The Hypermobile Yogi – Classes

Inspired by an article on Yoga International (shared by yoga teacher Adam Husler), I’ve decided to take a moment to show how having Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS) affects me as a yogi. It’s been a long while since I shared ‘My Hypermobile Life’ with you all, and I’m going to try to not repeat myself too much, but as each year (and injury) goes by, I get a better understanding of how my complicated body works…or doesn’t as the case may be. I’m going to break my yoga experiences down into 3 posts; Asanas. Classes. Recovery.

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Don’t lock your elbow. Don’t sink into your hip. Don’t overly twist your neck.

Class Planning

Through chatting to my own clients, most people’s approach to classes and working out is; Sunday night – plan and book classes for the week, go to class, get a sweat on, go home. It may sound ridiculous, but I have to consider a whole lot more before deciding whether to go to class or not.

Firstly, is my body ok? I listen intently to my body and pay close attention to niggles, aches and pains. With JHS, I suffer with chronic pain at times, so I’m used to being in pain, what I have to pay attention to is new pain, and decipher whether that’s something simple like ‘I’ve popped my shoulder out while asleep’ – yep, that happens – or something more sinister. Saying that however, I’d probably still go to class!

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Don’t turn your elbows backwards. Don’t just drop your chest. Don’t pop your shoulders.

Secondly is what kind of class my body needs. People with JHS suffer with chronic pain, heart palpitations (I also have a heart condition, or two), low blood pressure, fatigue, anxiety, sleep problems and depression. This is due to the body producing more adrenaline to compensate for the extra elasticity in the blood vessels. If I want to go to class, I have to decide whether it’s a fast paced, dynamic practice, a hot yoga session, or a slower, deeper, more technical class. On a day where I simply want to curl up and stay in bed…I’ll book into one of my favourite teachers’ classes and make myself go, regardless of the style, and I’ll just practice cautiously. I never regret going to yoga!

Other Classes

In terms of non-yoga classes, that’s a whole other ball game! High impact classes are almost a no-go for me, and other classes such as boxing, aerial or ballet have to be considered according to what else has been happening that week. Sometimes, I simply opt for a gym session where I can tailor my workout to what I need.

yoga, yogabloggers, hypermobility

Don’t crunch your lower back. Don’t drop your neck back. Don’t pop your shoulders.

During class, other than controlling my joints during each asana, it’s essential to consider the transitions between each posture. Sometimes, if I stand up from the sofa too fast, I get that head rush feeling, imagine how intense that can get in a hot yoga room, returning from a deep backbend. Add to that the likelihood that I might have crunched down on my neck in said backbend, that’s a recipe for passing out. Slow and steady wins the race, and even in super-charged Rocket Yoga, it’s important to take an extra breath of stillness when needed.

Keeping all that in mind, my decision to go to yoga is often made the morning of the class. I’d love to pre-plan my weeks to include classes, as most often I take the same classes each week, but I can’t predict how my body will feel. Quite often in the past, I have been overambitious with my body, and have had to cancel last minute.

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Breathe!

Once I’ve done class, it becomes about recovery and making sure I don’t hurt the next day. Through nutrition and taking care of myself with adequate rest, it’s time to listen to my body and think about when my next class will be. My next post will focus on A Hypermobile Yogi – The Recovery.

All Images: Will Patrick

Finding the Perfect Yoga Mat

There was a time when I was a complete yoga mat hoarder. I accumulated mat after mat, hoping each would be better than the last but ultimately still searching for the perfect mat. In typical Goldilocks fashion, they were either too slippery, to thin, too heavy etc but I think I’ve found one that’s ‘just right’.

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The new ‘yoga corner’ in my living room.

In my quest for the perfect mat, I’ve learnt what my priorities are when it comes to choosing the best mat. In my eyes, it should be an investment. I’ve tried cheaper mats with very little success and if I’m perfectly honest (when am I not?), making a decent investment of a yoga mat has changed my practice. So, with my current favourites in mind, I’ve compiled a list of what I think you should consider when buying a yoga mat.

