Y O G A

yoga, wellness, health, fitness, meditation

If you’re a newly qualified / soon to be qualified teacher and this blog post resonates then I would highly recommend reaching out to Annie Clarke (annie@mindbodybowl.co.uk) who has a dedicated Mentor Section on her website (link in copy below)

If you don’t live in London and/or have a particular yoga teacher in mind who you love learning from, then why not ask them to act as your Mentor in your first year of teaching – perhaps drawing on the points I have highlighted below (where Annie has helped me) to get you started….

For Annie, new teachers, and all of us who know that we are all still learning….

Meeting Annie…

It was a little over a year ago that I went to my first yoga class with beautiful Annie Clarke. I remember the date because it was the first day of London Cocktail Week, for which I was managing the press, so I knew starting the week with a yoga class was probably a wise idea!! 

The class was gorgeous. Tuning into the groups’ needs at 6:45am on a chilly Monday morning, Annie started the class slower and more mindfully than I was used to in my practice.

A kind, calming and intuitive teacher, Annie talked through Qi (chi) energy and had us pacing ourselves through her creatively sequenced vinyasa flow class.

Slowly and surely building heat in our bodies, we journeyed thorough sun salutations, hip, hamstring and shoulder openers, through to balancing, a Pincher Mayurasana practice and closed tradition Ashtanga style into a blissful Savasana.

The class was so beautifully put together that my good friend Faith and I failed to notice each other for the duration of the class (even with my mat directly in front of hers)!

It was only later that evening when meeting Faithy for a drink at London Cocktail Week, where we told each other about “the amaaaazing yoga class we went to that morning,” that we realised we’d been flowing in the same class.

Now THAT is journeying within and dropping the distractions when you practice!

Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) at its best! Thanks Annie! ūüėȬ†

At the time I was about 2 months away from completely my 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training; and as I was falling in love with Annie’s¬†¬†morning class, I remembered something my Course Leader had said to me:

“Be sure to take on board all of this feedback you are getting from your leaders and your course mates while you study; both the positive and the constructive.¬†

When you become a teacher, especially in London, you will soon notice that people come to your class, practice, and walk straight out when it’s over – which is totally fine of course – but it’s worth noting that even if they’ve loved your class, it’s unlikely they will take the time to tell you, so listen, learn and appreciate the feedback now.”¬†

That piece of advice struck a chord with me and so I made a commitment to take the time to tell the teachers that I really love, exactly what I loved about their classes.

They’ve given their time and energy to guide a group practice, and some teachers wear their heart is on their sleeve – so I believe it’s a lovely thing to do in return.

After class I spoke to Annie who was so approachable, encouraging and friendly Рand who looked genuinely appreciative of the genuinely delivered compliment. We got chatting and the fact that I was training came up. 

I started going to more and more of Annie’s classes – I’m pretty fluent in her public class timetable actually – and we’d always chat a bit after class about my course. She took a genuine interest and took me under her wing, especially as I was gripped with nerves at the idea of ever teaching a public class, or how to even go about getting an audition for one!

A couple of weeks before I passed my Teacher Training, I was regularly attending Annie’s classes and we were becoming more pally.

I remember being so thrilled and taken aback by the generosity when she offered to have me assist at some of her bigger yoga events and day retreats in the next year and that, as a way to help both relive some of the nerves that so many newly qualified teachers experience, and to help get my foot in the door/some exposure to add to my fairly thin looking Yoga CV. 

The Yoga Mentor…

That very kind offer shortly evolved into Annie suggesting that she take on a Mentor Role, in which we could meet for coffees, chats and check-ins so that she could understand how I wanted to shape my teaching path and help guide me there.

She has been true to her word and so much more over the last year: 

She’s been a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board, a giver of practical advice, recommended me to studios to help get my foot in the door, called on me when she’s needed classes covered, had me assist at her Water Element Day Retreat as a Karma Yogi*, invited me to assist her teach at LuluLemon Sweatlife Festival and more broadly, has shared her time, energy, wisdom, love, expertise and support.

Annie has spared time to meet me for breakfast/a coffee in between teaching her classes and even on route to the airport. – Which has never gone unappreciated.

