Running and yoga – it’s more than your flexible friend

Sun’s out, trainers on! With the longer evenings even more of us are out pounding the streets in training to get a PB in our next Park Run or race. 

But as we all know, it’s not all about run, run, running. Research shows that in order to improve our performance we need to cross train, stretch key muscles, stabilise our core, strength condition, rest and recover.

But how to fit all of that into our busy schedules when we can’t even find time to do a few stretches post run?! Go on, admit it, it’s so tempting to skip and head straight for a hot shower!

Well have no fear - A hot yoga class encompasses it all...

Increasingly more of us runners are catching on to the accessibility and benefits of yoga and that it doesn’t involve tying yourself up in impossible pretzel-like knots. Plus, we don’t have to be flexible to do yoga – that’s just one of the reasons why we do it!

Hot yoga also improves our strength, stability, mental focus, weight-loss, range of movement, breathing,  joint alignment, posture, mental focus, body awareness, pre-race composure, balance, recovery time and sleep – to help us gain that winning edge.

What’s more, Hot yoga is even more popular with runners who want to ‘up’ the challenge by doing it at 38-degrees. A study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that eight weeks of hot yoga sessions increased flexibility in the trunk, hips, hamstrings and shoulders, while improving dead-lift strength. Fat loss also occurred, likely because of the intensity of the classes for new participants in yoga training.  

Flexibility is only the beginning...but it’s a good place to start

In running we use the same muscles for the same repetitive movement which adds extra stress and makes them pretty tight – how many massages have we all booked in for and how many times have we fallen off our roller – although if we can manage the weird contortions we have to get into with a foam roller then yoga will be a doddle!. When muscles are tight then other undertrained muscles might over compensate and can become stressed or torn – resulting in .... down time – eeek!!!  Hot yoga loosens the muscles naturally and safely, to increase flexibility and ease tight areas more quickly. Increasing flexibility also improves our range of motion which increases power output thanks to muscle recruitment and more efficient movement.  Yoga pre-hab is best!

Hot Yin will help you move deeper into the muscles. 

Stability is core

We’re often recommended yoga to strengthen and stabilise our core (abdominals, hip flexors, gluteals, and lower back) to improve our posture, stave off injury and ensure efficient energy transfer between the upper and lower body to save energy.  The results are increased speed and endurance. Excessively rotating our hips and shoulders can cause all sorts of injuries to our upper and lower bodies as our limbs compensate and energy is exerted in all the wrong places. 

Holding postures such as balances also improves our joint stability and alignment particularly in the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Yoga can isolate and concentrate on the muscles surrounding the joints and warm up the synovial fluid  to reduce aches and pains.

And not forgetting our feet – they’re the foundation to our every run. So many yoga postures help strengthen and lengthen the muscles in the feet - think arches, ankles, and toes - and  maintain healthy connective tissue to provide better shock absorption. Yoga helps us to get the right joint alignment which in turn can help us to correct an inefficient or unhealthy running style and reduce the risk of injury. Plus, the balances help us to improve our core stability, mental focus and agility.

Hot Hatha classes encourage the yoga postures to be held for a small time to strengthen the muscles, check alignment and gain mental focus.

Range of Movement

We are all too aware that running uses a constant forward motion of the same muscles putting them under a lot of stress. Yoga uses  different muscles we didn’t even know we had and wouldn’t usually move in different directions, including lateral and rotation – making our bodies feel more balanced and relaxed. Consequently our running style will feel freer and more fluid.

A Hot Vinyasa class is a little more energetic and encourages a full flow of movement in all directions – including upside down for upper body strength.

Better breathing

In yoga, all movement and mental focus are in line with the breath.  We breathe in and out through the nose which is a more efficient way of getting oxygen to our lungs than through the mouth and helps to lower the heart rate – thus improving stamina.

When running we can replicate the focus on the breath to zone out from any mental gremlins that might affect our performance. Deeper breathing will also help calm our pre-race nerves and relax tense parts of our bodies to direct energies to more efficient usage. So goodbye monkey mind, muscle fatigue, gasping for breath, and side stitches!

The extra challenge

Because the room is heated to a delicious 38-degrees (who needs to go on holiday?!), the body has to work harder and the mind has to focus more. It’s a mental and physical challenge of intense heat. It can take a few classes to get used to and some days may feel better than others but this all helps us to hone in on specific parts of our body and feel what’s going on – even if its discomfort or fatigue! But that’s where the focussing on the breath bit comes in – much like how we would do when running. Plus, with the extra heat, it’s impossible not to feel a little bit zen which is what we need to calm our active minds and bodies.

