No Fear | Handstands & Green Juice at the Om Yoga Show 2014

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Traditionally in yoga, 108 is the sacred number. 108 sun salutations, 108 prayer beads, 108 sacred sites. But this weekend has been all about the number two for me – a couple, or double; a pair. Two days of the Om Yoga Show, two hours’ practice each day. Two green juices both days to fuel my asanas; two hands firmly planted into the earth with two feet reaching up high into the sky.

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No, I didn’t mix those last two up. One of the highlights of my weekend was a handstand workshop. I was nervous beforehand, and the instructors did say that fear is what holds most of us back from being able to do a handstand. They’re not wrong there. I learned lots of new tips to improve my inversions, and even got up into a handstand in the middle of the floor. OK, so I had a spotter who made me feel super safe – and they definitely let go at one point so I was freestanding!

I also got the chance to try out three different types of yoga – Iyengar, boxing and Jivamukti. I have always just “done” yoga without a thought of which school I was, adding in and taking away bits as I felt necessary, though the Jivamukti class really resonated with me. The teacher was bursting with energy (Andrea Everingham of One Yoga Studio in Chorlton, if you’re local!), the music loud, and the flow fast. We got to do stuff I love like balances, back bends, and inversions, and I really felt like I opened new doors in my practise – I did crabs, crows, and I nearly did a one-legged arm balance before faceplanting. I didn’t mind though! I firmly believe that what doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you and it was great to take my yoga practise outside of the box.

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The Freeths of the Freestyle Yoga Project ran the handstand workshop I went to on the Saturday, and Mark was telling us about the progress he’s making with one-armed handstand. He can showed us how he can do it against the wall, and is working on freestanding. I was thinking about this  whilst watching the couple’s demonstration later that day – if these guys are still working on poses and appreciating their progress, then I shouldn’t be too hard on myself when I don’t get crow or headstand press straight away. Everyone is at their own stage of practise and progress can’t be forced.

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There were some awesome stands to nosy about, too, but sadly the intention I set was to not buy any more crazy patterned leggings. I have to save pennies! Sad though as I could have easily spent on peacock Onzies or galaxy Teekis. I did allow myself to buy some foodie bits though – I’ve newly discovered 9 Bars (I know, where have I been?), chocolate Koko milk and Chi coconut water lattes, which are made from 100% coconut water.

I’m so inspired and excited now to get back onto my mat to put the knowledge and courage I’ve gained this weekend to good use – I feel I’ve been able to let go of some fear with the help of experienced instructors, spotters and helpers. My only problem with the show? That it’s not every weekend! Seriously, it was such an incredible experience, I will certainly be there again next year.

Namaste, Om Yoga Show!

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OP-ED: On Yer ‘Ead, Lass

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To the dismay of many a boyfriend (alright.. two. I haven’t had THAT many boyfriends) I have always held a bit of a disdain for football. It’s not the game itself I dislike, it’s everything that surrounds it: the players’ ridiculous salaries, the controversies, and the unruly fans. My ears pricked up a few weeks ago though when I heard England women’s team beat Montenegro 9-0 – mainly because I didn’t even know we HAD a national women’s team!

For once, I paid keen attention when my boyfriend watched MOTD that night. Surely with such an achievement there would be at least a small mention – but no. Backofbeyond United’s 1-1 draw with Arsend Rovers was clearly much more important.

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As a sport we are actually quite good at, why does it get such little exposure? It would be too easy to say that men are not interested, as I know this isn’t true. I paid the grand sum of £3 to watch Manchester City Women’s play Chelsea in the FAWSL quarter final and I’d guesstimate men represented 60% of attendees. Though matchgoers’ numbers were low passions were high as a men’s game, with the same comments about the referee being bellowed as you’d expect in the Premier League.

Personally, I think it comes down to sponsorship. In 2011 women’s football received only 0.5% of all sports sponsorship, with men’s at 61.1%. Interestingly the same report claims there was interest shown by the general public in women’s sports, and whether these figures have changed since the Olympic sports boom is unknown; but it is clear that investment is needed in women’s football to help it reach a wider audience. Without the huge investment from sponsors – like AON, Standard Chartered and Etihad – men’s football and the players’ salaries would not be at the heady heights they are today: it seems to be a “chicken or egg” situation.

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In 1921 the FA claimed that “football is quite unsuitable for females” and banned the game until 1971 – taking this into consideration I’d say it’s come on in leaps and bounds the past few years! After all, there must be others like me who aren’t keen on the egos and earnings in the men’s game, but are interested in the skill, speed and teamwork required. At the measly price of three quid maybe a selfish part of me doesn’t want the whole country to know, however this can’t be sustainable for the long-term. Organisations like the WSFF are coming to prominence and teams like Manchester City are taking their women’s teams seriously; perhaps in the next few years sponsors will follow suit and women will have their rightful place in football.

