When I tried... Fierce Grace


This week I took myself off to Old Street to try Fierce Grace yoga. Now, I’ve tried hot yoga before several years ago and, to be honest, I wasn’t a massive fan so I’m not sure what exactly drew me back. But, I can only assume that the dark, cold January weather might have had something to do with it.

Fierce Grace was one of the first to bring Bikram yoga to the UK and remains one of the top spots in London to take a class. Their website tells us that the classes are ‘based on classical Hatha yoga, Bikram and Ashtanga yoga, and sequenced in ways that adhere to ancient yogic principles as well as the latest cutting-edge research on attaining optimum results in the minimum amount of time.’ I’m instantly drawn to the body positive models they’ve chosen - a totally refreshing change from other typically yogi images on other sites. They pride themselves on creating an atmosphere where you can just come and be yourself. Just check out their manifesto (below)… it fucking rocks. I was excited to check it out.

Fierce Grace has 6 different offerings, but I went for their all ability general class of the same name.  I drank my recommended 1.5 litres of water and didn’t eat in the 2 hours before class. I arrived 20 minutes before class and went down into the cosy feeling basement studio. I was greeted warmly, hired two towels (take your own if you’re more prepared than I was) and got changed for class. The one negative thing I would say about the studio is that the changing room is way too small considering how large the classes are. There’s really no space for modesty - not that I believe you should be modest in getting changed but speaking as an ex-body conscious individual, for those not willing to just drop your towel for the communal showers, this might be a bit intimidating.

In the studio I found a space at the back but in the middle, so I could be sure to see the teacher easily in as inconspicuous a spot as possible. They say that the hardest thing about starting hot yoga is getting used to the heat and you should sit down whenever you need to, but I’m a real sun bunny, I hate the cold and my memory told me that the last time I did the 90 minute class I had coped pretty well. The room filled up and our teacher Dan introduced the class. A handful of newbies like me who identified themselves and then the class began. Dan’s style was warm and his instructions were, lucky for me, very clear. Unlike other hot yoga classes, this one is to music which I liked.

The class has flow but the pace is nice and measured. We moved through the first phase and so far so good… I was coping with the heat well. The class was made up of people of all shapes, sizes and abilities. I looked on in awe at the women in front of me bending into the advanced poses. But I didn’t feel out of place as a beginner. And to be honest, I’m 100% sure that no one cares what you look like. Let’s get one things straight  - this is not the class for the sweat phobic. You.get.sweaty! I mean, reeeeeal sweaty! But I quite liked it.  It feels therapeutic but 90 minutes also feels like a hefty chunk of time.

By the time we got to the standing sequence I started to feel the heat - not in a panicky way - but at one point I got spots in front of my eyes and thought that I might faint. It ran through my thoughts that I’d never fainted before and I really didn’t want the first time to be dripping in sweat in a space where I could easily topple over several others and stop the class. (If I’m going to faint I want it to be while wearing a fabulous outfit fyi). The simplest moves seemed to make me dizzy - a mini baby back bend became my nemesis so I knelt for a little bit and joined back in once the blood had worked out where it was meant to be in my body.

It was hard. It wasn’t always physically hard - although some poses were beyond my level. It was mentally challenging to push yourself in the heat. But even though I can liken it to a mental marathon at times, I found I was enjoying myself. There’s enough water breaks and rests between poses to not feel stressed to keep up. You’re only in the race with yourself.

I did make one error though. Towards the end of the class I realised that I could see the reflection of the clock in the mirror… ‘DO NOT LOOK AT CLOCK!’ I told myself. 20 minutes left. It felt like no time but also so much time!

The last section was focused on core work - and I felt the lack of exercise I’ve done over Christmas! But by now, I knew the end was in sight and pushed myself a little harder.

When the heater began to blow out cooler air it felt like heaven. I made it.

Normally the last pose of a yoga class is my favourite. It’s called corpse pose or Savasana and you simply lie there on your back and surrender to the mat. You can bask in the feeling of pure relaxation having completed the class. But when we got to it I tried to lay there for a minute before succumbing to the pull of fresh air.

I left the studio red faced, sweatier than I’ve been in a very long time - but feeling looser, more relaxed and happy. The next day my body was telling me that I’d had a decent workout. My shoulders in particular ached a lot.

I’m not sure I could do hot yoga 3 times a week as recommended, although I’m sure you would get used to the heat and improve super quickly. The 90 minute class plus the additional time to get there beforehand and get showered afterwards means that it’s not something you can just ‘pop’ to. But I’d say I’m converted! I would 100% return to Fierce Grace and I’m already planning to try some of their other classes that combine more core and even cardio(!).

Verdict: If you like a challenge, enjoy getting your sweat on and like inclusive friendly classes then check out Fierce Grace! 5 stars.

Copyright: Fierce Grace