The sciencey bit

The heat warms up the synovial fluid around our joints and makes our muscles more elastic and pliable allowing for deeper and safer stretching with results that are longer lasting. The heat makes our blood vessels expand to increase the blood and oxygen flowing around the body which allows them to build, lengthen and repair more easily (vasodilation). This increased blood and oxygen also speeds up our body’s ability to breakdown glucose and fatty acids that help shed fat tissue and weight (if you even need that!).

There’s only one way to find out...

If yoga’s good enough for ultra marathon runner Scott Jurek then it’s certainly good enough for me! On the days that we aren’t running, we can slide some yoga into our rest days for active muscle recovery, improved core stability, increased range of motion and to borrow a few poses to use as a warm-up or cool-down at a training or race. So there’s only one way to find out the effects of hot yoga on our running performance, and that’s to give it a go... I’ll race you to the mat!

 

By Rebecca Leam, yoga teacher and runner.  Rebecca has a strong interest in the benefits of yoga for sporty peeps and last year trained with Sarah Ramsden, aka yoga teacher to Ryan Giggs, Manchester United and Manchester City Football Clubs and GB Olympians.

 

 

 

 

 


Winter Solstice - Part 2

By Koreen

The Winter Solstice combines two of my favourite things… the cosiness of winter and planning out my life. In a previous post I talked about planning my life and now I’ll talk about the cosiness of winter.

I was a snow baby, born in a snowstorm on Boxing Day morning. My parents had stayed at my Oma’s and Opa’s and my mom woke up in the night thinking she had eaten too much Christmas dinner. My Opa whistled nervously whilst driving the 40 kms (23 miles) through blowing snow and was thankful that I held out until ten minutes after they arrived at the hospital.

As a kid, I loved the winter. We’d get back from school and I’d play outside in the snow until it got dark. We’d build snow forts and toboggan down the hill and when it got too cold to stay out any longer, we’d go inside and have hot chocolate. One year my dad made us an outdoor rink and I’d stay up late skating by moonlight.

As a teenager I was in charge of decorating the house and hanging up the Christmas cards and my brothers were in charge of getting a tree from somewhere on our 100 acre farm. We mainly had cedar trees on our property, that’s what we usually got. However, one year a large evergreen tree had blown over in the wind on our farm and so my brothers walked along the truck to cut off the top for our Christmas tree.

I loved all the events at our church and helped out with the Advent readings and candle lighting. Our youth group would go caroling in the community. We’d drive from farm to farm of people that we knew were older and may not get as many visitors, or to families that had experienced some sort of difficulties that year. Then we’d end up back at someone’s place for hot chocolate and chilli.

On Christmas Eve, we’d go to my Oma and Opa’s and see everyone from my Dad’s side. Massive amounts of food and then sparklers and singing songs around the fire. On Christmas morning we were allowed to open our stockings before my parents were awake and one year, I coached my brothers for several weeks on how to properly sneak down our stairs so it was perfected by Christmas morning.

On Christmas Day, we’d go to my Mom’s side. My Grandma and Grandpa’s in the morning and then my Uncle Don’s for the afternoon. Here we’d all go cross-country skiing (That's me in the picture!). Then in the evening we’d be back at our place preparing for my birthday. My Dad had planned the menu and we’d stay up late making even more food. The next morning was spent cleaning and at lunchtime both sides of the family would arrive and leave mid-afternoon and then late afternoon our family friends would arrive for a second round of eating.    

Whilst presents were always a part of our activities, they were never the whole focus. It was almost always about seeing family and friends and eating really good food. It was about spending time together with the people you love. The kids would be off in the hallway or toy room playing, the adults would be in the kitchen swapping stories of things that had happened to them. And throughout the house there was always laughter.

I know that not everyone had such a rosy holiday time growing up, so I consider myself very lucky. When I was an adult and had a family of my own, we had more places to juggle and drive between, but we made it work.

Then we moved across the world where there was no family and had to make our own traditions. One of the things that the girls loved was a Christmas scavenger hunt. So instead of putting the gifts under a tree, we hid them around the house and left little notes about how to find the next one. Then we’d go down to the beach (it was summer) and have a barbeque.

And now we are in the UK and the new tradition seems to be to open gifts in the morning have a casual lunch. Go to a park for a walk around and come back home and have friends round for an evening meal. Much more casual than what I grew up with, but still focused on spending time with the people you care about.

I hope you are having an amazing day with those you love and if that’s not your reality right now, then know that you can always create new traditions.