Grip

This is my first and foremost thought when looking at, or sampling, yoga mats. In terms of classes, I go between hot and temperate yoga on a regular basis, but regardless of room temperature, I’m going to be sweating! The absolute worst thing, in my opinion, is the feeling of hands and feet sliding away from each other during downwards facing dog. Not very zen. The BEST mat I’ve ever come across for grip, and this was my major investment, is from Liforme. Ranging from between £80 for the travel mat (2mm) and £100 for the standard (4.2mm) it’s a big dent in your bank account, but 100% worth it! If you are a serious yogi (or even if you’re not), practicing regularly and intensely, then this could be your dream mat. I have the lighter travel version, which I use as a studio mat topper and bought it at Om Yoga Show with the smallest of discounts, which made me feel a bit better about it!

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Comfort

I get very sore knees and hips (I sound like a granny), which is why I tend to ‘double mat’ with a studio mat and my Liforme when I’m taking class across London. The extra cushioning just helps with prone postures where my hips dig in, and kneeling postures when my knees are not particularly happy. When I’m practicing yoga, or doing any kind of workout at home, I use a super thick mat from Lululemon. The grip is almost as good as the Liforme, but at 5mm thick, the cushioning is brilliant. Saying that, Lululemon do have thinner versions of this mat, and with pretty good grip, they’re a slightly more affordable option if the Liforme is a stretch too far.

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Company Ethics

These days more and more companies, and consumers, are putting ethics and the environment at the forefront of their core values. I’ve seen it with Bella Kinesis, Passion Planner and others, where a purchase from them benefits a charity or underprivileged group. Cork Yogis is another. With yoga mats made from cork, this eco-friendly material actually gains more grip as it gets wet. The cork is harvested from Oak trees, and it regrows every 8/9 years, making cork a sustainable industry. The yoga mat bags Cork Yogis provide are made in collaboration with Destiny, a charity in India that helps rescue young girls and women from a life of forced prostitution and sex slavery. Using old sarees to make the beautiful bags, Cork Yogis puts ethics and sustainability at the top of the agenda for everything it does.

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Design

I know that stylish activewear shouldn’t make you go to the gym any more than normal kit, but sometimes it does, and perhaps the same goes for yoga mats. I am seeing more and more yoga mats with beautiful designs worthy of hanging on your wall let alone being on the floor, and Bliss Cloud is among some of the best. New to the yoga mat scene, and with stunning designs, I opted for a mandala pattern in calming blue tones. Not only beautiful, these mats are also functional, machine washable and made from eco-friendly tree rubber. Free from toxic chemicals, and printed with water-based inks, your hands won’t smell after you practice.

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This mat is so stunning, I quite often just leave it rolled out in my yoga corner just because it looks so nice. It also feels so soft underfoot, double it up as a rug and you’re on to a winner.

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So yes, I am still a bit of a yoga mat hoarder, but I have different uses for each. My Liforme comes with me from studio to studio and the Bliss Cloud, Cork and Lululemon get rotated around for my home practice, or rolled out together if I’m practicing with a friend. You can never have too many yoga mats, right?!

Bliss Cloud and Cork Yogis provided me with complimentary mats to try, Lululemon and Liforme mats purchased myself. All words my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.

Office Yoga with Furniture at Work*

 How many hours a day do you spend sitting at your desk? Typically, do you move your body at all during your working day? If the answer is ‘No’, this is the post for you. It was reported recently that office workers need to exercise for an hour a day to avoid an early death, which is a headline designed to shock, but also holds a great deal of truth. If you’re guilty of being chained to your desk for hours on end, then a little ‘Office Yoga’ might just be the thing for you!

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With research suggesting that sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent, getting up from your desk, and moving throughout the day is so important for your health. A whopping 70% of office workers suffer from Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), be it hand, arm, neck or otherwise, and the rise of laptop working replacing the standard desktop set up is only accentuating the problem. The folks at Furniture at Work have been working with a top yoga teacher to give people some office yoga poses to shake up your working day.

Check out the poses below, and if you’re at your desk right now, give them a go! Paired with a brilliant video, the aim is to get people moving during their working day, decreasing their risk of early death. Whether it’s doing a little ‘Desk Yoga’, walking to another part of the office, or taking the stairs to a different floor once an hour, schedule a little movement into your day, not just today because you’re reading this post, but every day! Anything you can do to avoid sitting at your desk for 8 hours is going to be beneficial, and you’ll end up more productive, with more energy, and not to mention healthier!

