4 Embarrassing Moments We’ve All Had In A Yoga Class

Yes, yes, yoga is all about abandoning the ego. But sometimes, you can’t help but feel a little self-conscious next to the yogi who can “float from bakasana into handstand” (I mean, how?!). Here are four very common, very embarrassing moments that have happened to all of us at some point (including to the ultra-fit superheroes of the class).

Falling out of an inversion

It is inevitable that during your practice as you progress onto more advanced asana that you will go bowling across the room into one or several neighbours. Probably right after your teacher warned not to do this asana unless you were confident, in case you knock over people next to you. Brush off, return to your mat and vow to stay upright forever more. Just kidding – if you fell, that means you’re trying your hardest! Well done.

Facing completely the wrong way 

After a long day at work it can be difficult to stay focused, and one day you may realise halfway through a Warrior sequence that literally everyone is facing the other way. Aside from some odd looks from your teacher, who now knows you don’t know your left from your right, there’s the added bonus that you can’t switch halfway through because it would mess up your chakras (or something). Sigh.

Turning up late

Fortunately, MoreYoga teachers understand that we have lives outside of the studio and that being late does happen from time to time. But many of us have experienced the burning glare of a strict teacher when we turn up late to class, creeping to the nearest mat and into Downward Facing Dog like we’d been there the whole time, honest. It could be worse – you could be a guy accidentally setting his mat down in a prenatal class five minutes late (a true story that recently made this MoreYogi chuckle).

Wind

You know it. I know it. We all know it. Yoga makes you fart. And if it doesn’t, then you clearly have phenomenal digestive control. One of the functions of the physical side of yoga is to get rid of that nasty gas – there’s a whole sequence called “The Wind Releasing Series”, for goodness’ sake. If it does happen during class, take comfort in knowing that it’s surprisingly difficult to pinpoint the location of an untimely toot. Unless your teacher is right next to you, in which case you should probable leave immediately and apply for a new identity.

At MoreYoga we understand the blushes and bumbles that come with being human – we promise that if you do any of the above in our studios we won’t laugh (much).

Got any more embarrassing moments we haven’t covered? Message us your stories on Facebook and Instagram for a chance to have them published (Anonymously, of course. We’re not that cruel.)

Chaturanga: The Ultimate Guide By Elena Georgiou

Chaturanga is one of those asanas that seems oh-so-simple, but somehow, two years into your practice, your still thudding down onto the mat on your way into Upward Facing Dog. Lucky for you (and us!), MoreYoga instructor Elena Georgiou (@elenageorgiou262) is here to rescuse us from our face-planting days!

The Basics

 
What is chaturanga? 
In vinyasa styles of yoga Chaturanga Dandasana is part of sun salutations A and B The pose is sometimes referred to as a low plank and translates to the ‘Four-Limbed staff pose’. It’s considered quite a challenging pose where the body comes parallel to the floor with the weight of the body bearing in the toes and palms. The elbows are positioned at a right angle.
 

How do I do chaturanga

It’s not uncommon to see yogis breezing through chaturanga, swiftly swooping up to upward-facing dog without really using the muscle strength neccessary to make the correct transition. Poor alignment of the pose can result in serious joint tension and won’t allow you to build up the strength needed to take your practice to the next level.
What are some benefits to chaturanga?
 
The pose is going to help you develop your shoulder, wrist and leg muscles and gain core stability. It’s an amazing preparatory pose for arm balances and inversions because the power in the shoulders and core stability is a big must for both. The positioning of the arms in Chaturanga is replicated in more advanced arm balances including grasshopper pose. Your arms will start to tone and your whole body will naturally tighten as a result of regular practice of this pose. You’ll start to build what my teachers liked to call ‘Chaturanga arms’. 
Tips & Tricks
If you’re committed to improving your practice and gaining all the physical benefits of yoga, here are some pointers which could help make chaturanga less challenging: 
 
1. Set up in a strong plank position 
Come onto your hands and knees with your feet and knees hip width apart. Press your hands firmly into the mat spreading your fingers wide. Straightening your arms stack your shoulders directly above your wrists ensuring they’re shoulder width apart. Step the feet back and curl the toes under bearing your weight onto the toes and the palms. You should now be in your plank pose. To perfect the plank, slightly dome the top of the back, activate the thighs and suck in the lower belly. Avoid drooping the belly or sinking the hips. Try to imagine a solid log (your legs and torso) propped up by two twigs (your arms). 
 