Over the course of the year, Annie’s practical advice has gone from how I might get a yoga class / audition in the first place, who to contact and how to approach them; through to how to set up a class of my own, including all logistical advice re payment and cancellation policies, as well as how to politely and fairly give up classes when I’ve felt totally over-stretched, without allowing me to feel bad about it.

Further practical advice has been to build (genuine) relationships with the studios you practice at in the lead up to becoming a teacher to help when the time comes to hand in your CV, to teach community classes so that you can practice teaching a group under less pressure (plus it’s a generous way to be with your time), to assist the teachers you know and love in their classes, to offer yourself up for cover, to be gracious¬†and reliable¬†when covering classes, to not be afraid to ask for feedback – and more so to not be afraid to have your students pass the feedback on to the right places.

She has put in kind-words across London’s Yoga Teacher community, for which I owe my audition at FRAME, as well as other opportunities to cover classes for friends of hers.¬†

Graciously (and excitingly) Annie had another of her mentored yogis, Kelle McGrath, and I assist as she taught 300 yogis during the first class of the day at LuluLemon’s SweatLife, which was an incredible moment – especially for someone in their first year of teaching.¬†¬†

Not having lost sight of how daunting the first year as a yoga teacher can be makes Annie a compassionate and authentic mentor, and one who is extending her big sister like wings to help a few more yogis straight outta school.

If you’re a newly qualified / soon to be qualified teacher and this resonates then I would highly recommend reaching out to Annie (annie@mindbodybowl.co.uk)

Get in touch with Annie via her Mentor Space on Mind Body Bowl.

Yogi’s are compassionate – don’t be afraid to ask for advice. You never know, you’re mentor might even feel that in mentoring a junior teacher, they too are growing in their own way and on their own yogic path.¬†¬†

In the words of Celest Periera, international yoga teacher and author of The Yoga Mentor – a really fab, comprehensive and incredibly useful book aimed at new teachers – “We are all still learning….”

I owe a lot of my yoga highlights, and some of my best advice, over the last year to Annie ~ thank you lovely one.

n a m a s t e

Flying Solo At A Yoga Retreat…

Until last month I’d never been on a Yoga Retreat before.¬†I’d worked at one – Soul & Surf, Kerala in southern India – but I hadn’t been a guest fully immersing myself in the zen.

Nor had I ever been to Ibiza. – So when my first & favourite Yoga Teacher, Steffy White, announced her 2017 summer retreat, I jumped on in.

I say ‘jumped on in’, but was probably a little more hesitant that that.

Not because I was unsure about Steffy’s yoga (I go to 2 or 3 classes with her most weeks so I know how much I love the Yang and Yin she offers). And I need zero persuasion to be get to the beach. The hesitation was the idea of going on holiday on my own…

Steffy was totally encouraging when I asked her about going at it alone and sharing a room with strangers-who-inevitably-turned-friends; reassuring that lots of people fly solo on a retreat – and that I’d be spending a week with like-minded souls, all there for a similar reason.

IMG_1524

So with that I booked my first ever solo holiday.

It was a totally liberating moment, knowing that I’d worked hard enough over the year to be able to treat myself to a trip that was all my own. A chance to spend hours practicing what I love doing most, delving deeper into my practice, relaxing and re-energising – and all with a teacher that I admire and really resonate with…

And of course knowing that I’d be heading off to Ibiza was pretty amazing as well!

Down to the details…

The Retreat was through Steffy’s company White Light Yoga

The theme, Journeying Through The Chakras...

Sharing Steff’s fascination with the subtle energy system of the body and the way in which we can use yoga (yin and yang) breathing and meditation to unblock and rebalance ourselves – the theme of her Ibiza retreat more than resonated with what I am (and my teaching) is about.

I recently furthered my teacher training with a 20-hour course in Mandala Flow & The Elements with The Yoga People.¬†(I will be going on to take the full 100-hour Mandala & Shamanism Course in Goa next March).¬†But thanks to my 20-hour introduction to Jamie and Dulce’s Mandala training, I have some understanding, and come to feel the benefit, of¬†creating yoga and meditation practices and classes centered around the connection between each Element and its corresponding Chakra.

