Once, this was the time of year when the press releases promising to help readers get bikini or beach ready would start landing in my inbox. It was also the time of year when my entire exercise ‘regime’ was likely to revolve around some pre-holiday crunches. Happily, this year, those beach-body-related emails have been nowhere to be seen and I’m really grateful to have an approach to exercise that no longer starts and finishes with your abs (although I do still harbour a vague sense of affection for old-school crunches).
These days, it feels like the focus has shifted away from brands urging us to drop a dress size for summer, selling us the dream that if we could just reach a certain size, or weight, or level of definition or waist measurement, then maybe at the end of all the dieting and exercise and never feeling quite good enough, we’d ultimately reach some magic number at which some weird kind of earned happiness would kick in. Instead, there’s a focus on activities that make us feel stronger, healthier and happier in the moment.
Personally, I’ve found that a few of the clichés about yoga and Pilates apply to me: I’ve been able to appreciate my body more for what it can do, and to generally be kinder to myself, gaining mental as well as physical benefits from my time on the mat. And I think I’m better at enjoying the journey these days, rather than just attempting to crunch my way to ‘abs of steel’ in some last-minute pre-holiday countdown.
None of which means that I’ve dismissed setting traditional fitness goals – like having a healthy target weight or building muscle mass or tone or flexibility. Because frankly I think that feeling fitter, or healthier, or more toned, is great, and I love seeing my friends hit their fitness goals. I’m just really grateful that in 2019 it feels like the emphasis isn’t just on the end result – it’s about how you get there – and at the risk of sounding sentimental, I’m pretty sure that if your fitness journey can be fuelled by loving yourself, rather than hating yourself, it’ll end up doing you more good in every sense.
So if you’re interested in getting a little more yoga into your life this summer, here are my suggestions…
Yin Yan Yoga’s Rooftop Classes
I’ve mentioned Yin Yan Yoga’s rooftop yoga classes in some of my previous posts, because there’s something really special about flowing through your yoga poses as the sun sets over the city, or as sunlight dapples your yoga mat during Saturday morning classes. Also, as you lie on your mat at the end of your class, gazing up at beautiful blue skies feels better than looking at even the most attractive ceiling!
At 5.45pm on Wednesdays, Emma Davidson teaches an hour-long rooftop yoga class during which you’ll flow through a variety of postures. I love Emma’s teaching style and if you’re interested in gently building flexibility and strength, with a lovely wind-down towards the end of the session, I’d highly recommend trying this, or any of Emma’s classes. You’ll somehow leave feeling like you’ve worked hard, looked after your body, gained strength and flexibility and also unwound all at once, which is my kind of multi-tasking!
Alternatively, at 10.30am on Saturdays, Donna Unwin teaches a brilliant Hatha yoga class in the roof garden. I’m also a big fan of Donna’s teaching style – with her background as a dancer and infectious energy levels, Donna’s brilliant at helping everyone in her classes to stretch themselves a little (in both senses of the word). Donna’s energy is likely to power you through to push yourself that bit harder than you would on your mat at home and you’ll leave feeling great for it.
You’ll find more rooftop yoga classes on the Yin Yan Yoga website (these just happen to be two of my personal favourites) as well as plenty of indoor classes, including Rosanna Gordon’s fantastic Friday lunchtime sessions, to choose from. Class price: £5 (plus £1 mat hire).
It’s been a while since I made it to a Cosmic Yoga class, but if you’re based near Aigburth, I’d highly recommend attending one. Lozza’s a natural teacher whose knowledge of and fascination with the practice of yoga will draw you in. I was reading a book recently which posed the question: When did you last feel joy, and one of the times that made my list was looking at the Liverpool skyline after a beautiful Cosmic Yoga class. Instagram: @cosmic.yoga
Yoga Hub Liverpool
Founded by Stu Alexander, Yoga Hub offers a great mix of hot and warm classes at different levels and a ‘relax and restore by candlelight’ class on a Friday evening, and after a long week, who doesn’t need a bit of that!
Yoga-nation was the city’s first hot yoga studio (and the first yoga studio I ever attended, where I instantly fell in love with Jane Grogan’s brilliant classes). These days, Yoga-nation’s still going strong with a nice broad timetable which includes children’s classes, meditation and spin as well as a mix of yoga and Pilates classes.
Liverpool Yoga Studios
You’ll find some great teachers at Liverpool Yoga Studio and a number of different styles of yoga, which is useful if you’re feeling ready to shake up your yoga practice a little.
White Wolf Yoga
This is a lovely looking city centre studio (where you’re likely to find yourself admiring the architecture and interior design during your class!) White Wolf Yoga has a simple, pared down schedule of classes at popular times and a convenient city centre location.
And if you’ve read this far and you’re still not convinced (sobs) here’s a thing I wrote about Pilates.