Welcome | On how I started my journey and why we need to accept the change

One of my regular students recently asked me how I became what I am today – a yoga teacher, Pilates instructor, massage therapist and an avid traveller. And I wondered how people image their yoga teachers before they meet them? Do they think we are all vegan, mysterious, eternally calm and serene? Because I am not vegan, and my laugh is probably too loud to be called serene.

In this series of blog posts, I will try to explain the motivation behind my work and what I offer in my studio. Through my experiences and travelling stories, I will write about:

  • how I help athletes and people with chronic illnesses,
  • healthy diet and everyday habits,
  • tips on travel and yoga retreats,
  • my vision of yoga philosophy
  • and how yoga applies to many things in our busy lives.

Through my travels around the globe, I learned many simple truths that I apply to my work. Very early in my education, I became inspired by wildlife, working in elephant sanctuaries in Thailand and South Africa. Realising that we can learn so much from the place where we forgot to look – nature – I always look at the body in a holistic approach.

I believe it all started with the dance. Wanting to become a dancer, I studied human movement. However, life took me to a different path, and I ended up helping people improve their movement – professional and amateur athletes, people with chronic illnesses and people who just needed something different in their exercise and diet. I was the first Pilates instructor in Wales, after which I pursued a yoga teacher training and very soon education in Thai massage. I just wanted to be able to see a complete image.

To explain life’s motivations, I often reach for stories behind yoga positions. I don’t connect my practice to any kind of religious experience, I like to break down “complicated” teachings and use them as motivational stories that we all understand. For example, the Dancer’s Pose, something that many of us run away from as too hard and challenging.

It comes from the depiction of Shiva, a deity known for destruction and transformation, in one of his many faces. But actually, it portrays a moment where we overcome our small everyday fears and egoistic battles and realise nothing ties us permanently. The balance comes from overcoming the fear of change and acceptance of nature’s force of transformation. So, don’t be afraid of change, it doesn’t take a lot to start a transformation. And don’t worry, it’s not about bending your back and balancing on one leg, even getting up from the couch is a good beginning.

Join Molly in your journey to healthier everyday life in her Cardiff studio. Molly is focused on the holistic and personal approach, teaching Pilates and yoga in small groups. Contact us if you would like to know more or want to arrange consultations.

How did I go from Aerobics to Yoga and Pilates

Ever since I was little, I wanted to become a dancer. I loved dancing, and I still do. I loved how the body moves to the rhythm. I decided to find a career path that would suit my passion for dancing but also be able to help people to achieve their goals.

Aerobics.

Teaching aerobics in the 80s was all about the looks: leotard thongs and leggings, and I just hated this look. I remember feeling very uncomfortable standing in front of the class. I am an advocate of body positivity, so I disliked being objectified like this.

Finding purpose in your career path is one of those tasks in life that you know it is right when you do find it. That was my case. I was teaching aerobics in gym classes, and I wasn’t feeling it, so I had to look further to see what I really enjoy.

Pilates.

I was the first person in Wales to train as a Pilates teacher, and for a couple of years, I focused on perfecting Pilates. I would have smaller classes, and I knew I could have such a bigger impact on people through these classes. It was a self-realisation moment that I no longer had to comfort to the stereotypes of having to look stick-thin or be in a gym, but I could have one to one classes with people and actually be able to improve their physical health.

Through teaching Pilates one to one I was in the position to communicate with my clients and understand what they were looking to achieve through the workout. I was able to guide them and advise them on how to achieve their goal.

Yoga.

I went to a lot of conventions, and some of them required me to travel to different parts of the world. It was through my experiences with nature and wildness that I realised my purpose is to help people through yoga.

Yoga has taught me so much about myself and about the way I see others. I am so motivated to help others through the practices of yoga. My studies and my general knowledge background have helped me to be able to identify when my clients have certain injuries and through guidance help them get over them.

Having thirty years of experience in the field has allowed me to unlock my full potential. I am in the position to use my knowledge to benefit others not only through the practices of yoga but also understand them and sympathise with them.

Join Molly in her yoga, Pilates or yogalates classes in the Leafy Green Studio, in Pontcanna, Cardiff. You can check out our schedule or contact us for more information.