Lots of love,
Koreen



How to connect with the HYS community

We are really proud of our lovely community at Hot Yoga Sheffield and we want to make sure that all of our students feel part of it. 

Love chatting at the studio but want more? Here are all the ways you can connect with us and each other:-

1) Join our Facebook Community Group: Click here to connect with our current students and teachers. 
2) Like our Facebook Page: Click here.
3) Follow our Instagram: Click here to follow and use #hotyogasheffield to share your yoga pics :)
4) Leave us a comment: Next time you are in the studio, be sure to complete a comment card and pop it in the green box on the front desk. We listen to all of your comments and are always looking for ways to improve our studio. 
5) Review a class: Next time the MindBody app asks you ' How was your class at Hot Yoga Sheffield?', leave us a review! We always check these and share them with out teachers. If you don't already have the MindBody app - you can download it from the App Store or Google Play.  
6) Attend an event: We regularly run workshops and events which give you other ways to learn about yoga and connect with other students. Click on our events page to see what's coming up.   
7) Share your story: Would you like to be featured on our blog? We are always looking for contributions from our students. Get in touch with maria by emailing maria@hotyogasheffield.co.uk
8) Email us: If you ever have a question or something you'd like to share, please email us at info@hotyogasheffield.co.uk.

Forget the hooch! Bring on Kombooch!

By Anne Marie

Here we are again, tis the season for merrymaking and fond festive gatherings with friends and loved ones.  Of course, this season of togetherness brings back the long held traditions of hot toddies, casual daytime tipples and full-fledged boozing!

Since we know that you’ve been a good boy or girl this year, by keeping up your regular hot yoga practice, or have just begun to make hot yoga part of your winning life strategy for happiness, we know that this time of year is crucial for feeling your best emotionally, keeping your physical health, and maintaining your personal power around the influence of your own cheeky self and the pushy joviality of others.

Christmas gatherings are especially renown for putting the body through a rigorous test of endurance.  Whether you partake in some of the cultural artery cloggers (pigs in a blanket) or maintain a semblance of grace with filling nut loaves and Yorkshire puds a plenty, there is one major culprit at the table that begs for a bit more consideration: alcohol.  This little bugger in a bottle is the bane for many, as it bears the comforts of years past, yet, makes us feel like we’ve taken a decade long hit back to our unwanted past – every year.

For some, being around alcohol is not an issue.  Some are able to maintain casual composure, drink moderately and not feel too poorly from a small amount of social drink.  Others may be easily holding their ground among peers with overindulgence on rich foods and heavy drinking, very likely becoming the sufferers of well earned hangovers (congrats) or gathering a steady stream of New Year’s depression, (ever heard of ‘post booze blues’?)

A third category is for those somewhere in the middle, and this article will be of most benefit.  These individuals may wish to drastically reduce their alcohol intake, abstain for a certain period of time, and/or eventually stop drinking altogether.  If one of these sounds like you, have no fear.  There are plenty of us in town and our community at HYS is committed to helping you know that you are totally supported for making that choice.  And, you’re still cool.

I had, at one point in my life, been able to knock back copious amounts of heavy alcohols: red wine, dark ales, spirits and energy drinks, and combine them with super heavy foods.  Suffice it to say, these habits do not pair well with an energizing and progressing yoga practice (especially Hot Yoga).  You may have noticed that when you began your hot yoga ‘career’, this will have instantly had an impact on your tolerance.  Good thing!  Everyone loves a cheap date, and falling all over yourself is never sexy.  Really.

Back to reality though.  This time of year is very important, yet challenging to get through for those who are actively trying to reduce or negate their intake of alcohol.  For a period of about 2-3 years, gatherings with booze were uncomfortable and stressful for me.  This is a fraction of what it looked like:

I wanted to drink, but I didn’t want to depend on it to enjoy myself.  I wanted to trust and be content in my natural state, like a yoga teacher. 

I didn’t want to drink, but was sick of people hassling me, asking me why “I don’t drink,” “Why I thought I was better than everyone else,” and “What’s wrong with drinking a beer?” Really, I was trying to figure those out for myself.

I wanted to drink, but really wanted to change completely and never drink again because I was addicted to it.  I didn’t want to identify with ‘being a drinker’ anymore.

I didn’t want to drink, yet people would pour me/buy me drinks even if I said no, and my will power was just too weak…

To tell you the truth, a number of things happen in these situations, but the key points are:

1. If you choose to not drink for an evening, a period of time, or to stop drinking altogether - everyone you know will likely give you shit for it.  So don’t worry about them, and press on.  Find a reason and stick with it. 

