Nicola Peters, The New Yoga Teacher On The Block

4 October 2017

I've known Nicola for many years when we used to work at the same fashion brand. In fact, this lovely lady was one of the very first featured on the blog back in 2011. This will be her third time featured, but this time for a very different reason. Since the days of stalking fashionistas on the street the blog has grown in a different direction and taken the road of  all things mindful. Similar to my blog, Nicola has taken the same road and has just qualified as a fully fledged professional yogi! I caught up with her to find out what it's actually like to be a new teacher and what the teacher training was like. If you're anything like me and have been thinking about taking the course you will find this interview with Nicola particularly interesting!


How did you get into yoga and do you remember your first class? 

Classic story - I was starting my own company and super stressed to the point I became ill, a friend introduced me to yoga and I was hooked immediately! At first some of the classes were too spiritual for me and the place I was in at the time, so Power Yoga was my go to, now I love all types - the more spiritual the better ;-) One of my first classes that I remember was a 75 min Power Yoga class, the pace was so strong I remember at the end I sat up said out loud "what the f*ck was that?!" haha



Why did you decide to do your teacher training and would you recommend it to anyone thinking about it? 

I believe that the universe leaves you little signs, coincidences and other types of signposts if you choose to follow them. There was a lot happening that made my path keep crossing with the Frame Academy course at the start of this year and I just felt it was something that I was being guided to do - turns out it was exactly where I needed to be. I can't recommend training to become a yoga teacher enough, whether you are interested in becoming a teacher or not the learnings and self growth along the way are experiences that money or jobs could never buy, cliche but it is life changing. 



How has it been since graduating as a teacher? What are you working on now? 

Awesome. Crazy. Scary. I have been fortunate enough to have great yogis, friends and teachers around me from the start so it's been nothing but fun and love so far! I joined Sunday School Yoga straight away and have benefitted from the outstanding community and support that Michael James Wong has created. Working on a couple of projects to bring my past experiences in the tech world to yoga and mindfulness at the moment.


Where do you sweat, breathe and eat in London? 

Sweat at Frame, Breath at Mudra Stoke Newington, Eat at Morito Hackney.




Five items you cant live without? 

Sad but true - my iphone, iphone battery case, meditation app Headspace, sunglasses, concealer.


Follow this lovely lady on her yogic journey here.

In Love With Wanderlust

25 September 2017

On Saturday London was graced with the arrival of the first ever Wanderlust festival, a renowned mindfulness event comprising of a 5k run, yoga and mediation. My regular followers may have seen that my latest interview was with the wonderful Julie Montagu, who was the main headline act at the festival, directing over 400 yogi's in the middle of Victoria Park.  Julie was accompanied on stage by other much loved yogi's including Celest Pereira, Jaime Tully, and Mono-Lisa Godfrey. Following a fabulous 90 minutes of yoga, the mediation started with the wellness warrior himself; Michael James Wong



Even if you're not yogi and are more of a runner you can just go for the 5K run and then just dive into the delicious food at the festival, the likes of Bel Air  with delicious Ozone coffee and mouth watering salads to healthy beans, avo and brown rice with a Mexican flare at other food stalls.





Following the main events the afternoon was packed full of every type yoga from Aerial, Acro to Dharma Wheel yoga. 





Wanderlust will be back next year and watch this space because I will be interviewing the guys behind Wanderlust GB soon on the blog... so stay tuned!


Julie Montagu, The Flexie Foodie and Wanderlust Headliner

14 September 2017

I don't normally get butterflies before a shoot but on this occasion i did, that's because Julie Montagu, aka The Flexie Foodie is probably one of London's top yoga teachers. Her classes at Triyoga sell out in seconds with her Sunday night class attracting over 80 people! Now onto the shoot, not only was it pure undiluted fun, it was amazing to meet someone who has really embraced wellbeing and healthy living, with four children she has written 3 healthy foodie books; Superfoods, Eat Real Food and Superfoods, Superfast, which are a must for every kitchen dresser! She also has her own wellness membership site (http://truly-julie.com/), her own column called ‘Small moments of Self-Care’ in the Grazia magazine and is a regular contributor for Mind Body Green. If you're looking for you modern day Wonder Woman you've found her right here!

I caught up with Julie to discuss her latest on being the headline act at Wanderlust Festival, a festival celebrating and supporting mindful movement, featuring a triathlon with a difference. Three intentional activities: a 5K* run, an outdoor yoga flow class (taught by none other than the lovely Julie), and a guided meditation. What more could you ask for!