2. Propel yourself forward
Once you’re steady in your plank, shoot yourself forward as though you were one lean line of energy. Feel the quadriceps working as you push the heels back. Keep the gaze to the top of your mat ensuring the neck and the shoulders are aligned throughout. Slightly tuck the chin under to create even more space in the back of the neck. Hanging the head will create tension in the neck. 
 
3. Hug to the midline of your body
Begin to hug your biceps and triceps tight to your ribcage squeezing your shoulder blades together. Remember to keep the shoulder girdle open by drawing the shoulders down the back. If the shoulders point forward towards the floor, you might injure your shoulders. Engage the muscles in your core and stabilise through the hips to keep them level.
 
4. Exhale to lower down
Slowly exhale to lower down bringing the shoulder in line with the crease of the elbow. This whole time, think about drawing your navel towards your spine until your arms are at that 90 degree angle to the floor. The exhale breath will help you strengthen core muscles. Then simply inhale and make the transition to the next pose. 
Options for Beginners 
Still not sure you’ve got your chaturanga down? Here are some fantastic options to help you ease into the practice! Here is a definitive list of options – choose which area needs the most work and take that option!.
Lower back 
From a solid plank position, place the knees onto the ground so that they’re hip width apart and curl the toes under. Spiralling the elbows forward, bend the elbows keeping the chest open while rolling the shoulders down the back. Lower down hovering over the floor until the arms are at a 90 degree angle to the floor. From here, come down to your chest and chin and then take an inhale to slowly move to cobra or upward-facing dog.
Knees
Begin by lying on your belly and bring your hands by your lower ribs. Activate your upper back, lift your shoulders and hug your elbows in. Tuck your toes under and engage your quads. Slowly lift your thighs off the floor which will help strengthen your knees. Lastly, engage your core and you are in the correct alignment for chaturanga. 
 
Wrists 
Spend some time before your practice to warm up the wrists with Anjali mudra (prayer pose). Press the heels of the hands together at the sternum, fingers pointing upwards, for around one or two minutes. Opt for the beginners variation of chaturanga with your hands a little in front of your shoulders to avoid too much extension of the wrists.
 
Shoulders 
Find yourself in a nice solid plank which you can choose to hold for at least 5 to ten breaths to help build shoulder strength. You can start to spiral the elbows forward, engaging the core. Then exhale to lower down completely to the floor keeping the integrity of the posture, pushing the heels back and pressing down with your hands. Practice this until you can lift your thighs off the floor to come to the full pose. 
 
Hips 
Place a yoga block under your pelvis and chest to support your body as you work on the key alignment points. Keep the hips from drooping by activating your abdominal muscles to help draw them up.  
 
Options for Advanced/Prenatal students
If you’re already a chaturanga master, why not take your practice higher with this challenging option?
Advanced 
Once you’ve mastered chaturanga from plank, you can try jumping back from Uttanasana B (standing half forward bend). From Uttanasana B press the hands especially the knuckles firmly down into the mat. Pull your chest slightly forward rolling the shoulders back into the shoulder girdle. Lift your navel, tuck your tail bone under and bend the knees deeply to float the legs up and back to chaturanga.
 
Prenatal 
Place your knees onto the floor so that they’re hip width apart. Lower down and spiral the elbows forward, rolling the shoulders down the back as you bring your torso down towards the ground. Rather than lowering down completely to your chin and chest, you can complete a few well aligned chaturanga push ups as the belly must stay off the ground to avoid any pressure on the baby. Avoid jumping into chaturanga and don’t suck in the belly either.
 
 
Elena’s Key Tips on Practising Chaturanga
I often ask my students to slow down their chaturanga and suggest that they practice the pose away from the context of sun salutations. I highly recommend to practice the modifications most suited to you at this point of your journey and take the time to build the real strength and understanding of the pose. 
 
Don’t let the complexities of the pose dampen your spirit and try not to get disheartened if you’re not at the full pose just yet. When I want to practice a new pose, I sometimes find it helpful to video my practice or look at a mirror from side on to check my positioning and understand how that positioning feels. That way, when I have no mirror or video, I’m aware of how it should feel to be with the correct or incorrect alignment. Without that feedback it’s hard to tell. 
 
Above all, and with any pose, is that it’s important to remember that nobody is going to judge you for having perfected the pose or not and you’re not going to be a better person for nailing the advanced version of a chaturanga. Learn to laugh at your mistakes and falls and recognise that it’s all practice and a part of your own self-discovery. 
Catch Elena’s Georgiou’s expert stylings at MoreYoga Camden (Iyengar & Ashtanga).

