Face your fears with flying trapeze

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Face your fears with flying trapeze

I have never been so frightened of doing something in my whole life. Entire body shaking, I slowly make my way up the cold metal ladder.

“I’m really scared! I’m not ready!” I protest, as I shuffle along the tiny platform. I realise just how high up I am when I have to put my feet partially over the ledge.

Up until now, I’ve been fairly confident in this Level 1 class with Gorilla Circus Flying Trapeze School, volunteering myself first to try the trick on a low bar. But that assurance has long gone now that heights are involved.

“Grab the bar with your right hand…and now the left,” says the trainer next to me. I reluctantly obey, still trembling. “Now push your hips forwards,” she says – and I have to trust that she’ll hold on to me.

When the other trainer shouts up to me “READY” – it’s not a question – it’s a command. I bend my knees and prepare to jump off the edge.

The next order is “HUP!” which means jump NOW. I hesitate for a second, and step off the platform, clinging on to the trapeze for dear life as it swings down and up, and then backwards. Meanwhile, I let out a piercing wail of pure terror, which lasts a few oscillations.

I don’t hear the orders the trainers shout at me, even after I stop screaming. All I focus on is my heart racing, my fast breathing, and the daunting sensation of being pulled back and forth, while seeing the cavernous warehouse whiz past. It feels so high.

Eventually I remember I need to do something, so I let go and collapse into the net. The impact is minimal though, because I’m wearing a harness and the trainer is supporting my weight; falling isn’t that scary after all.

“The first is for fear, the second is for fun”

That’s what one of the trainers told me when I got back on the ground. This filled me with determination to try the trick again (and maybe even enjoy it?), now that I’d got that out of my system.

It’s psychological, after all. Once you’ve conquered the fear, you can do anything. When I got back up on the platform, I said “Let’s try again. I’m going to do this!”

And I did…

Trick 1: Leg hold 


This goes to show you can get a lot done when you focus on the task at hand. It felt so surreal, but I just followed the instructions, and somehow my legs made it up and over the trapeze. I just had to trust that the trainer (and gravity) would help me out.

You can see that I get a bit disorientated and almost bring my legs down the wrong way – I blame being upside down. It felt so unnatural.

But I got such a rush when it was over. There was also a second part to this trick involving a tuck and backflip dismount. I never managed to get my head around that one…

Trick 2: Leg hold, legs off


This was the next step to learning the final catch trick. It was quite disconcerting to be told to just “unhook your legs from the bar”, but in fact it was quite easy, especially now I’d got into it and wasn’t afraid of falling.

Trick 3: Leg hold and catch!


And there you have it – I successfully completed the catch on my first try! What a feeling. I couldn’t quite believe it when I was suddenly dangling from the trainer’s wrists.

I definitely recommend giving this a go if you want to face your own fears, or if you’re simply after your next ‘high’.


3 great things about this class

  1. Excellent trainers: They gave really clear instructions and had a healthy throw-you-in-at-the-deep-end approach. After each jump, they gave constructive feedback and were very encouraging.
  2. Lovely students: I’ve never felt so positive after a class. The more experienced students were really supportive and everyone would clap if you successfully completed a trick.
  3. An amazing, unique experience: There really is nothing like flying through the air on a trapeze. And if you get lots of videos, they serve as great mementos (and proof) of the crazy thing you’ve just done.

3 things to be prepared for

  1. Body aches: The next day I ached in places I’ve never ached before (chest, arm pits and knee pits?). As I’m writing this it’s 4 days later and I STILL ache. Make sure you warm up and warm down with some full body stretches to minimise this.
  2. Blisters: My hands were very sore afterwards and probably would have blistered if I hadn’t used chalk. I also broke the skin a bit on the back of my right knee. Bruising can also occur. But don’t let that put you off. It’s totally worth it!
  3. Getting the bug for flying: Now that I’ve progressed to Level 2, I’m already planning my next class. Highly addictive.

Namaste bitches!

Yoga Panther x

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Yoga Panther Tries: Bouldering

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When my friend first told me about bouldering I thought, “Rock climbing, but without a harness?! You’re having a giggle!” She begged me to go to a class with her, but I never did. It just didn’t sound like something I’d enjoy. “I’ll stick to yoga” I said.

A couple of years passed and another friend decided to go bouldering for her birthday party. How could I miss it?

So there I was, standing in the bouldering hall at Vauxwall, having signed my life away (literally, the form says you accept that there’s a chance you may die). I had no clue where to start.

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The green holds are the easy ones, so I began with those. I managed to scramble halfway up the wall before giving up and carefully making my way down. I have to say, it seems a lot higher up than it is!

