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  • You never know what's around the corner....

    It feels very poignant reading through my last blog (posted in September 2018) as I really had no idea how much my life would change in the following 8 months. In short and for reasons I won't bore you with, I had a complete stress induced breakdown that forced me to abandon my classes and to give up my business completely.

    I literally had no idea what was going on at that time which is a very frightening place to be; I thought I had something physically very wrong with me and never for a moment considered my issues might be related to my mental health rather than my physical health.

    It's been (or has seemed) a long and difficult road to travel whilst I've come to better understand what happened to me and I'm still unsure what finally felled me at the end of September last year. In the last couple of months my Mum sadly passed away quite unexpectedly and I ended up having a full hysterectomy the day after the funeral....not the happiest time in my life.

    I'd been aware that I was feeling very stressed at the end of the summer, but I'd always thought I was invincible....turned out I wasn't.

    I'm telling you this not to elicit sympathy, but to tell you that I'm still alive, recovering well, am physically fitter than ever, haven't retired and am feeling positive about the future.

    Life sometimes deals us a hand that we have no idea how to cope with, but those times test us to the absolute limits of our mental and emotional strength.

    My life has changed dramatically in the last 8 months, but I have found out so much about myself in the process. I have no wish to be my 'old self' again, but am slowly building a new self that is more forgiving and more flexible; I'm learning how to be much kinder to myself...finally!

    I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know I still have a lot to give and share with others in terms of health, fitness and wellness. How that manifests in terms of my work will become clear over the coming months.

    I am hoping to run a few 'sunset yoga' classes in local parks during the summer months so keep a look out for those if you're interested.

    I miss everyone who came to my classes and I truly hope you're all settled into a new class routine. I had to stop teaching pretty dramatically so that was a tough time for me. Letting my business go was a massive loss, but my health was at stake so I had to concentrate on getting well.

    Thankfully and with the help of my amazing and wonderful husband, loving and supportive friends and family, a brilliant psychotherapist, regular exercise and changing my behaviour patterns, I'm feeling so much better. Often it takes something dramatic to make us look at ourselves and the way we behave, but if that leads to greater contentment and happiness....so be it.

    Have a great summer :-) Much love, Karen xx

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  • So much to look forward to :-)

    I spent last week in Marseille so was able to extend the summer by just one more week....and what a summer it was! Meals eaten (and wine imbibed) in the garden for weeks on end, endless sunny days, time on the beach, early morning walks when even then it was almost too hot to walk.

    After such a beautiful summer, it would be so easy to feel a little bit down as the nights draw in, the summer clothes and flip flops are put away and it's just not warm enough to sit in the garden without a fire pit!

    To fend off those feelings of 'a sense of an ending,' I've been thinking of all the lovely things we can enjoy in the autumn....brisk walks in the early morning or evening light, delicious satisfying autumn food, Strictly back on the TV, cosy evenings at home, drinks and meals out with friends in cosy pubs, watching the leaves change colour, the smell of woodsmoke, blackberrying...the list is as long as you want to make it.

    In our yoga and Pilates classes, we welcome back the 'twinklies'....as it's not possible to have candles all around the room in class (health & safety sadly!), we have lots of Christmas type lights which gives the room a lovely glow and allows everyone to chill in their own personal space.....much nicer than glaring bright lights!

    So, if you're lamenting the loss of the summer, celebrate instead the onset of autumn by reminding yourself of all the things you love about the coming season....see you in class :-)

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  • Everything feels golden :-)

    I went out for a very long walk quite early this morning and everywhere looked golden and beautiful. The recent rain has left the atmosphere fresher and less humid and walking through the countryside with the sun shining made me feel happy and grateful for the lovely summer we're having.

    Despite the weather being very hot and many people being away on holiday, classes have been only slightly less busy than usual. I'm eternally grateful (and amazed) that so many of you continue to come to class when the easiest thing would be to grab a cold beer and sit in the garden......so thank you all, your continued support means so much.

    Looking ahead to September, I'm getting very excited about the new class I'm bringing to the timetable on a Monday evening. Since I started teaching Yoga Flow 3 years ago, I've become increasingly interested in developing that part of my teaching practice. I'm studying for an Advanced Yoga Teacher qualification and I'm starting a new class called Core Focused Yoga (CFY) on Monday September 10th in Blaby.

    CFY is challenging and each routine will develop throughout each course. I love the freedom of movement that yoga allows, giving participants the opportunity to really connect with the breath and their individual movements. Yoga is very much a journey and every time I roll out my mat, I learn something new.