IMG_1398

My key learning from the training, and what I most looked forward to (and subsequently, absolutely loved about Steffy’s retreat) was delving into Chakra and Elemental focused yoga practice and understanding how this offers up an intention to bring healing to our first four energy centres (the lower four Chakras / the lower parts of the physical body), of which each is connected to an element (Earth, Water, Fire, Air).

I knew we would be working deeply (both physically and spiritually), to connect the breath with a still mind and the subtle energies of the body, via creatively sequenced, inspiring dynamic and soothing practices. – With a teacher I couldn’t trust and love to learn from more.

So, what was included?…

Where we stayed

We were so lucky with our villa. Steffy found the most perfect home at the stunning Casa Lakshmi Luz. Casa Lakshmi Luz is a true oasis, a heavenly space that holds the group energy, amidst the peace and tranquility of the beautiful Ibizan countryside.

IMG_1383

The interior is bright, spacious, welcoming and tranquil. A home from home where you can fully relax, unwind and breathe into your retreat.

Step outside onto the pool terraces and chill-out gardens and outdoor yoga deck, with Moroccan influences, there are many spaces to rest your head, siesta, relax and dream ‚Äď choose from sun or shade, comfy sun lounger or colourful hammock.

Casa Lakshmi Luz is located ten minutes from the golden sands and turquoise waters of Cala Nova and only a 15 minute drive from (now) one of my most favourite beaches in the world, Benirras.

The yoga

We woke up around 7am each morning an honoured a silent hour (Vipasana) – it’s amazing. Spending the first hour of your day with yourself, in silence. Perhaps meditating, perhaps writing your journal by the pool; perhaps making yourself a giant Quinoa Milk Latte and sitting in the hazy early morning sun smiling – rather than sleepily and mindlessly chatting – to your fellow retreaters.

It’s beautiful. Peaceful smiles and morning nods of the head to acknowledge each other, while you’re with yourself and a slow morning mind as you pick up your mat, bolsters and blocks to make your way over to the stunning Shala for 2 hours of insanely amazing dynamic flow.

IMG_1451

I’ve tried at home to keep the Vipasana up with Jamie – just 10-15 minutes of silent acknowledgement in the mornings to meditate, set intentions for the day – and enjoy coffee in bed in peace – sometimes we manage…

IMG_1536

Every morning with the exception of a rest-day mid week, we practiced a two-hour dynamic, creative Vinyasa and Mandala Flow; focused on a particular chakra (moving from root to crown) connected to its corresponding element.

The classes were amazing, inspiring and pushed you (in a kind way) to try the things the mind will often tell you you can’t do – but when in the breath and an open space – the body might just take you.

We played with inversions, closed with Yin and enjoyed a long, sweaty savasana before an amazing breakfast buffet feast of plant based goodness was served.

In the evening we luxuriated into long-hold Yin practices, working with the same chakra. It was intense, soothing and hazy – quieting the mind and surrounding to a deep restorative pose for minutes at a time is the perfect balance to the morning’s yang – leaving you feeling pretty stoned.

IMG_1415

Steffy’s practices are creative, soulful, well prepared, fun, functional and spiritual.

The food

The food was off the chain! Staying with us was Sarah of Bondi Kitchen – who when she isn’t feeding grateful retreaters her homemade Lifechanging Loaf (a vegan, gluten free loaf using seeds), clean, raw peanut butter cups, baked granola, falafel and watermelon gazpacho; is the on-set chef for the likes of Wonder Woman – giving her that paleo power, or cooking at home for Will Smith.

We were utterly spoiled with nourishing, vegan, seasonal, plant-based, locally sourced, heavenly brunches, lunches, snacks and dinners.

The Bondi Kitchen is launching in Wholefoods soon with resealable protein balls – def worth checking out!

