London’s Best Outdoor Yoga Spots

OK, so by the time this article is published it could be raining cats and dogs. Such is life in England. But call us optimists – we can’t wait to feel our toes in the grass and the breeze in our hair! Here are the best places to catch an outdoor yoga session this summer (when it’s not tipping it down).

The MoreYogis have tried and tested these beautiful spots so you can sit back and take your pick!

Regent’s Park

For the more confident among us, the busy but beautiful Regent’s Park is the perfect place to stretch out and practise. With so much space around and regular free yoga sessions led by volunteers, you’re guaranteed to see some fellow yogis around. Plus, you’ve got plenty of cafes nearby for a treat in the sun afterwards!

Battersea Park

For those of us who live – gasp – south of the river, Battersea park offers a closer alternative to the central parks. Sprawling grounds, beautiful water features, and more importantly mini-golf make this park an idyllis setting for some summer yoga.

Hampstead Heath

What better way to enhance your practice than with the gorgeous vistas of Hampstead Heath? Lots of cute puppies will come and see you at most of these parks but Hampstead Heath seems to be extra canine filled. There are regular yoga sessions on this park run by various teachers, so keep an eye on the weather and grab your mat when it’s sunny!

Tibetan Peace Gardens

OK, so you might get some weird looks for slapping down your yoga mat here, but this tranquil spot is perfect for a moment’s meditation away from the busy city. Take a moment here to reflect and recharge and you’ll feel zen in no time!

Enjoy your outdoor practice this summer – just don’t forget the suncream!

4 Reasons To Get Yourself a Yoga Wheel

We’re all familiar with the blocks, blankets and straps that are ubiquitously stocked in every yoga studio – but have you tried using a yoga wheel? Having a wheel at home can really enhance your self-practice and ease you into those asanas that have seemed inaccessible up until now.

Here are a few funky uses for a yoga wheel that we love.

Building spine and back flexibility

Taking it slow with the wheel in the centre of your back, roll backwards and forwards. This encourages the back to stretch out evenly and safely – if you’re feeling it, you can grab the wheel over your shoulders and try to touch the floor with your elbows! Our word of warning – wear a bun if you have long hair. No one wants to get their pony tail trapped under a yoga wheel (we’ve been there and we don’t recommend it).

Deepening stretches 

You know those poses where you’ve made some progress but you’re just not quite there enough to feel the stretch deeply? Your yoga wheel may be the answer. A great example is Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose – or the splits for those who are still new to all the names). By resting one leg on the wheel and shifting your weight closer or further away using your hands, you’ll get a stretch that isn’t hindered by the pesky floor. You could also use a block for support here – and remember to respect your body. If you are feeling any sharp pain or numbness, stop immediately.

Building core strength

Get yourself into plank position with the tops of your feet on the wheel – if the simple act of balancing here doesn’t bring tears to your eyes at the ab-burning sensation of it all, lift one leg at a time to fire them up even more.

Relaxing into backbends

We’ve all been there in a Yin class when someone tells you to relax into fish pose. While trying to look serene while staring at the feet of the person behind you may bring a whole host of benefits, a wheel can make this pose feel much more restorative. Pop the wheel under your back, arms down by your side and legs our straight ahead. You can add a block under the head for support to make it extra chill. Try shoulder stand supported by a wheel for a less intense version of this awesome asana too.

Yoga wheels come in different sizes – the best way to choose your first wheel is to try a few, but if you don’t have access to a wheel you can go roughly by your height. This guide will give you an estimate of which size wheel could suit you.

 

Wave Goodbye To Stress With These Simple Tips

No-one wants to be stressed out, but sometimes it seems like you just can’t climb out of the abyss. The most important thing is to recognise when you are stressed, so you can take a step back and re-evaluate what’s going on. Eating rubbish? Not sleeping well? Making weird, impulsive decisions? Give these quick fixes a whirl and you’ll be feeling chillaxed to the max (can we still say that in 2017?) in no time.