Are yoga retreats suitable for beginners? | My adventure in Spain

The idea to start organising retreats on my own started after I went to a few retreats myself, as a client. And of course, I had a bunch of ideas on what I want to do differently! When I decided to plunge into this adventure, a few of the things that were quite clear to me were – I want everyone to feel welcome, and Spain, definitely Spain.

Spain was a logical decision. I wanted somewhere sunny and warm so I can do as much yoga outdoors. Sometimes, if I have privacy, I will do massages outdoors as well; it is an entirely new experience when you enjoy a massage surrounded by sounds of nature. Very soon after I started my research, a friend of mine told me about this beautiful rustic farm in Catalonia. Small cottages, its own garden full of vegetables and a small bunch of domestic animals who run around freely.

I fell in love quite quickly. The location was perfect: close to the Pyrenees, close to the beach, right next to woodlands with walking paths. It was exactly what I thought my retreats should be – a chance to get away from busy city life and go back to nature. And is there a better way to go back to basics then doing a Downward Dog while chickens run around you? I doubt it.

I often get asked if only the strongest, most flexible and dedicated yogis can come to this piece of heaven. Of course not! I had many guests in previous years who would come as companions and wouldn’t even practice yoga at all. I also had people who went without an intention to practice, but they slowly started somewhere in the middle, just to try it out. One of the guests last year came just to relax for a few days and to paint in nature, and she didn’t practice yoga at all. But after the retreat, she came to a class in my Cardiff studio and now she is one of my regular students and comes to classes weekly.

Do not worry about your level of yoga practice or the brand of your mat and yoga pants. A yoga retreat is a holiday. You are probably spending your hard-earned days off and money on it, you might as well enjoy and relax a bit. I will write a few more tips on what not to worry about when it comes to yoga retreats that you’ll be able to find here on the blog.

Get in touch with us to book your place in a small group that will enjoy daily yoga classes in nature, homemade plant-based meals and therapeutic massages this September in Catalonia. Join Molly on another one of her 6-day Spanish journeys of going back to nature.

Tips on yoga retreats | Nature

When I prepare and organise my retreats, I always follow two main questions: what would I want to get as a guest; and what do I want to teach people while providing a relaxing and fulfilling experience. Since I have always been inspired by wildlife and travelled to learn from nature’s simple truths, enjoying nature and practising yoga outdoorsalways comes as one of the first priorities.

I wrote already about my global adventures and how much I learned from working in wildlife sanctuaries around the globe. This passion for nature is something that drives my teaching and inspires me to keep working with people, helping them grow and feel better. Retreats felt like a fantastic opportunity to extend that practice and give people a place to unwind and go back to enjoying small things. Like feeling the grass under your fingers.

I believe we all see yoga retreats as a way to get away from our busy lives, city traffic and working with people. Enjoying the nature can take us back to our peaceful and content selves, healing us and showing us that it really is easy to enjoy simple things, like breeze on our skin and sand underneath our feet. So, use the retreat as an opportunity to fully enjoy nature and be that kid that enjoyed running around barefoot.

When talking about being barefoot, one of the trends that emerged recently and has been connected to yoga quite a while is grounding or earthing. A theory that says that by touching the ground we connect with the Earth’s energetic fields. Now, I know it sounds quite mystical, but even if we forget about energies and fields – just remember the bliss of being barefoot and carefree on the beach. That moment is the whole point of the holiday, isn’t it?

Get in touch with us to book your place in a small group that will enjoy daily yoga classes in nature, homemade plant-based meals and therapeutic massages this September in Catalonia. Join Molly on another one of her 6-day Spanish journeys of going back to nature.

Tips on yoga retreats | What to wear

What to wear to yoga is a pretty common and normal question I encounter in my work, and the answer usually revolves around – keep it comfortable and simple. But does the rule apply to yoga retreats? That topic is a bit wider, as you are taking more clothes, but how much should you think about fashion when going for a relaxing, battery-charging holiday?

Not a lot. An important part of going on a retreat is letting go of the materialism and the urban life we have to face daily. Becoming closer to nature, learning from it, and releasing the negative energy we pick up during our stressful days. Going on a retreat should be treated as a trip back to simplicity, that is giving us a lesson in being kinder to ourselves and people around us.

