Omg, I taught my first yoga class!

I finally did it-last Monday evening I taught my first yoga class in Central London. I was extra nervous about getting it right as a fellow teacher trainee had recommended me to her friend who needed cover. She told me that the class was a beginner class and that they didn’t usually do flow-however, as my own practice is flow based, I felt that I wanted to make it at least a little bit Vinyasa-ry and teach them something new.

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I arrived mega early (55 minutes in fact) and went through the sequence in my head. The time flew by and before I knew it, I was teaching! It was so strange having people who had actually paid to come to the class, listening to me and literally doing everything that I told them to-talk about pressure!

Nobody’s perfect.

Then my worse nightmare happened-my Bluetooth speaker stopped. I knew that this would be a possibility but never really thought that it would happen. It kind of threw me and I started rushing the teaching. I could barely get off my mat which annoyed me as I hate it when teachers do this.

Eventually I calmed down and started walking around and instructing the poses as opposed to constantly demonstrating them. Well, I was calm until I realised that I was at the end of the whole sequence but still had 20 minutes left to teach-wtf?? How had that happened? The students were already on the floor, so I simply taught them a few more poses such as twists and Bridge, and then made sure that the Savasana was a little longer then planned. At least this way I had time to go round and give Savasana adjustments, something that I personally love to receive.

I made sure that I asked for feedback at the end of the class. I didn’t tell them that it was my first class, as didn’t feel that the students needed to know. Everyone was polite and said that they were very relaxed, but it was hard to tell if they really enjoyed it as people are generally so polite! I will just have to assume that they enjoyed it as they didn’t tell me otherwise-they seemed happy!

Things I have learned from teaching my first class:

Don’t rely on a playlist.

I knew my playlist off by heart and had been using the tracks as a cue on when to start the next section of the sequence-BIG mistake. Imagine my panicked brain when the music simply stopped working!

If your music does work, play it loud enough!

Loud enough so that it doesn’t sound like background music, especially during Savasana and energetic sections. I left the music, when working, playing quietly and it just felt weird.

 Don’t feel that you have to adjust anybody.

I love when a teacher deepens me into a pose, and felt the need to do this to everyone, but I don’t think that they really needed it. I felt that they were just happy to be in the pose. Unless it is an alignment issue, it’s okay to simply instruct.

 Prepare a back up plan.

If you end up teaching too quickly, have a few poses at the ready just in case you need to teach a bit extra. Conversely, if you find that you are running out of time, have in your mind beforehand which poses can be omitted to get the students safely to Savasana.

Keep an eye on the time!

Don’t do a Mel.

Don’t feel like you have to fill the silences.

I’m a talker. I could even hear myself constantly talking, trying to say everything I knew about each pose, but my nerves wouldn’t let me stop. Try not to say it if it isn’t relevant. If everyone is pressing their fingers into the mat in Downward Dog, you don’t need to remind them to do that.

Nerves, be gone!

The main thing, however, that I have learned is that it is normal to have nerves, and in a way this simply shows that you care. Looking back on every new challenge in my life, I was nervous but with experience, these pesky nerves dissipated. In fact, next time I will try to turn that nervous energy into excitement-apparently both emotions cause the same physical symptoms. Who knew?

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I’ll be back to let you know how my next class goes. Please share your experiences of teaching your first yoga class, or any kind of class for that matter!

Yoga Teacher Training-Nearly There!

I’d meant to start documenting my experience with YMCA Fit’s Yoga Teacher Training from Day One but this kind of went by the wayside with a bout of the Flu and an excitable nine-month old at home. I really cannot believe I have managed to come this far with a new baby, having started studying the anatomy component when my son was only a few months old.

And trying to get a daily self-practice in like I did before: way harder when my son likes to roll underneath me when I’m attempting Sun Salutations.

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Just before deciding to ‘join in’ mummy’s yoga self-practice

But somehow, with the support of my gorgeous and selfless husband, plus the best parents ever, not to mention friends who have allowed me to practice on them, I did it! (Yes, I know I haven’t actually done my final exam yet, but I ‘m thinking positively).So with only a couple of weeks to go until my final practical exam, here is the lowdown on the teacher training so far…

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Friendly instructors

Both Jonathan and Annie were incredibly supportive. Jonathan made us laugh every single day, and was so engaging. He knows so much! Both were always to available to answer questions or emails. most importantly, they taught us so much and instilled in us a confidence that we could be the best teacher we could possibly be.

I even had the confidence to teach Headstand, something I had been too scared to do since falling over into our sofa at home. I’m always petrified that I’m going to break my fingers and then somehow die….hhmm.