2.  It’s hard enough for you to not drink.  Tell your friends that it’s not about them, it’s about you and your choice, so a little support would be greatly appreciated.

3.  It’s hard not to judge others when sober - it is best to surround yourself with people who are not pissed in order to stay at ease and enjoy yourself.  If it gets later in the evening, no one will be bothered if you leave early, or retire for the night to go for a walk, practice yoga, read or meditate before bed.

Over time, I would feel great before a party, enjoying myself, feeling well connected so had a few sips, only to berate myself for messing up my pure joy.  Knowing that I had tampered with the power of yoga somehow diminished the effects that booze would give.  With time and efforts, the benefits of yoga outweighed the buzz of booze.  Fast forward to now, if I have alcohol, the effects it has are immediate (literally one sip/ half glass) and I have to stop there to prevent feeling a headache or falling asleep!  For me, I am super happy to be in this place.  There are no strings of judgment towards myself, others, or to alcohol as a substance.  Like any other addiction, I am aware of how I worked hard to ‘get into it’ and how I had to work hard to ‘get out of its grip’.

Without further ramblings, here are my favorite booze substitutes that you must have for the holidays.   Whether you just want to maintain a very moderate pace, or if you’re not keen on the green bottles to begin with.  These are fab!  Cheers!

Natureo – De alcoholised Wine (red/white) – this is a newfound gem.  While I was not sure if this would be similar to the sweet juice type grog we’re expected to get down around this time, this was a pleasant surprise.  A mature and full-bodied Syrah grape ‘juice’ that has been through the whole wine process, it has all the show of a great bottle and rich appearance in a wine glass.  If you were trying to be sneaky, this would definitely pass for a ‘proper’ glass.  Worth the £7.50, and cool for casual sipping without a sugary buzz.  Found it at the Dram Shop.

Kombucha – For me, home brewing kombucha (fermented black/green tea) the past 5 years is what gave me a huge boost in kicking beer/champagne urges.  All the fizz you need to fit in.  Kombucha has wonderful health benefits including probiotics, and acids that replicate those that keep the body healthy and detoxified.  You can brew your own, or buy some from Beanies.  Black teas are better for a beery flavor, green teas can be elegant and light.  Watch out, once bottled they can explode with fizz!  Come see me if you need a free starter, and check online at theteapot.co.uk to get your kit.  Forget the hooch, Bring on the ‘Booch! 

Rochester Ginger - this stuff is great.  Bring this to any gathering and everyone will take a shot.  It’s just that, a great hot hit to the throat of ginger - just like a Whisky!  This is lovely to sip on after dinner by the fire.  It feels great on a cold congested throat too.  Get it at Holland and Barrett for £4.99.  So Dickensian.

The Borowski Blend – I don’t know if anyone else has had this as a family drink, but we used to get this mixer as kids at my great-grandmothers house in Little Neck.  I love it, and it’s super easy: 

¼ glass Orange Juice

¼ glass Cranberry juice

½ glass Seltzer (fizzy) water. 

Bam, a tall bevvie!


If you still need some ideas of what to drink, there are choices abound.  Holland and Barrett have all kinds of juices and health drinks like Rabenhorst.  You can always have fresh fruit/juice with fizzy water.  If you’re particularly crafty and want to go wild, you can recreate some of the shots we had at our Member’s Appreciation party earlier this year with fresh ginger, lime and turmeric juice shots (with a grind of black pepper on top).  Either way, enjoy yourself this season, drink what you want to drink, feel elated by love and festive cheer and keep that high into the New Year.  You got this!

Let me know how you get on, and tell us your own experiences about going booze free.  Happy Holidays!

 

Big Love,
Anne Marie

New Year's Day Tagine

By Luke

New years day across the country starts for many as a bit of a fog. Whether that is due to a little over indulgence the night before or just a weariness from a week of socialising, Christmas dinner-ing and short dark days, my guess is that you are unlikely to jump out of bed on the first of January and decide to spend some serious time in the kitchen. I feel an appropriate meal would be something which could be thrown together and left to stew whilst everyone clears their heads with a little stroll.

My food plan for new years day is a tagine. A tagine is a Moroccan stew made in a special clay pot called a Tagine. These pots can be found in most cookery shops, but any pot with a close fitting lid will do the trick. The idea is to cook your ingredients with a small amount of liquid on a very low heat for a long time. The end result should be thick and hearty not soupy. Try not to peak more than a couple of times as the steam keeps things moist and holds in the flavour. The great thing about them is that you can adapt the recipe to suit what is left in your cupboards and fridge after the festive period.

