April Adjusts: Fix Your Downward Dog

So as promised, 1st up in our #AprilAdjustscampaign is 🐶 “Downward Facing Dog” (Adho mukha śvānāsana), probably the most common asana in your practice. Also the one we tend to see some alignment issues with which can be easily adjusted.
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Main points to remember:
✨Start in a plank position, this will give you a good idea of distance for your dog shape.
✨Tailbone lifts up and back.
✨As the toes turn slightly in and feet hip width, bend the knees at first to keep length in the spine.
✨Hands spread widely but comfortably with a suction-cup feeling in the palms (not straining).
✨Fingertips and knuckles of the palms grounding (hasta bandha), especially between 1st finger and thumb.
✨Bicep wrapped and facing forward, to spread shoulder blades actively away from the spine. ✨Ribs pull in.
✨Send energy out the tailbone, softening heels down, but not necessarily getting them to the ground – this has a lot do with ankle dorsiflexion (the majority of people can’t get the heels to the ground initially).
✨Eventually work towards straightening the legs but keeping a gentle anterior tilt of the pelvis, so the back is lengthening, not rounding.
✨If you find your shoulders want to go over your hands (which strains the wrists), bend the knees to lift tailbone up and back – moving the arms back and away from the wrists, this a great place to start with your Down Dog alignment.
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Let us know any questions and do let us know how you get on with it. This is great to work on, especially if you’re new to yoga. Remember yoga is for EVERYONE!
Everyones body is different so we each look a little different in each posture and that’s totally fine! #AprilAdjusts #yoga#alignment

 

Sending health & happiness,

Kim & @sophia.bc x

||APRIL ADJUSTS – DOWNWARD FACING DOG⭐️|| So as promised, 1st up in our #AprilAdjusts campaign is 🐶 "Downward Facing Dog” (Adho mukha śvānāsana), probably the most common asana in your practice. Also the one we tend to see some alignment issues with which can be easily adjusted. . Main points to remember: ✨Start in a plank position, this will give you a good idea of distance for your dog shape. ✨Tailbone lifts up and back. ✨As the toes turn slightly in and feet hip width, bend the knees at first to keep length in the spine. ✨Hands spread widely but comfortably with a suction-cup feeling in the palms (not straining). ✨Fingertips and knuckles of the palms grounding (hasta bandha), especially between 1st finger and thumb. ✨Bicep wrapped and facing forward, to spread shoulder blades actively away from the spine. ✨Ribs pull in. ✨Send energy out the tailbone, softening heels down, but not necessarily getting them to the ground – this has a lot do with ankle dorsiflexion (the majority of people can’t get the heels to the ground initially). ✨Eventually work towards straightening the legs but keeping a gentle anterior tilt of the pelvis, so the back is lengthening, not rounding. ✨If you find your shoulders want to go over your hands (which strains the wrists), bend the knees to lift tailbone up and back – moving the arms back and away from the wrists, this a great place to start with your Down Dog alignment. . Let us know any questions and do let us know how you get on with it. This is great to work on, especially if you’re new to yoga. Remember yoga is for EVERYONE 🧘🏼‍♀️Everyones body is different so we each look a little different in each posture and that’s totally fine! #AprilAdjusts #yoga #alignment @sophia.bc

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The North Face #SheMovesMountains Launch

Last night my fellow adventurer and all round awesome explorer buddy Sophie Everard (of Mad to Live blog and retreats) and I attended The North Face #SheMovesMountains launch party.

So What’s the Campaign All About?