 

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This London-based blended-learning course was held at OneKX near Kings Cross. The studio was clean with loads of equipment and a nice little vegetarian cafe downstairs. Also two minutes walk to one of my favourite coffee shops, Half Cup. Please go there if you can-the staff are so friendly (so rare in London) and I think that I love their coffee as much as Caravan. I know. Yogis shouldn’t drink coffee. I never said I was perfect…..

Now a bit about the rest…

The e-learning materials were fabulous, but I must say that the support via email or telephone was pretty much non-existent. I felt that once my payment had been accepted, then the YMCA were satisfied that they had done all they needed to. Many of my emails for help went unanswered; staff on the telephone were either rude or had a “couldn’t care less attitude”.

However, overall I would recommend this course. It fits in so well with my lifestyle right now, and I have actually looked forward to each session, which is unusual for me as it is usually rather hard for me to stay focused or engaged. I am pretty excited about our practical exam as I will finally be able to go out and teach for real!  YAY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alfie and Mel-A Day In The Life

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Alfie on one of our many walks in the park

I’m always interested in how other mums or dads spend their day if they are alone with their baby, and if they find it as much as a struggle as me. From speaking to mums at the fitness class I attend at Frame Kings Cross, it seems that everyone else is having a pretty easy time of it compared to me. Perhaps this is true, or maybe some feel that they must appear in control? I’m definitely not one of those-I’ve stopped pretending that I am in control with a perfect life and have started telling others how hard I am finding it. It makes me feel a bit better to let it all out!

When my husband is away, I do find it tiring and suffer a lot of anxiety when looking after Alfie. Definitely something I need to work on!

A typical day would go like this (warning-this is a LONG post as it’s a long day):

0500 Alfie wakes up-I think because he is lonely. Manage to pat and shush him back to sleep. I go back to bed.

0600 Alfie wakes up again. Manage to get him back to sleep. I go back to bed.

0645 Alfie wakes up. I try to get him back to sleep so that he can get up closer to 7am, to no avail. I get him up and give him his bottle.

0745 I make a tea which goes cold as I have to get his breakfast of baby porridge ready.

0800 Feed Alfie porridge which he manages to get in my hair by flicking the spoon out his mouth. He is then sick in my hair whilst burping him.

0830  Quickly make smoothie for myself and gulp it down so that I can shower. Have to wash my sick hair which I rush as Alfie is crying at me from his chair in need of a nap.

0900 Manage to leave the flat with still-wet hair hoping that Alfie will nap in his buggy on way to my fitness class. He only manages ten minutes which makes him grumpy throughout the class. I’m freezing on the way there because of my wet hair! Get a takeaway coffee from Caravan in Granary Square. Would have loved to sit down but Alfie gets angry when we sit still.

1000 Start class at Frame. Put Alfie on the mat and he continuously (and impressively!) rolls across the floor. Repeatedly I put him back on the mat; repeatedly he rolls away, narrowly missing other mums. I only manage to do a few squats before I decide to put him in his buggy.

1030 Alfie starts crying. I sit down and feed him his next bottle. After burping him, he is sick down his and my trousers. I wipe it up, try to do some sit ups with him on my tummy, but I have just missed this section of the class.

1045 Do a few planks, but Alfie needs to be sat up in case he is sick again, so I leave and feed him his sweet potato in the reception area.

1140 After feeding, burping and changing Alfie, we rush outside but miss the bus. I walk/jog home with him in the buggy as he is getting whiny as needs his next nap. Get back home at 12pm and put him in cot. After a quick shower, I’m starving but also knackered, so quickly eat some toast and spinach out of the bag then go to bed.

1300 Alfie wakes up before I have fallen asleep. He won’t go back to sleep, so I get him up and do tummy time. He’s grumpy as he’s tired. I make another cup of tea but it goes cold again as I need to sit with Alfie to stop him from getting more irritable, and don’t want to scald him with it.

1400 I feed Alfie his bottle, burp, then we go for a walk. It’s raining, but I need some air and a change of scenery. After half an hour, he starts moaning so I take him home and put him in cot. He goes to sleep, so I try to study some Anatomy and Physiology for Yoga. Manage to have a cup of tea-yay!

1500 Alfie wakes up. He is in a playful mood so we do a bit of dancing to Amazing Radio. He then sits in his highchair at the table playing with his toys until he gets bored so I dance with him some more. I’m completely knackered at this point. He does a massive poo which goes up his top and on my arms. I change him, then have to have a quick shower to get rid of the poo whilst he sits in his chair. Third shower of the day.