Serves 4-5

Ingredients:
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 squash peeled and chopped into 5cm chunks. Try a Crown Prince variety if you are bored with butternut squash.
2 Aubergines chopped into 3cm chunks
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can chopped tomatoes
400 ml vegetable stock
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp saffron stamens
100 g dried apricots, halved and quavered
20 g sultanas
1 preserved lemon, skin and flesh finely chopped. These little beauties are worth seeking out if you can find them in the supermarket or deli. They add a great depth of flavour to many dishes. If you cant find them, squeeze half a lemon into the pot just before serving.
1 handful fresh parsley

1) Heat the oil over a medium/low heat and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft. ~10 minutes
2) Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, paprika and turmeric.
3) Next add the squash and aubergine. Stir through to coat in the spices and fry for a minute.
4) Then add the stock and rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, stir and reduce the heat as low as possible and simmer with the lid on for an hour. Alternatively place in the oven at 170 for an hour. 5) Check after 40 minutes, if the stew is looking too dry add a splash of water, or if things are looking a bit soupy leave the lid off to evaporate some of the water.
Finally stir through a generous handful of chopped fresh parsley. Serve with a simple side of cous cous, or pita bread.



Feel Energised and Pampered this Christmas

For anyone that has had the pleasure of talking to me in the studio will probably know how I feel about the Weleda body oil range– particularly the Birch anti cellulite oil in its beautiful green glass bottle. I have been known to purchase a new bottle, open it immediately and shove it under the nose of anyone standing close to me demanding they smell the beauty there and then!

Have you smelt it yet? Wow! It’s an absolutely beautiful assault on your senses – It’s fresh and deep and clean and invigorating. I have always loved a body oil as a way of moisturising my skin. My skin feels grateful as it sinks in and leaves its wonderful smell on my now youthful plump looking skin.

I put it on my face (for that dewy skin look – make-up goes on beautifully after by the way), I use it after the shower, I put in on before my yoga practice  so your sweat smells good! (no need to use soap in the shower after!), I use it after dry body brushing ( more on that later), I use it last thing as night on my neck and décolletage as a soothing smell to send me off to sleep. I use it on my children after swimming practice, I use it instead of a hand cream and I intend to buy a spritzer bottle and mix it with water and then spray it to my hearts content around my home/car and on my friends!

Anne Marie asked me one day if I had ever tried dry body brushing and then using the oil after. Dry body brushing is an ancient Ayurvedic practice. So I bought  a body brush from the studio and armed with my beautiful Birch oil I gave it a try.

You brush in long strokes towards the heart starting with the soles of your feet, legs, torso (circular movements here on the abdomen) and then back to long strokes on your sides, arms, shoulders and back. Afterwards you slather on your chosen body oil and feel amazing and energized (similar to how I feel after a yoga class). I brush for a few minutes maximum but if you have the time or inclination then you can brush for longer (between 2 and 20 minutes is the optimum time).

The brushing makes you feel relaxed and energized all at the same time and feel so good as my skin tingles and rushes from the brushes contact. The benefits of this ancient practice are aplenty. It can:
  • Stimulate Your Lymphatic System. In your body, your lymphatic system is the system responsible for eliminating cellular waste products.
  • Exfoliate your skin.
  • Increase Circulation.
  • Get rid of in-grown hairs.
  • Reduce Cellulite.
  • Offer stress Relief.
  • Improve Digestion and Kidney Function.
The Weleda oil range is organic and biodynamic (made  and produced completely in tune with nature) and when you see the price ( a third of the cost of any of the leading luxury beauty brands body oils) it’s even more impressive. Check out the whole range of oils available at the studio. Birch is my first love but I have tried Lavender and Pomegranate that are both just as good. I intend to purchase the Citrus oil next and then more Birch…..

I now dry body brush every morning before my shower and then use my Birch oil and I’m ready to go feeling energized and pampered. P.s. I think I may purchase a few for my friends for a luxurious Christmas present – who would not want the gift of youthful soft and nourished skin this Xmas?



Reflect, let go, look forward: Our Winter Solstice Workshop

By Koreen Clements

The Winter Solstice combines two of my favourite things… the cosiness of winter and planning out my life. In this post, I’ll talk about planning out my life and in a later post, I’ll talk about the cosiness of winter.

A few weeks back, I mentioned that in highschool I spent my Friday evenings at the library. Well, this next post may solidify my geekiness in your eyes. I love to plan my life. And review my plan on a regular basis. At the start of high school, we were given a booklet of all the courses the school offered for the next five years.

