Want To Try Aerial Hoop? Find Out What This Art Form Is + The Benefits

aerial hoop

Ever heard of aerial hoop? If you’re like me and enjoy finding new ways to move your body, then you’re going to LOVE this!

I tried aerial arts with a group of PT clients and friends as we were looking for something new to do, but the question I kept getting before our session was “what IS it?!” Honestly having never tried it before I wasn’t exactly sure, I just knew it looked fun! Really it’s an art form, but if it involves moving your body, having fun, and learning something new, then I’m 100% there. Read on to find out what aerial hoop is, what the benefits are, and how you can try it out.

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International Yoga Day 2018 | What My Yoga Practice Means To Me

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Picture the scene: it’s 2003. You’re in the pinkest teenagers’ bedroom you’ve ever seen (seriously, there are pink walls, a pink carpet, and pink bedlinen), the only colour variation being the bright yellow TV/VHS combination, upon which a crackly yoga class is playing. View Post


Yoga For CrossFit Athletes | The Top 8 Postures To Stretch, Align & Cool Down

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Quitting your day job and going to India to practice yoga is a dream for many, but it didn’t just stay that way for my friend Marley – she’s not long home from 4 weeks in Goa qualifying to become a yoga teacher. As well as being a superstar yogi, Marley is a big fan of weight training, so she knows only too well what it’s like to be inflexible as those of us who lift heavy and put a lot of demand on our bodies very often are.

If you’re anything like me as a CrossFitter, as soon as the WOD is done and you’ve finished your standard laying-on-the-floor recovery, it’s time to get some food in you and chill. There’s no stretching and no real cooling down, other than walking across the box to pick up your protein shaker.

By consistently adding in the following moves, as recommended especially for CrossFitters by Marley you’ll increase your mobility and flexibility, slowly bring your heartrate down, and reduce risk of injury.

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Sweating Like A.. | Did Bikram Yoga Bring Me Any Health Benefits?


It’s easy to get out of the fitness habit when autumn rolls around. “The nights are really drawing in now!”, you say, as you choose to snuggle on the sofa rather than stick to your summer gym routine. Get The Label challenged me to #StayFitDontQuit now that summer is over, and I of course accepted the challenge, choosing a month of Bikram Yoga* to shake up my regular fitness routine and keep me going long after the nights start to go dark.

Find out what I thought of my time at Bikram, and whether it really has any health benefits compared to other types of yoga.

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YOGA: Breakfast Club

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It’s 6am, it’s absolutely chucking it down, yet I’m still dragging myself out of bed and out of the flat. Both my body and my mind are confused as to why we’re out of the house at this time and in this weather; there’s something inside that’s thinking we’re a little crazy to be doing this, but the promise of chilled yoga and a tasty breakfast keeps me going…

I’m on my way to PKBreathe at Pot Kettle Black, an early morning yoga session in a coffee shop at the heart of the city. I like to think myself quite the Manchester coffee connoisseur but I hadn’t heard of PKB before yoga teacher Sarah got in touch – it’s a cosy, quirky spot in Barton Arcade, just off St. Ann’s Square, which runs a variety of classes, quizzes, and live music nights. It’s on my way to work so a 7am yoga session followed by a choice of porridge, granola or toast with tea or coffee fits into my schedule easily. Although it’s inside an arcade the coffee shop is surrounded by glass, and Manchester gradually wake up around us as we rolled out our mats and began with breathing exercises.

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After a few sun salutations we moved onto inversions and heart-opening postures. I’m used to more of a flow-style yoga so moving simply from one pose to another felt a little awkward at first, but it turned out to be the best plan of action. We’d stay in the postures for quite a few breaths to really get the blood flowing around the body, and the overall effect was incredibly rejuvenating. This was ideal at that time of morning; after our final savasana I felt refreshed, awake, and ready to face the day.

And, of course, totally ready for breakfast. This was my favourite part, not least because my porridge and coffee were tasty (the granola looked great too, that for me next time I think), but also because all us yogis sat around a big table and had a chat as we ate. I love to meet new people but fitness and yoga classes aren’t the most ideal, as everyone always rushes straight off to whatever’s next on their list, but because it was still early we had the luxury to relax and spend some time together before heading off to work.

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A few days earlier I’d met with my friend Chyaz, who works from home in the health and beauty industry, and we spoke of how lonely it can be working alone, being a blogger, or being self-employed. There’s a lot of events and meet-ups now but it really made me think about the importance of connecting with others without pressure to blog or Tweet about what’s going on, and just share ideas or just chat idly. It may be an early start (especially for those who organise their own day..!) but I do think the PKB morning yoga session would be the perfect time for us all to meet and connect; a gentle yoga session followed by breakfast and a chat; a bit of a Breakfast Club, if you like. Then we can all go away knowing we’ve had meaningful interactions with another human, even if you don’t speak to anyone else for the rest of the day! So if you’re a health, fitness, or wellness professional or blogger, self-employed or not – or maybe you don’t fit any of those categories but just love yoga, food and meeting people – reach out! You can comment on this post, Tweet me or email me, and once we have enough interest I’ll be in touch with the first date we can all meet up.