The campaign #SheMovesMountains itself is targeted at raising the voices of women who are pushing boundaries in all areas of exploration. This is their very first all women campaign, with the likes of awe inspiring pin up adventure women like Margo Hayes, Hilaree Oneill, Ashima Shiraishi and Fernanda Maciel. Covering no small feat, these adventurers are most certainly in line with the North Face’s campaign of breaking boundaries: 

  • Fernanda Maciel is an ultra-distance runner and The North Face athlete, who has broken the record for the fastest female time up and down Mount Kilimanjaro. Fernanda ran the Tanzanian route from Umbwe Gate to the summit and then down to the Mweka Gate, in just 10 hours and 6 minutes, breaking the previous record of 12 hours and 58 minutes held by Anne-Marie Flammersfeld by nearly three hours.
  • Bonita Norris has climbed the world’s highest mountains, including being the youngest climber to climb Mt Everest. In 2016 she made an attempt on K2 in Pakistan and in 2017 published her first book The Girl Who Climbed Everest.
  • Ashima Shiraishi At the age of thirteen-year-old, Ashima Shiraishi is already one of the strongest climbers in the world. The New York Times has called her a “Bouldering Phenom” while Outside Magazine coined the “Young Crusher.” And rightfully so: no climber, male or female, has ever bouldered at such high level at such a young age.
  • Margo Hayes – Since she began climbing in 2008, she has quickly become a consistent podium finisher in sport and bouldering competitions around the world, first in the youth categories and now in the open age category. But not only is she the reigning national champion in women’s sport climbing, she is quickly proving she can keep up with the best in outdoor climbing as well. In February 2016, she entered the ranks of the world’s most elite climbers by sending La Rambla and 5.15a route in Siurana, Spain.

Absolutely stellar line up if you ask me! Be sure to check it out at www.northface.com where you can see the incredible campaign championing women who break boundaries and the push towards even more incredible female adventures and explorers worldwide.

 

The Campaign Launch Event

At last nights event I can honestly say I’ve never felt so empowered and more ready and raring to take on bigger and better challenges in my field. As an avid rock climber but fairly new to the field, I was completely starstruck to be within the presence of such mountaineering, trail running and climbing greatness as mega athletes Fernanda Maciel and Bonita Norris.

The event was pumped full of all the inspiration any pro adventure (and adventure newbie) could ask for. We heard the tales of great summits achieved by extraordinary women in adventure. Then we were lucky enough to have an hour long Q&A session with Fernanda Maciel, Bonita Norris, Farrah Storr (Editor of Cosmopoliton), Lou Boyd (Editor of Cooler magazine) and Carly Wilford (DJ, presenter and all round good time girl!).

 

Key take home points?

  • Once we see women in mountaineering and adventuring, you know you can do it. By seeing female role models in the field like in campaigns such as the North Face, women will be more likely to follow suit. Many current adventurers role models are male. This campaign is amazing for highlighting the women role models out there in the sport.
  • By showing representaion of women in the sport, the expectation of women will be allowed to be higher. By spreading the campaigns message and support for women in adventure, we can begin to believe and live by the fact that she absolutely does move mountains! 
  • The future is about moving mountains, going that extra mile, not just following the beaten track. The women on the Q&A panel each described the challenges they faced and the importance of those challenges for where they have got to today.
  • When asked about facing challenges Fernando Maciel simply put it that you have to “understand what fear is – it’s there to teach you and is usually temporary. See it as a positive and not negative. You’ll always be stronger from it. It doesn’t mean run away, it means face it head on. It teaches you something about yourself. Move through it, there’s always something great on the other side.”
  • Farrah Storr elaborated on this point further….”Feel the fear, do it anyway and learn from it”. She spoke about the importance of knowing where you want to go. Trying to make those 5,10,15 year plans. Once you know where you’re going, you’ll be less likely to veer off course, taking the path around a tricky obstacle. “If you know what is on the other side you will go through it. It’s all about not moving horizontally.”
  • When we spoke about obstacles in the way, Carly Wilford explained, what we go through is a transformation. It might feel irrelevant at the time but it’s actually part of the journey. Wilford’s infectious personality and down to earth manner is enough to motivate even the strongest pessimist. Put wonderfully bluntly she says it’s about being brave enough to say: “Fuck it I’m going my own way. Creating my own path. I’m going to do things differently. Connecting with myself. I’m here to do something different. That’s why I don’t fit in.” 
  • Lou Boyd echoes this saying you’re…“Doing something right if your legs are dangling off the edge a bit”
  • What if it fails? Again, solid advice from mega journalist mogul Storr: “never walk past a mistake, examine what went wrong and learn from it”.

