Not many of you will know this but earlier this year I injured my back doing CrossFit. I attempted to complete a PB overhead lift of 55kg and failed miserably, resulting in me not being able to feel or move my legs and then a lovely long Friday night trip to the local hospital.
Those were a tough couple of weeks. I couldn’t walk, stand up, sit down or even lay down without being in excruciating pain. For what seemed like a good 4/5 weeks I was so heavily dosed up on all sorts of pain relief, my body didn’t feel like mine. It was a scary time and my poor family and boyfriend had a rough time too, having to help me get dressed, bathe, and cheer me up.
My mental health at the time wasn’t great I must admit, however, because all I did was sleep, I didn’t have time to fully understand/digest what was going on and the repercussions. It wasn’t until I was told by the doctors that my scoliosis has worsened and that lifting any weight over my head is dangerous and something I should refrain from doing, that it hit me. Exercise would be very different from here on out.
So left not knowing what to do with myself or how I would even begin to start recovering, I started physiotherapy. I am very lucky to have private healthcare and therefore was offered some of the best treatment in the business. He gave me set exercises to work on at home in between sessions. He also mentioned that yoga would be a great way to strengthen my back again and to get movement back in my body.
So this is where Funk&Soul Yoga comes in. I am very lucky in the fact that the woman behind this fabulous brand is a close friend of mine. She has always been a fitness fanatic and works as a PT in a gym in Manchester. She recently set up an amazing yoga business but due to lockdown, she has been forced to make her classes available online so people would still be able to get their yoga fix, as well as reaching out to more yoga lovers from across the country.
Her sessions are great and are different every time. We work on specific areas of the body which really helps when you do a few sessions a week. I was able to catch up with her to discuss where the idea for Funk&Soul Yoga came from and the benefits of yoga for all ages and abilities.
Q1: What made you become a Yoga Instructor?
I have been practising yoga since I was 16, so from the offset I have always had some form of interest in yoga, even if I had no particular reason or desire to practise, I was just drawn to it. I have been a qualified PT for four years now and the one thing I enjoy the most about the job is helping people change their lifestyle for the better, whether that be through exercise, nutrition, or simply changing daily habits to be a healthier person.
However, what I did notice was that many people around me (myself included) were constantly dealing with niggles and injuries in the body, and if they weren’t in some form of physical pain, there was always the mental strain of things such as stress. This is what made me turn to yoga. I’ve always practised to help me relax and unwind, and move my body in a way that isn’t practised in strength training and cardio, and I wanted to help people do the same. Incorporating yoga into my PT knowledge means I can help people adapt to a healthier lifestyle in different ways.
Q2: What inspired you to open your own business called Funk&Soul Yoga?
The words funk and soul to me highlight the idea of lighthearted fun, movement and relaxation which is exactly what my classes are about. I think that a lot of people can be intimidated by yoga, either because they think they aren’t flexible enough. Another issue is that sometimes yoga can come across as quite pretentious. Lots of people these days like to post photos of Instagram doing a crazy hard yoga pose on top of mountains, something which isn’t attainable for most people.
Funk & Soul is all about inclusivity, anyone can do yoga, simple as. I play chilled music (no whale noises) and just want my clients to move in a way that feels comfortable for them. No prejudice, no judgement, you’re just here to stretch, move your body and have fun.
Q3: What types of yoga do you offer and what is the difference?
At the moment, I offer Hatha Yoga and Power Yoga. Hatha Yoga is a traditional form of yoga that a lot of teachers practise. It is performed at a slow/medium pace whereby you generally hold poses for 30 seconds to 1 minute. This is a great class for all levels, especially if you want to relax and unwind, whilst still feeling like the body has been worked.
Power Yoga has more of a resemblance to Vinyasa, a faster pace flowing class. In the Power classes, it’s all about strength and getting the heart-rate up. I tend to do less breath work (Pranayama) in these classes and focus on showing people how yoga can build strength in the muscles.
Q4: What do you think are the benefits of doing yoga regularly?
Well, like any form of exercise, yoga can increase the endorphins in your body, making you feel better. Likewise, the various movements (Asanas) in yoga can help build strength, improve flexibility and also improve core strength, which is a must for most people.
However, it also has the mental aspect. Taking part in a yoga class in just as much about the mind as it is the body. We are taught to be mindful and focus on the present moment in yoga classes, something we don’t often do in everyday life. On top of this, practising meditation and breathing techniques in yoga can help reduce stress, ease anxiety and calm the mind.
The thing is, yoga can benefit everyone. If you are looking for a slower paced form or exercise, choose Yin Yoga, if you want to build strength, choose Power or Vinyasa; that’s the beauty of yoga.
Q5: How often would you advise people to practice yoga?
Like with anything, practise is how you improve, so the more you practise yoga, the more your postures and breathing will improve, That being said, although of us are running around like headless chickens and struggle to find the time for things such as this. If you can get one session in a week then you’re doing well, two and you’ll really notice the difference.
Also, these don’t have to be one hour long sessions, just doing 15-20 minutes of practise in the mornings, or at different times of the day can still have immense benefits.
Q6: What are your top 3 movements that anyone of any age or ability can do?
Puppy Pose: This is one of my favourite postures because it’s just so relaxing. It is similar to child’s pose, except you keep your hips lifted and stacked above your knees, bringing your head and arms out onto the mat. This is a lovely stretch for the spine and can bring a lot relaxation into your life.
Triangle Pose: If you’ve got tight hamstrings you’ll either love or hate this pose. Triangle allows you to open up the hamstrings, hips and the chest muscles, which is a beautiful feeling.
Runner’s Lunge: For anyone wanting to stretch their hip flexors, this is a fantastic position. Placing yourself in a low lunge, drop both hands to the inside of the front foot and push the hips forward. Allowing your breath to bring you deeper into the stretch means you can really work into the hip flexors.
Like what you see? Make sure to go check out her website for more details, as well as her Instagram and Facebook pages for details on how to sign up to online classes! I personally love her Power Yoga session on a Thursday evening as it allows me to get in a weekly core workout!