Practising yoga in nature is a beautiful experience, it really is one of those moments you dream of during a busy day in office. While the sun rises, and the light breeze goes through your hair the last thing you want to worry about is the way you look. So, do yourself a favour and just don’t try to look nice. You will probably get sand in your knickers, but that doesn’t really pair up well with those nice pearl earrings you have. So why not just enjoy the sand?

When packing your suitcase remember the warm sun rising every day in Spain, walking on the beach, the idyllic little cottage you will be staying in. Do you still want to bring those expensive shorts? Aim for your most comfy clothes, swimsuits and flip flops, maybe trekking shoes (for hiking in the woods), and any attire that makes you feel happy and relaxed. And don’t overthink it!

There are only a few places left to join Molly on her retreat in Spain this September! You can enjoy 6 days of yoga practice, included massages and beautiful rustic surroundings. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions on that or any of the future retreats.

Tips on yoga retreats | Detox and alcohol

Yoga retreat can be an amazing opportunity to get away from your busy, urban every-day life and dip into healthier habits. We all want to run away for a bit and treat our bodies and minds with some wholesome time. It doesn’t surprise that “detox retreats” are growing in popularity these days, and I often get questions on that – are we “detoxing” on my retreats? Are “unhealthy” things completely forbidden? Can people drink there?

In my perspective, as I wrote already, retreats are holidays. Even though we all go to retreats with slightly different goals and expectations, we all pay the same hard-earned money to get us somewhere nice and give us a relaxing experience. So, do you really want to exhaust your body with a detox? I am not a fan of the whole detox concept, and I believe it is not beneficial in most cases. If you suddenly deprive your body of things that it is used to, you will feel tired, headachy and cranky, and you probably won’t stick to healthy habits for a long time.

If you are used to a glass of wine with your dinner, don’t give it up for a week, together with all the sugars, fats and other things that our society likes to demonise. In my retreats, I give my best to offer the healthiest options without unnecessarily taking all the joy away. We eat sweets, without using refined sugars; our meals are plant-based but provide full nutritional value and abundance of flavours. Besides, wine has its health benefits if you drink moderately, and it’s a lot healthier option than spirits.

When booking your retreat, be realistic. What do you really want and need? Are you sure that is how you want to spend the whole week? Take your nutritional and other habits into account. There is no reason to tire yourself during your time of relaxation and leisure. You might also want to meet other people, go to a nearby beach or take a walking tour, and you will need strength for it. So, if you want that glass of wine with your dinner, grab a bottle of wine with you (we do not provide alcohol in retreats). And don’t feel guilty, guilt is 100% unhealthy, and life is too short for that!

If you need more information on Molly’s retreats, check out Retreats section of our website or drop us an email. There are only a few spots left for Molly’s 6-day retreat in Catalonia this September, so hurry up if you want to join her in daily yoga classes with beautiful views, homemade plant-based meals and massages included!

Tips on yoga retreats | Socialise

Everyone does retreats differently.

Many retreats have different overall goals, experiences and desired outcomes. A climb up a small mountain will likely not give you the same feeling as a mud bath within a hot spring resort. However, these retreats can both be equally rewarding if appropriately experienced. While teambuilding, relaxation or even just bonding may be the goal, it is not necessarily the events themselves that cause the desired outcome. It is the overall group experience. Everyone knows what it feels like when something is done lazily or haphazard. It is imperative that the experience is tailored to you and your group so that you all feel confident in letting go and experiencing something new, be it with people whom you barely know or those closest to you.

Whether you are choosing to visit the retreat on your own or with a partner or friend you should try to socialise with the rest of the visitors.

Socialisation is a big part of retreats. We all know what it’s like to feel not included and likely all know how it feels when you have been the centre of attention. With a retreat, it is not only what is put in front of you, but it is also about what you put in. Staying in your comfort zone, your bedroom or anywhere that stays as far away from people as possible is likely not the best idea when it comes to going on a retreat. Retreats are a great way to socialise and be free! Without partaking in conversing with your fellow groupmates, you are missing out on key experiences, bonding opportunities and potentially lifelong friendships that could be made by simply going out and exploring what your group has to say.

Embrace.