IMG_1553

IMG_1558

IMG_1548

Typical Schedule

  • 7.30am: Teas, coffees and juices
  • 8-10am: Dynamic Elemental flow
  • 10am: Breakfast
  • Free time: beach/nap/sunbathe/pool/journal/explore/book in for massages and therapies/ do whatever your heart desires!
  • On some of the afternoons there were optional inversion workshops, a workshop on creating your own self-practice at home, Reiki massages and a Gong bath.
  • 6-7.30pm Yin yoga
  • 7.30pm: Dinner

During the days we either chilled by the pool, visited the old town or headed to beaches to sunbath (we hired a couple of cars between us to get around). On the last night we watched the sun set with cocktails at Experimental Beach Club.

IMG_1497

IMG_1535

I honestly had the best time. In the middle of the week I took myself off to Benirras beach and spent a solid 10 hours moving from sand to sea. (I had aggravated an old injury in my back so wasn’t allowed to yoga for a day).

IMG_1465

IMG_1463

IMG_1581

I think it was the first day of the entire year that I didn’t have something to do or somewhere to be and while floating around in the sea a whole lot of everything was dropped. It was my favourite day of the year. Utter bliss.

The week was amazing. I’d recommend booking onto one of Steffy’s retreats, either with friends, your lover, yourself – dropping any expectation and being open to everything you delve into on the way.

2018 Retreats will be listed here soon

 

X  n a m a s t e  X

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time ever I have succeeded in keeping January a dry month! #DRYJANUARY SUCCESS! And having felt so good for it I haven’t even poured an Espresso Martini down my throat this morning and convinced myself it was breakfast (as I’d initially been counting down the days to do).

*the fact that I was lucky enough to spend January in India, where alcohol is either out of date, tastes like paint stripper or not available was enormously helpful…

Nonetheless I’m really feeling inspired to keep on the healthy path of sobriety, meaning that instead of ending the¬†grape depression (I’m here all week)¬†by reaching for the nearest class of wine, I’ll be heading to Shoreditch’s Truman Brewery for the third annual Fare Healthy Festival –¬†the UKs first and foremost food, fitness and wellbeing festival.

IMG_0891

Perfectly timed to keep those new year good intentions going, the two-day event will once again inspire, educate, entertain and motivate attendees to eat, move, think, and, as a result, #feelbetter.

Open from 9.30am until 5.30pm, the festival is unique in combining food, fitness and wellbeing, with pop-up restaurants and bars, exercise classes, expert panel talks, cookery demonstrations, a bookstore, alongside a market place featuring over 100 brands.

IMG_0894

Fare Healthy has something for everyone with¬†a series of varied exercise classes including Ballet Barre with Naturally Sassy, the renowned SBC experience with Russell Bateman, and yoga classes from two of my favourite teachers; Michael Wong from Boys of Yoga, and the lovely lady I’m lucky enough to have as amy mindful mentor, Annie Clarke of Mind Body Bowl (pre-order her new book here)

IMG_0895

FARE HEALTHY ROOT TO FRUIT BANQUET

For those more interested in the foodie side of the festival, Fare Healthy is also teaming up with four renowned British chefs to launch the festival‚Äôs first ever supper club, ‚ÄėA Root To Fruit Banquet‚Äô, on Saturday 4th February. The Root to Fruit chefs are pledging to create a meal that use zero-packaging to create a zero waste dining experience.

Chefs cooking on the night will be:

‚óŹ Tom Hunt, eco chef, food waste activist and chef patron of Poco restaurant
‚óŹ Gill Meller, head chef of River Cottage and author of new book Gather
‚óŹ Justin Horne, chef and founder of Tiny Leaf, London‚Äôs first zero waste restaurant
‚óŹ Tess Ward, chef, food writer and author of The Naked Diet cookbook
‚óŹ Peardrop London, catering company & lunch delivery service set up by chef Rose Lloyd Owen, founder of Fare Healthy

The four course menu will be entirely organic, vegetarian, agro-ecological, 100% British and most importantly, will use ingredients in their entirety, from their roots to their stalks, demonstrating how much of our food is thrown away. Cocktails will be available at the Sipsmith and Jax Coco Bar and Pure ionic water will also be available

Root to Fruit Eating means to eat mindfully, reconnecting with our foods origin and nature in order to value our food, the planet and the farmers who produce our ingredients.