I’m lucky that my job involves being on my feet (and generally running around like a headless chicken) more often than not. Saying that, even on my admin days, I still take time to escape from my laptop and get my body moving.

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*This is a collaboration post in collaboration with Furniture at Work and contains link/image placement. For more information, please see Disclaimer.

Sweaty Betty AW16 Wish List

The new season kit from Sweaty Betty has just launched, and I think I want all of it!! I’ve been staring at the website for a long time, and managed to select just a few favourites which have gone straight to my wish list. Check them out below! I can’t wait to rock these looks at the barre very soon.

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  1. Kapotasana Padded Yoga Bra – A pretty pattern and delicate straps, this is the perfect bra for a ballet class or yoga session.
  2. Upbeat Zip Padded Bra – A bra with a front zip…I love it! No clasps digging in here. A stunning pattern, I wouldn’t want to wear a top over this!
  3. Luxe Gym Bag – Every since Elle (KeepItSimpELLE) whipped some awesome food prep out of the roomy bottom pocket of this bag, I’ve lusted after it and it’s spaciousness. This colour way with its inky blue is a nice change from black too.
  4. Jive Crop Reversible Barre Leggings – With the matching bra above, and lace-up detail on the side, I love these leggings. Reversible too, my favourite!
  5. Power 7/8 Run Leggings – I had to try these on as soon as I saw them, and the whole outfit is on my instagram. They’re stunning and fit great!
  6. New Balance 99 Trainers – Clean white kicks (ok, with a hint of ombré), yes please!!
  7. Karma Yoga Vest – Lightweight and easy to throw on, this will be a wardrobe staple of mine.

 

What are you lusting for this season? There’s so much more coming too, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

I am a Sweaty Betty Ambassador and promote the brand as part of this role. All opinions my own.

A Sunday at Yoga Connects

First a story…

I had it all planned. Wake up an 6am, leave by 6.45am, drive the 1h.50m to Yoga Connects Festival and arrive in time for Adam Husler’s 9am workshop. Well, it didn’t quite happen that way. I turned off my 6am alarm, and woke with a start at 7.26am instead. Realising that getting to the 9am class wasn’t going to happen, I set my sights on Dylan Werner’s 11am workshop instead. As long as I left by 8.30am, I’d make it. Plenty of time! Again, not quite. I had hired a Zipcar, London’s car sharing scheme, and went merrily along at 8am to collect it and tried to unlock with my app as per usual. No luck, technical issues. Various phone calls later, and I’ve been assigned a new car. Great! A 20 minute walk away. Not so great. At 8.35am I’m finally on the road, conscious of the time now, as any traffic or delays would risk me missing the second workshop. Then finally the world started to agree with me, and after a smooth drive up to Stanford Hall in Leicestershire, I arrived at Yoga Connects with 15 minutes to spare. That’s when the zen started.

yoga, yoga connects, festival, summer

As mentioned in my previous post, the lovely Daniela Olds invited me to check out Yoga Connects Festival, voted one of the best yoga festivals in the world by CodyApp. Set in the grand arena of a stately home, and its surrounding fields, this not-so-little festival had various yoga and music areas, a row of stalls selling everything from food, to yoga clothing and mala beads and even SUP Yoga in the nearby lake.

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I arrived just a little bit flustered, I forgot to mention in my epic journey story that on the other side of the field was a motorbike show, which I nearly parked right in the middle of, but managed to find a spot to lay my mat in preparation for one of the most highly anticipated workshops of the day; Dylan Werner. Self proclaimed nomad, internet yoga sensation, and international yoga teacher, Werner took us through a wonderful gentle flow, with deep opening postures, opening and closing with the delightful sounds of the handpan / hang drum. Werner enlisted a couple of friends to guide us through some partner yin yoga, and a meditation. All in all, it was glorious. I left the workshop having chatted to some lovely, friendly yogis, feeling super grateful, calm and so happy to be there.

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There was so much on offer, but I was equally happy to sit and watch the world of yogis go by. The one thing I definitely had my eye on however was the SUP Yoga classes, offered by Nichola at SurfSUP Yoga. As I rolled up my leggings, and crawled across the boards to the one that best suited my height, I was grateful that I packed a change of clothes….just in case.