    As CFY is a completely new course, you'll be able to pay for the first class and then decide whether to sign up for the rest of the 5 week course; I'm confident you'll love it :-)

    There are 2 more weeks to go of the reduced summer timetable and then I'm away for 3 weeks.

    I know September seems a long way off at the minute, but maybe start thinking about booking your September courses...there's nothing to pay and then you can sit back and enjoy the sunshine :-)

    Enjoy your weekend!

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  • Why Yoga (Flow) feels so amazing!

    I am writing this Blog entry after a week of clear blue skies and beautiful sunshine. It's a joy to wake up to sunshine every morning, even if it means waking up ridiculously early...long may it continue.

    I've been wrestling with the idea of a proposed change to my class timetable for the past few months and I've finally decided to follow my heart and teach only Yoga and Pilates from now on.

    Although I would agree that we all need to do some aerobic exercise to maintain a healthy cardio-respiratory system; teaching wise, my heart lies with Yoga and Pilates. I've always followed my heart during the whole of my 25 year teaching career and never taught anything I don't love.

    Teaching Yoga for the last 3 years has been both a challenge and an absolute joy and that journey continues to evolve for both myself and my class participants. I'm studying for a further Yoga qualification and am excited to see where this journey takes me.

    This week, I've been trying to explain to people who haven't tried Yoga what it is that make you feel so amazing and happily I was reminded of the Hungarian- American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (thank you Lance Sullen) and his observations and studies on Flow: The Secret to Happiness

    MH describes the 8 characteristics of Flow as:

    1) Complete concentration on a task

    2) Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback

    3) Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down)

    4) The experience is intrinsically rewarding and has an end in itself

    5) Effortless and ease

    6) There is a balance between challenge and skills

    7) Actions and awareness are merged losing self conscious rumination

    8) There is a feelng of control over the task

    MH also states that people with autotelic personalities (people with a high interest in life, low self centredness and persistence) tend to experience more Flow....very interesting!

    Experiencing Flow is also deemed to be more enjoyable when experienced as a group. In Yoga Flow classes, we move slowly but time passes quickly, everyone is so immersed in the activity nothing else seems to matter, self consciousness is lost, our inner critic is silenced and we experience a feeling of wellbeing.

    Read MH's studies on Flow; his observations absolutely and eloquently explain why any activity where you are able to 'lose yourself' bring a sense of wellbeing and happiness.

    I'll be adding another Yoga class to the timetable in September. Core Focused Yoga will have a different focus to Yoga Flow; CFY will include strength and flexibility sequences, but more core focused work too.

    Both the summer and September timetables are on the Timetable page; have a wonderful Summer :-)

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  • How Pilates and Yoga can improve our mental health

    I had an interesting conversation with a lady before our regular Wednesday morning Yoga class this week; she was telling another participant how she felt after the class. She used the following phrases 'I feel amazing after the class, I walk out of here feeling absolutely on top of the world and ready to conquer anything'. She then asked me whether anything was happening to her mind to induce those feelings.

    You may think that most people attend Pilates and Yoga classes to get a flatter tummy, improve their posture, reduce back pain and increase all over muscle strength and whilst both disciplines help us to achieve all those things, my experience as an Instructor is that my class participants increasingly comment on how calm and relaxed they feel after a class and how they value the impact of the classes on their mental health and general wellbeing.

    This conversation made me realise that people may not know what physiological changes are taking place during and after a Pilates and Yoga class which have a very positive impact on their mental health.

    Pilates and Yoga are both contemplative forms of exercise with meditative qualities and both involve deep breathing to facilitate movement patterns. Deep breathing helps to calm the mind, increases lung capacity and improves blood circulation. It also increases the removal of waste products from the body, such as carbon dioxide.

    The quiet, calm atmosphere of the classes combined with the emphasis on focusing on the breath stimulates a part of the nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system. This part of the nervous system works automatically (autonomically) and is often referred to as the 'rest and digest' system.

    This calming of the nervous system reduces heart rate and blood pressure and allows us to enter a more relaxed or meditative state. People often tell me they feel less stressed and have a great night's sleep after a Pilates or Yoga class which all leads to improved overall health.

    Combine the mental benefits of these disciplines with increased muscle strength, improved flexibility, increased energy levels and a general feeling of wellbeing and ask yourself why wouldn't you sign up to attend regular Pilates and Yoga classes!

    Check out the timetable and join us :-)

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