Here's my very fun shoot and interview with London's very own Yoga Guru!!!


Can you remember the very first time you practiced yoga and how has it changed your life? 

After my fourth was born, I was in an exhausted state and a friend took me to a vinyasa flow class and while in savasana, I cried. But these were good tears as I was just able to release a lot of the stress that comes with being a mother of 4! So, I vowed from that day onwards to commit to yoga.



The popularity of yoga has grown significantly in the past 5 years, how do you think festivals like Wanderlust have helped? 

Wanderlust IS yoga. And by creating a space where thousands of like-minded people can come together and radiate their positive to energy to the person on the mat next to them and to the world, it’s pretty wonderful. 


Where do you sweat, eat and breathe in London? 

Simply all at Triyoga - it’s my home away from home.
  

How are you collaborating with the festival? 

I’m actually going to be headlining with Celeste Peirera on the main stage! So we will be teaching yoga to thousands which rather daunting by very exciting!


Five items you can't live without? 

My 4 kids and husband (but I’ll count that as 1), yoga, my bike, Chlorella and my Uniqlo light down jacket


To watch Julie in action go to wanderlust.com for tickets!



Yoga, Wine and Pizza

4 September 2017

Anyone who follows me on instagram would have noticed my endless posts of the beautiful Italian countryside and the odd yoga mat or two, that's because I have just returned from my first ever yoga retreat. Yoga twice a day, inversion workshops and lots of delicious pizza, healthy food and wine, all hosted by London's coolest yogi; Jaime Tully, this was possibly one of the best holidays I've had!

I've been hooked on Jaime's teaching style ever since I interviewed her in February about her journey into yoga, click here to read the interview. This was Jaime's first retreat, which sold out pretty quickly, her next in Sri Lanka is also going the same way!

Jake Wood. Founder and Designer, So We Flow

21 August 2017

These days it's hard to miss the amount of women's boutique fitness and yoga brands popping up all over the place, which of course is fabulous for me, but for all the male yogis out there isn't great. There are a few male only brands starting out but the market is still relatively untapped, and that is where my latest talent comes in. Jake Wood has just launched So We Flow, a men's only yoga wear brand, specialising in easy to wear gorgeous fabrics and silhouettes perfect for yoga and lounging!

I caught up with Jake to find out more about the brand and what's in store!


How did you first come across yoga and get into it?

Whilst living in Taghazout, Morocco, I met a lovely duo - one part yoga teacher, the other accomplished chef. They required some branding (my official trade if I had to name one) to turn this combo of proficiencies into a business. We traded a brand identity for 6 months of daily yoga. The setting: a rooftop at sunset - following a day of surfing and preluding a freshly caught fish BBQ - it was the perfect introduction.



How did you get the idea to start up your own yoga clothing brand?

There were a number of reasons. Firstly, nothing was quite working for me or those around me. I was wearing women's sweatpants; others were wearing old gym rags, bohemian mashups, or technical sportswear. There appeared to be nothing suitable for the everyday man. I wanted to create something that was principally designed for movement, distinctively stylish, yet understated enough to embrace any man’s individual style. Not all men feel comfortable in sportswear. Even less would wear it outside of class. I based so we flow… on British workwear. The way a work shirt is constructed to allow movement in a factory resembles the way a compression vest is optimised for peak performance in the gym. This culminated in something that works equally well on the street as it does on the mat.

Secondly, yoga has had a profound effect on my life and the lives of those around me. At the root of everything is my genuine ambition for more men to do yoga. I’m under no illusion that so we flow… is a business, but if so we flow… can make yoga more accessible, more enjoyable, more authentic for men - it is a success in my eyes.


Describe a day in the life of Jake?!

The build up to launch hasn’t exactly been a great representation of how I generally spend my days - it’s been hard work! So I’ll give you the picturesque version…

I’ve freelanced all my life so I frequently spend time in different places. However, a few elements of my day are steady. Unsurprisingly, I generally have yoga for breakfast. This could be anything from 30 minutes relaxation to a 90 minute sequence, depending on how I’m feeling. I work best in the morning so this is the time where I enjoy knuckling down with a coffee and getting things done. Post lunch it’s time for activities. Depending on where I am in the world, this could be a yoga class, swim, a stroll, climbing, exploration or if I’m in an urban location, something akin to gymnastics. There may be more work slotted in here if needs must… I love to cook (and eat), so I’ll usually put something proper together for dinner. I’m also partial to a tipple - whether a fine red wine or a pint in a Yorkshire pub. In and amongst all of that I read savagely and spend a rather large proportion of time wandering around…


What's your favourite yoga position and where do you practice?

