Arm Balance Masterclass this Thursday!

Elementals Earth

Arm Balance Masterclass

Thursday 26 April, 7:10pm – 9:10pm

Sunday 22 April marks this year’s Earth Day celebrations. We decided this means it’s the perfect time to build confidence going upside down. Our very own Marianna will lead a 2 hour Elementals Earth masterclass to perfect your technique in those pesky arm balances that you always wanted to know how to do correctly.

Peak Postures covered:

  • crow (Fire)
  • side crow (Fire)
  • eight angle pose (Earth)
  • tripod headstand (Earth)
  • flying pigeon (Water)
  • dolphin (Earth/Fire)

Class Structure:

We begin with a strong grounding flow practice to get the body ready for arm balances. We then will work by breaking down each arm balance. You can ask questions and get hands on corrections with your technique.

You may just find that one simple adjustment makes it suddenly possible! Months of struggle fixed in one correction.

Marianna will then ground you with a closing meditation to make it the perfect end to the evening.


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St Paddy's Day Smoothie - Filling like Guiness only it's good for you.

It’s St. Paddy’s Day 🍀

Trade in the post-workout beer for our Muscle Power Superfoods Shake. The super strong protein shake to recover from a hard workout (or late night!).

There’s nothing better after a hard workout then a creamy smoothie full of nutrients and muscle-building power.

Our nutritionists designed our Muscle Power shake to give you that recovery edge to stay strong. Students have rated it as the best protein shake in London.

It includes two high quality vegan proteins, three energising superfoods and peanut butter. And unlike most other places, we use high quality unprocessed raw peanut butter.

It has no added sweetners or sugars so just raw goodness!

What classes is this smoothie best for?

Great after double classes, cycling or TRX. Your SOMA Coaches Theo, Asaf, Rory and Marianna regularly have this for lunch or post-class.

Can I use it as a meal replacer?

Yes, as it has essential nutrients for days when you are on the go or prefer to have a lighter meal that is easy to digest.

New to Hot Yoga? Everything you need to know before your first Hot Yoga class.

Jennifer Hersch tells you everything you need to know before your first Hot Yoga class.

Over the years, I learned some useful tips both as a teacher and student. I’ve been in the hottest studios, I’ve practiced with few people up to 500 people in class, experienced every kind of heat, worked through injuries and different practices in the heat.

Let’s face it. Your first hot yoga class can feel intimidating. Even every hot yoga teacher remembers his or her first experience. I remember mine in a small Bikram studio in SoHo, New York City. I climbed the winding stairs to find a small, carpeted room with no windows and intense heat. My only memory of the whole class is seeing black in camel. And then that amazing feeling after class where I couldn’t wait to try it again.

Twenty years later, and I’m still at it.

However, I know the first class can feel intimidating and we all worry about what others will think. The beauty of hot yoga is that no one cares. It’s like giving birth. Everyone is just focused on getting through the class that they don’t care what they look like or those around them.

Below I answered the typical questions we get from new students. Take a read, relax and don’t worry. It will all be fine.

How do I know which class to take?

Hot Detox 26 (Bikram): This is recommended for students with little yoga experience who prefer moving slowly through poses without a lot of continual movement. It’s for beginner to advanced students (I’ve done it for 20 years), but since it is a more static practice it makes it easier for newbies to catch on to postures while getting used to the heat.

It’s also great for students with upper body or wrist injuries since we don’t do postures on the arms. Likewise, the series can help students with knee injuries.

Done by many athletes for cross-training.

Elementals Earth: Great first hot flow to try if new to Elementals or flow in general. It’s a  slow hot flow class designed for students who need activation of muscles, release of neck tension and core strength. Of our flows, it is the best to start with if you are new to hot flow as it moves slower than Fire or Water. Set sequence changes every term. All levels.

Elementals Water: This is for students who love to flow as we work in circular movements to heal the body through more spiral moves. We have many signature yoga moves we do in this series which you can pick-up over time. A definite try for hot flow lovers. If you are new to hot yoga, start with Earth and Hot Detox then give this a go.

Elementals Fire: An intense hot flow that incorporates Pilates core strengthening. It moves quicker so may feel slightly tricky if new to hot yoga. We also work with the barre as a yoga prop to go deeper into backbends and flexibility training. All levels, but newbies may want to do the other classes first then move on to this one. Great for those who need core strength and want to work on inversions and backhanding.

Elementals Space (Yin)This class is more about meditation and finding relaxation as we work deep into more yin-like poses. The room is warm, but not hot and you use yoga bolsters on the floor the whole time. It’s for days when you just want to tune-out and relax.

How do I prepare for class and what should I bring?

Hydrate. Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day including electrolytes. This means you come to class prepared to sweat.

Avoid eating 2-3 hours before class. Make sure you eat earlier in the day, but you don’t want a full stomach for class as this can make you feel sick during the class. Clean foods and liquids.