Go outside

Do it. Take a step into the great outdoors and start walking. It’s incredibly therapeutic to walk for no reason and you’ll find you get that much needed headspace that you’ve been craving. Not to mention that you’ll be reaping the benefits of the lovely vitamin D you’re exposed to, which has been proven to alleviate depression! Bonus points for leaving your phone at home.

Get moving

Whether it’s yoga, strength training or dance, exercise blows out the cobwebs and leaves you in much calmer space. Even gentle movement can disrupt any repetitive stressful thoughts and give you some new persepective. You might not be feeling a hardcore Jiva class right now, but your brain will thank you for 60-90 minutes of down time while your body does the work in the studio.

Read about your interests

Often, when you’re feeling anxious or stressed, it’s because your mind is so active – why not use up this mental energy on something constructive instead? If you always dreamt of becoming a nurse, go and read up about how to do so. If you’ve been fancying yoga teacher training for a while, find some course materials and dive in. Not only will you find you just don’t have the time to stress, you might find an exciting new path too! And yes, scrolling through Pinterest for dream houses definitely counts.

Ask yourself “What’s happening now?”

We all have a tendency to let our minds go racing into the future or delving into our deep, dark past. If you catch yourself doing this, first of all – well done! It’s not always easy to notice. Next, ask yourself the question – “What is happening now?”. Your attention will come zooming back to the present moment, where stressful situations are far less important and pivotal. After all, what’s the point in worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet, or that’s already done and dusted? Spend your awesome energy elsewhere, like on the Creme Egg you’re about to smash. At the very least, enjoy every decision that you’re making right now.

Smile at yourself

When’s the last time you smiled at yourself in the mirror? I mean, without picking apart the flaws that you see. Get those pearly whites out and grin at yourself for a minute – your fabulous brain will release hormones to make you feel good!

Life’s too short to be stressed! Sign up for our introductory offer of £10 for 10 days of unlimited yoga and stretch the stress away with MoreYoga. 

 

3 Key Habits That Will Instantly Boost Your Happiness

It’s the UN’s International Day of Happiness on March 20th and here at MoreFit we are focussed on making sure you are living your happiest, healthiest lifestyle. It’s a great time for us to make time for the things that are important to us – and most importantly, to take a good look at our own happiness and be grateful for it.

These three tips will boost anyone’s happiness, but we know that living a happy life can be easier said than done at times. Living in a modern metropolis like London can be crazy fun, but the busy city life takes its toll. If you’re feeling low, these habits will turn your world upside down (in a really good way).

Exercise

Yes, it’s probably the last thing you feel like doing right now. But once you get moving, your body and mind will thank you for waking up the endorphins you need to feel good. Not to mention that massive boost in self-esteem, personal power and social interaction you’ll get just from turning up! Book a yoga class to get that community support or grab a personal trainer if you’re feeling nervous about the group setting. It’s been proven time and time again that physical fitness affects mental health, so grab your gear and let’s go!

Music

Check your playlists – if you’re listening to Adele on a loop in the mornings, you’re definitely not going to start the day with a spring in your step. While there may be some guilty pleasure in wallowing to songs about doomed lovers, listening to sad songs when you feel down can actually increase your chances of feeling anxious, depressed or obsessive over particular events. Spend some time cultivating a playlist that will boost your mood and inspire you – if you’re stuck for ideas, start here.

Food

You know the saying – you are what you eat. And chowing down on cheesy chips for the third time this week will not have you skipping down the pavement singing joy to the world (unless you’re actually on the way to the chip shop again). Fast food is a great short term fix when you’re down, because making the effort to cook is nigh on impossible when the lethargy has set in. Start simple – fill up your fruit bowl, and promise yourself that whatever you eat, you’ll always have a piece of fruit first. Maybe add in a glass of water too. This tiny changes will snowball over time and leave you feeling far happier and less inclined to eat rubbish.