I scouted the room for more easy green routes, only to find that my friends had already made it to the top of the wall and were casually scaling the room. Well if they can do it…

Filled with confidence (and a bit of pressure) and I somehow managed to climb to the top of one of the walls. I got such a rush doing it. Now I get why people do this.

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Looking for a new challenge, we went into another room to find sloping walls galore and people hanging upside down like monkeys. I was entranced by their mad skills. It was like gravity just didn’t matter to them.

We tried a few of the tricky climbs, but failed. I did however manage to do a seated climb where you sit on the floor and pull your way up to the holds. YES arm muscles.

All in all, I was glad to have finally tried it. And I actually went back again! Along with aerial yoga, that’s two new hobbies I have now. Sweet.


Advice I wish I’d been given

  • Use liquid chalk: It dries out your hands to give you more grip, as well as making your hands rough to avoid ripping the skin. I didn’t use any, so I got blisters.
  • Think ahead: Don’t just start climbing willy nilly. Look out for other people who might be traversing towards your zone and wait for them to go first.
  • Don’t beat yourself up: Mentally and physically. If you can’t get to the top first time, not to worry. And don’t try anything too risky if you’re new. There’s no shame in attempting a route and coming back down. Better than falling on your face.

Namaste bitches!

Yoga Panther x

Yoga Panther Tries: Aerial Yoga

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Imagine being enveloped in a silky hammock, completely weightless, as you float off to your happy place.

This is how I eased into the aerial yoga class at Coco Club in Hammersmith. I’d completely forgotten that I’d turned up late and flustered.

We started off with womb pose (great name). While sat in the hammock like a swing, you have to cock your leg over one strand so that you’re straddling it. You then stretch the silk out over your legs and bring your feet up in front so that your soles are touching. Like being sat on the floor, but in mid air.

By now you’re completely covered and supported by the fabric. Ridiculously cosy. Hence, womb.

I didn’t want to leave the womb.

Aerial yoga

Setting up for womb pose

As we went through a series of poses, I soon realised that aerial yoga requires core strength, coordination…and courage. More intense than classic yoga, the hammock helps you stretch further, and there’s simply more room to manoeuvre when you’re in the air.

Take bow pose. In yoga you lie on your front, reach back to grasp your ankles, and lift off. But with a hammock in the mix, you can hang upside down in the same position and let gravity pull you deeper into the stretch.

There was a lot of dangling upside down. Terrifying to begin with, but once I learnt to trust the hammock, it was so much fun.

We did reclining bound angle (see below), one-legged king pigeon (another brilliant name), queen bee and chandelier (my favourites). Definitely had Sia’s famous track in my head as we did that last one.

The only problem I had was making sure I had the hammock in the right place and spread out enough so that it didn’t dig into my waist (and boy does that hurt). After all you’re entire body weight is literally hanging by a thread.

aerial yoga

Reclining bound angle pose

I also had a bit of trouble getting my head around some of the poses – which limb to put where and so on. And being inverted adds an extra challenge to that.

The teacher was great though and explained exactly how to achieve each pose, or came over to help. Quite a few others were trying it for the first time too.

We ended in the best pose. Savasana. You literally COCOON yourself in the hammock whilst lying flat on your back. You can even have a gentle swing if you want. Total relaxtion.

It was such a good lesson, that I’ve been back several times since. It’s a very decent price at £15, so I treat myself every month. Proof that if you step out of your comfort zone (or ‘the womb’), you might find something you love.

“I’m gunna swing from the chandelier…I’m gunna fly like a bird through the night.” That’s going to be in my head all day.


Advice I wish I’d been given

  • Don’t turn up late: It’s not like yoga where you can turn up, grab a mat and go. The teacher has to get the step ladder out and adjust your hammock to your height. So best to be there 15 minutes before the class starts.
  • Prepare to spend a lot of time upside down: Which means all the blood will rush to your head and you’ll feel a bit funny after a while. But if you can manage to stay inverted, it’s so good for you. Do make sure you recover afterwards.
  • Pay attention to instructions: It’s so important to know exactly what you’re doing. So don’t rush ahead with a pose. Watch the teacher demonstrate first and take it slowly. You wouldn’t want to land on your head.

In next week’s ‘Yoga Panther Tries’ I try my hand at bouldering…

Namaste bitches!

Yoga Panther x

Yoga Panther Tries: Aerial Silks

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Aerial Silks

My hands were clinging on for dear life. Legs flailing as I tried to push myself up. My arms buckled…and I fell to the crash mat.

This is what I put myself through when I tried aerial silks at Flying Fantastic for the first time. I mean, I knew it would be hard, but for a moment I thought I’d be stuck on the floor the whole time.