Make an effort to get to know the people on the retreat. For the next six days, you will all be getting cosy within the community sharing warm and friendly experiences. One of the biggest components of a retreat that is important for both community and personal wellbeing is to be able to embrace and become part of a group. Rather than shying away from a new experience that may challenge you either socially, mentally or physically, it is important to include yourself and actively partake in activities that may not make you comfortable. That experience you share with others is not only a brilliant way to bond with the people that you are sharing your time with. Try to let go of the norm and embrace something you may never get to see or feel again with the knowledge that it was only you and a handful of other people that have managed to see, smell, hear and feel what you felt within those special, cherished moments.

If you think you need a relaxing and replenishing adventure, with meeting new people and getting away from your busy routine, check out the upcoming retreats with Molly. There are only a few places left for her September retreat in Spain.

Plant-based diet benefits | How to start your healthier journey

A common question that pops-up, when we discuss lifestyle choices in the yoga community, is: do yoga teachers have to be vegetarians? The answer is simple – no, of course they don’t! Going vegetarian or vegan is an ethical, but also a nutritional choice. When taking into account all of my experience in holistic therapy, I do believe that a vegetarian diet is beneficial to the human body. I myself am not an advocate of veganism, simply on the nutritional basis and proofs that people very often don’t manage to consume everything their bodies need through a vegan diet. However, I do like to encourage a plant-based diet.

It is a sort of holistic approach to diet, that encourages us to reduce unnecessary animal products in our diet, but it is a lot more than that. The plant-based diet involves awareness for the source of our food and how it affects our health. It doesn’t only provide healthier options for our bodies, but for our planet as well. Environmental impact of our dietary choices is becoming something that we need to be more aware.

In my retreats, all of the meals are plant-based, made from scratch and mostly from products grown in the surrounding area. Or, in the case of my Spanish retreat which you can join in September, most of the food comes from the garden that you can see through your windows! I believe that retreats are not a place where you should go and starve your body with a “detox” (a concept I don’t believe in). So, we do enjoy cakes there. However, they are not sweetened with refined sugars, but with honey or dates. There is always a better option to provide for our bodies, without going through self-imposed penance. And if you already paid that money for a retreat, you should enjoy your holiday!

This year, for my retreat in Spain, I decided to employ the best and most passionate chef I know – my own mother. This way, I know that everything will be nutritionally well balanced, made from the best quality products and prepared with care. And that I will be chased away from the kitchen if my perfectionist’s need for micro-management tries to meddle in the process.

Feel free to contact us if you want to join Molly on her 6-day retreat in Mas Sant Nicolau, Spain this September. There are only a few places left to join us in everyday yoga practice, carefully prepared meals, included massages, and a lot of options to explore on your own.

India | A source of eternal inspiration

Have you ever wondered why sun salutation is called that way? The first time I really got it was when I did it actually facing the sun, in India. Yoga retreats in India are probably the most numerous of all the destinations, as India remains the primary source of yoga education and inspiration. I visited quite a few of them, and in the end, I did a part of my yoga teacher training in Kerala, a state on the southwestern coast of India. I learned many invaluable lessons there, but I will go through just a few of the simplest ones. As that was the main lesson: accepting the simple things.

India was a place where I first did the sun salutation facing the rising morning sun. It was seven a.m., on a boiling hot rooftop but with ever such a slight breeze. And as I went through movements, I realised how my body is heating up with the sun coming up. I felt like everything I am doing makes perfect sense, so much more than when I do it in a closed room with fluorescent lights. This feeling is what I am trying to share with my students in my retreats, where I have the opportunity to share that moment of your body actually being with nature.

Another valuable lesson from India was a simple truth of how to face my fears. I was in a class, and it was time to do a headstand. Immediately, I started looking for a wall. When the teacher realised what I was up to he stopped me and said: “No. Headstand is the king of all the postures. You have to face your fear.” And that is when I learned to do a headstand, fighting my fears and realising that I would probably never get away from that wall if he didn’t stop me.

Understanding why we are doing something so simple but often undeciphered, like sun salutation, is what I try to develop in my practice and teaching. Even though we can do it in a studio, there is something especially beautiful in doing it in nature. And while we are learning, on the way, sometimes we just have to fall on our bums.