Real World Implementation

Not only is the campaign incredible for women in the sport, The North Face also practice what they preach. Not only are they pushing this phemonemal campaign but they have also teamed up with The Outward Bound Trust (who do a number of incredible initiatives to introduce an entire generation of girls to the benefits of the outdoor exploration. With the support of The North Face’s NeverStop Community, together they lead over 1600 young women in the wild – from venturing out to a crag to learn the rock climbing basics, hiking on foot deep into the mountains, to kayaking amongst seals.

Now I don’t know about you but I’m ready to go on an absolutely move mountains. The force is absolutely female. Lets get adventuring and conquering the incredible feats of both men and women before us.

Find out more about the North Face campaign and the Outward Bound Trust here. 

Stay tuned on the blog for my introduction to rock climbing as well as exciting events in the pipeline. Can’t wait that long? Check out my interview with UK bouldering legend Shauna Coxsey here. Happy climbing team!

Sending health & happiness,

Kim x

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April Adjusts Campaign – Make Your Asana More Effective

So excited to team up with my girl Sophia Butler-Cowdry to bring you our #AprilAdjusts campaign this month. Throughout the month of April we will be taking you through alignment cues for asanas (postures) that frequently come up in yoga classes. As yoga teachers we see a lot of small adjustments that can be made from our students which will instantly allow you to flow more efficiently and effectively through your yoga practice.

We really hope these videos will help clarify some alignment questions that you might have. We’d love to see how you get on with the postures, so let us know how you get on and if you have any questions fire away! 1st #AprilAdjusts dropping this week – the infamous Downward Dog (Adho much śvānāsana), stay tuned!

||APRIL ADJUSTS✨|| So excited to team up with my girl @sophia.bc to bring you our #AprilAdjusts campaign this month. . Throughout the month of April we will be taking you through alignment cues for asanas (postures) that frequently come up in yoga classes 🧘🏼‍♀️ As yoga teachers we see a lot of small adjustments that can be made from our students which will instantly allow you to flow more efficiently and effectively through your yoga practice 😊 . We really hope these videos will help clarify some alignment questions that you might have. We’d love to see how you get on with the postures, tag us and let us know how you get on. Any questions fire away! 1st #AprilAdjusts dropping this week – the infamous Downward Dog (Adho much śvānāsana), stay tuned! #Yoga #AlignmentTips #AprilAdjusts

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Fit & Flow Retreats – Kefalonia 2-7th Oct 2018

Fit & Flow Retreats in Kefalonia

Tuesday 2nd – Sunday 7th October 2018 Kefalonia, Greece

 

 

So excited to announce my partnership with F Zeen Retreat Hotel as part of my retreat collaborations with Katie Gray (personal trainer and pilates instructor). Our brand of Fit & Flow Retreats encompass luxury health and fitness retreats set in the most tranquil settings around the world. Created by myself (a Personal Trainer & Yoga Teacher) and Katie Gray (a Personal Trainer & Pilates Instructor) our signature package allows you to leave the daily stresses of home life behind and escape to a world of wellbeing.

Nourishing the mind, body and soul through a combination of fitness, nutrition and ultimate relaxation. You can be sure you will leave feeling rested, rejuvenated and restored.

The Location

Fit & Flow Retreats have partnered with F Zeen Retreat Hotel to bring you the perfect wellness getaway. Set on the idyllic Greek island of Kefalonia, F Zeen Retreat is a boutique adults-only hotel, encompassing panoramic views of the Ionian Sea, set in luxurious surroundings, alongside the warmth and friendliness of the local culture.