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. 

 

4 Reasons You Need Some HIIT In Your Life

So crunches and squats may not seem like the most yogic form of exercise, but high intensity interval training (HIIT) might be the key that unlocks your true potential in yoga.

Here are four awesome benefits you’ll get from mixing in some HIIT with your usual routine.

You’ll build strength (quickly!)

Wondering why you still face-plant in chaturanga even after a couple of years of practice? HIIT is the answer! Build your upper body, core and leg strength and you’ll find that those poses that have been eluding you all come together much more quickly.

You’ll exercise more often

We can’t guarantee that you’ll be running to the gym every half an hour, but we can provide you with reps that take no time at all. A HIIT sequence can make a difference even if you’re only practising for seven minutes, so you know there’s no excuse for home practice!

You’ll avoid injury

Combining the stretchiness of yoga and the strength of core conditioning, you vital joints and muscles will be extremely well protected. No more do you have to throw yourself around in a fitness class wondering when your hamstrings will finally snap!

You’ll feel like a hero

We all love a good sweaty savasana, and MoreFitness classes will leave you drenched and blissed out. We advise not going shopping after one of these classes as the sheer feeling of I-just-smashed-my-HIIT-yoga-class can lead to over-confident use of plastic.

Core strength, body awareness and muscle control are all fundamental to a good yoga practice. Join us at our MoreFitness, IFlo Fit and FitFlo classes at most of our studios. Not ready for commitment? Sign up for 10 days of classes for £10 and give us a whirl!

Make Mum’s Day With These Simple But Touching Gestures

Mother’s Day is here once again, and many of us will be scrambling last minute to grab gifts and cards. But are they really that personal? Here are three no-fuss gestures you can make that will show your mama that you appreciate her.

Buy her a yoga membership

Hey, so we are a little biased here, but a membership to a yoga studio might be just what the doctor ordered. A little me time for your mum to escape from the seemingly endless woes of the kids (thanks for putting up with me, mum)! You can even go together for some quality bonding time – after all, you’re never going to be short on laughs after one of you has gone bowling over in forearm stand!

Tell her why you love her

Mums can be complicated, but chances are that if you’re reading this article, you love yours. Tell her all the reasons that you love her – and if that’s too cringeworthy face-to-face, write her a letter. It’s amazing how little we say these things to our mums, even when we call them daily to moan about the fact that the beautiful shoes you just bought have a small scuff on the inside ankle or that the girl from the floor below in your office has the same coat and it’s soooo embarrassing.

Book her in to a spa

After all, she’s been carrying the weight of all our woes on her shoulders – she needs a massage! Bonus points for booking a nutritional consulation/ayurvedic reading too. Your mum will feel fabulous and take some new knowledge away with her that will keep her feeling good in the long run. This one takes no time at all but will leave you in mum’s good books for ages.

Take the time today to let your mum know you appreciate her. If your mum isn’t around for you to pamper, write down all the fond memories you had together and set an intention to model her best qualities. To all the mums out there – you are doing an amazing job. If your little ones aren’t big enough to pamper you yet, treat yourself! You deserve it.

MoreFit are currently offering half price memberships at our Brixton studio, opening on April 1st. To book in with our nutrition consultant, email info@morefit.co.uk.

Follow Your Heart: How to Spot An Imbalance In Your Heart Chakra

The Chakras are a key component of your yoga practice and each asana gives you a clue as to what your chakras are up to. If Camel Pose makes you want to scream, and Wild Thing has you uttering expletives not fit for the studio floor, you may need to do some work on your heart chakra.

The heart chakra (Anahata Chakra) is actually located just above the heart, and it works to balance the lower three chakras (navel, sacral and root) with the upper three chakras (throat, third eye and crown).This heart is traditionally seen as the balance between the world of the physical and the world of the spirit. Imbalance or blockage of the heart chakra is more common than you might think – have you seen any of these telltale signs?

If you have a blockage in Anahata Chakra, you may experience:

  • Shyness
  • Loneliness
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Finding it hard to forgive
  • Finding it hard to feel empathy

On the other hand, if your heart chakra is overactive, you may notice:

  • dependence on others for fulfilment
  • jealousy
  • high expectations of others
  • harsh judgement of other people
  • needing acceptance of others

And let’s not forget the physical symptoms! A lowered immune system (colds, flus, infections), heart and lung issues (heart palpitations common), poor circulation, high/low blood pressure, and respiratory and breathing difficulties are all symptoms of anahata chakra imbalance.