This little nudges can help you to pull yourself out of a low point, but if you’re feeling down for longer than two weeks, tell someone. Depression can affect anyone – it’s not your fault, and you deserve to be happy. Here at MoreFit, we are committed to making sure that your #internationaldayofhappiness is as joyful as it can be. See the links below for help and advice.

Talk to the Samaritans about anything at all here.

Not sure what depression is? Read more here.

Look after yourself with these tips from Mind UK.

How To Embrace Your Inner Bad Yogi

So here’s the situation – you have a Yin class booked at 7pm on a Friday but your hot colleague just invited you to work drinks. What do you do?

There are always occasions when the bad yogi in you will win. When as much as you really did organise your time to get to Vinyasa ten minutes early, you’re late because the last five minutes of the Good Wife were just too good to miss.

It’s time to embrace your inner bad yogi and own it. It’s a part of you after all, and the path to enlightenment means loving all parts of ourselves, right?

“Don’t go to class, drink a bottle of wine instead!”

Take a good look at this feeling and ask yourself a few questions before making a decision. First up – why do you want to drink? Are you thirsty? Are you stressed to the max? If so, there are other solutions to those problems and skipping class isn’t one of them. On the other hand, if you want to taste the sweet notes of a fabulous claret, go right on down and grab yourself your favourite brand. Wearing yoga pants while doing so will reduce feelings of guilt for not going to class.*

*No guarantee whatsoever.

“You’re already late! Just turn back now!”

No excuses. Get in there, strut your stuff through the rows of downward facing dogs, take your time settling in and join the flow as if you were born there.

“This adjustment is literally ridiculous.”

Even an incredible teacher can give an adjustment that just doesn’t feel right – it’s your body after all, and you know it best! If you’re not feeling good in an adjustment or you’re finding it way too awkward, say so. You could politely say “This isn’t working for me” or go for a full on Mean Girls “Can you not?”.

“Great class! Ooh… MacDonald’s!”

We’ve all been there. And the worst part? The serene feeling of having done something good by going to yoga almost justifies it! Before you reach for the fries, have some water and a piece of fruit. If you’re still craving the golden arches, dive in with no regrets.

Yoga is not just about smiling serenely and getting your alignment perfect. It’s getting to know yourself, what you want, and when you want it. So own your inner bad yogi and dump the guilt!

 

MoreYoga: Your Plank to Upward Dog Form

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Hey all you Super Star Yogis!

Today I thought I’d let you know how to protect your lower back, shoulders, wrists and hips when yo are transitioning from High Plank (Phalakasana) to upward dog Urdha Mukh Svanasana) or the form on the way down, specifically.

So, firstly I’d like to point out that most of you are going down hips first and buckling your chest down with it, losing the integrity and the strength in your arms and core.  not super awesome for your shoulders either.

eg. WRONG

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This was really hard for me to demonstrate… proves the point.
Hips down first collapses your lower back and you don’t build much arm strength.

So! CHEST FIRST! … let’s see… RIGHT

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Strong arms, core intact, back strong and protected and you can slip into your upward dog by rolling over the toes easily as it moves your forward.
Spread you fingers and press into your fingertips to protect your wrists.
Press into the tops of your feet to lift your knees and connect your core.
Lift your hips so you don’t slump into your back.

(While you are going down your arms need to be touching the sides of your body – shoulders away from ears – squeeze elbows together)

If you are tired and/ or building strength.. Go for a modification! any time in your practice or throughout.

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Knees, chest, chin… as we say!
1. Knees down.
2. Collarbones move forward on an inhale.
3. Chest goes down-hips go last like above pic.
4. Slide onto belly

When you get up: chest up-straight arms and then move your hips back.
With your knees down you can put weight on the arms with less force.

Great!  I hope you enjoy your next flow!
Keep well and look after your body!