At the moment Baddha Konasana is the place to be. I’ve recently been taught it as a Yin posture where you basically just flop over and let go. It can take you to crazy places. I recently moved back to Yorkshire in order to start so we flow…. As classes are much more affordable here it’s been a great opportunity to explore all kinds of practice. I’m currently taught by Dave Kane (facebook.com/davekaneyoga/) in Ashtanga style, Claire Wilkinson in Iyengar, Catherine Hope (facebook.com/YogaEarthCatherineEastwood/) in Hatha and also do some classes at a beautiful studio come bar called Om is Where the Heart is (omiswheretheheartis.co.uk). I often feel like I’m spreading myself thin and I think I would perhaps benefit from a focus on one style for a length of time.


What advice would you give to anyone starting their own brand?

Entrepreneurship is paraded as an idyllic situation. There is a literature culture which says ‘follow these simple steps to success’. But there are too many variables. Perhaps the only constant is working like a bitch. It is certainly far removed from yoga. You end up taking the role of accountant, labourer, designer, web developer, lawyer, retailer, delivery driver to name a few… There’s the negatives. What outshines all of this is being able to make something you love ‘work’, the journey and the extraordinary experiences you have, and ultimately being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Everyday’s a holiday.


Five items you can't live without?

My kindle is genuinely the only thing. I’m stretching the definition of ‘items’ but apples, the sea, hot beverages, my guitar and wine.


Ida May, Movement Director, Dancer, and Yogi

14 August 2017

I first came across Ida May about 2 years ago in a boxing class she was teaching in East London, her energy bounced off every punch bag and wall in the place, a year later on I went to one of her yoga classes at Ethos in Shoreditch, another fabulous class!! Then she came into my life again more recently when I interviewed Lindsay from My Yoga Agency and we spoke about Ida's shoot with Sundays London, after this I thought I have to get this lady on the blog!!

Ida started out as a dancer and actress, then found her way into yoga, becoming a natural at it with her existing range of movement. She has since worked for the likes of Hunger Magazine, Adidas, Charlie Cohan, Vauxhall and teaches at boutique studios such as Ethos and Blok.

I caught up with her on the back streets of a favourite area of mine; Shoreditch for what would be one of my favourite shoots, damn this girl can move!!




How did you get into yoga and what inspired you to become a teacher?

Did my first yoga class in Finland more than 10 years ago. It complemented my dance training so well that kept going finding new strengths and lengths in me. Moved to London, didn't stop and took my training further and trained to be a teacher! I kept exploring teaching and have taken influences from my dance back ground as well as from all my other fitness training I've done, always fusing and exploring new places and spaces in my flow.


Recently you've worked with the likes of Sunday's London and My Yoga Agency for yoga modelling, do you think more and more brands will be looking to yoga to showcase their products in this way?

I've worked as a dancer and model for the past ten years and can definitely say fitness and yoga is more and more popular in the commercial field and more and more brands both in fashion and commercial are fusing in elements from health and wellness industry. The world is about feeling and looking good at the moment, inside and out. And that's what yoga represents too..


Am I right in thinking you also run retreats? What do you love about this form of holiday and where's your next?

Yes, I've been running retreats around the world. Next one in Sweden. A little unique long weekend get away into the wild nature. Before I'll be in Sweden teaching and am taking some time off and going on a retreat myself in Portugal. Surf, Yoga, good food, sun, fun and my best friend; perfect combo! I like retreats that are more like little escapes, retreats that have a little more to offer than just yoga practise on the beach... I want to explore the culture, find some secret gems the world offers... I really am not a fan of a typical one week all inclusive touristic holiday resorts, I prefer finding something more authentic than just a pool by the sea... nothing wrong with that though, but you know what I mean. Obunjan is a great new retreat kinda place that combines music and health and wellness and also you can choose and book the dates that suit you.. easier that way when you not too stuck with dates.


Where do you sweat, eat and chill in London?

East London. I live in east and like to stay local when it comes to sweating eating and chilling. Shoreditch House, Cream Shoreditch, Legs, L'atelier & All Press. I reckon I have long black and eggs & solders w/ avocado from All Press 5 times a week sometimes hahah. Where I get my coffee and food are the places and routines that stay the same in my life. Everything else seem to change daily. My other work: acting, dancing, movement direction always takes me a little further that just streets of East London.. even abroad - which I absolutely love.


Describe your typical day?