IMG_0892

Fare Healthy was created in autumn 2014, a collaboration between self-taught chef Rose Lloyd Owen and a small selection of chefs, bloggers, and fitness instructors. Since it’s inception and launch event in January 2015, Fare Healthy has amassed a loyal following of fans, and tickets for previous events have sold out in less than an hour.

Tickets are on sale now, priced at £25 per person for the festival and at £50 per person for the banquet. The Root to Fruit banquet begins at 7.30pm.

Perhaps you started a yoga practice to reduce stress, reconnect with yourself, work with an injury – or simply as a form of exercise; and maybe somewhere in between your first downward facing dog and mastering anything from a true sense of stillness to an unsupported headstand, a transformation took place.

The benefits of yoga may have opened themselves up to you naturally Рor like me, you might have practiced for years before finally coming to understand what it means to have present mind, to notice the calming feeling that carries through your day Рand a new (long overdue) love and respect you have for yourself and your body.

Maybe you have became addicted to the practice. A¬†‚Äúyoga junkie‚ÄĚ ‚Äď seeking out classes, workshops, even retreats to deepen your practice and discover more about yourself. You are passionate about the flow. And that passion translates to a desire to learn more, know more, understand more, love more; and spread this ¬†knowledge, understanding and love to yogis far and wide.

img_0027

So what to consider?…

  • Accreditation | First you must decide whether training with a school recognised by The Yoga Alliance matters to you – and in my case it absolutely does, so I opted for Yoga London. The Yoga Alliance does not¬†cause¬†the¬†practice¬†to lose its identity and creative flair, but ensures high teaching standards that may be essential to future places of work as a teacher. There is no right or wrong in your personal choice and an unaccredited 2-week course in Goa may be the best option for you. Yoga is about non-attachment and your yogic goals are likely to change and evolve as you progress through our journey, but if eventually becoming a teacher (all over the world) is an ambition then its something to consider…
  • Experience¬†| Like me, you may worry about whether you will be ‘good enough.’ Don’t worry – of course you are! These feelings are natural (and¬†Yoga is for everyone) so with a willingness to learn, you’ll get to where you need to be. At least a year’s experience with a regular practice is advised to help develop your personal practice – but its attitude over ability is what counts.

img_0025

  • Motivation¬†| Make sure your decision comes from within you. You may wish to simply deepen your own practice and know that there is the opportunity to teach should you wish to (me at first – the idea of teaching terrified me); in which case you may be pleasantly surprised by the results. You may want to physically improve your own practice and be surprised by the spiritual journey! Again there is no right or wrong, but ethics and intention are an integral part of the yogic lifestyle – and the training comes with a price tag – so consider what you want to get from this investment in yourself – and then let it go ūüėČ
  • Finance¬†| On the subject of price tag, your budget – and commitment to the cost is another key consideration.¬†Let’s hope it’s a given you’re not getting in to this for the money. Still, it’s important to give some serious attention to how you will finance your life (beginning with the training – which can be life long!) as a yoga teacher.¬†Yoga teacher-training courses usually cost around¬†¬£3,000.¬†Some course providers allow you to pay in instalments¬†making the cost more manageable. A 200hour Teacher Training Course with Yoga London is ¬£3,499 and can be paid at ¬£225 | month¬†over the course of a year – although you do not get your certificate until you are paid up in full

img_0026

  • Timing | One of the reasons that I chose Yoga London was because if offers the flexibility of 1-month, 3-month, 6-month and 12-month courses so there is something to suit every need and every path. I opted for a 6-month course to allow me to fit around my full time job (which was tough during extremely busy periods at work coupled with yoga homework and exam revision – but so worth it.) A 6 month course suited me because it kept more momentum that a year course. Each month 2 full weekends (Friday night through to Sunday evening) were spent in training. These are some of the weekends that I will always look back on most fondly. Think about what time you have to commit and what option best suits you – you may wish to ease yourself into a new lifestyle over a year – you may want to head off to Thailand and spend 5 intensive weeks getting qualified!
  • Expectation | Does becoming a yoga teacher still sound like a dream? Well in many ways it is! You get to practice yoga all day every day, doing what you love and getting paid for it, growing as a yogi, meeting wonderful people along the way! But let’s not lose sight of reality: Getting up for classes at 6am before people go off to work, doing the graveyard shift with those who finish late, and of course a lot of weekend work. It’s not all white beaches and penthouse rooftops. ¬†You will need to put the hours in to build your reputation. Yes becoming a yoga teacher is a wonderful life changing experience but that doesn’t change the fact it is often hard work.

img_0015

Which school is for you?..