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What you can expect from your Fit & Flow Retreat stay in Kefalonia:

  • 5 nights stay in the incredible F Zeen Retreat Hotel
  • 2 workouts a day in the glorious surroundings including our yoga hut and the infamous Lourdas Beach
  • Training tailored to your preference including HIIT, Pilates, sunrise/set yoga & meditation 📿 from renown London fitness trainers Katie Gray & Kim Hartwell
  • Locally sourced nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner included
  • ‘Pick-me-up’ smoothies, freshly made nourishing juices and infused herbal tea and coffee
  • 1 x 60 minute spa treatment at the hotel’s Idor Wellness Spa.
  • A wonderful scenic hike of the island.
  • Plenty of time to relax and unwind
  • Hands on instruction and wellness mentoring and advice.
  • 
(+ plenty of exciting add ons including SUP. Jeep safaris Kayaking, 1-2-1 Yoga, Pilates and Personal Training & Greek cooking lessons).
Prices start at just £220/night. For more information & to book click here. We can’t wait to help you to feel wonderfully rested, rejuvenated and restored.
Sending health and happiness,
Kim & Katie x
Fit & Flow Retreats 
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What Your Yoga Teacher Wants You to Know if You’re New to Yoga – 6 Yoga Woes Debunked

I’ve been with my husband for the whole time I’ve been teaching (quite a few years now!). He has not once (that I recall) stepped foot into a public class of mine. Either HIIT or Yoga. Cry! Poor Kimmy. Lol, but all jokes aside…This is TOTALLY fine by me. Some people love classes, some people don’t. I quite love the fact that we keep some parts of our lives separate – we have a lot of it together.  However, what I do know (even if he doesn’t say so himself) is that the reasons he’s probably not coming are the same reasons so many others also don’t come!

So let’s try and make it a little less daunting for you if you’re in the same boat – particularly for yoga. Yoga classes are exciting. Fitness classes are exciting. You can gain a phenomenal amount of energy from those around you in class, and you will learn A TON.

Let’s debunk some common yoga class woes of newbies..

Stepping into your 1st yoga class

Oh I hear ya…going to your 1st ever (or almost 1st ever) yoga class? Here’s a few words that might spring to mind – or at least I remember what sprang to mine…I’m scared, nervous, I have no idea what to expect, I’m “not flexible enough” to be here, I’m not “as good as the person next to me (who looks like she’ll be AMAZING), why is everyone breathing weirdly, I don’t have a mat, am I even wearing the right clothes for this? Am I even in the right type of class to start with? Presumably we’ll just lay around stretching?…I say these things with humour knowing that was ME for a pretty long time. That’s probably why it’s taken you till now to even turn up. Turning up is the half of it I PROMISE.

So as a friendly yoga instructor (at least I hope I’m friendly), let me help get rid of these perfectly normal feelings you might have going into a yoga class. Boys I’m talking to you too (if not more!) – hubby take note.

Wearing Seafolly Australia

6 Yoga Woes Debunked

1.I don’t know what I’m doing

“I’m totally going to look like a twat for the entire class” – guess what, loads of people don’t know what they’re doing! Also, guess what…yoga isn’t meant to look a particular way. It’s about listening to your body, moving with YOUR body and YOUR breath, that is going to be and look completely different from the person next to you. Trust the process. As my good friend Phoebe Greenacre always says, it’s called a yoga PRACTICE not a yoga PERFECT. Keep turning up to your mat. Maybe do some at home yoga videos to build confidence between going to class. Although be aware the hands on adjustment and advice you’ll get in class will allow you to create good alignment from the get go. Follow the lead of others in class. Get to grips with the postures (these will likely be similar in most classes), then at a later stage the breath (what we call ujjayi breathing) will come. Patience. Practice. Perseverence. I spent a good number of classes just looking around and following – it comes eventually. Then the magic really happens. As for feeling silly? People (like at the gym) are so involved in what they’re doing they’ll barely notice you’re even there.

2.I’m not flexible enough

OK firstly, yoga is so much more than flexibility, but I can appreciate that it’s largely a reason people start practicing – if it brings more yogi’s on mats I’m a happy yoga teacher. Know that flexibility takes time, energy and a focus on practices like stretching, mobility drills and yes yoga will help. Yep, you just read it…yoga will help any perceived inflexibility that you have. It helps you reach greater ranges of motion in your muscles both on and off the mat. So guess what? That woe is debunked!