Eek! I have a blocked/overactive heart chakra! What now?

Sounds serious, but you don’t need to get to the GP for this one. The key to balancing out your chakras lies in food and exercise.

Go green

Green foods instil balance in the heart chakra, so chow down on dark green leafy veggies – think spinach, kale, broccoli, bok choi, seaweed (I’m not joking)… The list goes on! If you’re finding you just can’t face a mountain of the green stuff, whack it in a smoothie and get all the good stuff with none of the fuss. Toss in some green fruit and you’re good to go. Bonus points for eating the skin for extra fibre and adding a superfood suplement (spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass, barley grass, matcha powder, green tea or maca powder).

Herbal remedies

Herbs have amazing healing and medicinal properties – you only have to look at their traditional use in China and India to know that they have incredible health benefits. If you fancy trying your hand at horticulture but the limits of London flat sizes has stopped you, try growing herbs indoors – even if you kill them within the week at least you’ll have a handful or two of lovely fresh herbs! Herbs for the heart include coriander, mint, oregano, parsley, sage, tarragon, rosemary, thyme and chives. If you really don’t have the green thumb for growing your own herbs, invest in some tasty herbal tisanes. A mint tea in the morning instead of the double-espresso-with-a-shot-of-vanilla-and-chocolate-powder is a refreshingly calming alternative.

Sophie Higgins is our in-house nutritional expert. For a consultation on how to open your heart chakra using your diet, email us on info@morefit.co.uk.

4 Ways To Kickstart A Healthy Eating Habit

The sun has finally got his hat on again and we are all starting to feel human once more. What a perfect time to clear out the pantry and refresh your eating habits! These four tips will keep your body functioning at the highest level it should be (and you don’t have to restrict yourself to do it).

Hydration

Water, water, water. We hear about this so often that it’s easy to forget to do it! If you are one of those eople who just doesn’t find a glass of water alluring, try adding lemon slices or mint. If you still can’t stand that, just promise to always have a glass of water before any other drink you have. Drinking enough water is essential for healthy digestive system function, and helps to keep everything moving along as it should. Eliminate waste and toxins from the body efficiently with 1.5 to 2 litres per day, or more if you exercise regularly.

Mindful eating

How many times this week have you shovelled in a sandwich while typing a report and whatsapping your best mate? Guilty! How you eat your food is super important for healthy gut function. Eat slowly, stop eating when you feel full, and avoid eating just before bedtime. Digestion requires a lot of energy, so take small bites, chew until your food is mush, then swallow completely before taking another bite – your digestive system will thank you for a load off!

Go for complex carbohydrates

Dump the white bread and pasta and replace it with the wholegrain alternative. The sugar in that white bread that is oh so addictive wreaks havoc on our gut lining, and can be a major contributor to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut. Bloating and digestive issues ahoy! Complex carbohydrates also have a bonus side effect – they keep you fuller for longer, so you won’t be feeling faint by eleven.

Fibre

Remember your mum always forcing Weetabix on you as a kid? There was a reason for it beyond trying to wean you off the sugary cereals of old (Coco Pops, anyone?). Fibre can help your GI tract stay ‘regular’, stabilise blood sugar levels, enhance healthy bowel function, prevent constipation, reduce cholesterol, support cardiovascular health, and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Wow. All this for adding just a few buts of fruit, vegetables, legumes, beans, pulses, and whole grains to your diet.

Interested in kickstarting a healthy eating habit this year? Talk to Sophie Higgins, our in-house nutritional expert, at info@morefit.co.uk!

3 Playful Poses Guaranteed To Make You Smile

When you’re in the middle of a gruelling vinyasa flow it’s easy to forget that yoga should be fun. Introduce an element of playfulness to your practice with these five poses – there’s no way you won’t crack a smile at least once!

Dhanurasana – Rocking Bow (forwards and sideways)

There are two ways you can make your bow pose more dynamic – by rocking from side to side or to the front and back. If you’ve ever done these poses in class, you’ll know that either variation means you’ll be getting friendly with your neighbours! This pose opens up the entire front of your body – it is super intense though so take some deep breaths in savasana on your front afterwards.

Ananda Balasana – Happy Baby

Go back to the good old days with this pose – lie on your back, grab the insides of your feet and rock gently side to side, slowly pushing the knees into the armpits if you can. This is a great hip opener and releases the lower back. Gurgling noises optional.