Written by Claire Alexander

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5 TOP TIPS FOR A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP

The city life can make it hard for us to truly switch off and get a good quality night’s sleep. Late nights, or broken sleep with minds’ racing, can mean that we often wake up with low energy and foggy minds – not ideal when we have a day of work ahead of us! When we sleep is when the body’s cells regenerate and rejuvenate, so having a good sleep is vital to keeping us feeling refreshed in the mornings.

Here are 5 simple tips to keep you catching Zzzzzz’s all night long:

  1. Avoid stimulants close to bed time – having caffeine, alcohol and nicotine close to bed time can have a stimulating effect on the body’s nervous system, making it extremely difficult to fall into a relaxing sleep. Every person’s body handles stimulants differently, so try to work out how long before bed time you need to avoid these stimulants for. Turning electronic devices off an hour before bed will also allow the mind to switch into relaxation mode before you hit the pillow – promoting a peaceful slumber.
  1. Try a magnesium salt bath – have a magnesium salt bath just before bed time a few nights a week – it works wonders! Add 2 cups of salts to your bath and feel every muscle in your body relax. Not only does magnesium relax the muscles, it also lowers blood pressure and reduces anxiety. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be crawling into bed after one of these.
  1. Manage stress – when you’re stressed and your mind is constantly racing, this is likely to put some strain on your sleep. Make sure to put a bit of time aside to engage in relaxing activities, such as yoga and meditation. Breathing exercises before bed can also be a great way to get those brain waves flowing a lot more calmly.
  1. Protein – this essential macronutrient helps to reduce cortisol, the hormone that is produced by the body when we are stressed. When cortisol levels are high, sleep levels are low. Protein also helps to balance and maintain blood sugar levels, meaning that insulin spikes, which can contribute to excess cortisol, are kept in check. Try to have a portion of protein with each meal to ensure sufficient protein levels. Eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, lean meat, and quinoa are all good options.
  1. Potassium – this important electrolyte is required by the body to maintain water balance and reduce blood pressure, which in turn contributes to a restful night’s sleep. Eating potassium rich foods such as oats, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, avocados and fish, will set you on the path to that dreamy sleep you’ve been longing for.

INFLAMMATION OVERLOAD

Inflammation is crucial – we need it to survive, and when it is working optimally it is our body’s natural immune defence to tissue damage. However, when we are exposed to a constant supply of mental, environmental, and physical stressors, inflammation becomes chronic and our immune defence can break down, potentially leading to a whole host of other illnesses and chronic disease. Stress, poor sleep, a diet lacking in nutrients, and exposure to toxins can all have a major effect on inflammation and our immune response. Here are my 5 top tips to help you keep inflammation under control –

  1. No to processed – foods that are highly processed and high in refined sugar and flour are one of the top nasties when it comes to inflammation. Make sure you are eating a wide variety of fresh plant-based and whole foods, as these contain a multitude of vitamins, mineral, and antioxidants, which help to keep inflammation at bay and your immune system healthy.
  1. Omega-3 – this important nutrient is vital for its anti-inflammatory properties, however the body cannot make it, so we have to get it through our diet. Omega-3’s have been shown to significantly reduce inflammation, as well as potentially lowering the risk of other diseases, such as arthritis and heart disease. Try adding mackerel, sardines, herring and salmon to your diet for a healthy dose of Omega-3.
  1. Relax and restore – stress is a major player when it comes to inflammation. When we experience high levels of stress, cortisol (our stress hormone) levels run riot, which can seriously effect immune function and overall health. Taking time to chill out and relax is essential for ensuring our mind and body stay healthy. Yoga, meditation, walking, and even enjoying a long soak in the bath will work wonders.
  1. Bad fats – fats like trans-fats have a very negative effect on inflammation and cholesterol. Avoid fried food and trans-fats and opt for good fats, such as those found in oily fish, almonds, avocados, olive oil and coconut oil. These will not only help to lower inflammation, but will help to keep your heart ticking along nicely.
  1. Exercise regularly – exercising doesn’t have to mean intense work-outs at the gym that leave you feeling sore for days afterwards. Find a type of exercise you enjoy! Whether it’s a yoga or pilates class, a cycle around your local park, or some time with a skipping rope in the garden – regular exercise will help to lower inflammation and promote a healthy heart and body.