Having just had a daughter finish A-levels I’ve seen the typical teenage response to this item. Take it out of the bag to show mom. Mom reads through it. Sits on table for next three weeks. Finally after being prompted by mom, digs it out from under the pile of paper that’s accumulated on top of it. Has a cursory glance and jots down the classes she was interested on a piece of paper.

I, however, thought my booklet was the best thing ever. I read through it cover to cover. I folded down corners of pages. Underlined important information. Starred the courses I was interested in, one, two or three stars depending on how interested I was in them. Then I made a chart of years 9-13 and the number of courses we could take each year, which was eight, for a total of 40 courses that I could take.

I put in all the required courses. Then I reviewed the spots left. I had a good idea that I wanted to stick with Sciences, which meant that I had to keep up Math. But there were so many other subjects I wanted to do as well. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough spots to fit in all the classes I wanted to take and I had to make some tough decisions. Eventually, I came up with my five year plan. Then I put it away until the following year.

Each year I would get the book and my paper out, reviewing it with the previous year in my mind and tweak my plan. Similarly with my life plans. In grade school, I read a story about heart and lung transplants and wanted to be a heart surgeon so I could help save people’s lives.

In high school, I liked Dr Quinn the Medicine Woman and wanted to move to the Northwest Territories and set up my own clinic in a small community. I could even see what it looked like. It had two treatment rooms, a front desk and waiting area with a bunch of kids toys and a desk with a computer and lots of reference cds of medical conditions. My idea was that people could come in and use it as a reference for looking up something they were concerned about (this was before the internet). My main goal was to empower people to look after their health.

In university, I fell out of love with the idea of being a doctor, mainly because I actually started to talk to a few doctors and discovered that they always felt they were on call and could never turn off. And I disagreed with how they were being trained - the sleep deprivation during internship. I was very confused because surely they knew the studies that showed impaired cognitive performance and decision making with lack of sleep. And if so, then why would they deliberately put people into situations that where they could make mistakes on life and death decisions. It boggled my mind.

So I shifted to wanting to become a genetic counsellor. I was going to help people make difficult decisions based on science and statistics. To expectant parents, whether to continue with the pregnancy, if there was a high risk of Down’s syndrome, Tay Sachs or sickle cell anemia. To adult children of parents with Huntingtons, whether or not to be tested themselves and whether or not to have kids.

Then I went to grad school and shifted to becoming an academic. I was going to have my own lab, my own research program and an army of grad students. I’d teach courses, inspire students and change the world with my discoveries. Except research isn’t like that. Or at least it wasn’t for me.

Sure I was doing stuff. Staring at pretty glowing brain cells under a microscope, in a dark windowless room in the basement. For hours at a time. Sure I made some moderately interesting discoveries. A rat model of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder uses different strategies to solve memory tasks, which may be related to differences in neural activity in different regions of their brains. Meh, but what does that really mean?  

It wasn’t enough for me - I wasn’t making a difference in people’s lives. I’d lost sight of my childhood desire to help people. And that’s when I started doing hot yoga. Later, when my work started interfering with my ability to do yoga, that’s when I knew I needed to make a change.

Even before I did my teacher training, my goal was to open a hot yoga studio in Sheffield and help change people’s lives. However it wasn’t that easy. When I arrived in Sheffield I was miserable. For six weeks, I was unbearable. Until I finally began to annoy myself and started two things. First, I took up an Ashtanga yoga practice, because the other styles I had tried just weren’t for me. And I started to focus on what was going well in my life, rather than what I didn’t like.  

Several months later I met Anne Marie and the rest, as they say, is history. Five years later, we have a humming hot yoga studio in Sheffield. A great team of staff, teachers and helpers who love spreading the joy of yoga and keep us running smoothly. A world-class community of students who are seriously some of the best yogis in the world, who show up, are responsible and respectful, who listen and question, and make yoga their own.

Every day I am thankful that this is my job because I know that I’m having a positive impact on people’s lives and that we are making Sheffield an even better place to live. And that’s what’s important to me.

Each time I made my plan I never knew if it’d actually become reality, but it kept me moving forward towards something. And as I kept moving, new information came along that I could use to help shape the direction I was going. At certain points, I would pause and review to see if where I was going felt right for me then, and if not, then I could change. And that’s  me what I do at  the end of each year.

The Winter Solstice is the perfect pause point to know where you are right now and first reflect back upon the past year. To see what has worked and what hasn’t. To appreciate everything you’ve done. To let go of things that no longer serve you. And then to look forward to the next year. To set intentions about where you want to be in the next year. To chose a theme to focus your actions.  