To join Molly in doing sun salutations in nature, you can book your place on her next yoga retreat, this September. If you want to learn how to properly do a headstand before, she is also available for classes in her Cardiff studio. You can see the schedule here, or just contact us!

Yoga for anxiety | A bit on men’s mental health

The feeling of calm is the main reason why yoga gained such popularity in the Western world. The need to run away from everyday stress, to regain our balance in body and mind. Yoga is a path of calm and self-care – things that do not really tune in with a traditional image of man’s role in society. It is true that a lot of men come to a yoga class and leave angry, with no intention of coming back. Why? Two general reasons can explain it.

First is biological, as male bodies tend to be stiffer, and second is psychological because men are taught to be more competitive. A result is an average man coming to a yoga class where he is surrounded by more flexible (and more advanced) female practitioners, he realises things are not going as he imagined, he tries to speed up the pace, loses the rhythm and gets angry at the whole process.

Lately, I had a few regular male clients in yoga classes who needed help with fighting anxiety. And yoga is an excellent way to do that! The fact that men opened up and asked for help with their mental health is extremely encouraging, especially when looking at recent statistics on men’s suicide rates and the importance of mental health among younger men. It shows that maybe we are slowly moving away from this firmly set image of a stoic and competitive man who never talks about his pain. However, the best results I had with them was in smaller all-male groups, usually friends. I got them away from flexible women, and I could adapt the rhythm of the class to their needs.

Probably the most powerful tool in fighting anxiety is our breath. Meditation and breathing exercises for anxiety are growing in popularity and for a reason! If you are struggling with stress and feeling of anxiety during your busy day, a simple breath counting can be of great help. Just focus on your breathing and count breaths from one to ten and then start over. Don’t try to forcibly calm your breathing, it will come on its own.

And one of my favourite breathing exercises is breathing into different parts of the body. I know it maybe sounds silly, but it becomes very intuitive as soon as you start. So just take a deep breath and focus on your body, find places where you feel tense. When you located them just imagine your breath going to these places when you breathe in and feel the tension slowly going away with breathing out. Remember, physical exercise is one of the best weapons against anxiety, and if you need help – don’t be too proud to look for it!

If you are looking for a way to rewind after a busy week and calm your mind, contact us for more information on Molly’s approach and classes in her studio in Cardiff.

Yoga for cycling | Open your shoulders and stretch out the hamstrings

A big part of my travels were my pursuits of some extreme sports experience. I was always fascinated by movement and ready to explore how far a body can go. That’s how I ended up in Vietnam once, though I didn’t stay there for long. It was a cycling trip from Vietnam to Cambodia, crossing around 80 miles a day for a week. But the main reason for my stay in that part of the world was to work in a sun bear and moon bear sanctuary. Working on wildlife protection was another big reason for my travels. I spent several years across the world, mostly in shelters that were trying to help animals usually endangered by industrial deforestation.

The last few years I am more settled, and instead of cycling or running across the globe, I help sportspeople in their practice. I had a number of clients who were more or less professionally involved in cycling. Applying my experience and knowledge, I helped them achieve better results or provide relief for problems. And yoga was always a great tool for that. Problems that cyclists come across are mostly results of spending a lot of time in the same position and repeating the same motions.

Opening your shoulders.

Cyclists often face issues with their back and pain that comes from spending a lot of time hunched on a bike. Some of my regular students are cyclists and, in their practice, we focus on yoga positions that open their shoulders, bring them back upright, and help with possible pain in that area.

Stretching out the hamstrings.

Cyclists usually have quite stiff hamstrings so yoga practice can help them slowly relax their muscles and elongate them. Stretching out your hamstrings brings higher endurance, helps with pain that comes from stiffness and delivers better results.

Yoga can be beneficial as a prep for cycling for many reasons. It increases strength in your whole body, brings flexibility and helps you focus. It can also bring a huge relief in case of injuries and help you get back on track.

Contact us to arrange your consultation and develop the best solution for your needs. Molly can help you with a range of therapeutic techniques, adjusted to personal needs, using a holistic approach.

Preparations for running | From Morocco to Kenya

My first leap into the world of running was when I, quite spontaneously and recklessly, decided to do a 5k run in Barry. No preparations, I just ran. And felt so terrible for weeks after that, my whole body was in so much pain. I dragged my sister into it, so we shared the agony. But I persevered. There was something immensely fascinating in looking at how far my body can go. And what I can do to help people prepare for running.

