Yoga and Meditation

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Sunday was my second class with Mieke and her “Yoga Therapy” class. I was tempted to not attend as I have had a very stressful week and didn’t really feel like venturing out for a two hour class when I wasn’t feeling like it. That was also the very reason why I ended up going.

The first week, we spent a lot of time focusing on our breathing and the Ujjayi breath, which is used throughout yoga practice and in some meditative practices and as it was the first week the focus was on introduction; of the course, ourselves and practice which may not have been done before. I left the Tabernacle with a lot of information and feeling well rested. As the week progressed, however, with personal circumstances getting increasingly difficult I felt my daily practice was difficult and I struggled.

It took me a while to relax and the tightness in my jaw wasn’t disappearing by the time we had started the class and lay down on our mats for a few minutes in an attempt to centre ourselves. I persevered and did feel a little better by the time we moved onto the yoga. Every week we start wilt sun salutations at a fast pace to encourage an increased heart rate and warm up the body. We’re encouraged to use Ujjayi breathing to aid in that warm up and by the time we follow through a series of five or six rapid sun salutations, I definitely feel invigorated. We also explored breathing in more depth this week with Lion and Skull Shining breathing; the latter of which can be quite stressful if already in an anxious state. After bringing our breathing back down a little and then move into yoga practice. This is both challenging and a time of reflection. Last week it was much easier and I feel this was due to my mood, this week was definitely more challenging although the practice was almost the same. We go through a series of postures where we hold the pose for a prolonged period of time, this is because the same part of the brain that deals with stressful situations is in play. Warrior II isn’t necessarily a difficult pose to be in until you’re holding it for a few minutes. By staying in that posture and remaining there even when it becomes difficult, we’re strengthening both the body and the part of the brain that deals with stress, therefore making both more resilient. I found that while I was standing in Triangle Pose and wanting to step out of it, I was reminded of the week I’d just undergone and wanting to give up, which I didn’t and this helped me remain in the pose until we were able to come out of it. The rest of the yoga was challenging, but I felt a sense of relief and achievement by the time we moved into shoulder stands and finishing the yoga portion of class. Meditation felt a little difficult this week with trying to clear my mind fully, with the chanting I did feel it was much easier for me and I relaxed better with it. Practice is a fluid thing and I understand that some days it will be the easiest thing to do and feelings of euphoria are met, and some days the complete opposite will occur, it was very apparent that this week’s class was the latter, despite having good intentions of doing my best.

I’m taking time this week to keep trying without any expectations as I do want to improve my mood, I aim to use reflection with my meditation practice to help. Next Sunday’s theme will have us looking at reflection so the next few days I will start thinking about that and creating space.

If you’re thinking about meditation and it seems a little daunting, even just sitting somewhere quiet for five minutes can make a huge difference. I wrote about meditation back in July. Over the course of the next two months I will also be writing about my meditative practice a little here.

Love and light.

Abs Like Angel

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It seems I can’t get away from “Abs Like Angel”, so it is back.

Every Monday in November, I will be posting very short videos on my Instagram feed @angeldeefiitness of exercises to do (with no sign of a stomach crunch in sight) as well as food tips as abs are made in the gym and the kitchen. I’m not a nutrition expert, so it will be recipes for food I eat to aid in resisting sugary/fatty snacking as they keep those abs at bay.

Any queries you can post under my Instagram videos or email me on angelicious1@gmail.com. Remember to breathe and smile!!

Love and light x

Instagram: @angeldeefiitness

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Om Yoga Show and Positive Spirit

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With yoga taking a very focal place in my fitness after my operation in February, I’ve found it to have done more than just ‘a little stretching’. With daily practice, alongside meditative inclusion it’s also been great for my mental strength. Having taken up yoga a long time ago and only seriously concentrating on practice recently, I booked my ticket in the Summer and attended the Om Yoga Show this weekend to get more information and network with more like minded people, and it was nice to have conversations with people about their perspective on the many forms of yogic practices as I will be starting teacher training in 2014.

I was fortunate enough to take the open workshops with Sam Rao, British Wheel of Yoga and Michael Gannon. I was also used to demonstrate the FeetUp stool with its inventor Kilian Trenkle who was both very warm and funny. The stool itself was something I had seen online and was not sure about at all. Having had the chance to use it now, I would say that it definitely takes away the fear that people may have about headstands and any anxiety about putting their body weight onto the neck/shoulders/head as there isn’t any! The stool is something I am contemplating purchasing for days when I’m a little tired and still want to work on inversions. Having run a a marathon the week before in San Francisco, all of the workshops were both very good at giving my body a well needed stretch and helped in combating the jet lag I was trying to reduce and I LOVE being upside down!!