Until then, PKB run their yoga and breakfast PKBreathe sessions on Wednesday, with PKBlast, a high-intensity training circuit plus breakfast, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, all starting at 7am. It’s £12 for the training sessions, breakfast, and an ongoing sense of wellbeing for the rest of the day!


YOGA: WIN a Photoshoot with Andrew Wood!

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A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of working with Andrew Wood Photography in Chorlton to take some fitness-style photos* – I’ve just received the finished images and I’m in love! I did three different mini-shoots, with the first being yoga; as I normally practise yoga at home with no mirror or instructor I don’t get any feedback on my postures. That’s why these images make me feel a little uncomfortable because I can see exactly where I am stiff (pelvis) and where I hold my tension (shoulders!). I somehow look very weak in upward dog, even though I don’t feel it. And as for why my toes are turned over in chaturanga – I have no explanation for that! I didn’t even realise I did it. While the postures aren’t perfect it certainly gives me something to work on in the future.

I wanted the overall vibe for the yoga shots to be chilled out and serene, and I think the Andrew Wood team did a fantastic job of capturing that for me. The hardest part was making sure my face was behaving when my body was working hard to hold a posture. It’s no mean feat, I tell you! I’m shocked at how good they made my face look, actually – when you’re used to seeing your own tired face in the morning it’s lovely to see yourself so fresh; I specifically asked for little make-up and retouching so this is all good lighting and being comfortable in my environment.

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I’m very pleased to also be running a competition to WIN your very own photoshoot, and it doesn’t have to be fitness-related, you can do whatever you like – boudoir, family, portraits – the shoots include three outfit changes so you could even do a bit of everything.

The overall winner gets a photoshoot, their hair and make-up done, photos retouched, and their favourite two digital images plus an A4 framed print of one of the images – PLUS three runners up get a photoshoot, hair and make-up, retouching and an A4 framed print. Awesome!

All you need to do is drop me an email at squatbot @ live.co.uk and a winner will be picked at random from the emails received before November 24th.

You can also leave a comment on this post with your email address, but remember annoying spammy spamsters can easily pick it up so add some spaces or extra characters in.

I’ll be posting my next two sets of photos over the next week and you will also get the chance to enter then – the competition closes on November 24th, so plenty of time to get some shots in for Christmas!

Let know if you have any questions about the competition or experience. Wishing you the best of luck!

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Terms: Please make sure you’re happy to travel to Chorlton, Manchester – there’s actually a Metrolink stop opened just outside the studio. Viewing session takes place on a separate appointment, £25 refundable deposit required to book the photoshoot (they are booking makeup and photography specialists just for you). I’ll pass your email addresses onto Andrew Wood (I’m sure they’ll have a treat to send you even if you don’t win!) but emails will not be used for marketing purposes without your express permission.


YOGA: Ashtanga with Kino

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Instagram has turned a handful of humble yoga instructors into worldwide superstars – arguably the most famous being Kino MacGregor, Queen of Ashtanga. When I first moved to Manchester three years ago I went to an Ashtanga class which I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was too structured, and I got pulled by the teacher into postures I felt I wasn’t ready for; following that I continued with my own practise which didn’t follow a school of yoga. When I heard about Kino’s weekend of workshops in Manchester, though, I felt it was time to give Ashtanga another try – I’m into higher intensity workouts now and I’m more able to rule my body with my mind than I was, so maybe it would be more my thing.

I learned a lot from Kino – from new postures and transitions, to finding out about my own mental strength. Kino said more than once that getting over an obstacle makes you stronger, and that when you find something difficult it means it’s important to do it. I believe in this, too, but it doesn’t make it any easier to practise – though Kino’s belief in her class gave me the strength to be able to do things I didn’t think I could do. She also gently pulled me into trikonasana properly, with hand flat on floor rather than my feeble attempt, saying “you can do it”. And you know what? I could do it.

I still don’t think I will turn into an Ashtanga devotee any time soon. Although I had a fantastic time this morning it was still too structured for me, and I don’t think I would get the benefit from my sporadic yoga practise. I’ll be taking away elements, though – maybe holding a posture a breath longer than I’d be used to, or giving something new and unusual a try every so often.

Taking photos in class still seems a little odd to me, hence the one rather poor photo, though I was struck by the spectacular scenes as I looked around the class – particularly when I came out of headstand early (I’m not quite at holding for five breaths yet!) and found a room full of patterned leggings and colourful leggings pointing towards the sky. I couldn’t resist a shot of the Hindu temple where the workshops were held, though – it’s straight out of a Wes Anderson film, don’t you think?

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A further, non-yoga note: I was surprised at how utterly glamorous and drily humorous Kino was. I’m attempting to add a little glamour into my own scruffy look, so this is definitely a practise I’m going to take away with me!