Paripurna Navasana – Rocking Boat

You can probably guess what happens here. Take your boat pose to the next level by rounding your back and rolling back onto your shoulder blades. Roll back up as slowly as possible for a great core work out and repeat! Enjoy the ride (but move anything breakable out of the way first)!

Bring the laughter to your mat and get a greak workout too!

3 Daily Digestion Habits You Can Start Today

Your body is a miracle machine. Day in, day out, we can rely on our amazing bodies to get us through anything – running around the office with a to-do list as long as your arm, lugging a million shopping bags home or a hardcore Jivamukti class (sometimes all in the same day). But how much attention do you pay to how you’re fuelling this incredible engine?

We are all guilty of snaffling a meal-deal sandwich at our desks or cramming in a Macdonald’s when it just seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, irregular stools, lethargy, and lowered energy levels are probably not worth the few minutes you save. After all, that super-high priority must-have-done-by-end-of-play task is going to be a lot harder when you’re feeling sluggish and tired.

Here are three solid changes you can make to get your digestion in order – starting today!

Start the day with a hot water and lemon

So simple, and so good for you. Drinking a hot water with lemon in the morning before breakfast will help to kick-start your digestive system for the day ahead. Lemon juice has the effect of stimulating the liver to produce bile, which helps keep food moving through your gastrointestinal tract smoothly. The acids found in lemon juice also encourage the body to process the nutrients in food more slowly, which helps to keep blood sugar and insulin levels balanced. For those who get bloated among us, this is a life saver!

Have breakfast every day

Make breakfast a priority. It’s easy to make the excuse of not having enough time, but breakfast should be as important as brushing your teeth or getting dressed in the morning. Avoid refined, processed, sugar rich foods, as this will send blood sugar levels and energy rocketing sky high, and then crashing, setting you up for a slow day ahead, and reaching for the biscuits over and over again. Aim for some protein (eggs, lean meat, fish, maybe a scoop of protein powder), healthy fats (salmon, nuts, seeds, avocado, nut butter, chia seeds, coconut oil), and complex carbs (oats, buckwheat, quinoa, fibrous veggies). If you tend to hit the snooze button a little too often, make sure you buy portable breakfasts for those days when you are really in a rush.

Eat a variety of fresh, colourful whole-foods

Ever looked at your plate and seen a sea of beige? Time to switch it up! Try to fill your plate with as many different colours of fresh produce as possible, as it’s often the colour pigments that contain all of the important nutrients that we need for healthy gut function. Eat a rainbow! You’ll be amazed at how much less sluggish you feel after eating once you mix in a bit of colour. Plus it looks way better on Instagram.

Stay tuned for more digestion tips from our in-house nutrition expert Sophie Higgins. Sophie works with our members to help them understand how to nourish their bodies to their full potential. Interested in a little nutrition revolution for yourself? Give us a call and start your journey towards wellbeing.

3 Simple Tips To Clear Out Negativity

As the long, dark nights get shorter and shorter, this is the perfect time for a mental spring clean.

Although it’s not time to bust out the sunnies just yet, things are starting to look decidedly less grey. If you’re still feeling sluggish, these 5 minute practices are sure to blow away any cobwebs and inspire some much needed energy!

Burn it

Super simple, but very cathartic. Write down anything you want to let go of on a piece of paper (a bad memory, a person – anything you want). Fold it up and set it alight in a flameproof bowl or in your kitchen sink (where you can douse the flames if the ritual gets a little to hot to handle!). There’s something about watching those negative vibes burn up into nothing that makes you feel a) free from them and b) like an awesome fire goddess/god.

Sweat it

Now this one should be pretty simple for you yogis out there! Take a class that you know will make you sweat (a la Jivamukti, Rocket or Vinyasa) to release any toxins built up in your body. Dedicate your practice to someone for a mental release – it could be to yourself or it could be to someone that you’re really not seeing eye-to-eye with at the moment. Pounding out the sun salutations is a great way to release any frustration!

Celebrate it

Once you’ve released your old negativity, it’s really important to give yourself a massive pat on the back for doing so. You have just done the most amazing thing for your mental health and you damn well deserve a treat for it. Book a massage, go for a long walk in nature or just bask in your general awesomeness with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.  Never underestimate what these small steps are doing for you.

These rituals are easy to make part of your routine, but don’t feel like you’ve failed if you don’t do it for a while. Just jump back on the bandwagon and get clearing!