New Lunchtime Yoga Class in Moorgate, EC1

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Put down that sandwich, I’m launching a new Tuesday lunchtime yoga class in Moorgate, London, EC1.

Yoga for All will run every Tuesday, 1.05-1.55pm at Templeton House, 33-34 Chiswell Street, London, EC1Y 4SF.

It’s a mixed ability class which is open to everyone. I’ll be focussing on combatting the effects of working in an office, from bad backs to tension headaches and insomnia. I guarantee you’ll be more productive in the afternoon

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The first class is on

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Tuesday 4 April (just after the Bank Holiday weekend) and will be the perfect opportunity to combat Lindt Bunny over-indulgence.

The Benefits of Pregnancy Yoga

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Pregnant woman
On mumsnet recently, a pregnant lady was asking about what to expect from a pregnancy yoga class. The post got me thinking about why women choose to do yoga when they’re pregnant and how they benefit from attending a weekly class. So, I decided to ask my students about why they signed up and how the experience affected their pregnancy. The three questions I asked and a summary of their answers are listed below.

1. Why did you decide to do pregnancy yoga?
Some students had practiced yoga before they became pregnant but felt they couldn’t keep up their usual yoga class.
Many of the students hadn’t done yoga before but wanted a gentle exercise class to help with

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pregnancy ailments like backache, pelvic pain, heartburn, insomnia, swollen feet, stress…

2. What did you like most about the class?
Several people commented on how easy the exercises were to repeat at home to relieve pregnancy aches and pains.
Apart from being a good place to stretch and relax, the classes proved to be a place to make friends with local mums-to-be. And these friendships proved to be enduring after the birth of children.
Some people even enjoyed the pelvic floor exercises.

3. Did you experience any specific benefits after attending pregnancy yoga classes?
Symptoms listed which were alleviated by pregnancy yoga included heartburn, back pain, pelvic pain and help with posture and general well-being.
The breathing exercises were cited as useful for dealing with

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Here are some of my favourite quotes from the survey:
‘Your class boosted my confidence’
‘The class really helped my backache.’
‘I made friends with local women who have babies of the same age.’
‘I will do pregnancy yoga if I become pregnant again, for sure.’

I hope this post has been a useful insight into the myriad benefits of attending a pregnancy yoga class and thanks to all my students for participating.

Photo by Mahalie Stackpole

Yoga in the City

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This Wednesday

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(6th March) I’m covering two lunchtime yoga classes in Moorgate at

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Templeton House, 33-34 Chiswell Street, London, EC1Y 4SF.

Pregnancy yoga 12.05-12.55
Hatha yoga 13.05-13.55

Take a break from work and de-stress. You’ll be more productive in the afternoon. Hope to see you there.

Mother’s Day Pamper Package

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See our fab poster!

I’ve teamed up with the talented reflexologist Gemma Cox to offer a fab Mother’s Day Pamper Package.

The treatment consists of a one hour personal yoga session tailored to

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the lucky mother’s needs, followed by one hour of fabulous reflexology. And will take place at the Haelan Centre, 41 The Broadway, Crouch End, London, N8 8DT where we both practice.

The price is super-cheap, £80!

Suitable for new mums, existing mums and mums-to-be, the gift can be redeemed on any Sunday she chooses.

Go on, treat your mother or yourself!

More info/bookings: 07887 636 858

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Yoga Time!

Posted by annachapman in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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of my six-year-old daughter (hence the camera shake). It’s been pointed out that it looks like yoga = an unhappy thing. What I was trying to say is that doing yoga makes you happy, especially when you’re feeling glum. However I can’t start with a smiley face because

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Good Morning Yoga

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This morning I snuck out of the house before it was light. The dark street was misty and my clicking heels pierced the quiet as I ventured off onto my furtive mission. My heart fluttered with the freedom – today I wasn’t weighed down with fighting children or rushing to get to school on time. Today I was doing something I love for myself.

All over the world yoga is practiced early in the morning: 6am is the time Ashtangis in the Mysore tradition start their first round of sun salutations. However I’ve never been a big fan of jumping back from chaturanga (press-up position). Triyoga say that an early morning practice ‘creates a unique atmosphere that is very conducive to yoga and meditation, which in turn sets you up to meet your day with clarity and composure’.