If planning your life is something you already adore, or you’re just starting to dip your toes into, then the workshop on December 18th will be a perfect Sunday afternoon to get your yearly review underway.

Lots of love and planning geekiness,

Koreen



Giving Thanks

By Anne Marie

While each day brings me moments to be thankful for, taking this time at thanksgiving is great to collect all of those gems and marvel at the collection. Life is so rich, no matter what may be going on, there is meaning in everything and it's important to reflect.

This year, I can truly say that I am thankful for my life here in Sheffield. With a job that enables me to develop myself creatively, and spiritually, and give what I can (and all I am) to others, I can't imagine existing in a world where this freedom would be denied. I am thankful for a deeply connected and loving relationship with my man Luke and our sweet feline child 'Baby K'. We have almost purchased our first house and I am delighted to know that we can make it our own with good old time and effort. I am thankful to have the integrity of a solid yoga practice and spiritual grounding in self awareness to know - that despite how the events of the world are unfolding, it is possible, and inevitable for things to change, and that we make a difference in this world every day, in each moment, in the way that we relate to ourselves and others. I am thankful for the values I hold for seeing things through, and trusting in life and the divine order of the universe. I trust in the stuff we're made of, and know that to hone in on our personal path for Truth, we can and will cultivate a life of pure majesty. If I didn't think this were true, I wouldn't have moved to England, studied yoga, married a beautiful soul, worked for what I believed in, and created a life of gratitude, wonder, and learning. With a community of beautiful people, fascinating ideas and imagery, what's not to be thankful for? Happy Thanksgiving.

By Koreen

My family growing up - where laughter and silliness was an everyday thing. My husband - whose steadiness and strength has been like a lighthouse guiding me home. Our four daughters - who are amazing young women finding their place in this world. My girls’ dad - who despite our differences has put the girls first and made parenting them a fun adventure. My son - who reminds me everyday of how to be present and live in the now. Our cosy home - we have all we need and a little more. A job I adore that doesn’t feel like work; colleagues who are a pleasure to work with and an amazing community of the best yoga students on the planet - attentive, dedicated, respectful, supportive and seriously good fun.

Bikram Yoga - What you need to know

By HYS teacher, Michelle Shenton

I love teaching Bikram at Hot Yoga Sheffield. It’s an absolute pleasure to teach this series of postures to such a fantastic community of yoga students and so far all I have seen is focus determination and discipline in the hot room. This is what Bikram is all about!

What is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram yoga is a set sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. It is conducted in heat – 40 degree heat and 40% humidity to be precise. Most of you probably already know but the heat helps you to get deeper into postures without hurting yourself. The humidity is present the assist in sweating – yeah, you sweat A  LOT! Detoxing through sweat will help you to take in more water, it can change your appetite, and it can help you to sleep better. There are a multitude of health benefits!

All true Bikram instructors are trained by Bikram himself in a grueling 9 week teacher training course where they practice twice per day for 6 days per week. Its hard, very hard, but the lessons learned in that 9 weeks are invaluable in order to become a good teacher.

Where did Bikram Yoga come from?

Bikram yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury. Born in Calcutta, Bikram began studying yoga at the age of 4 and was a yoga champion in his teens. In the 1970’s he was left wheelchair bound from a crippling accident and was told he would never walk again, but Bikram made a complete recovery thanks to heat and yoga.  It was out of the remarkable regime that he developed his sequence of yoga postures and breathing exercises that he still teaches today. Bikram has over 2 million students and hundreds of schools worldwide.

Why Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Yoga is a challenging class but it is intended for all abilities from beginners through to advanced.  Through challenges in the class room we learn that our breathing is our best ally and our mind can be our worst enemy. We learn to use the breath to calm the mind, in turn, we can then focus more on the postures and concentrate our attention on the instructions promoting a mind-body connection. Lessons in the yoga studio can help us in our daily life as we learn more about our ‘Self’, we will be more relaxed, focused, patient and have a greater connection with our body than ever before.

It is 90 minutes of ‘open eye’ active meditation where keeping the eyes open keeps us in the present moment. This will help you to feel like you have nothing else to think about and nothing else to do.

What if I feel like I need to leave?    

Your only goal in a Bikram class is to stay in the room. Remember, sit down when you feel like you need it and come back to your breathing slowly through the nose, we have our whole lives to master these postures and each class is a journey, a process – it’s a journey for you and your body only on your mat on that day at that time. Each day is different, we quickly learn that about our body, amongst lots of other things. There is no pressure to complete any of the postures, ignore the ego and let it go…..