In London there are numerous schools that are Yoga Alliance Accredited offering the foundation 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training so its useful to look at the course prospectus to understand the content covered – and the style taught:

  1. Yoga London Teacher Training 
  2. Vivid Yoga Camden
  3. The Yoga Academy
  4. The Yoga People
  5. Tri Yoga Teacher Training

I opted for Vinyasa Flow at Yoga London because of its balance between philosophy, history, anatomy and physical practice. I also absolutely love Vinyasa Flow and the way it permits and playful, dynamic, challenging way to move your body in an almost dance-like fashion, into stillness. You may want to develop a stricter Astanga practice, or follow the path of BKS Iyenga – these are choices you will have to make.

Yoga London offers a lot of insight into Ashtanga Yoga and The Primary Series, on which our exam sequence was based on, and interestingly enough, while I have opted to take my advanced 500-hour Training with The Yoga People to learn¬†Creative Flow and Sequencing, I am also off to India next month train in Ashtanga Yoga, in the hope of building up a more disciplined, time-honoured practice. – It really is amazing what you will start to learn about yourself, and the ways your goals change, once you begin your Yogic path…

 N A M A S T E

Forward-thinking fitness studio FRAME is bending over backwards to give its loyal, shape-shifting Framers a little more of what they want with the launch of the first ever standalone FRAME Yoga Studio.

Located a stone’s throw away from FRAME’s existing studio in Kings Cross, the FRAME Yoga Studio will take their yoga offering to a whole new level with a timetable of varied yoga classes from some of London’s finest teachers. Classes range from Meditation, to well thought-out Vinyyasa sequencing, Rocket Yoga, Mum & Baby Yoga, Yoga for Sports People and Pre-Natal Yoga.

frame-july21st-yoga%40kx-0112

The shiny new studio will flip the traditional, serious yoga studio on its head with a fun, upbeat atmosphere, whilst still offering strong and mindful practice for seasoned yogis. The Frame Yoga Studio is for everyone, from beginners to pros and even teachers looking to hone their skills.

As always the FRAME Yoga studio is home to impressive bunch of instructors, both FRAME faves and some new exciting faces including Steffy White, Annie Clarke, Michael Wong and Emily Clare-Hill.

frame-july21st-yoga%40kx-0022

The new studio has 3 changing areas and one loo. To make the studio extra spacious and airy the showers are located one minute away, around the corner at Frame Kings Cross. There are cubby holes and shoe racks to store your belongings during class. Towels and waters available to buy.

Also launching this month is the MOVEYOURFRAME the label! Designed by founders Pip Black and Joan Murphy, the collection comprises everything needed to get you moving in studio through to life in the outside world: clothing, equipment, nutrition and bundles; all crafted with a busy Framer in mind.

frame-july21st-yoga%40kx-0149

Fusing technical fabrications with fun and functional silhouettes, the 20 piece apparel collection is designed to be mixed and matched to cover all scenarios; a sweaty HIIT class, an ‚Äėat-home‚Äô yoga practice or just a trip to your local for a flat white. Choose from performance wear for higher impact classes, medium support garms for lower impact fun times and lounge-wear for¬†Sundays…

frame-july21st-yoga%40kx-0126

The FRAME Yoga Studio launches officially to the public on 5th of September and

MOVEYOURFRAME the label will be available to buy online nationwide from September 1st and in all Frame studios across London, cementing Frame as the one-stop-stop for all things health and fitness!

Frame Yoga, Unit 2, Arthouse, 1 York Way, Kings Cross, N1C 4AS