effect! I was huffing and puffing after only a few meters and soon felt my leg muscles burn. Walking in loose sand is a much harder workout than my usual morning walks along the South Bank of London. This got me thinking…. my phone was counting my steps (as it would have done if I was walking on the sidewalk) but there is no way for it to know that I am working harder to take those sandy steps. I had also noticed that when I do my Sworkit workouts (which I absolutely LOVE) I worked really hard – think sweat on eyelids and shaking muscles – yet Sworkit would say I only burned 48 calories after a Dumbbell workout. That didn’t seem right to me. I needed to find a way to measure the intensity of my exercise.

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What’s a girl to do if she wants to see if she is really exercising as hard as she thinks she is – hop onto Amazon and buy a Fitbit Inspire HR.

Calories burned difference

Once I had my Fitbit set up, I tested my hypothesis with a Isometric Strength Yoga workout (each pose is held for 40 seconds). It was a tough one! I was huffing and puffing, struggling to hold the poses and I had the frizzy hair and sopping wet underwear to prove it. And I was right – Sworkit said I burned 66 calories but my Fitbit was showing 167! And with Fitbit’s zones I could see that most of that workout fell into the Cardio Zone which meant my heart rate was between 70% and 84% of my max heart rate. I was clearly putting a lot of effort into my yoga. Namaste Fitbit.

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I also wanted to see how many calories MyFitnessPal would say I had burned. I manually added 24 minutes of yoga to my exercise log and it registered 71 calories. Slightly more than Sworkit, but less than Fitbit.

Here are two more workouts with their respective calories burned as shown by Sworkit, MyFitnessPal and Fitbit.

 Sworkit caloriesMyFitnessPal caloriesFitbit calories
Sworkit Yoga Isometric Strength (26 Minutes)6671167
Sworkit Dumbbell Upper Body (16 minutes)48N/A111
Sworkit Resistance Loop Lower Body (20 minutes)605895

Quite a difference, right?  

It is understandable though. An app has to assume your calorie usage based on how many calories the average person with the same sex, weight and age as you would burn to do that workout, for that amount of time. The calories burned is just an indication because without heart rate information, it’s impossible to know how intense that workout is for someone.  Sworkit and MyFitnessPal show very similar calories burned, which tells me their calories burned are based on the same formula. This is perfectly fine and very useful, but if you want a more accurate calories burned count, you need a heart rate monitor.  Enter Fitbit.

Keep them separate

Fitbit is compatible with MyFitnessPal, and Sworkit is compatible with MyFitnessPal (but Sworkit is not yet compatible with Fitbit). I had them linked up – using MyFitnessPal  for logging food (not logging food in Fitbit, which is what Fitbit says you have to do when linking MyFitnessPal and Fitbit). 

I have since unlinked the apps because MyFitnessPal was crediting my daily calorie allowance by however many calories Fitbit was showing. For example, if I do a Sworkit workout and burn 168 calories, MyFitnessPal would add those 168 calories to my 1200 calorie allowance. But if I consume the amount of calories which I just burned by doing a workout, I’ll just stay at my current weight. I don’t want that – I want to lose weight and stick to the 1200 calories limit. 

You can change this feature, by you need MyFitnessPal Premium. With a Premium account you can choose whether or not they should increase your calorie intake goal when you exercise. Since I have the free version, the only way around them “giving back” my burned calories to me, is to not log any exercise in MyFitnessPal (either manually or by having it linked with Fitbit).   

I therefor have three apps on my phone, each one doing its own thing independent from the other:

  • MyFitnessPal: to keep track of my calorie intake
  • Sworkit: for the 300 workouts I can choose from every morning
  • Fitbit: to keep accurate track of the calories I burn from doing Sworkit workouts and daily steps. (And the great silent alarm that wakes me up in the morning and sleep stats.)

It might seem like a lot of places to check and apps to keep track of, but it’s not really. Fitbit does it’s thing for the most part automatically, I access Sworkit only once a day to do my workout, which leaves MyFitnessPal as the only place I have to pop into a few times a day.

I think the value I receive from knowing how many calories I burn (not how many the average person with my weight, sex and age would burn) and how much time I spend in the Fat Burn and Cardio zones, are tremendous. 

I love my holy trinity of exercise apps! 

 

(If you’d like to sign up to Sworkit, use this link and you’ll get 20% off!)

 

 

 

I survived the Sworkit September challenge

Sworkit september challenge update

It’s 1 October, which means the Sworkit September challenge is over. So did I stick to it? Yes! Over the 30 days of September, I did the 30 challenge workouts. Even the dreaded cardio ones. In this post I promised to check in again at the end of challenge, so here goes.

What is the Sworkit September challenge?