As a result of connecting with people, I have been lucky enough to get a place on a yoga therapy course with the lovely Mieke of Positive Spirit which starts this Sunday and I will document my progress during this time. The eight week course looks at drawing on yoga principles and mindfulness mediation techniques which have recently been used for therapeutic purposes in aiding stress reduction. It combines yoga postures with breath work and meditation. With the yoga rebalancing the nervous system there are eight weekly themes that will be a deeper exploration of first the mind and then into the body. I will be given weekly homework tasks and armed with a manual and CD to support daily practice between sessions.

After leaving the show, I felt that I did make some meaningful contacts amongst the wealth of commercial stalls. The show is definitely worth visiting if you’re looking for new classes, aids etc. but it can also feel a little like a huge shop if you’re not careful. The workshops were definitely my favourite element of the show and I came away with some techniques to help open up my hips as I have trouble in that area with all the running I do.

For more information on Mieke’s Yoga Therapy course or general classes, visit her Positive Spirit website here

Sam Rao Yoga website
British Wheel of Yogawebsite
FeetUp website

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Vote for Rochelle!!

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I don’t usually post blogs of this nature, but I feel that it is necessary.

A lovely woman by the name of Rochelle has come on leaps and bounds in her fitness and has worked very hard from her heaviest at a size 22 to the woman you see in the photo above. She has remained humble throughout and is always encouraging others to have a healthy attitude towards fitness. Now you may not want to be as ripped as she is, but her worth ethic is infectious along with her bright smile.

As a result, she has entered a competition to be the next Vi model. Vi shakes are a fitness shake you can drink to help with weight loss. (Whilst I don’t use shakes in this nature or talk about losing weight on my blog as I’m an advocate for health and fitness, I’m respectful of the decision of others to chose this way to aid in weight loss). I would like you to also vote for her, the link is below and on her Instagram bio @roch_roch. You can vote once a day for the duration of the voting.

Vote here!! – the link does close for vote counting, so keep trying if it is down for a bit.
Good luck Rochelle!!

Richelle can be found on Instagram and on Twitter

Living with a marathon runner

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Training. Marathon training to be exact. It’s long, hard and at times lonely when you’re friends don’t run. This isn’t a personal attack, but more of an insight into living with a marathon runner.

To say I NEVER thought I’d still be running almost three years after I decided I wanted to train run a half and full marathon is nothing short of an understatement. The plan was to train, run both … then get on with the rest of my life. I was a sprinter, so even running 200m was a long ting. Why do I want to run twice the distance I was happy with? No, that’s long.

It has been increasingly difficult to negotiate social circles as a result of my continued interest as I’ve become increasingly serious about lacing up my shoes and taking a couple of hours away from everything. It is no longer “just a hobby”, instead taking up a huge part of my life. I run every Sunday, sometimes I run two/three times a week. My Saturday nights are usually spent at home chilling and drinking water for the following morning long run instead of in a bar somewhere. I tried the “drinking the night before and waking up still drunk or hungover” thing and running 15 miles and I did it. Numerous times. Yes, I can do it, but if I want to improve, it’s not advisable. Sweating out the alcohol is cool, drinking double the amount of water you need the morning after to rehydrate to replace the fluids lost from drinking alcohol and have enough to run with when you’re as small as I am isn’t cool at all. And I don’t actually enjoy that all now if I’m honest. Waking up and chanting/meditating with a clear head before I start my day is something I love.

I’ve missed birthdays and other celebrations, or attended for a short time to be met with disdain when I leave early. So I’ve just stopped going. And that’s been difficult. I do like spending time with friends and celebrating with them, I don’t see many people outside my running circles that often, but training for a race that you’re basically running non stop for four hours is life consuming. Especially if you want to do it properly.

A long run on a Sunday is where most of us get the “proper” mileage in and that takes planning: routes that aren’t boring, accounting for tube closures or events if you’re running in central London, something scenic as you run (I mean if you’re running twenty miles, running half of that along stinky dual carriageways aren’t exactly helping the situation, you dig?) Working out all the various gels and drinks to take out with you, do you run with an extra layer around your waist so when you finish you’re warm. Comparing your split times to see whether you’re times are improving week on week.
Even down to trying to get home and cramming things into Sunday evenings when for fear of “not doing much over the weekend” and this is repeated for six months prior with the serious training being at least three months before a race.

It is tough, but it’s something we want to do despite our groaning about it otherwise we wouldn’t do it. This isn’t a justification of missing out, but an explanation that training for these things aren’t as simple as most think. As I’m in the last weeks of training before an important race, my focus as further intensified and it will do so until the start line in San Francisco. I can’t wait until I have two months off to see those I’ve not been able to during training. But I know I will also miss training by the time it’s the second week into that time off, and as soon as January hits I will be back on pounding the pavement again in preparation for London marathon.

It can be hard being the friend, partner or relative of a runner, and we apologise for that. While we don’t expect you to share our abundant enthusiasm for all of the above, we thank you for your patience and once we cross that finish line, we’re all yours. Until the next race. Better still, start running with us.

