Many of you local Mums will already know Shani, Founder of Fit Birds and possibly the most “alive” person I’ve ever met. She’s a human energy ball, literally radiating good health and happiness. If you haven’t been to one of her brilliant classes in Sydenham and Crystal Palace yet, check them out, they’re very friendly and there are always some amazing tunes to get your sweat on to. Shani has very kindly written the guest post below, with her personal top tips for feeling alive.
Through a combination of nurturing daily rituals and fun new experiences you can vastly improve how you feel. Start by introducing just one of these tips this week and notice how that experience shifts your mood, thoughts & energy!
1. Daily Meditation
My first proper meditation experience was 6 years ago in an ashram in India. I committed to 10 days following a pretty strict daily routine which began at 6am with a 90 min meditation and finished at 8pm with a 2 hour meditation. I remember hating most of each minute of the meditation – the constant aches in my body, the overload of thoughts, not to mention being slightly creeped out by the chanting! TBH I couldn’t wait to get out of the ashram to continue my travels! I didn’t realise it at the time, but that experience was laying down the foundation of my current meditation practice. The experience I hold close to my heart as it was a new adventure which I dived into solo head first, putting myself completely out of my comfort zone! I now allow myself to open my eyes, to wriggle around or to take notes of clever ideas which pop into my head. I don’t beat myself on mornings where I don’t manage a meditation nor do to pressure myself to meditate for a certain length of time. Any time spent meditating is valuable!
So how to meditate? Simply set up a calm space (candles, incense, chilled tunes) and make yourself comfortable. Take some deep breaths in & out. Close your eyes or keep your gaze on a candle flame. Focus your attention on your breath & think happy thoughts (what are you grateful for today?) Notice when you are thinking about your day ahead, what you’ll have for breakfast or your to-do list, and simply let those thoughts pass as you return to focusing on your breathing. Oh and if you can get yo’ booty outta bed before to meditate with the glorious rising sun – even better! My fave meditation community is Just Breathe, they host monthly gatherings for people who are interested in learning more about meditation in a supportive and interesting environment. Think non-alcoholic cocktails, meaningful conversations and incredible live music performances.
2. Get fresh air & ground yourself
Don’t underestimate the value of connecting yourself to your natural surroundings. My favourite spot to do this is the Horniman Gardens – a solo walk around the gardens, learning while in their medicinal garden, saying hello to the funny llamas & goats and then taking a perch on the hill overlooking the city. Be mindful when outside, leave your phone at home or in the car. Breathe deeply, notice the sun, moon, trees, breeze & light.
3. Open air swimming
Hampstead Heath Ladies Pond is one of London’s best kept secrets, I kinda feel naughty even telling you! I have been many times, I’ve shared a birthday date with a friend (I might have snuck in a bottle of prosecco!), I’ve taken friends visiting London for a different day out in London and I’ve gone solo for some proper me time. The Overground will take you all the way up, then it’s a short, glorious walk through the Heath to a secret garden & fresh water pond. The Ladies Pond is entirely private, secluded and hidden from the rest of the world. Sunbathing topless is the norm (and oh so liberating!) read a book, have quiet conversations with your friend and then take a dip – it’s so refreshing! This is one (summer) experience you won’t forget. The rules: Girls only, no kids, no booze, no smoking, no music. If you haven’t experienced the HLP in your London life, this is my no.1! Women. Nature. Peace. It’s something pretty spesh!
4. Exercise in Mayow Park
Where to start! Mayow Park in Sydenham was and still is Fit Birds’ first home and we haven’t looked back! Mayow Park has some cool gym equipment to pump up your walk in the park. My fave are the bars, to the right of the playground. Even if you’re not in your active-wear, stop & drop! Here is a little workout for you – add it into your jog around the park (I see you doing your laps) or give YOURSELF some love as you are taking the kids on a walk in the park. Ideally you repeat it 3 times if you are really looking to tone up those wobbly arms! When you’ve finished, obviously Brown & Green has the best coffee & post workout fuel – my go to is the Aussie Eggs! Don’t be fooled though, I’m Kiwi through and though!