Early sessions at the gym or doing a class of some sort. Personal training clients & classes in the morning and afternoon and then off to castings. Evenings I've spent doing courses in acting, studying advanced film camera and theatre, or having a drink and chilling partying with friends in various different events, opening and launches around London or just going to cinema. When on a shoot, I'll be on a shoot all day.. or all week! I've just got back from 2 week commercial shoot from Turkey. Then my day consisted of gym, breakfast, rehearsals / shoot.. Last two days I've spent in Rankin Studios working on movement direction for Hunger Magazine with an awesome team of creatives. Today's been more standard: gym, client, casting and now catch up with a friend going to see the unsigned talent in Soho. Wednesday I'll be shooting something rather very exciting for Adidas... Thursday am off to Portugal! So guess every day is different :)) !! Just how I love it.


What five items can you not live without?

My Black Tokyo bike. Long Blacks (Coffee & HER coldbrew). Contact lenses. iPhone. BOSE noise cancelling headphones.




Angus Ford-Roberston. Founder, Battersea Yoga

8 August 2017

Close to the beautiful green expanse of Battersea Park is a little studio tucked away down a lane. With glowing lights shining from within, and at first impressions looks like a hut, is one of London's hidden treasures of a yoga studio. That studio was founded by the legendary Angus Ford-Robertson and my latest 'story' !

Angus founded the studio 18 years ago and has grown it from a small studio with a handful of clients per week to over 3000 per month. I caught up with Angus to find out more about his wonderful journey into yoga..




Most important question...How did you first get into yoga?!!


My journey into Yoga was rather dramatic! For much of my young adult life I was stressed, anxious and frequently depressed. I had a glamourous magazine career that was supposed to be a dream job - and for a while it was. But by the end of my twenties I was desperate to find a life that had more meaning for me. One day, I quit my career, ended my relationship and, on a heart impulse, decided to attend a Yoga Teacher Training course at a Sivananda ashram in Canada. It was insane, exciting and super challenging. I had the time of my life - and my world was changed forever.




I gather you were a student of the legendary Eckhart Tolle, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to bring mindfulness into their lives? 

Yes, I did attend retreats with Eckhart Tolle and he has had a huge impact on my teaching. But I spent much more time with one Eckhart’s teachers - a Buddhist monk called Ajahn Sumedho at Amaravati Monastery in the UK. Ajahn Sumedho is a living legend in the global mindfulness field and I would recommend his teachings to any serious spiritual seeker.




In my opinion making a living out of your hobby or love is very challenging, how did Battersea yoga come together and what has been the greatest and most challenging aspect about it? 

Life is challenging, whatever you do - so you might as well follow your heart and do what you love, right?

Battersea Yoga has been a labour of love from day one - the last 18 years of teaching have been hard work - but super rewarding. It has grown from a handful of students per week to just over 3000 student visits per month. I have taught all over the world, met incredible people and learnt so much about love, life, family and business. Running a busy Yoga studio is not for everyone, and I do grumble about the hours sometimes! But I wouldn’t want to do anything else.



Where do you sweat and eat in London? 

I mostly sweat at Battersea Yoga (obviously) - but I also love swimming, cycling and walking locally as much as possible. Battersea Park is my second home.

As for food - that’s a tricky one...

Favourite London restaurant is Andrew Edmunds in Soho. Favourite restaurant 'out of town' is the Sir Charles Napier in Chinnor, Oxfordshire (its incredible)

Mostly my four kids just take me to Byron Burger!




How has the yoga scene developed in London since you started? 

The Yoga scene in London has changed in two ways - there are far more studios and the ‘specialisation' is increasing (hot yoga, boxing yoga, dog yoga…!). 

While there is a lot of ‘gym yoga’ I still know that what yoga students ultimately seek is authentic quality yoga - that offers much more than just a physical workout. And Battersea Yoga was built on that premise; community, friendship and spiritual wellbeing.



Five items you can't live without?

Easy: iPhone 6, Ducati 1200 Multistrada, dark green juices from Wholefoods, my four beans (kids) and an endless supply of hugs.