Every month the Sworkit team puts together a month’s worth of exercise routines. The challenge is to see if you can do their chosen exercise on that day and if you can stick with it for a whole month. It means you do exercises you may not normally choose for yourself – in my case I always pick strength exercises over cardio – so this is a good way to mix things up.

Sworkit September challenge

Did I stick to my plan for the September challenge?

Yes. I (reluctantly) did the cardio workouts and I (happily) added dumb bells and resistance bands wherever possible.

On the days where I had a yoga class at a funky location, I did that day’s workout the previous or following day. I had three “funky location” yoga classes during September: the first at the 36th floor Sky Garden of 20 Fenchurch building (read about it, and see the beautiful photos here), the second a yoga class surrounded by Toy Cockapoo puppies!! Yes puppies! (Read about it here.) The third yoga class was in the atrium of the Design Museum London before the doors opened to the public (read about it here).

Did it make a difference?

Yes it did. I lost half an inch around my hips and 1.3 kg since 1 September!! My waist stayed the same. The weight loss is the biggest surprise. Before the September Challenge I was averaging 0.1 kg per week loss and for September that increased to 0.3 kg per week. I do have to mention though that since July I have been doing 16/8 intermittent fasting and for the most part sticking to 1200 calories in the 8 hour feeding window, so the losses may not be 100% due to the daily exercises and/or including cardio. Whatever the reason, there was an increased weight loss and I’m definitely not complaining. Then again, it was a Sworkit Trainer who suggested I look at my diet, so I can still credit Sworkit. (By the way, the “Ask A Trainer” feature is really great for any kind of fitness and nutrition question!)

Will I do a Sworkit Challenge again?

No. But yes. Let me explain.

I don’t think I will do a monthly challenge again, but I do want to exercise daily and I like the idea of having a month’s worth of exercises already pre-chosen. It was nice logging on to Sworkit in the morning and immediately knowing exactly what workout I had to do that day. Before, I tended to go for the same handful of familiar exercises because I only have a limited amount of time in the mornings and can’t spend additional time scrolling through all the collections to find one that looks like something I can/want to do. I also missed doing the dumb bell or resistance loop workouts.

Sworkit Challenge Pros:

  • Once you’ve done it a few times, it’s actually not that difficult to do a workout every day (in fact, keeping up the daily habit is easier that taking a day’s break and then having to get into it again).
  • I like knowing in advance what exercise I have to do that day.
  • I lost weight quicker whilst doing the challenge than when I did things my way e.g. only a little cardio and only doing 4 workouts a week

Sworkit Challenge Cons:

  • I want to have the freedom to pick the exercises that target my problem areas.
  • I like to incorporate equipment.

My workaround for this is to make my own monthly calendar of workouts! It’s easy to print a blank calendar from Excel and then just populate it with a good mix of upper body, lower body, full body and stretching exercises from the Sworkit collections.

Once a month I will spend a bit of time going through all the Sworkit collections to find the ones I want to do and the ones that are good for me (Like cardio. Sigh). I’ll be sensible about it, but I’m also going to throw a few curve balls by doing Sports Conditioning workouts. Surfing, Softball (I think I might be a natural at this. Note my Softball reference in the previous sentence) and Figure Skating sound particularly fun and obscure.

Verdict

The September Sworkit Challenge was a success. Over 30 days, I did 30 workouts and I feel better for it! It also inspired me to make my own monthly calendar of workouts and I’ll continue to work out daily.

Sworkit September Challenge: nailed it.

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(If you’d like to sign up to Sworkit, use this link and you’ll get 20% off!)

Yoga at the Design Museum

Yesterday was another yoga first for me: I did yoga in the atrium of a museum. To be specific, the Design Museum in London. It’s a beautiful building with many interesting angles and lines and the yoga was really enjoyable.

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The Design Museum atrium is just small enough that you can hear the instructor and the live piano accompaniment (!) but big enough to accommodate the roughly 60 yogis  without feeling crowded.

I don’t know how often the Design Museums hosts yoga classes. Yesterday’s class was certainly not part of a series but they have hosted yoga in the past.  If you visit the booking page you will see photos from a previous yoga class. It’s stunning how the bodies formed such beautiful imagery – a design if you will – within the Design Museum. In a sense the yogis became a piece of performance art.

I would love to see the see photos that they took of yesterday’s class – at one point we were doing Lion’s Breath with out tongues out and I definitely heard cameras clicking….

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The Yoga

To tell you more about the format of the class and yoga, I’m just going to quote the description of the event as taken from the Design Museum website:

Start your morning with a 60-minute energizing vinyasa flow yoga practice hosted by Equinox. Designed by Adam Husler to build strength and flexibility, the session will feature slow flow sequences combined with breathwork. The session will give you a chance to open the habitual tightness in your body, ready for the weekend ahead. Set against the inspiring backdrop of the atrium, the space will be filled with the majestic sounds of live pianist Karim Kamar.