I could do with a bit of clarity and composure as I stepped off the bus into the foggy entrance of the tube station in a strange mismatch of work clothes and yoga gear – my Sweaty Betty all-in-one paired with red heels; a towel sat folded in my bag alongside my laptop. But no one was looking particularly polished, even the business types with wheelie suitcases catching an early flight looked pale and puffy. I was shocked to get a seat – something that would never happen on my usual commute two hours later.

The tube light was harsh in my sleepy eyes but I didn’t yearn for bed, I wanted to be on my mat stretching the stress out of my body. I reassured myself that savasana (relaxation) at the end of practice would compensate for my lack of sleep and re-energise me for eight hours in the office followed by the collection and putting to bed of tired children.

Starting the day with yoga is transformative. My body which had felt bloated with weekend indulgence (my husband is a fabulous cook) soon felt lithe and flexible. I was better equipped to fight the daily posture battle which comes from sitting in front of a computer all day. I didn’t feel like mindlessly scoffing chocolate biscuits during the afternoon. I ate consciously, chewing each mouthful and wasn’t tempted to comfort eat. I felt calmer and more balanced as I glided through the crowded underground system on my way

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home from work. My body was present, my heart was happy and my mind observed rather than absorbed the aggressive rush of commuters.

I’d like to practice yoga every morning but there was an ache in my heart as I gave the resident Triyoga retriever a cuddle (he’s blonde like my two gorgeous daughters). However wonderful I felt after the class, I’d missed the hugs from my girls that morning. So for now this is an irregular treat. Tomorrow I’ll be rolling out my mat amidst cries of ‘mummy’ and take my first downward dog soundtracked by the screeches of early morning recorder practice.


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A Squash and a Squeeze

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squash and squeeze
Do you cram your life full of stuff and things to do? I do. And it makes me feel sick and stressed.

I’ve always been open to experience and saying yes comes naturally to me. But I’m beginning to realise that saying no or not doing everything I

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want to do gives me more head space and keeps me calmer. Buying less then feels better than cramming my basement flat with more stuff. After being pushed out of the sitting room by a new sofa and the office turned toy room, our wide hall has become my yoga space, but it’s rapidly filling with my husband and daughter’s clutter. Argh! How can I twist properly in Jathara Parivatasana (a supine twist) when my legs get tangled up in Lottie’s trike or a campervan cupboard waiting to be sold on eBay?

In fact the solution lies in the twist, which is a great example of how being squashed can be a release. BKS Iyengar calls it the ‘squeeze and soak’ method where the action of twisting the spine squeezes the muscles, spinal disks and abdominal organs. When you release, blood floods back into those areas, bringing nutrients and improving circulation.

Seated twists like Bharadvajasana (named after an old sage) are a great way to detox. It reminds me of one of The Gruffalo Songs by Julia Donaldson. ‘Wise old man won’t you help me, please? My house is a squash and a squeeze.’ He tells her to bring in a pig, chicken, goat and a cow until the house is at bursting point. And then she takes them out one by one. How much better does she feel? Which is exactly what twisting does in yoga. You squash everything up and then release creating room to breathe, a refreshed spirit and sense of calm. Time to clear out the hallway.

I wrote this piece a few years ago but wanted to share it again. Having moved into a tiny house, decluttering remains a top priority. But where am I meant to put all the artworks that my daughters bring home from nursery and school? Do other parents secretly recycle at night?

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How To Get What You Want In 2013

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As the year draws to a close many people’s minds turn to resolutions. We look back at the mistakes we made in the past year, hoping that once Auld Lang Syne has been sung, we’ll be transformed into a shiny new version of ourselves.

In yoga and meditation we often make intentions. We set an intention at the start of our practice with the idea that once we recognise where we want to go, it can become possibile. In my pregnancy yoga classes I encourage students to make positive affirmations like ‘I have everything I need to birth my baby’ or ‘with every breath I take I nourish my baby’.