Electrolyte tablets in water. Newbies can put electrolyte tablets in their water for class as this helps with hydration. If you find you get headaches or dizzy in class, often it’s because your electrolytes are low due to sweat. This is often true with strong guys who sweat a lot. Nuun tablets are good as they are all natural.

Water. Bring large chilled water bottle/s. You will want enough to drink in class and possible splash over your face during class.

What should I wear?

You will sweat like never before, so think swimsuit material. Men typical wear shorts or bathing suit. Newbies often come with a shirt but then realise you want to take it off during class. If you really want a top then make sure it’s breathable.

Women often wear lightweight leggings or shorts, a sports bra or light tank.

Which class is best for shoulder, wrist, arm injuries?

Hot Detox 26 is the best for anyone who cannot bear weight on their arms or wrists given we don’t do typical yoga poses like downward dog, chattarunga, vinyasas or arm balances.

Which class is best for knee injuries?

The Hot Detox is probably the best for most knee injuries. The series was originally put together by a yoga guru to heal his students knees. Always tell your teacher if you have issues and they can give you modifications.

You can take the Elementals Flow classes too, but may need to pad your mat for knee lunges and tell your teacher for other modification.

Which class is best for complete beginners?

It depends on whether you like to flow or prefer a more static practice where we move slowly from one pose to another. Hot Detox 26 is usually the best for complete beginners as we hold each posture for a period of time and then slowly transition into the next one. You don’t need to worry about a fast moving class where you have to catch continual movement.

Elementals Earth is also good for beginners as it’s a slow hot flow. We do flow between movements but it’s not a faster tempo like Elementals Water or Fire.

If you are looking for more of a yin-type class that is more meditation and relaxation based, try Elementals Space.

The idea is to begin with a practice like Hot Detox and then slowly move into the Elementals Flow classes given they are designed to complement each other.

How many classes should I take a week?

This depends on your goals. The more classes you do in the beginning, the quicker your body gets used to the heat and you see faster progress. This means at least 3x a week.

If you are doing other classes at SOMA and integrating hot yoga intro your training plan, aim for 2-3 classes a week.

And to really dedicate yourself to what transformation hot yoga can give you physically and mentally, try 4-6x a week.

I get headaches after class. What is this from?

It usually means you have not hydrated well enough. This means water and replaced electrolytes. Make sure to drink during the day before class and after class. Newbies often need water during class too.

Sometimes it also comes from your initial detoxification. When the body starts to detox through intense sweat and yoga poses meant to purify the systems of the body, you can get headaches in the first month or so.

Can Hot Detox Reveal the Secret Character of your Partner?

Can Hot Yoga reveal the secret character of your partner, co-worker or even yourself?

Yes, is the answer.

It’s a well known secret to experienced Bikram or Hot Yoga teachers that the practice of 26 postures in the heat can tell you a lot about a person especially the things they want to hide most about themselves or are not even aware of yet. Because it is a set sequence that requires precision, there is no hiding. It’s like practicing scales for a singer. I always say it is my yogic metronome. I will practice Elementals Flow, but come back to Hot Detox to check-in and see what’s going on at my base.

I’ve always told potential employers or new dating couples that they should bring their respective person to class and I will tell them what they need to know.

So for Valentine’s Day my gift to you is this – I reveal insights for unmasking yourself or your potential partner/employee.

5 Poses & What They Say About Character Traits

1. Standing Bow (ability to commit)

The one minute hold for Standing Bow is a test for one’s ability to commit to a pose and not give up. Those of us who still need to “dance around the issue” will usually dance around a pose that demands exact focus, determination and commitment.

As an example, my husband, Theo, has never come out of Bow early in over 10 years. He mastered the pose’s higher purpose rather than what people think is an advanced bow with extreme flexibility. So, I had insight into his ability to commit and stick with something/someone through thick and thin.

2. Awkward Pose (determination and drive)

This pose is about bulldog determination. You can see students who really love going deep into something and sticking with it. If they get right into it, really extend fully through the arms, stay completely still and have that look of utter focus, you know you’re with a person who will drive your relationship or work projects.

3. Standing Head to Knee (patience, focus and ego)

This is a signature Hot Detox pose as it reveals the mind’s ability to stay strong, focus and balance all at the same time. It’s also the one which teachers have the most pet peeves as we always say not to kick out unless the standing leg is straight. Yet, almost everyone ignores this cue as they care more about what the pose looks like. Hence, the ego. So, the student who goes to their true posture edge calmly and stays for the whole length of the posture is someone who can stay cool under pressure. They don’t need to look the part, but are confident with their own true abilities.