Close your practice with a short grounding meditation, enhancing body awareness and enabling you to focus on the present. Following the session, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a complimentary juice and yogurt and join a private viewing of the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition.

I really, really, enjoyed the yoga. Adam made it tough but enjoyable. You had to really listen to what he was saying throughout (at one point at the start of class he lost me a bit, and me and the lady next to me both missed a few poses).  I guess because of the layout of the space and with him having people at the back of him as well, he couldn’t really demonstrate the moves so much as he had to describe them.

The tough, long poses were alternated with very welcome resting poses but he kinda sneaks the tough ones on you without you noticing. It’s only when my legs started to wobble that I realised what he had done. That happened at least five times.  He’s able to do that because he will say something funny right before leading you into a really tough pose. You’d be giggling and then BAM the wobbles hit you! Sneaky and clever. And fun.

Yoga Design Museum

During the grounding meditation Adam’s wife, Holly Husler, guided us through a journey of sound. Throughout the whole event we could also hear and watch Karim Kamar play piano. The live piano accompaniment took the class to a different level and made it just that little bit more special.

After yoga we enjoyed yoghurt & juice and a viewing of the Beazley Designs Of The Year 2019 exhibit.

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My verdict

The yoga at the Design Museum left me feeling happy, energised and grounded. I don’t know if it was Adam’s yoga, Holly’s sound journey, Karim’s piano or the space we were in, but it all just worked!  I would do yoga at the Design Museum again, and I would also attend any class lead by Adam.

Instructor: Adam Husler, pianist Karim Kamar, sound journey Holly Husler

Location: Design Museum, 224 – 238 Kensington High Street, London, W8 6AG

Time: 08:15- 09:15 followed by juice and yoghurt and a private viewing of Beazley Designs of the Year 2019 until 10:00

Price: £22

Date attended: 28 September 2019

Yoga mats provided: Yes

Something I learned: When in Low Lunge imagine that the yoga mat is a large piece of paper and your aim is to crumple it up without lifting your leg or feet off the paper. To do that you would try to pull back the heel & tighten the inner thigh muscles of the front leg, and pull the knee forward & tighten the glute of the back leg.  Low Lunge 2.0.

If you like doing yoga in quirky places, outside, or in iconic London buildings, check out my list of Funky places to do yoga and pilates around London.

Gratitude versus Appreciation

Do you think there is a difference between gratitude and appreciation, or is it just semantics? Technically they are synonyms but I think, on a spiritual level at least, there is a difference.

 

Gratitude versus appreciation

We say “grateful to”, but “appreciative of”. Its the “to” and the “of” that gives a hint as to what I’m on about.

Feeling grateful to someone or something implies it can be taken away or was given/shown to you by a force outside of you.   One of the definitions of the word gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” To me saying “I am grateful” is like saying thank you for being deemed worthy to receive this great thing bestowed upon me, and the definition seems to supports that. 

Whereas being appreciative of someone or something means you see it for what it is, and you get a positive feeling when you do. When I appreciate something, it’s purely my feeling about something – it’s not reliant on outside forces giving or showing it to me.

Notice the change in you when you read these two statements:

“I’m grateful that I have strong legs with which I can walk along the Thames River every morning.”

“I appreciate my strong legs with which I can walk along the Thames River every morning.”

There is a difference, isn’t there? Or am I being silly? To me the first sentence has a slight hint that there is a chance that whoever decided to give me strong legs could change their mind and take it away. It’s as if I’m giving my Power away by using the word “grateful”. But when I’m appreciative, I’m feeling good about the thing, not the force/person who gave or revealed the thing to me.  Appreciation is not reliant on anything or anyone else – it’s a feeling generated from within yourself.

I read this article on Beliefnet about the difference between gratitude and appreciation. In it the author says:

One distinction that we found that was commonly shared is that
gratitude is the base from which appreciation grows and flourishes…if we’re
paying attention. That is, we can be grateful for something in our lives
without really appreciating it.

Nailed it. In fact their whole article really gets to the bottom of what I’m trying to say about gratitude versus appreciation. I wrote this blog post because I noticed the difference in how I felt when I used “gratitude” and “appreciate”, but saying that you can be grateful for something without appreciating it, sums it up really well.

Being grateful and being appreciative are both incredibly positive emotions and will attract more of the good stuff to you, which is of course pretty awesome. I just think we should aim to be more appreciative than grateful. But still be grateful. Don’t ever stop being grateful. Just try to be more appreciative. (Am I rambling? I think I am.)

I’d be grateful if you could leave a comment to tell me what you think about gratitude and appreciation. I appreciate your thoughts.  (See what I did there?)