Lindsay Jessup. Founder, My Yoga Agency

21 July 2017

One question: How many yogi’s on instagram do you follow based on how inspirational their poses are and how good they look when doing them? My answer would be 40% of who I follow consist of the above! The human body is beautiful form and yoga is the perfect practice to show it in it’s full glory, therefore, when I came across my latest interviewee I couldn’t believe that someone hadn’t come up with the idea before. Lindsay Jessup recently started up her own modelling agency all based around, yes you guessed it, yoga!!
After working in the advertising industry as a digital producer and having started My Yoga London, a guide to yoga teachers and studios, Lindsay found a gap in the market when more and more companies were looking to her to source yoga professionals for shoots, and voila, My Yoga Agency was born. The agency has worked with the likes of fashion brands to cast top tier yogi’s instead of the standard models in their campaigns, one of my favourite’s is the luxury loungewear brand, Sundays London, and their work with Ida May.

I caught up with Lindsay for a chat on the backstreets of Westminster and took her to one of my favourite streets for a little light yoga posing and a giggle at the expressions of passing tourists!


What's your career background and how did you come up with the idea to start a yoga modelling agency?

I've been working in the advertising industry as a digital producer for over 10 years. And recently working at an agency for Nike across the various sports categories. After doing a number of shoots, and working with talent agencies to find specific talent, it occurred to me that - the day we started to get briefs that required yogis - no talent management specifically for yoga existed. I had built up my own network of yoga teachers and studios across London from my other site My Yoga London (a city guide of yoga teachers & studios), and so was the only person that could really help, and who had a large enough network of yoga teachers to contact.
With my experience as a producer, having worked on multiple fitness shoots, and my existing yoga network across London...I realised I could create one.

(Image source: MYA)


Describe your day?

I wake up around 7am. Make a green tea / sometimes lemon and water / sometimes a fresh coffee, and read the news on my phone. I post in the morning on the days that I do, so I'd arrange those and set them live. A few times a week I will go to a yoga class in the morning rather than the evening, so will head down to Triyoga Soho for an early morning class.
Generally back at my desk at home for 9.30 to set upon emails for the morning. Meetings through out the day at local coffee shops. If I have a shoot that day we will meet at location, sometimes a studio, sometimes somewhere random. I try to have at least 10 mins a day being active on Instagram, but this is generally something that falls to the bottom of the priority list.
I wrap up around 6.30pm, & make dinner with my boyfriend. The evening is a mix of catching a film in Covent Garden - I have an annual cinema pass so we go a lot - or reading something that I am in the middle of. I've loved strolling around in the evenings so post dinner, if the weather is nice, we will have a walk around the backstreets of Soho.


The yoga industry in the UK is growing by the day, how do you think it will evolve in the next few years?

It's come along way since day one when I started my city guide site - My Yoga London. The main reason for starting that was noticing the growing choice of popup yoga studios / classes in my then home borough of Hackney. I couldn't keep up so I started to document them. And equally loved the choice I was seeing.
We still have a long way to go if we compared ourselves to the US and Australia, they are miles ahead. But with so many people finding new yoga styles & inspirations during their travels, & simply the ability of sharing on social media, its making the yoga world feel smaller. I'm hoping yoga will evolve into an affordable option for a lot more people. It's expensive in London and it shouldn't be (I know that's mainly driven by rents etc, not teachers).
I'd love the day Yoga For The People made it across the water and set themselves up in London. We need more community led yoga, to encourage more people to make it part of their lives. Hopefully we are a step closer now that its made it onto the NHS. We'll see.
Likewise, I feel encouraged by Supply Yoga who are a social enterprise in East London. They use their profits from classes to fund free yoga for community support service users. That's love hey.

(Image source: MYA)


How did you get into practicing yoga?

I remember my very first yoga class, around about 12 years ago. I was taken by a friend at university @emilyandruby to a class in Oxford. She encouraged me to try it so I did. I hadn't done it before, I remember laughing at the back a little, a bit displaced but also engrossed. I left feeling like I was walking on a cloud. I don't think I had ever felt that way before, and at that point in my life, with university and dissertation stresses; it was perfect.


Where do you sweat, eat and shop in London?

I regularly yoga at Triyoga throughout the week. My cardio & core work is generally a mix up depending on what the week is. I'll sometimes go for a run around St James Park with my boyfriend, with an impromptu HIIT session. I use classes and the gym at Shoreditch House for general cardio & core work too, or my front room for a Kayla.
My favourite places to eat nearby are Kiln, Hoppers & Mildred's. I'm on a hunt for terraces at the moment for Aperol's too.

Shopping wise, its generally Carnaby Street & the back streets nearby. I've recently found a couple of hidden vintage shops amongst them too which I'm obsessed with. Soho is a treasure trove, new places pop up and down often so there is always something new to find.


Five items you can't live without?

My tangle teaser, green tea leaves, The Week, my camera & my passport.

(Image source: MYA)
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