How will Bikram yoga benefit me?

Through regular practice a student can expect to lose weight, look younger with a clear, glowing complexion, and develop stamina, tone muscles, and speed up recovery from injuries with increased blood flow. It can help to relieve asthma, improve digestion, and stabilize blood pressure.

Autumn Weekend Blueberry Pancakes

Don’t you just love this time of year, where ‘cozy time’ is weekly household occurrence?  Sheffield sure has its kicks for getting out on the weekend, whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, but no matter what your plans are for spending quality time with friends and family, there is always time for pancakes!

While I was not dismayed to learn that English pancakes are in fact, just crepes – often made savory, or sweetened with granules of sugar and lemon; surely delicious in their own way – there is something sensational about home cooked sweet breakfasts like American pancakes.  One of my all time favorites (see what I did there? In keeping with the US theme) will always be the cherished Blueberry Pancake.

Now, I’m not even sure I should bestow this recipe to you, as there have been versions that come and go, and I really think this one’s a keeper.  But first, let me regale you with my fondness for the blueberry pancake.

Back in the day on Long Island, when I was growing up, the weekends were all about going to the Diner.  After church, families would pack it in for brunch, and as teenagers, my friends and I would wake up late and make our way to some of the best: Triple Crown Diner on Jamaica Ave., the New Hyde Park Diner on Hillside, sometimes I’d be out with my dad getting ready for a day of odd jobs, so we’d stop into the Mineola Diner which epitomizes the imagery of classic old fashioned diner - with fixed train wheels and all.

Despite the selection, I have always had only a handful of favorites that I would test out at these digs to make sure they knew what they were doing.  Besides years of grilled cheese sandwiches with a pickle and coleslaw, milkshakes with cheese fries, I absolutely adored breakfasts like Challah Bread French Toast dusted with icing sugar, and my dear Blueberry Pancakes with an orange juice to start and coffee on the side. 

Now, the main thing was: even then, if I were to get blueberries in my ‘cakes, they’d better be REAL!  It ain’t about that blueberry sauce or flavored syrup you get at IHOP, we’re talking about proper food here.  Anyway, when these bad girls came out, they were stacked about three high, as wide as the plate, served with a scoop of butter and sugar syrup.  I’d put some butter in between each of them to let it melt away and slather loads of syrup all over before digging in.  Each fork cut burst those beauteous blueberries so that dark purple juice went into the mixture of sugary bliss.

Well, here we are now.  I’m a bit older, somewhat wiser, and surely more in tune with my body, my relation to other sentient beings and the environment.  So, even though I won’t actually eat anything in a diner anymore – not risking the fries or hash browns either, although those are literally the only vegan item in diners to this day.  I have always had time in my own world to whip up the occasional, but often strong, cravings from the past. 

Without further adieu, here is my recipe for Vegan/Gluten Free Blueberry Pancakes.   I have added polenta/cornmeal here to really give the home cooked ‘mouthfeel’ of a crispy edge, and homeliness can hardly be achieved without cinnamon.  These will satisfy the craving for cozy and even help you justify the complimentary (decaf) coffee on the side.   Be sure to head out for a walk in the Peaks after these, or get settled for a film.

Autumn Weekend Blueberry Pancakes
(American Style)

Vegan & Gluten Free

½ cup oats (gluten free)
½ cup polenta (fine)
1 cup any non-dairy milk
1 apple (blended)
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
1 cup blueberries

Coconut oil
Maple syrup
Apple/berries

 

1. First, make oat flour from the oats – putting them in a dry blender or processor.  You can use oat flour if you have already. 

2. Combine the oat flour and rest of the dry ingredients (polenta, cinnamon, baking powder) together in a mixing bowl.

3. Next, take the apple (cored), chia seeds, and the milk alternative, and blend those together. 

4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix them to create a batter.  If you need more liquid, you can add more milk or a dash of water to keep it runny yet thick.  When these are combined fully, fold in the blueberries.

5. Heat up the ‘griddle’ and use the coconut oil for cooking. 

6. A thin layer per batch will be sufficient.  Pour about 3 pancakes into the pan and let them cook until the edges become slightly crispy, check beneath to see if they are golden brown.  When they are, flip them over. 

7. Repeat this until you’ve made all of the batter into pancakes.  You can keep them warm in the oven while you cook so you can present them all at once. 

This recipe makes approximately 7 pancakes.

To serve, add three pancakes per plate, drizzle with maple syrup and garnish with cut apple slices and more blueberries on top. 

Enjoy!

 


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