I became a bit smarter in my pursuits, I started preparing, and my fascination soon brought me to big marathons. First London marathonand then very soon Marathon des Sable, a 7-day run through the Sahara Desert. Soon I realised that I need to start weight lifting, something that might surprise at first glance. However, weight lifting is often an essential part of the preparation for running. It’s quite simple actually: the more muscle mass you have, the lighter you feel. I used weight lifting training in preparing many professional and amateur sportspeople, as it can bring many benefits if planned and executed correctly.

Yoga has many benefits for running. It stretches stiff muscles, brings flexibility that provides better results, opens hips and increases the general range of motion. Through breathing practice, yoga can help runners learn how to properly breathe during high strains and endure longer distances. Except for improving performance, yoga helps in avoiding injuries, and it can provide relief in case they happen.

Sports journey isn’t only about pushing your physical boundaries and getting to know yourself. It often includes meeting other people and cultures. My adventures in marathons brought me all the way to Kenya, several times. There I had a chance and a privilege to be trained by Maasai warriors, the most polite, well-mannered people who amazed me with their great respect for other cultures. If we stay open and adventurous, sports can teach us so much more than how much we can run.

If you need help in your sports preparations or just need some help in getting off the couch, contact us and Molly will make sure to provide the best option for your personal needs. And don’t be afraid to ask for more interesting and inspiring stories, she has quite a few!

The importance of listening | Lessons from Kenya

My passion for running, that I will write more about, made me travel around the globe quite a lot. I have seen countries, people and wildlife that I probably would never meet if it weren’t for just that one more marathon that I wanted to do that year. And then another one. And so, it went for years.

Kenya is one of the countries that became very dear to my heart, and it was a place of some of my biggest adventures. But I learned some big lessons and did some help that I am still very proud of. One year, when I was doing high altitudes training there, I met a man, just sort of bumped into him in the sports camp. He was about to run the Rift Valley Marathon the next day, but there was this really big pain in his leg and hip that he was complaining about.

As I already had quite a lot of experience in preparing people for sports and helping them with injuries, I simply offered him to fix his pain. I gave him a massage on a coffee table, as it was the best we had there. The next day not only did he ran the marathon, but he also got his best time ever. I also found out that he was one of the founders of the marathon.

But aside from it being a lovely story that I am proud of, people would ask how did I know what was going on. And the answer is simple – I listened. As a therapist, I had to learn how to listen and apply my knowledge of anatomy and how body movement works to every case. From listening to how people describe their knee pain, I can tell if it’s the joint itself or the tissue around it. And that is how I found the other side of my passion for human movement in working with people’s injuries and helping them get their bodies back on the track.

If you need help with your sports preparation, health issues or just want to get in shape for the summer, join us in Leafy Green Studio in Pontcanna, Cardiff! Contact us to book the next class or consultations with Molly to get a bespoke service for your needs.

Working with chronic illnesses | Parkinson’s disease

We often meet people in life that have to deal with challenging health conditions daily, going through a long journey that often feels lonely. But they don’t have to be alone. Each and every one of us can have an impact and make their lives just a little bit easier.

Having clients is more than just another yoga lesson or a massage; is a deeper connection that allows me to become part of their lives, and I am grateful for that. My aim is to get to know them and get them to trust me in order to be able to help them any way I can.

That is especially the case when dealing with chronic illnesses, which I see in one of my clients fighting Parkinson’s disease. For quite some time she would have a massage with me every week, but through our conversations, I realised that she needs a more realistic plan of therapy. Sometimes I have to make a pause to review our journey. And we came up with a combination of massage and yoga that was better for her health but also financially more sustainable. Helping people with their physical wellbeing often includes other realms of life, but that is all part of the therapeutic process and personal approach I like to cherish.

If you have someone close that’s fighting a chronic condition, they might want to get you away from it, it often feels like a burden to other people. Don’t ignore their condition. Acknowledge it. Let them be open with you. Relieve them from their daily struggle by giving them the chance to be confident.

