What ideas did you dream up during class?

Ever found your inspiration in full flow during class?

We hear from members all the time that they’ve had a moment of clarity, a great idea for a project or even a memory come up from somewhere in the past right in the middle of class. Hot Yoga can be a powerful tool!

Yoga lover and Brixton member, Marianne Hartley had exactly that:

One day whilst practising at Fierce Grace Brixton, she had an idea for a project which would change everything and result in a new book called Universal Heart, featuring heart images submitted from people around the world.

Read more about Marianne’s idea and her book below…


Tell us about yourself.

Hi, I’m Marianne, an anglo/swiss brand designer. I grew up in Switzerland and arrived in London in 1994 thinking I would stay for a year. Yes, you’ve guessed it… 25 years on, I’m still here and loving the vibrancy of the city and its rich cultural mix.

Tell us about your yoga journey – what made you join Fierce Grace Brixton and had you done much yoga before?

I started doing Iyengar yoga in 1996, then explored different forms like Asthanga, Vinyasa and Power Yoga before discovering Bikram Yoga in 2004. I joined the Old Street studio when my dad passed away. Yoga really helped me go through the period of loss and grieving phase.

Nigel was one of my favourite teachers and I loved the Sunday 11am class best. I remember one day during class he announced that his wife was about to give birth to their first child.

It was years until I met Katie through networking events and it was still years on before we realised that I knew her husband! I felt an instant connection with her!

When Fierce Grace Brixton was set up I was keen to join the studio, and I love its fab vibe. It was at the end of one Yoga class that I had an idea:

I had been taken pictures of heart shapes in nature for years. That day, I posted a picture on facebook and a school friend I hadn’t spoken to for years posted 2 pictures in response and said he was seeing hearts everywhere too. I suggested we made a book. That evening after my yoga class, the idea expanded and I thought. ‘Wouldn’t it be great to run a competition and people around the world could submit their pictures and then the best ones could feature in the book.’ 

This is how the Universal Heart project was born!

What’s your favourite part of the yoga and what is the most challenging?

What I love most about yoga is how good my body and mind feel right after a session. I particularly love the deep core class. What I find challenging – still – is that I tend to feel dizzy during classes, especially after coming up from crow.

How has yoga inspired you inside and outside the studio?

Inspiration often comes in moments when we’re not thinking about a specific task and I thank yoga for the Universal Heart competition idea.

Over 40 people participated from 10 different countries and the result is a mini coffee table book with 52 heart images to give a smile to your mind throughout the year.

You can find out more on my website www.hartleyandsoul.com