We chat to Brixton member Kat Berry, who’s begun a 30 Day Challenge for the mental health research charity The McPin Foundation.
There’s much to say about the physical benefits of hot yoga: major players in the field include improved strength, balance and flexibility. But what about the mental benefits? Many doctors suggest patients alleviate symptoms caused by stress and anxiety by taking up yoga and meditation.
“Regular practise encourages me to take care of myself and spending an hour and a half in a hot sweaty room gives me time to focus on myself and forget what is going on in the outside world.”
(Oh and she even moved house to be closer to FGB, now that’s dedication!)
Where did the idea to do hot yoga for 30 days come from?
“I’ve always wanted to do the 30 day challenge but I have always found an excuse not to – either the time commitment or just the fear of knowing how tough it was going to be held me back. It wasn’t until I was lying in a class one day that I had the idea of doing the challenge for charity. I felt if I could do it for a good cause it would give me the motivation to power through the full 30 days. I am looking forward to challenging myself, raising money for mental health research and seeing how 30 days of consecutive yoga affects me.”
How did you get involved in hot yoga?
“A friend encouraged me to try Bikram with her, and I found it really tough for the first class, but afterwards I felt better than I had for ages and I was ready to try it again. Not long after that I tried Fierce Grace and I loved the variety of classes, 3 years on I have never looked back.”
Have you got any tips for people looking to try Hot Yoga?
“Take your time, pace yourself and have a rest if you need one. Yoga is not a race and it is easy to keep comparing yourself with others in the room. I have been practising long enough now to realise where my strengths and weaknesses are, and I am no longer fighting my body but trying to work with it. Progress may be slow but it is always fantastic when you can stand that bit straighter or reach that millimetre further.”
Why did you pick the McPin Foundation as your charity?
“I’ve recently started working for the McPin Foundation, a mental health research charity that puts people with lived experience at the heart of the research process. For me the importance of mental health and wellbeing is all too often overlooked. Having previously worked in research I have always been passionate that research can help to build our understanding of mental health problems and build better wellbeing for everyone. Personally, I have found that practising yoga regularly helps me with my own mental health and dealing with stress. Regular practise encourages me to take care of myself and spending an hour and a half in a hot sweaty room gives me time to focus on myself and forget what is going on in the outside world.”
What do you think will be the biggest challenges you’ll face in your hot yoga marathon?
“I think for me the biggest challenge will be making sure I’m motivated to get up early for those early morning classes before work. I’ve been on yoga retreats in the past and the longest back to back stretch I have done is ten days, which was challenging enough. One of the biggest obstacles is going to be battling through the muscle ache to get myself into that next class!”
What is your favourite class and why?
“My favourite class is Fierce Grace, I find it challenging and invigorating at the same time, but I do hate all those ab crunches sometimes! Fierce Grace2 is always fun to try out new things and tie myself in new knots, Shirley Williams always keeps it fun.”
How have you been finding Fierce Grace Brixton?
“I moved to Camberwell about 2 years ago and I’ve got to admit that having a Fierce Grace studio nearby was quite a big part of my decision to move here. I really love the studio environment – Maria and Tori at reception are always welcoming and after going on the Indian and Spanish retreats I often bump into friends and end up nattering with the teachers after class. It’s great being part of the FG community!”
If you would like to sponsor Kat’s 30 day hot yoga challenge and support lifesaving mental health research please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KatBerry1