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A Beginners’ Guide To Heaton Parkrun, Manchester

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Working in retail it’s as rare as hens’ teeth to get a Saturday off work, so I took advantage of a rare opportunity this past weekend to go to my first Parkrun.

I wasn’t sure what to expect – I have been to non-Parkrun park runs before which were definitely amateur affairs, but the run at Heaton Park was run with utmost precision by a large team of volunteers. It was a cracking morning too, which brought out a huge field of 450 runners!

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You register on the Parkrun website to begin with, then print a barcode to take with you. At the end of the 5K race you run through the finish line into a funnel where a volunteer with a stopwatch records your time. You are given another barcode then both barcodes are scanned together, then linked to your stopwatch time. An hour or two later your time is sent to you via email or text (this past Saturday you got chocolate too, but that was a special Easter treat).

I was thrilled to find my time was 24:24, putting me the 16th female back home – and the 1st woman in aged 25-29! The organisation of the event ran like clockwork and I couldn’t believe it was all from a team of volunteers. I will be back – and I will be working hard to beat my time.

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Plyometrics In The Park | New Sweaty Betty + Adidas Kit!

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Sweaty Betty headband / Sweaty Betty tank / Adidas leggings / Nike Lunarglide 5

The past few weeks have been totally crazy for me, at work and at university – and I have finally come down with a cold. Boo to you, body! I decided to be kind to myself though and take a few days off training in the hope my body will heal in enough time for a 5K park run on Sunday.

At least this gives me chance to share photos I took a few weeks ago, when the sun was shining and my boyfriend and I did plyometrics in the park. It also gives me a chance to give you the lowdown on my recent kit purchases!

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The Sweaty Betty Athlete Workout vest was my purchase in Harrogate. I couldn’t really afford it, but how could I leave such fantastic ice-lolly colours behind?! It’s comfortable and sweat-wicking, though the issue I have with all Sweaty Betty tanks is that they are very clingy around the midsection. I get that you don’t want your top riding up during an inverted yoga pose, but I had to get a medium so that it wasn’t too tight, which means that it’s baggy up top. I can get over this slight niggle though as it’s such a fantastic print!

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My next most recent kit purchase were these snazzy Adidas leggings. I’d had a faulty pair of gym leggings I sent back which were £60. I picked these up for a mere £30 instead so had enough change for an extra PT session! These are a real showstopper and I’ve had people stop me in the gym to ask where they’re from. I don’t think they will last forever – the waistband is already a little overstretched with bobbles on the fabric here and there – but for thirty quid for a pair of fashion leggings, I really don’t mind. FYI these are a small – size down if you’re between two sizes.

Now, let’s hope this cold clears up and the sun continues to shine, so we can squat, push-up and run in the great outdoors!

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LIFE: Instafitness

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Type in #fitspo on Instagram and you will be faced with in excess of 7 million insta posts. There are lots of selfies, lots of pictures of peoples’ dogs, and a hell of a lot of pseudo-inspirational memes designed to get you off the off the couch and into the gym. So how do you sort the whey from the curds? You can stop wasting calories scrolling down your Insta feed and save them for heavy lifting days, because I’ve taken the hard work out of it for you and picked my five favourite fitness Instagram accounts.

First up, we have the girls of Roco Runs. Always in amazing kit, and running long distance in far-flung places (32km is a casual Saturday run for them) approaching the Paris Marathon, their main goal. Their fun poses are definitely their USP.

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Food and lycra: basically what it says on the tin. Delicious food and cool new workouts, based in London so the F&L girls really get the cream of the crop when it comes to innovative gym classes.

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I love the Fit Outfit concept. Based on the popular stylist’s flat lay, it shows different users’ workout outfits, usually in bright colours with snazzy trainers – and you know how I feel about a neon lycra and shoe combo. Recognise that kit from the top left, maybe..?

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The Fashercise girls are London-based fashion lovers, and are totally hot on the heels of anything new in the fitness world. I learn about designer collaborations and new lustworthy pieces of kit here before anywhere else.

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I really look forward to Massy’s Instagram posts – her energy knows no bounds and is totally infectious, whilst her fun approach to fitness is a refreshing change. Watch out for the signature dance moves at the end of each video!

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Extra bonus Insta: MINE! You can’t include an Instagram roundup without including yourself, right? Riiight?! Alright, blatant self-promotion here. I actually want to follow a load more fitness, food, health and progress accounts though so if your Instagram fits the bill please hit me up and I will follow you!

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