Climbing up the silks probably wasn’t the best place to start the lesson. First off you need plenty of upper body strength to pull yourself up. And second, you need to know exactly how to flip the silk around your feet (without looking!) in order to execute a ‘French climb’.

I was no good at either of these.

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But once the teacher introduced us to the foot lock, and all the poses you can do, it was actually pretty fun.

Yoga definitely came in handy for the more flexible positions. We did figurehead (top of this post), which was my favourite, and some others that I can’t remember the names of…

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I soon found out that being in a foot lock really starts to pinch! I had to keep alternating my feet so that the other foot could recover. By this time my hands were also suffering from all the clenching.

Aerial Silks

The teacher said I’d get used to the pain if I kept coming to classes. As I looked around the room and saw all the pros flying about the silks, I did wish I could be as graceful as them.

But obviously not that much, as I haven’t been back.

I’m glad I tried it though!


Advice I wish I’d been given

  • Wear a t-shirt: In some of the poses, the upper body is entwined in the silks, which can burn your underarms a bit if you’re wearing a vest top.
  • Be prepared for pain: Like I said, foot locks hurt. There’s also a chance of blistering on your hands from over gripping.
  • Accept that you can’t do something: Aerial silks is a very challenging form of exercise requiring strength and coordination. If you can’t do something straight away, don’t fret or push yourself too hard. Simply move on to something else.

In next week’s ‘Yoga Panther Tries’ I give aerial yoga a go…

Namaste bitches!

Yoga Panther x

8 reasons why yoga is awesome

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Yoga

There’s no doubt that yoga works wonders for both your mind and body – whether it’s a morning sun salutation to energise you for the day ahead, or an evening vinyasa flow to unwind after a hard day’s work.

I’ve been an yogi for about 3 years now and it’s changed my life. Not only am I fitter, I’m less stressed and I’ve learnt to be more mindful.

Here are my top 8 reasons why yoga is awesome:

1)  It makes you bendy

All the stretching involved helps you loosen up your muscles and joints, and this becomes even more important as you get older. I’ve never been the most flexible of folk, but since I’ve started yoga I can do all sorts of cool stuff, like this ‘full wheel’ pose:

10155001_10152431681277321_1445667945298654560_n (1)2)  It gives you strength

Who needs to spend hours weightlifting in the gym when you can use your own body weight to make you strong? It’s so empowering knowing that every session I’m building up stamina and toning muscle so I can do more complex poses like ‘crow’:

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3)  It perfects your posture

If you’re a desk slave like me, you probably spend a lot of time hunched up. In yoga, a lot of poses require you to elongate your spine and bring your shoulders down. And when you apply this to your day-to-day life, you’ll be less likely to get back aches and pains.

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4)  You can do it anywhere

The best thing about yoga is you don’t need any fancy equipment. Just a yoga mat. And yourself. Sometimes you don’t even need a mat:

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5)  It improves your balance

Lots of yoga poses involve balancing. Practicing this can give you better awareness of your body as you’ll learn how to position your muscles and sense where your body needs to be. This will reduce the risk of falling on your face. And it’s not just the physical side – yoga helps you balance your mind too. It’s all about thinking positively.

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6)  It’s fun!

If you’re going to do something repeatedly, you’ve got to enjoy it. I find it so satisfying when I’m flowing into each pose, like a graceful yoga ballerina. And it’s even more rewarding when I can master more challenging poses. Each class is a step closer to that.

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7)  You can relax easier

In my evening yoga classes, I often wish I can be transported from the mat to my bed. It’s just so damn calming! A big part of yoga is learning to control your breathing – slowing it down and inhaling and exhaling deeply – which can be very meditative.

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8)  It makes you happy

“I feel crap” said no one ever after a yoga class. I always leave the session feeling amazing. That’s because yoga releases the hormone oxytocin, which floods your body with feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Neat huh?

IMG_0995Namaste bitches.

Yoga panther x

I found yoga heaven in the Spanish countryside

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Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, SpainI woke up in a panic. Have I missed yoga? Why am I in a tent? Man, I feel rough.

Oh that’s right, I drunk about two bottles of wine last night. I’m camping at a yoga retreat. And if I get up now I can make it to class at 8am.

After an hour and a half on the yoga deck surrounded by beautiful mountains, and a delicious breakfast buffet, my hangover was cured. This pretty much set the tone for the rest of the trip.

Let me clear one thing up. When I say yoga retreat, what I really mean is yoga holiday. You don’t have to become a tee-total vegan while you’re here. You can do what you like, eat what you like and drink what (and as much as) you like. When in Spain!

A yogi’s paradise

What better place to unwind than Casa de Carrasco, a yoga retreat – and olive farm – set deep in the Serra de Cardo national park. Pure zen.