An intention can be as simple as becoming aware of our breath. Awareness will make you notice when you stop breathing, for example when you’re stressed. Being able to consciously exhale in a situation you find difficult will help you relax and cope better.

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choose as an intention for 2013, revisit it often and let your thoughts create your reality. Happy New Year.

Yoga Gift Guide

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Can’t work out what to buy the yogi in your life

for Christmas? Seek enlightenment in this gift guide.
orla kiely mat
Organic cotton lavender eye pillow, £7
Because eyes need a good rest too.

Nadia Narain candle, £28
Range of wholesome candles (100% plant wax & aromatherapy oil) from Triyoga guru. I’m holding out for Peace.
love candle
Sweaty Betty Utkatasana yoga pants, £65
You’ll be relieved to know that these cuffed hem bottoms are suitable for more than chair pose (utkatasana).

American Apparel leg warmers, £16
Leg warmers in every colour of the rainbow – you could go really crazy and wear odd pairs or opt for the fluorescent purple.

Badger yoga & meditation balm, £7.50
A yummy smelling balm that will help you reach enlightenment. Worth buying by the bucketload then.

Orla Kiely yoga mat, £35
While this might be pricier than your average yoga mat, sales raise money for Action on Addiction.
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Bed of Nails, £30
This might look like something from a torture chamber but lying on this prickly mat is deeply relaxing. Honest.

Cowshed for Sweaty Betty Bendy Cow bath & body oil, £20
Lavender and eucalyptus combine to soothe bodies toned by bending and stretching.

A massage, £60+
Why do yogis lie down at the end of the class? Because they need a good rest. A massage after savasana extends the bliss for another 60 mins or so. Happy Xmas.

The Yoga Power Nap

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I wrote this blog on the joys of Yoga Nidra for sleep week on the wonderful Mumday Times – you can read the original version here.

Yoga nidra means yoga sleep. It’s taught at the end of yoga classes during that bit when you lie down, doze off and wake-up worrying that you were the one who was snoring.

Yoga students lie on their mats, supported by bolsters, cushions and blankets to promote full body relaxation–ideally the eyes are covered with a lavender-scented beanbag. The teacher then talks them through a 20 minute or so sensory practice to achieve a wonder state between wakefulness and dreaming. Most people don’t achieve euphoria on their first go, however they do feel damn good afterwards, if only because they took the opportunity to have a quick nap.

And it’s no wonder, as a nation we’re chronically sleep-deprived. Subjected to early morning and endless middle of the night wake-ups, us mums suffer worse than anyone.

Things that we find relaxing like tweeting, having a cup of tea and watching TV, stimulate the brain so that we find it difficult to switch off at bedtime, or wake in the night

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During my yoga training one of the teachers – who had two small children – told me that a hit of yoga nidra is a substitute for three hours sleep. This guy would get up at sunrise for his daily ashtanga practice but reckoned the time he spent flat out on his back with an eye bag made up for it.

As well as making up for lost sleep, yoga nidra promotes a deeper rest state. Regular practice is also said to improve memory, concentration and focus.

So how does it work? One of the reasons that we’re exhausted is that our sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive because we’re always rushing around being busy: yoga nidra works in opposition by activating the parasympathetic nervous system which subsequently reduces tension, anxiety and stress.

I teach yoga nidra every week and think it’s particularly beneficial during pregnancy. If you can’t find a local class, buy a yoga nidra CD or hunt out a free download on the web. Just make sure you’re warm and resting in a comfy position.

Be aware that ‘comfy’ can vary from person to person. In my research for this piece I consulted the yogi bible Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar. The 93 year-old Indian guru renowned

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for being able to bend himself into mind-blowing positions recommends: ‘In this pose the legs are interlaced behind the back of the neck and the hands are clasped behind the back which rests on the ground. The legs form the Yogi’s pillow and the back is his couch.’

Personally I’d rather keep my legs stretched out in front of me and use a cushion for a pillow. Unless you’ve been practicing yoga for 70 odd years I’d probably do the same.

Don’t try this at home unless you are a yogic master or you have been thoroughly filleted.