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Calorie laden pancakes from Sunday-delish!

1600 I’m getting cabin fever again and running out of ways to entertain Alfie, so we go for another walk to look at the trees in the park. He is quite happy staring at them. We then get a coffee from Sunday, one of my favourite cafes if the friendly staff are working. Sometimes I’m unlucky and get the moody girl, but not today. I get some cake as am hungry, and eat as we walk back home.

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In the lift on the way for another walk….

1700 Alfie is moody but it is too close to bed time for his nap so I feed him his pureed mango and then wash and change him into his pjs. I practice saying ‘Mama’ with him, but he is more interested in blowing raspberries, which makes me laugh. He then keeps trying to grab and eat my feet, so I let him as he seems to be enjoying it! Tickles though.

1800 Feed Alfie his last bottle, read him a bedtime story. I feel something land on my foot and hope it is not what I think it is. It is. I look down to see a sloppy poo on my right foot. Luckily I have got my socks on, although I can feel it seeping through. I’m amazed that it’s missed my legs, seeing that Alfie is sitting on my lap. I wash and change him, then put him in his cot whilst I clean the carpet. I notice that there is indeed some poo on my arms which means another shower. I say goodnight to Alfie, turn out the lights and wait for him to fall asleep.

1920 Fourth shower today.

2000 Am really hungry but too tired to cook much so I have a random meal of oven chips, avocado and some pre-cooked chicken. I then have a look online to see how to get 6 month olds to nap more.

2130 Go to bed. Worry about why Alfie doesn’t like napping.

2300 Finally fall asleep.

Sleep is such a luxury…

I love Alfie so much and reading this through again, I do see that he is just a normal sociable baby! However, lack of sleep can make things feel ten times worse, which is something nobody could have prepared me for. Still, little Alfie is a legend.

‘Baby blues’?

I haven’t posted in absolutely ages as was busy giving birth to my now six month old son and have been completely preoccupied with looking after him! It was tough at first, but things have got easier due to us managing to get him into a bit of a routine. He is, however, exactly like myself when  was a baby (so I’m told), in that he is demanding, attention seeking, and generally hard work! That said, he is anything but boring, and is massively affectionate and intelligent.

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Heavily pregnant at baby shower and yet feeling alone.

I hated being pregnant. There, I said it.

It’s funny thinking about how much I am gushing about him, as I certainly did not feel like this at the start. In fact, controversially, I disliked being pregnant, hated the way my body looked, and felt it was completely out of my control. You wouldn’t have thought it, though, from looking at photos of me, or talking to me, as I was always trying to hide how I felt. If I did try and explain it to someone, they would think that I was crazy: “what?! How can you not be excited? How can you not like being pregnant?” Most of this came from those who had not had babies, but also to a lesser extent, those who had. This made me feel guilty as if something was wrong with me. I did go and see a Perinatal Counsellor, but this again made me feel worse. I felt that I would need a lot of help when the baby was born, but the counsellor suggested that he would not know who his mum was if I let other people look after him. So I stopped seeing her.

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Days before giving birth.

Post-childbirth is not always all hearts and flowers like in films.

Fast forward to the birth. It was not all smiles and celebration when he was born; it was a long 48 hour labour and I was absolutely knackered. It was more relief that I felt; relief that the pain was over and that perhaps I could rest. Little did I know that babies do not allow you to rest! Being a spirited baby, my son cried A LOT. I couldn’t get the hang of breastfeeding either.

Getting help

I ended up breaking down in my GP’s office whilst attending my son’s 6 week check. She offered to prescribe me antidepressants. I was so desperate, I agreed. I had been scared to take them before in case of addiction or scary side-effects, but I was at the point where I didn’t care. I couldn’t seem to bond with my baby, I was sleep deprived, I couldn’t breastfeed and I felt that nobody understood. Another doctor got me an appointment with a family psychiatrist whereby I was to go and speak to her with my baby. Leaving the house with him on my own freaked me out as I hated doing this. I was always anxious that he would start crying and that I wouldn’t be able to cope. I managed to go it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I felt proud that I had made it to the appointment. The sessions were helpful in that they helped me to empathise with my son and see why it was so frustrating not to be able to communicate with words.

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With Alfie in the midst of post-natal depression.

