Blog Archives

Stretch Classes for New Mums

Now, I’m not a Mother. Nor am I likely to be. (It’s a long story that I am coming to terms with and I won’t bore you with it).

But I have a lot of pregnant women and new Mums come to classes with me.

  1. I get pregnant Mamas to the yoga classes I run and then I don’t see them again as they drift off into a world of sleepless nights…
  2. Or I get new Mums to the Pilates classes I run who are desperate to do some activity that their Doctor says is gentle enough before they get stronger and then I don’t see them again as they drift off into a world of kettlebells or cardio work…

So, how do I get new Mums to stay with Stretch NI? I am thinking of developing classes specifically for new Mums but I want some feedback on whether these would be attended.

I am also considering developing training for my Pilates Instructors as well as other Yoga and Fitness Instructors in order to stop the inconsistent advice from the fitness industry about what is after all a natural occurrence. I would like to know if Instructors are interested in working more specfically with this section of the community.

Do people want to stretch new Mums? And do new Mums actually want to be stretched??

Please let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below,


P.S. Just to illustrate this post I have included photographs of actresses January Jones, Alyssa Milano and Alicia Silverstone who all attended pregnancy yoga classes throughout their pregnancies. These well-known yoga practitioners are, of course, still attending classes even though they have had their babies and are no longer new Mums!

Spring Cleaning

It’s turned to March and my thoughts have turned to spring cleaning… In yoga I have been working to create space in the body’s “junk drawer” A.K.A. the hips and pelvis! So we have been doing lots of chair poses, eagles, lunges, downdog splits. And in Pilates we have been doing lots of plies and lunges too. On top of the physical clear-out (which will continue in class through March and April) I have started to spring clean my house. So far I have cleared my wardrobes and filled 2 binbags full of unworn and unwanted clothes. I am now planning to do the same to the husband’s wardrobes but this will be a challenge as he is a worse hoarder than I am!

For example, in the bathroom I threw out over FIVE years’ worth of Total Film and Empire magazines (his) and lots of half-used/almost empty bottles of shampoo, conditioner, cleanser, etc. (mine). I also cleared a lot of old training materials and files/folders belonging to my career as a youth worker. And considering I haven’t been a youth worker since 2005 and never intend to be a youth worker again, it was definitely time to let go. I had been feeling a little like the picture below so it is great to begin the huge clean-up of my crap! If you want to do the same but are finding it as difficult as I had read the article below by Christine Kane for some great excuse busters!

What’s Your Excuse? The 8 Lies We Tell Ourselves about Our Junk; Written by Christine Kane

“Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Our lives are meant to be simple.  Our intuition thrives when given freedom and space.  So does our ability to make good decisions.

Clutter – in the form of physical junk, time-wasters, or even draining people – steals our energy, stops our success, and blocks our clarity.

Each moment we ignore our excuses for holding on to things we don’t want, those things rob us of energy, health, and clarity. Yes, clutter is destructive!

If you’re a clutter-clinger, start by admitting why you hold on.  Read this list to see if you can find YOUR excuse – and then take action!

Clutter Excuse #1: “I’d be a mean horrible person if I let this go…”

Guilt is heavy gooey energy that convinces us we’re bad people if we make a strong choice – or if we let go of heirlooms, unwanted clothing or gifts.

So we allow this stuff to clutter up our lives and keep us in a comfortable – but draining – place.  Guilt is sometimes an easier path than clarity.  Ask yourself if you’re ready to release the stuff and the guilt – and finally get clear.

Clutter Excuse #2 – “I spent so much on it!”

Do you punish yourself for having made a bad choice by keeping the item around?  Or convince yourself that you’re going to get your money’s worth – even if it drains the heck out of you?

You won’t.  And it will.

We’ve all done stupid things. And we’ve all had to let them go. Now it’s your turn.

Clutter Excuse #3 – “I might need this someday.”

I often wonder how many idle telephone cords exist in the world.  Crammed in old desk drawers. Stuffed on closet shelves. They can’t be gotten rid of.


Because we might need them some day.

Evidently, some day – in spite of technological progress – you’re going to need that particular grey phone cord that came in the box with a phone you bought in 1993.

Throw it out. Now.

Same thing goes for:  The broken fax machine, switch plates from your first house, and every glass flower vase that came with deliveries.

Clutter Excuse #4 – “I might do this someday.”

I know. I know.

Someday you’ll take those broken pieces of china you’ve collected and create a beautiful mosaic birdbath. And you’ll go through those stacks of magazines and make that collage for your sister’s 30th birthday party. (She’s 51 now.)

Now – I don’t mean to deny you your plans and dreams.  However, I urge you to consider experiencing the infinite relief that appears when you let old project ideas go.

Call your sister and tell her the collage ain’t gonna happen. Buy a mosaic birdbath from an artist who makes her living from creating such treasures.

And then, make space for what you want to do. Don’t fill your space with what you should do.

Clutter Excuse #5 – “I Don’t Know Where It Goes.”

When items don’t have a home, it’s hard to determine whether or not they are clutter. Some things may seem like clutter – like the cute card that your daughter made that floats around from drawer to drawer – but they’re not clutter.

They’re homeless.

Once you start defining spaces for items, then it’s easier to see when something doesn’t fit anywhere and should just get tossed.