4. Hot Detox Triangle (leadership potential)

This closing master pose of the standing series works every muscle in the body. It also comes when the temptation is there to quit. The student who stays strong, does not fidget and leads the rest of the class into the pose, has leadership potential. I love seeing front row students taking this pose with strength, precision and using 100% of their bodies to extend themselves into the pose. They also try to give energy and inspiration to those who may be newer which means finding consideration.

5. Camel (emotional sensitivities)

Camel comes right at the end of class when we’re suddenly asked to open up the whole front of our body and take a backbend. Admittedly, for beginners, the first classes are usually too much. I’ve seen many  students suddenly burst into tears or have an overwhelming feeling of other emotions ranging from joy to anger. Camel can be one of the most honest moments in class. How comfortable are we to open up, reveal ourselves without fear. How comfortable are we with communicating our emotions?

Regulars will notice that your relationship to this pose changes through the years depending on what’s going on with your life off the mat. It will feel easy for awhile and then suddenly difficult again. If this happens, take an honest look at any communication issues, heartbreak or other self-esteem issues.

Fidgeter vs. Non-Fidgeter

Can’t stop moving, fixing your hair, looking around? Means possible issues with commitment or avoidance of unhealthy emotions. When we can’t stand still or keep our minds focused on one thing without distraction, we have yet to begin the journey of self-realisation.

The eyes may be the window to the soul, but the body’s movement patterns are a window to the habitual mind. If your new partner can’t stand still in class, you may find similar patterns in your relationship like changing plans a lot, always having to look at the phone over dinner, gets bored easily or needs to constantly socialise as doesn’t want or even fears the quiet solitude.

Blames Others Easily

The heat can be enough in the room to bring out our worst tendencies. That is the point. It is easier to meditate in a comfortable room, but who are you when your buttons are pushed and you are made to feel uncomfortable? Over 20 years, I have seen students get angry at the teacher, get upset with students next to them and complain about how other students “ruined” their practice.

Back in the day, the teacher’s name was never published on the schedule. Students were not to be attached to liking or not liking a teacher. Instead they were to come for the practice and the teacher was to be irrelevant. How many of us could do this today in the yoga world?

In the end, a liberated student knows that at all times, you are in control of your experience. If someone else can throw you off balance, it’s your problem, not theirs.

If you find yourself or partner complaining or getting angry after a class, ask yourself if there is a tendency to also look for blame in the work environment or personal life. Is it always someone’s fault? Do we need to justify our anger with what we consider valid reasons?

If so, ask yourself what was really going on underneath your anger? Are you feeling frustrated about something else in your life? Are you feeling unfulfilled?

Selfless or Selfish?

We are very strict about students leaving early from a hot yoga class. Did you ever stop to wonder why? Outside of a true emergency, there is no reason to leave the room unless you decided to give-up. We often are encouraged to think of a yoga class as only me and my mat. However, a more experienced practitioner realises that you are practicing solitude but you are also practicing with people.

Sweating together with other people for an hour is an opportunity to become aware of how your behaviour, energy, attitude affects those around you. Again, the heat by making one feel uncomfortable pushes a button and deep seated tendencies come out. Some students quickly shut off, say to themselves I hate it and leave thinking little of the effect on other students’ practice or the teacher.

On the other side of the spectrum, a student who moves so the person behind them can see in the mirror, or knows how to adjust movement if close to a student or offers water to someone struggling is a sign of a considerate person who is thinking about other while having his or her own practice.

In the end, one’s yoga practice is an amazing experience to share with a loved one, friend or colleague. It provides a shared understanding of the joys and difficulties inherent in the journey of self-realisation. There is no judgment only awareness of tendencies and ultimately what we can learn from them.

Let the practice be a continual mirror of self-reflection and unveiling.

Introducing Aromatherapy to your SOMA experience: this week Rose and Neroli for Valentine's

This week we launch our aromatherapy in hot yoga classes. Enjoy carefully blended essential oils in your cool face cloth that change each week based on our Elementals Space theme.

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy uses plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds for improving psychological and physical well-being.

We believe that when paired with hot yoga where you are working through the mind and the body, it brings that extra element of healing benefits and completes the whole experience.

How do you choose the week’s essential oil?

Every Sunday we have our Elementals Space class which is our yin-inspired class working on the meridians and soft tissues of the body to create space, relaxation and healing especially on the overworked body and stressed mind.

As part of this class, we use a blended essential oil that works on the same part of the body as the poses. For example, one of our classes focussed on the spleen and stomach meridians so we used Cardamom and Ginger which are also known to help with health in these areas.

Based on the theme of the Sunday class, we then use the same essential oil blend for the whole week so members in all hot yoga and cycling classes will get a chance to experience it on their hard-earned cool face cloths.

Which classes use it?

You will experience the week’s chosen blend in all hot yoga classes and cycling classes.

What is the blend for Valentine’s Week?

For Valentine’s, we chose Rose Neroli oil known to balance hormones, help acne and depression as well as a known aphrodisiac.

Sounds good!