The only way he could tell me what he wanted was to cry. I made an effort to talk to him more and involve him in what I was doing. I started to feel less anxious around him and really started to miss him when I went out to run errands, ironically because I was spending more time with him as opposed to avoiding him. However, I did find that the counsellor kept advising against other people looking after him. My parents would look after him when things got too much, especially when my husband was away working. She said that this was not a good thing and should be avoided where possible. So I felt guilty for doing this and stopped, leaving me depressed again and completely shattered. I decided to take what advice I needed and to leave the rest, which really worked for me.

I still ask my parents to look after Alfie as I love having time alone with my loving, supportive husband and sometimes I just really need to catch up on my sleep! Alfie loves seeing his grandparents too, and I no longer feel guilty about this as it helps me feel so much better physically and emotionally.

These feelings were not just ‘baby blues’; I felt too anxious to be alone with Alfie, I cried most of the time, I couldn’t sleep and wouldn’t eat anything. I was scared to leave the house with him, and was scared that something bad would happen to him if I wasn’t constantly prepared for the worst. I have to say, I wish I’d started taking anti-depressants earlier, and speaking to someone professional sooner. Friends didn’t understand, and I didn’t want to bother my family with such worries. I just wish women didn’t feel such pressure to be the perfect mum!

If anyone has similar feelings postnatally or even during pregnancy, I would definitely recommend speaking to a professional and possibly opening up to another mum as she may be going through the same thing. Also, don’t compare your baby to others; they are all individual. I used to ask myself, “why can’t Alfie be quiet and calm like that baby?” but now I feel blessed to have such a lively, happy and expressive son.

Yummy date and banana raw cheesecake

Over the Christmas period (yes, I am talking about Christmas) my husband’s brother made this yummy raw cheesecake for us all as his wife is wheat and dairy intolerant. It was ridiculously delicious, so I begged him for the recipe. I actually made it quite a while ago, but have had a craving for it recently, so am going to share it with you.

You will need:

Base:
1 cup oats
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
Cheesecake:
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 cups cashews
1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 1/2 cups dates
2 bananas
1/4 cup agave nectar, although this does make it very sweet!
Water, as needed
1/4 cup cacao powder
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The method is so easy which is why I love it so much!
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For the base, you just put the oats and pitted dates into a food processor and process until smooth.
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Transfer the mixture into a cake tin, pressing firmly so that it covers the base. Leave to harden in the fridge.
Meanwhile, put all the cheesecake ingredients into the processor and blend. Transfer this mixture into the cake tin and leave in the freezer overnight to set.
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See, so easy!

Street harassment in London

I’m really tiring of the harassment that I am experiencing on a near daily basis around the area in which I live. For some reason I thought I may no longer draw male attention to myself now that I am clearly pregnant at over 7 months, but the level has stayed exactly the same. Two weeks ago I had a guy who stumbled out of the Egg Club on York Way in Kings Cross at 1030 in the morning and followed me all the way to Kings Cross.

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Onlookers outside the club could clearly see that he was giving me unwanted attention but nobody stepped in to help-at first he kept pushing into me so that I could not pass and then told me that he was going to follow me. I reported this incident to Egg and then to the police; Egg told me that their security staff would be more vigilant whilst the police said that they would have their staff outside Egg on the following Sunday. Fortunately, when I walked past the next weekend, the club had already closed for the morning.

And it’s not just me…

My neighbours, two girls in their 20s, have also had sexual comments hurled at them outside our flat but have said that if they stand up to the men, they men become aggressive. This has happened to me on numerous occasions, sometimes walking around Islington or on my way to Camden. Girls I work with have told me similar stories; some ignore the man which can make him angry at being ignored, some stand up to him which then makes him aggressive. I never experienced this when I was living in East London or anywhere outside London. What is it about these people that makes them treat women like this? I have actually asked a guy this after he was verbally sexually rude to me, and he just laughed. I asked how he would feel if someone spoke to his mother in the same way, and again he just laughed. Is it to make them feel good? It has never happened when I am walking with my husband, and interestingly, my husband has never ever experienced this harassment for men or women.

It has got to the point where I expect to be harassed-I have never felt comfortable walking on my own around this area and I doubt I ever will, and am considering moving to another area, especially with a baby on the way. I just can’t believe that people still think that this is okay.

Hypnobirthing (Natal Hypnotherapy)

Now in my 7th month of pregnancy, I have become more and more anxious about the impending birth. Random questions such as ‘will I die during childbirth?’ (pretty ridiculous) and ‘what if I just can’t push it out?’ have been ever more present in my mind. Friends of ours who have a one year old recommended we try Natal Hypnotherapy, a version of hypnobirthing devised by Maggie Howell.