Clutter Excuse #6 – “My thoughts don’t have any power. Do they?”

Everything has energy.  The thoughts you have about the things in your home CREATE energy. For instance, if you hang on to stuff given to you by your ex, and you still feel bitter – then there’s bitterness in your home.

Get it?

It’s either fueling you or draining you.  If anything triggers you, then that is your barometer. Let it go.

Clutter Excuse #7 – “But I never wore it!”

See Clutter Excuse #2.

Clutter Excuse #8 – “There’s too much stuff!”

Overwhelm can stop us in our tracks. If this article makes you aware that there are lots of items in your life you don’t like, then go slow.   Schedule small chunks of time each day.  It takes time to be clutter-free! But the newfound clarity and lightness are worth it!

Okay… You’ve read it. Now stop the excuses and get to work! I really feel that I’m at excuse #8 so I’m taking it a bit at a time and feeling better with each trip to the bin.


Day 4 of the Yoga Commitment

Day 4:

I know I was planning to do 10 minutes of yoga every day as part of this commitment but, in honour of the 4 intrepid students who were sitting their practical exam to become Stretch NI Pilates Matwork Instructors today, I did 10 minutes of Pilates instead! I did MTV Pilates which I’ve had for a long time. I am fond of this workout as it’s quick and effective and Kristin McGee is an excellent instructor. She is clear and her moves are very pure in terms of Pilates which can be difficult for a yoga instructor. Try it and see for yourself! Or have a look at her MTV Yoga DVD which I love as well.


Late summer sunshine

I know it’s been nearly a month since I blogged but I have been up to my eyeballs with preparations for the NEW Stretch NI Studio which is due to open at 8a High Street, Lurgan, County Armagh on Monday 12th September!

In between trying to organise leases, utilities, props, retail products and a shiny new website to go with the studio I have been trying to make sure that there were other high quality local teachers available to take classes in the studio. So I put a call out and am very pleased with the response from local yoga and Pilates teachers. This means that instead of me running myself ragged trying to do everything (sound familiar??) there will be a full timetable staffed by some great teachers!

Bruce White from Banbridge will be delivering Monday morning’s yoga class; Roslyn Dobson from Portadown will be bringing her morning Pilates sessions to us on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings; Una Moriarty from Lurgan will be doing a Saturday morning session. In the afternoons we have Nina Armstrong and Karen Ingram from Portadown delivering some very interesting classes. In the evenings Karen Wasson from Armagh will be bringing us a Beginners Yoga course on a Monday and a Flow Yoga class on a Thursday; Nina will be delivering another yoga class on a Tuesday and Jane Tucker from Banbridge will be doing a mid-week yoga class on Wednesdays, followed by Lisa Donnelly (one of my Pilates Instructor graduates!).

In the middle of it all I’ll be getting to do some great work with yoga, Pilates and my newly-devised Yoga-Lattes class. This class is a calorie burning, core strengthening combo of yoga, Pilates and cardio moves. It’s like yoga with extra caffeine! I am also doing a 6-week Meditation course which will incorporate some Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction techniques.

I felt like I could do with some of that myself so I took Chris away for our 7-year wedding anniversary to the lovely Channel Islands in order to get some late summer sunshine. I think that I’ll get back to it now, instead of sitting in stressing out about the new studio. Just promise me you’ll come and see it and then I can relax!!

August plotting and planning and bootcamping…

I didn’t blog as much as I’d have liked last month but the 2 solid weeks of Pilates Instructor Training preceeded by months of hard work and followed by a week of mooching around wondering what to do with myself meant that blogging was the last thing on my mind. I’d given so much of myself in the Pilates course that I didn’t think I had anything more to say to anyone. But I think I’m rediscovering my voice. I had a lovely day yesterday training Karina of Stressless Solutions in children’s yoga stretches which I am an expert in and which I think I had forgotten about. Then Chris and I sat for hours yesterday evening talking and planning and dreaming about the Stretch NI studio and what this will look like when it gets off the ground this autumn. And now that’s only a month away! So, it’s back to laptop so that my plans for world domination can continue unabated!

One thing I am hoping to do in the new studio is a Stretch NI Body Bootcamp. Basically, this will consist of three 45-minute sessions of yoga and Pilates moves a week combined with dietary advice (not by me who think a Mars Bar is a vegetable but by a real-life dietitian from the Southern Health Trust). This bootcamp will take 7 weeks which will make us all gorgeous just in time for Christmas! But the serious reason for doing a 7 week programme is that the yogis used to say it took 21 days to create a habit so 3 sessions over 7 weeks will give us 21 sessions and lead us into a new way of relating to food and fitness. It’s also much more achievable at this rate rather than 7 sessions a week for 3 weeks. I don’t want this to be a diet or a fitness fad. I want it to lead us into a healthier lifestyle… And, I’ve already started! I am going to be trying the bootcamp principles throughout August and will be reporting back my results. After all, it’s about time I started to practice what I preach! What do you think? Does this sound like something that might interest you?? And would you attend morning classes to make sure you get your 3 sessions a week?? Or does it all sound like too much hassle and you’d just prefer to do a regular ‘Weightwatchers/ Slimming World/ Unislim’ style weigh-in??? Cos that could be arranged!