Dealing with conditions like Parkinson’s disease requires a lot of patience; from both the therapist and the client. Even though Parkinson is not the kind of disease you can cure, you can delay its evolution. Yoga, massages and good nutrition can slow down its gradual worsening. What I found as a somewhat universal formula is – keeping people aware of the process, not being afraid to give helpful criticism, but also praise. Positive thinking goes a long way in keeping us enthusiastic and motivated to try new things. I always stay open in my work and it somehow always stays rewarding.

You can join Molly in her yoga and Pilates classes in our studio in Pontcanna, Cardiff! Contact us if you have any questions or if you would like to book your consultations with Molly to get the best possible solution designed for your needs.

Working with chronic illnesses | Multiple sclerosis

There are times in life when things don’t go as planned and you need to stop and rethink your whole life from a different perspective. That was the case for one of my clients a few years ago when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide array of symptoms. It stays with you for life, as it is not curable, but the symptoms can be treated. When I found out my client had MS, we did extensive research and found an experimental therapy in the US. I travelled with her to Miami to visit the doctor.

Unfortunately, the MS had affected her immune system, but we came up with ways to treat the symptoms. I learned how to perfect my massage and Pilates knowledge to help in this case, focusing on types of movement that isolate different muscles, stimulating nerves and managing the condition.

People going through such difficult situations in their lives and coming back stronger and more determined to fight through often gave me the inspiration to keep learning and helping as much as I could. MS is a very common condition in our culture, affecting a lot of people globally, especially women. Even though you can’t cure their condition, you can improve it through the means of Pilates, yoga and tips to take home.

In this story, the client was in a fortunate position of being able to afford the experimental treatment, which I understand is not always the case. But this experience has shown me that there is hope in situations that seem unsolvable and often put us in a position that is both physically and mentally hard to cope with. Again, I was reminded that the body is a beautiful and unique system that can be helped through different practices, and it gave me confidence in approaching treatment of such cases.

Don’t hesitate to contact Leafy Green Studio and get in touch with Molly to get her professional help and advice. Her classes and massages are available throughout the week in the Pontcanna, Cardiff based studio. Practice in small groups and get bespoke service for your health needs!

Yoga, Pilates and Weight Loss | On how I used to be seven stone

My studio is based on a principle of personal approach and holistic therapy. All of my clients, no matter if they attend my yoga or Pilates classes or come for a massage, first have a consultation with me. Which is, in reality, an informal chat where we talk about what bothers them and how I could help. And one of the goals that I often try and help with is weight loss. It is a completely legitimate reason to start exercising, but I usually have to break some illusions – you have to be realistic, and you have to consider your diet as well!

If I got a coin for every time I heard “Oh, I used to be seven stone!” I would be a rich woman. People come to me and often beat themselves over their weight and the way their body looks, sticking to an image of a body they think they once had. I used to be seven stone as well. When I was seven years old! So, one of the first steps I often have to go through is explaining that our bodies regenerate themselves entirely in the course of seven to nine years. That means that you simply do not have that same body you had twenty years ago. And the first thing you need to do is get over that fact and be more realistic. That way you will be better prepared to make your body fitter and live a healthier life.

The other issue that my clients and I come across is their diet. No amount of yoga or Pilates classes is going to help you if you don’t cut down on simple, refined sugars. Our diets need to be adjusted to our daily needs, and we often stick to our dietary habits while our needs changed a long time ago. That is why our bodies start to accumulate fatty layers that are harder to take off. But not impossible! You just have to have a realistic and holistic approach to your exercise and diet.

As I often say, I can give you a stomach of steel, but nobody is going to see it if there is a layer of fat over it! When I work with my clients, especially on their weight issues, we work as a team. We have our little agreement, and we do our best to follow it. And sometimes it means joking on the situation because laughter makes us healthier as well!

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to know more about how Molly can help you with your own struggles and personal growth. Feel free to give us a call or drop us an email! Here you can find out more on types of workshops available and the current schedule.

Yoga Mantras and Chants | Why I end my classes with poems

I wrote already about my beginnings and how my career of yoga and Pilates instructor and massage therapist started from a fascination with the human body and its movement. I also wrote on the body being a beautiful system that works as one and we can only treat it holistically. So, our minds are part of the story as well, with our feelings and our spiritualities. This holistic approach is the essence of yoga. Yoga is not only a physical practice, but it’s also a philosophy for life, based mostly on ancient texts called Yoga Sutras – an interesting yoga reading if you are interested. One of the practices that came from these old traditions and are used today by some yoga schools are mantras and chants.