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Nichola took us though a very slow flow on the boards, and despite a few wobbles, I stayed dry! It takes a lot of concentration, balance and core strength but I really enjoyed it. I loved being on the water, and it was the perfect day for it. We even tried some more advanced postures for fun at the end, and after a lot of slow steady progress, I got up into a headstand on the board!!

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After one final browse around the stalls, I headed back to London, my head feeling a little lighter on my shoulders. The sunshine, fresh air, and friendly, happy vibe of Yoga Connects was the perfect way to end the weekend and begin the week with renewed energy. Those who stayed the whole weekend might not have felt so refreshed, as I heard there was a yoga rave one night, and I’m sure plenty of other campsite antics as well.

yoga, yoga connects, festival, summer

Saying that, the whole weekend is family friendly, safe and sustainable too. Visitors were asked to not bring plastic bottles, and everything possible was recycled, in accordance with Yoga Connects pledge to protect the environment. This festival is only going to grow and grow, and I can’t wait to see what’s on offer and who’s teaching next summer!

Yoga at The Shard with FarFetch

There are few things that will get me out of bed voluntarily (ie: not for work) before 8am, I’m not afraid to admit that i’m not a morning person. However, an invitation to join multi-brand online boutique, FarFetch, for a yoga class at the top of the The Shard, followed by breakfast at Shangri-La Hotel is the one thing that will. Celebrating the uprising of activewear, or athleisure, in fashion and the acquisition of luxury sportswear brands such as Montreal London, Lucas Hugh and Adidas by Stella McCartney to their list of boutiques, FarFetch joined forces with Yogasphere to give both fitness and fashion bloggers a taste of the high life. Literally. 1,000ft high.

farfetch, fashion, fitness, yoga, the shard

farfetch, fashion, fitness, yoga, the shard

Photo c/o FarFetch

FarFetch

Providing you with luxury at your fingertips, FarFetch hand selects the best fashion boutiques from around the world so buyers can shop from the comfort of their own homes. FarFetch allows it’s customers to shop anywhere from Europe to North America and Asia, giving consumers access to 1,000s of designers from independent labels, to super-brands.

I put this to the test with a super generous voucher received after the event at The Shard. I browsed through endless amounts of temptation from shoes and bags, to clothing and even homeware. It was a tough choice, but eventually I opted for a pretty big treat of this Marc by Marc Jacobs tote bag and relaxing Jasmin candle from Diptyque. Although from different boutiques, and from different countries, both arrived within a week of ordering, beautifully packaged, and with no hassle whatsoever.

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Next time you’re after a little luxury but don’t fancy popping into town, or hopping on a plane, check out what FarFetch has to offer!

Shangri-La Hotel

As part of our healthy morning, us bloggers were treated to a delicious breakfast courtesy of the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard. Luxurious linens, and even more luxurious loos, made way for a healthy breakfast of egg white omelette with salmon, granola bars, yogurt and fruit. If you’re looking for a meal with a view, in stunning surroundings, with impeccable service, this is the place to be. I did feel a touch out of place in my sportswear, even though we were all in the same boat, next time I’ll be sure to dress up!

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Yogasphere

Perched at the top of The Shard, I’ve decided that yoga in the clouds is the best way to start the day. You can’t help but be inspired, humbled and excited at the same time as you take in the views during each Sun Salutation. Co-founder of Yogasphere, Leo Lourdes, led us through a gentle but challenging flow class, pausing to take in the surroundings from time to time. In the group were experienced yogis and complete beginners, and he tailored it perfectly for everyone. We were fortunate to have a morning with scattered clouds and intermittent bursts of sunshine, meaning that the view stretched for miles around. I could gush about this all day, but I’ll just leave you with some of my favourite photos.

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Thanks Katie (Cake VS Scales) for the photo!

farfetch, fashion, fitness, yoga, the shard

Thanks Katie (Cake VS Scales) for the photo!

farfetch, fashion, fitness, yoga, the shard

Thanks Katie (Cake VS Scales) for the photo!


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Thanks to FarFetch, Yogasphere and Shangri-La Hotel for a wonderful morning floating above London. I spent the rest of the day feeling so grateful for the opportunities given to me as a blogger and a little bit more in love with London than usual.

I received the yoga class, breakfast and gift voucher all courtesy of FarFetch in return for this post. All words my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.