3.I’m not as good as the girl next to me

Don’t compare yourself to anyone in the room, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the purely physical form of the practice. Yoga is so much more than that. Too often the ego mind takes over. The postures in yoga didn’t even exist until latter day modern yoga as we now know it. You are you, in all your glory. Your yoga journey has nothing to do with the person next to you. Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else chapter 20. Comparison is the thief of joy and there is absolutely no place for it on your yoga mat. Absolutely be inspired by others but know everyones bodies are different. Just because a gymnast or a dancer can pretzel themselves does not make them any better or worse yogi than you or the next person. You are in a place of non judgement. Work with what you have, be grateful for what you have, be open to what yoga can bring you both on and off the mat.

4.Why is everyone breathing weirdly

OK one thing I want anyone new to yoga to know before stepping in a class room. Yoga is meditation in movement. Meditation involves an acute focus on the breath. By focussing on the breath we are conscious and present in the moment. If we can keep the breath steady throughout challenging parts of our yoga practice this will transfer to times of challenge or stress in our day to day lives. We become more mindful. In yoga we move with the breath – our ujjayi breath. There may be times when that breath might not serve you, but in general we allow our bodies to deepen into the practice further, to still the mind, to explore postures further when we breathe. Without going into too much detail (far past the scope of this post) of why we breath the way we do in yoga, for the newbie, just try to focus on your breath as much as you can. In yoga, this is generally inhaling through the nose and exhaling out through the nose. Throughout the class your flow and the asanas (postures) will challenge that breath. If you feel like you’re wrestling to keep the breath going you’re pushing too hard into the poses. Reset, take a downward dog or childs pose, reconnect with the breath. Even for avid yogi’s we listen to the body and the breath. Our bodies are different every time we turn up to the mat. Listen to what it’s telling you, our bodies are way way way smarter than we give them credit for.

5.I don’t have a mat, am I wearing the right clothes?

You don’t necessarily need a mat when you first start. Most (if not all) studios supply mats, usually at a small charge. Explore the feeling of different mats, see if you enjoy your yoga classes. Eventually the time will come when you’ll want your own, but it’s not imperative at the beginning. Where comfortable clothing, usually sweat wicking leggings/shorts and a tank or t-shirt will do fine. Be prepared that some classes can get sweaty (depending on which you take). Just remember to wipe down your yoga mat as courtesy to the next person using it – usually cleaning tools are provided in class.

6.Which class should I take? I’m guessing we’re going to just lay around for a while?

Depending on which class you’re going to will dictate what you’ll do. There’s lots of different styles and types so be sure to read the description given by the studio and maybe research the teachers background. This will allow you to build a picture of what to expect. As a beginner I’d strongly suggest trying Level 1 based classes. They will teach the basics and the foundations for you to go on with your practice. Vinyasa are usually more fast flowing, Hatha are slower, Yin you hold postures for a lot longer. Whichever you go to know that your teacher will support you and guide you so you will never be far from help. Unless you’re in a specifically slower paced class or Yin, you’re not likely to lay around and stretch (sorry!) People constantly tell me how surprised they are at the challenge of the practice. Relaxation is sometimes a happy side effect of yoga, it is not a function of yoga. Yoga is a discipline requiring strength, balance, focus, there’s a lot more to it than might meet the eye.

The main thing to remember?

Have fun with it. Don’t take it too seriously. Yoga is for EVERYONE. If you have a body, you can do yoga. Ask your teacher after class to explain anything you didn’t understand. Don’t be scared off if the first few classes were very challenging – they’re designed to be challenging – even for fully fledged yogis! Now get your butt to class and start enjoying the journey that yoga can bring you (yes you too boys!) – just GO FOR IT! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Let me know how you get on or any of your yoga class woes, I’d love to help you debunk them and get you grooving on your yoga mat!

Still unconvinced? Check out my post on What Is Yoga? – In a Cheeky Nutshell or The Benefits of Yoga for Your Strength Training for more info.

Sending health & happiness,

Kim x

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