Low Bar: 10 Tricep dips & 10 push-ups
Medium Bar: 10 hanging chin up jumps (hold the bar, hang low & jump up as high as you can) That’s one, now repeat 9 more!
5. Book a workout/brunch or dinner date with your bestie
For those who know me, they’ll know I’m not one of those super human PT’s who live for the exercise! The struggle is real birds – getting my peach off the sofa to workout can be serious challenge. I’ll often lure a friend into an exercise date with me, whether it be a meditation event, a yoga class or park workout. Working out with a friend makes it fun, maybe a little competitive & you’ll be held accountable (you don’t want to be that flaky friend who bails right?) The reward? QT with your bestie and a delish brunch or dinner together!
6. Go on a solo adventure into the city
Obviously life is better shared with loved ones, but break the mould & go solo! It can be invigorating to go somewhere on your own (with or with baby). Take the tube to Hyde Park & just wander. Go to the V&A or The British Portrait Gallery. Doing something on your own sparks confidence & creativity!
7. Get outta town!
Last Autumn my friends & I took a little roadie to Box Hill, Surrey. They left their kids with the dads, who proceeded to hang at the pub together which we went in search of fresh air and greener pastures! I’ve been to Box Hill a few times and I am never disappointed. Box Hill has some beautiful walks, with cool views which make you go ‘ahhhh’. None of the walks are too challenging – but enough to get your huff and puff on and to feel deserving of the BEST pub feast you’ll have at my fave pub, The Running Horses at the bottom on the hill. The Running Horses is one of those pubs where all the locals go, you’ll feel welcomed from the moment you step inside. Think private booth tables, low ceilings and log fires! Of course if you are completely mad – you can either cycle or run yo’ booty up Box Hill – yip, it’s a thing. The closest I’ve ever got to this is walking up the grass hill and rolling down the hill on a cardboard box! Way more pleasure in this I reckon!
8. Keep creative
I have incredible friends who remind me to keep creative, from learning calligraphy, taking singing or piano lessons or going to pottery classes. We all remember back in our school days when we could draw, paint, play an instrument or play a sport. Then social life, work & family took over & we all lost a little piece of ourselves. Sound familiar? Being creative is a fundamental key to feeling inspired and ALIVE so take a music lesson, an art class, write a journal, take up a dance class, draw a picture or a create vision/mood board.
I will be a forever wanderer and adventurer! I am happiest with my backpack on my back, with no itinerary. The world is full of beautiful places, cultures & people. Plan a holiday somewhere new. Explore, be adventurous. You’ll learn something on the way. Very least you’ll get a good tan! Make sure you have travel to look forward to, knowing we have travel & holidays ahead keeps us ticking! Have you considered taking yourself on a retreat? I’ll be honest – before I hosted my own retreat, I wouldn’t have been interested in going on a ‘group holiday’. After experiencing the amazing powers of a retreat I’ve taken a complete 360 view on this! Retreats offer you a place (in paradise locations!) to truly RELAX. Retreats sloooooow down life, it’s like you are looking down on yourself, a wee opportunity to have a deeper look how you truly are. From meditations with the rising and falling sun, challenging & fun ways to exercise, siestas, delicious meals & wine shared with inspiring conversations (Fit Birds retreats anyhow!) Retreats are a place to step out of your comfort zone & meet some cool people. We return home with a new, fresh approach to living!
10. Be a Fit Bird!
Fit Birds are all about community! We specialise in postnatal exercise – we love your bubs & ensure they are as stimulated as you are throughout our classes. We ensure you are educated on training safely and effectively. Like – do you know what your TVA is? The importance of your TVA, do you know how to engage your TVA? Your Transverse Abdominis is the MOST IMPORTANT ab muscle of all, it’ll ensure your post bub tum is safely strengthened – giving you the best chance at saying goodbye to back pain and saying hello to your flat tummy again. Non-mamas your TVA is as equally important to living an injury free life while showing off those sexy and STRONG abs! Our classes will get you feeling strong, fit, toned, happy & empowered. From Yoga to Boxing classes – we will make you sweat while you laugh. We move, laugh & play in the glorious SE hood, come join our tribe, we’ll get you feeling alive!