TOP 5 ENERGY TIPS

3pm dip?

Is that notorious energy slump catching you out in the afternoon? Finding it hard to keep motivated post lunch? Here are my 5 top tips to keep you going throughout the day:

  1. Don’t skip breakfast – eating a well-balanced breakfast full of essential nutrients will help to keep energy levels balanced throughout the day. A breakfast rich in fibre, complex carbohydrates, and a portion of protein, will ensure blood sugar levels are kept in check, and a constant supply of energy is on hand when needed. Missing this important meal and heading for sugary snacks will send blood sugar levels on an energy rollercoaster, leaving you unsatisfied, fatigued, and heading for the next sugar hit.

Look out for my weekly meal plans for healthy breakfast ideas

  1. Ditch the sugar – instead of reaching for the nearest chocolate bar or box of biscuits when you’re feeling peckish, snack on foods rich in protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Snacking on a handful of nuts, or a couple of oatcakes with creamy hummus will help keep that blood sugar and energy supply at a consistent level. Upping the protein will mean less sugar spikes, improved concentration, and a happier, calmer mind. One of my fav snacks at the moment is cashew or almond butter spread on slices of pear – totally yummy! Give it a try!
  1. Keep stress levels in check – being stressed takes up so much of our precious energy! Being aware of the stress in our lives and making a conscious effort to manage and reduce it will drastically increase energy levels and our energy reserves. Taking time out for ourselves, even if it’s only half an hour a day, is one of the most beneficial things we can do. A yoga class, some meditation, a walk through the park – anything that calms your racing mind, will boost your energy.

Try a relaxing magnesium bath before bed to relax all the muscles of the body – believe me, you will not be disappointed!

  1. Keep hydrated – being dehydrated can leave you feeling fatigued and lethargic. In our hectic city lives it is so easy to forget to keep our water levels topped up. An adequate water intake is vital in maintaining energy levels, with every cell of our body requiring it to function, and not to mention its importance in flushing toxins and waste from the body. Keep a water jug or bottle on your desk so you’ve always got some nearby. Aim to drink 1.5 to 2 litres per day. I have recently purchased a water bottle with an in-built filter – filtered water always on hand and less money spent on buying bottles on the go!
  1. Are you getting enough magnesium? Although magnesium is essential for helping muscle relax, the mineral also plays a vital role in energy production. Over 300 biochemical reactions in the body require magnesium, and without it energy production will not be at its best. Ensure your diet is rich in magnesium to keep those energy supplies in abundance. Dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, avocado and mackerel all contain high levels of magnesium – so start making these delicious foods part of your daily diet!

 

 

 

WEIGHT LOSS WINNERS

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Are you constantly trying to shift the pounds but plagued by yo-yo dieting? Sick of countless diets that leave you feeling drained and frustrated? These 6 lifestyle tips will put you firmly in the fast lane for ditching the inches – and there’s no dieting involved!

  1. Don’t skip meals – when trying to lose weight it is important to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, otherwise insulin spikes and sugar dips will leave us craving for the next sugary hit. By eating regular meals it is much easier to maintain this balance and keep the cravings, that potentially lead to weight gain, at bay.

 

  1. Safe snacking – when we are feeling peckish in-between meals, aim for snacks containing protein, and avoid those high in refined sugar and carbohydrates. This will leave us feeling fuller for longer and will keep those all-important blood sugar levels on an even keel. Protein bars, nuts, and veggies with hummus are all good choices. Fruit is also great but does contain sugar – try having some nuts or nut butter with fruit, as this protein portion will ensure the sugar enters our bloodstream at a much slower pace.