I’m pretty open to trying hypnotherapy, although I’ve tried it a couple of times to treat anxiety and I didn’t feel any different after! I think that I had been trying too hard to relax maybe. Meditation and deep breathing has always helped me to relax before, so hypnobirthing sounded great. I was pretty desperate to try anything to help me calm down!

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Example of an affirmation for use during labour

Ruth Sabrosa was recommended to us, a lady who originally used the technique during the birth of her daughter and then later trained as a practitioner. We booked The Natural Pain Relief workshop which was held in Ruth’s home in Muswell Hill. There were two other couples there so it was a nice quiet environment. We were asked to speak about our fears-we all had quite common worries, mainly surrounding pain! The day consisted of three hypnobirthing sessions, with us lying on the floor and Ruth talking us through the relaxation. I really found these sessions beneficial, and some of the things that she was saying did help to allay my fears. The only thing that I wasn’t so keen on was the group work. This was a bit like being back at school where we had to draw diagrams and present back to the class. Others may find this useful, though.

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Relaxing before a hypnobirthing session

My husband and I have since been listening to the relaxation downloads and practicing the other techniques to relax, and both look forward to these times. I am definitely less scared of the birthing process. I did have the feeling that the course promotes natural birth, and felt a little that we were being told that medical intervention is bad, although this was not said outright. I have an open mind, though, and should I end up needing pain relief, I will not feel bad for asking for it!

Ruth is such a warm person and I would recommend anyone who is fearful of labour to attend her classes. She is very open to any questions and gives great advice. I also believe that the techniques that we learned can be used in everyday life to alleviate anxiety.

New Café in Camden

IMG_1593After trying a Match Latte from Frame at Kings Cross, I’ve become a little obsessed with them, but have found it hard to find anywhere else near me that serves them. A few times I have driven past Oatmilk near Camden Road overground and have been intrigued by all the random guitars in the window! We decided to go whilst on our lunch break from an NCT workshop, and I was so happy that they actually serve matcha latté with almond milk. And cinnamon!

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We sat in and ate a feta cheese and vegetable wrap which my husband loved, and a mozzarella and pesto toasted sandwich which I wasn’t so keen on as the bread was so hard. My latté was great though, and the staff and atmosphere so friendly that I would definitely go back there for drinks. I think that the cafe serves mainly vegan food, but they do offer cow’s milk for coffees so it’s not totally exclusive. They were playing hip hop in the background and selling all kinds of guitars on the walls so it’s safe to say that the theme of the cafe seemed to be music based-worktop by the cash desk was made of a sound system which was pretty novel.

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Nice crepe but hard toastie

I would definitely recommend this little cafe for someone who wants somewhere non-touristy away from the centre of Camden and all it’s hordes.

Best brunch ever?

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Eton Mess

Birthday surprise!

My lovely husband surprised me with a brunch at the iconic Landmark Hotel on  Marylebone Road. I’d heard about the famous Champagne Sunday Brunch and as my favourite meal of any day is breakfast (with eggs, sausages, bacon-basically as much food as possible) I’d mentioned last year that I’d like to go. Held in the hotel’s Winter Garden which is a huge atrium filled with natural light thanks to the glass panelled ceiling, the brunch runs from 1230pm until 3pm and costs £90 per person. This includes unlimited champagne, soft drinks and tea and coffee, as well as a hot breakfast, pancakes, salad, soup, a Sunday roast and a wealth of desserts-phew! I’m sure I’ve missed something out as there was so much choice when we went last weekend.

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Sunday Roast

The place was pretty much full and it turned out that lots of us were celebrating our birthday, owing to the fact that the staff brought out Happy Birthday cupcakes for us at the end of our meal which was a nice touch! I was way too full to eat it though.

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Food was constantly replenished and tasted so fresh. My favourites were the poached eggs, roast beef and chicken, and finally the bread and butter pudding with custard, of which I had two helpings followed by a delicious Eton Mess!

 

 

 

My husband loved the sausages as well as his roast potatoes, sushi and mini creme brulées-quite a mixture.

 

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Just one part of the dessert station

 

Although pricey, the quality of the food was perfect-every single thing I ate was the best of it’s kind I’d eaten. Staff were attentive if a little stand-offish, but this didn’t detract from the superb food and atmosphere. There was a nice mixture of customers. Although we were some of the youngest there, there were young families, tourists, and a few couples in their early thirties. This meant that it wasn’t too stuffy, which I had expected owing to the central location and price of the brunch.I would definitely recommend this lovely brunch for a special occasion.