Bumpy, meandering tracks lead you into this secluded yoga haven. Seriously, I still haven’t managed to pin point it on Google Maps! All I know is it’s a 45-minute drive from Reus airport.

It’s so remote they even have to get water brought in by lorry as there aren’t any pipes nearby. Nor are there any electric lines, so they generate all their energy by solar power. And you can forget wifi or phone signal!

But who needs that when you’ve got this view:

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, SpainAnd this hammock:

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, Spain

And Ruby the dog:

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, Spain

There are also 2 other dogs and 3 cats, and they often join you for yoga.

#YogaEveryDamnDay

All this is the brainchild of Sarah Good, who’s been running the retreat with her partner, Martin, for the past 6 years.

An experienced Sivananda yoga teacher, she leads the classes each morning, which are an energising mix of sun salutations and flowing asanas. All levels are welcome as she offers easier alternatives for beginners and more challenging options for yoga pros.

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, Spain

Sarah demonstrating headstand

As well as being a yoga goddess, Sarah also gives fantastic massages using a blend of essential oils and organic olive oil from the grove. I had the detoxifying one and I practically floated for the rest of the day.

She is a true inspiration. Not only has she created this gem of a place, but she puts so much effort into the finer details. And makes it seem effortless.

The lone traveller

Just to give you some back story – when I found out I had a week’s break before I started my new job, I thought I’d jet off for some sunshine and chill time. Because it was so last minute, I decided to travel solo. I’d never been anywhere by myself…

I’d actually been to the retreat before with someone else, and found that a few people came on their own. So I knew it would be the perfect place to experience solo travelling.

And it was.

The place can accommodate up to 16 guests and it’s very much a community vibe. You cook together. Eat together. Do activities together. It’s so easy to chat to people.

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, Spain

Love Shack L-L-Love Shack

And then if you want some alone time, you can simply choose a hammock to relax in or watch a film in the Love Shack (best to go in the evening though as it becomes a sauna during the day).

Back to nature

If you like your mod cons, this probably isn’t the place for you. Straighteners and hairdryers are banned! But once you realise how beautiful this place is, all the things you used to be preoccupied with just melt away.

There are 4 safari tents to choose from – all very spacious and sleep up to 3 people. To save money, you can bring your own tent or stay in one of the pop-up tents. Or, if camping really isn’t your bag, you can stay in one of 2 lovely ensuite rooms adjacent to the house.

I went for a safari tent and it suited me just fine. If I could go back though I’d tell myself not to be alarmed if I hear a wild boar squealing and snuffling around my tent in the middle of the night. They’re just looking for fallen olives and almonds. Obv.

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, Spain

My tent

For those in tents, there’s a little shower block with 2 toilets, 2 showers and 2 sinks. As mentioned, there’s a limited amount of water, so they ask you to be sparing with it. A sign reads: “In this land of sun and fun, we rarely flush for number one!” You get used to it.

Breakfast is provided, but for everything else, there’s a little shop that Sarah stocks up with veg, salad, cheese, rice, pasta and even their own olive oil. There’s also stuff like suncream and toothpaste if you run out or forget.

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, SpainYou can either cook at Stella’s bar overlooking the pool, or in ‘The Casita’, where everyone eats breakfast. I preferred to cook at the bar. When else do you get to cook outside, surrounded by mountains?

Excursions and activities

When you’ve had enough of chilling by the pool, there’s plenty of other stuff to do. You can sign up for wine tasting, paella making and Ayurveda workshops at the retreat itself. I tried all 3 last time and they were such fun – especially the wine tasting. More like wine glugging.

For the more adventurous, there are a few different hiking trails. I tried one with a couple from the retreat. Now I’m not a hiker, so it was pretty hard to keep up with them, but it was an amazing feeling when I made it to the top of the mountain.

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, Spain

View of the retreat, from halfway up a mountain

A day trip to L’ampolla beach is a must. I went with a volunteer who was working at the retreat for a few weeks. We chatted, drank sangria, ate tapas, went paddleboarding, explored, found a bull fight (and snuck into the VIP area), ate churros and watched fireworks. And I thought I’d come to relax…

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, Spain

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, Spain

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, Spain

Another must-do is the kayak trip down the River Ebro. It was so good the first time, I had to go again. Just look at Miravet Castle…

Yoga retreat, Casa de Carrasco, Spain

Casa de Carrasco certainly did the trick. I came away feeling refreshed, revived and relaxed, despite all the exertion and lashings of vino.

It also made me appreciate a slower, more mindful way of life, which I’ve been trying to channel now I’m back in crazy ol’ London.

Namaste 🙂

Yoga Panther x