 

  1. Breakfast shots – try a lemon and ginger shot at breakfast to speed up your metabolism, digestion and weight loss. Ginger helps to speed up the metabolism by raising the temperature of the body, and gives a helping hand to the digestive system by regulating the movement of food. By adding the alkalising properties of lemon you’ll be helping your body to achieve its optimal healthy weight. To make this yummy shot juice some ginger, a wedge of lemon, and a pear – add a sprinkling of cinnamon for an extra kick!

 

  1. Keep yourself watered – aim to drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day to make sure every cell in your body is getting an adequate supply. Keeping hydrated is essential for your overall health, to ensure toxins are flushed from the body, and vital nutrients are delivered to your cells. Drinking water is also known to keep hunger at bay!

 

  1. Exercise regularly – implementing a regular exercise routine that you enjoy will make it easier to reach your weight loss goals. Yoga, pilates, and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) have all been shown to produce fantastic results, as well as producing many other benefits for the body. Engaging in exercise also produces chemicals called endorphins, which leave us feeling happy and less stressed – a true winner for ensuring we stay on the right path!

 

  1. Complex carbs – swap simple carbs, such as white bread, pasta, and baked goods for complex carbs, such as quinoa, brown rice, lentils, beans and sweet potatoes. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed very quickly, causing a blood sugar spike and only a short burst of energy, whereas complex ones are absorbed more slowly, supplying you with a steady stream of energy throughout the day. Complex carbs are also a great source of fibre, which will leave you feeling fuller for longer and not reaching for those after dinner treats.

 

Are you constantly trying to shift the pounds but plagued by yo-yo dieting? Sick of countless diets that leave you feeling drained and frustrated? These 6 lifestyle tips will put you firmly in the fast lane for ditching the inches – and there’s no dieting involved!

  1. Don’t skip meals – when trying to lose weight it is important to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, otherwise insulin spikes and sugar dips will leave us craving for the next sugary hit. By eating regular meals it is much easier to maintain this balance and keep the cravings, that potentially lead to weight gain, at bay.

 

  1. Safe snacking – when we are feeling peckish in-between meals, aim for snacks containing protein, and avoid those high in refined sugar and carbohydrates. This will leave us feeling fuller for longer and will keep those all-important blood sugar levels on an even keel. Protein bars, nuts, and veggies with hummus are all good choices. Fruit is also great but does contain sugar – try having some nuts or nut butter with fruit, as this protein portion will ensure the sugar enters our bloodstream at a much slower pace.

 

  1. Breakfast shots – try a lemon and ginger shot at breakfast to speed up your metabolism, digestion and weight loss. Ginger helps to speed up the metabolism by raising the temperature of the body, and gives a helping hand to the digestive system by regulating the movement of food. By adding the alkalising properties of lemon you’ll be helping your body to achieve its optimal healthy weight. To make this yummy shot juice some ginger, a wedge of lemon, and a pear – add a sprinkling of cinnamon for an extra kick!

 

  1. Keep yourself watered – aim to drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day to make sure every cell in your body is getting an adequate supply. Keeping hydrated is essential for your overall health, to ensure toxins are flushed from the body, and vital nutrients are delivered to your cells. Drinking water is also known to keep hunger at bay!

 

  1. Exercise regularly – implementing a regular exercise routine that you enjoy will make it easier to reach your weight loss goals. Yoga, pilates, and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) have all been shown to produce fantastic results, as well as producing many other benefits for the body. Engaging in exercise also produces chemicals called endorphins, which leave us feeling happy and less stressed – a true winner for ensuring we stay on the right path!

 

  1. Complex carbs – swap simple carbs, such as white bread, pasta, and baked goods for complex carbs, such as quinoa, brown rice, lentils, beans and sweet potatoes. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed very quickly, causing a blood sugar spike and only a short burst of energy, whereas complex ones are absorbed more slowly, supplying you with a steady stream of energy throughout the day. Complex carbs are also a great source of fibre, which will leave you feeling fuller for longer and not reaching for those after dinner treats.

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