Being mindful of ourselves and others

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As you may or may not be aware I have a long standing battle with depression and for me meditation, yoga and exercise keeps the dark clouds at bay. With the link between body and mind, I think it is important to be aware and look after both body and mind in order to stay healthy.

This doesn’t mean having to “go hard” all the time, in fact mindful rest is as if note more important than beasting it in the gym.

Today’s Mindful Monday post is about being more mindful. In recent weeks I’ve spoken about being grateful, spending quality time with loved ones without being connected to social media and self belief. Now it’s time to take some time to just breathe. I touched on this a while back, but it is important at times to just be still.

You don’t need to travel anywhere fancy, find a place where you feel comfortable and can have some time, turn off your phone/tablet/communication devices and sit down. Now just listen. The wind blowing through the trees, the bird communicating with another bird across the way, the cars outside. Now focus on steady breathing in …. And out. Nice even breathing. If you can manage ten minutes, fifteen or even three see if you can do it.

If you’re able to, every day this week take some time. I try to do this every morning and my day is usually then a good one.

Second task for this week is to thank someone and where possible explain why you’re thanking them. It could be as simple as a quick thank you to the man/woman who stopped at the zebra crossing to let you cross the road. Or your friend who called you when you had a bad day and made you laugh. We can be very quick to point out mistakes or moments where we aren’t happy with someone, but we don’t say thank you enough, especially where it could mean someone else is having a bad day and your words of gratitude take that person to a better mind space.

Have a wonderful week.

Love and light.

Angel Dee Review: Fight Klub

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I headed over to Gymbox in Farringdon to try out their action packed class Fight Klub. To be totally honest, I was expecting light sparring and a few kicks so I packed my running kit to go for a run afterward with my Crew.
Ten minutes into the session, I knew forgetting to pack my running trainers was the best thing I did.

The class was back in the same area I had tried out the Gravity Workout in, this time with huge free standing sparring bags that we dragged out into the space. By the time we had done that, I was pretty ready to go home. Our vibrant teacher for the session Chiraz was full of energy which did mean that the session started off very energetically and it was high octane from start to finish.

After the warm up we went straight into punching drills which were in time with the fast beats. I have to say after the few days I had prior, this was indeed my favourite part to the session and it gave me a chance to let the bag have it and my vest was off pretty much right at the beginning. Chiraz made sure she came around to everyone offering encouragement and offered gentle tips on improving form. Excellent. As we completed each drill, we were made to keep moving so the whole of the session apart from quick water stops, it was literally non-stop.
By the time we had gotten the punches, kneeing and series of kicks in, we then had a change of pace involving jumps, mountain climbers on the punch bags and sprints before copying the drills on the right side.

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The “cool down” which makes me laugh even now, was an ab workout on the floor. Now you know I love a great core workout, but after going in on the punching bags? Who am I kidding, I loved it!! To say I will be back to do this workout again especially when I’ve finished my marathon next month and cutting down the running completely is a total understatement. Chiraz was a great teacher and the class itself is great for toning, cardio and core.

If you’re looking for a fantastic cardio, adrenaline fuelled workout; look no further than Fight Klub. But tell your friends quietly as you know what the first rule of Fight Klub is, don’t you?

To find out what time your local Gymbox hosts Fight Klub sessions, click here.

For more information on the lovely trainer, Chiraz click here.

Smoothie Saturday: 21 September 2013

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To mark the last few warm days of the year before Winter is upon us and the end of Smoothie Saturday on the blog until Spring, today’s recipe is the humble watermelon cooler.

I’ve loved having these and with or without alcohol, they’re lovely to have to clear the palette as well as being so light and refreshing.

You’ll need:

Watermelon
Cucumber
Honey
Lime juice
Ice
Mint sprig and cucumber slices (garnish)

Blend the watermelon and pass through a sieve. Repeat the same with the cucumber.

Mix honey and lime juice in a separate bowl and add to the watermelon and cucumber. Top with garnish and ice. You may wish to add vodka or rum to it for a little kick.

Love and light. xx

Time out

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I’ve just come from what can only be described as the meeting of minds. Being so socially connected, it was so good to spend a few hours with someone and not have them check their phone every few seconds. I’m pleased to say that the hours sped by as we talked and laughed and I can’t wait to see her again, hopefully with our friend who introduced us to each other.

I know I am on a lot of social media, but I make it a point of putting my phone on silent/turning it off when I’m out with friends so they have my full attention, so it’s nice when friends do the same. We spend so much time “interacting” online, but how much time do we actually connect when we’re out? Who peeks at their phone at the first opportunity, send that “important “email or check messages?

There’s also the game where phones are placed on the table and whoever picks up their phone first pays the bill, to me it’s bad if you have to resort to bribery in order to take time away from social media in order to spend quality time with loved ones.

Today’s mindful Monday post is really a reminder to be mindful to try to take quality time out when with friends/loved ones.