A lot of us have probably been once or twice to a yoga class which started or ended with a chant in a language we didn’t understand. We felt a bit awkward, maybe mumbled a bit along with the sound of it and continued with the practice when it ended. Mantras are part of the complex tradition which some teachers decide not to follow. And I am one of them!

Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the chants, their study and use are probably purposeful. However, maybe if we chanted in a language we understand, in a form we understand, perhaps it would make it a bit more meaningful? I believe that things could be updated and made more relevant to people who are in the class. And most of my students don’t know how to read Sanskrit.

That is why, at the end of my classes, I read poems – in English. They are usually short poems that I read to bring additional depth to a class, make people use their mind to a different perspective after they tired their bodies. Last week, I read a poem that reminds us of that moment of calm when we just wake up, right before we start facing the world for the day and invites us to carry that moment throughout the day. Because that is, among other things, yoga – that moment of bliss we feel at the end of the practice.

If you would like to join Molly in her travels and immerse yourself in nature to practice yoga on a daily basis, while enjoying carefully prepared meals and her therapeutic massage, there are only a few spots left for her yoga retreat in Spain this September!

 

Yoga Philosophy and Elephants | Take care of yourself, to be able to care for others

During my stay in Thailand, where I studied Thai massage, I worked in an elephant sanctuary. This journey was not related to yoga, it brought me the other side of my expertise, the one in massage. Though it did teach me some basic life principles and it is a reason why I always say I am inspired by global wildlife. I especially fell in love with one of the elephants there who was acting as a mother of the group. She would look after new elephants brought into the sanctuary and made sure they become part of the group. I learned that elephants are extremely social beings and I realised how much I could learn from them.

Now, back to yoga… Every teacher will tell you that yoga is not just a practice of funny or complicated postures, it is a philosophy for life. This philosophy is based on ancient Sanskrit writings and can be quite complex from our 21st-century Western perspective. But I believe that everything can, and should, be broken down for everyone to understand. What lies in the core of this complex learning is balancing different aspects of life, starting from caring for yourself. Yoga provides the element of self-care that we so often neglect in our modern lives filled with overworking, an abundance of information, different screens that often substitute socialisation. Through yoga, we learn again how to start from ourselves, caring for our bodies and minds. To be kinder towards others, and to be able to care for others.

I often think about how elephants taught me to never forget that we are social beings. No matter what I am helping people with and no matter if I am using yoga, Pilates, massage or any other technique in my holistic approach in achieving that. Wildlife can teach us so many things, and it inspired me to never forget the importance of humans’ openness to the world, to others. We need other people to survive, just as we sometimes need to go back to nature that reminds us to care for ourselves to be able to care for others.

Join Molly in reconnecting with nature by booking your place on her yoga retreats! There are just a few places left for her 6-day retreat in Spain this September, with daily yoga practice in beautiful rustic scenery, homemade plant-based meals and massages included.

 

 

BE YOUR VERY BEST

Leafy Green Studio classes are there to support you to be your very best.

Yin Yoga classes contain long, deeply held stretches – or shapes as we like to call them – releasing negative energy and allowing positive energy to pass through the body.  Whilst holding a shape – for an average of 5 minutes – we focus on our breath and readings help stimulate us mentally.  Each class lasts 2 hours giving time to consider, to reflect, and to plan.  On leaving, each participant is encouraged to practice that shape which they found most challenging; a chance for individual growth.

Book your class today to begin your journey.

www.leafygreenstudio.com

BE YOUR VERY BEST – FLOW YOGA

I had decided to go to Easter Island, the most remote inhabited island in the world.  No one knows why there are no trees on the island or how the infamous statues got there.

I didn’t feel lonely.  I felt free.  I felt the wind in my hair as I cycled up the side of a volcano and the splash of the sea whilst walking along the cliffs.  I felt the spirit of the island and with it the importance of being at one with the world; with its natural ebb and flow.

A Flow Yoga class encourages the body to move into and explore one posture after another.  No postures are forced, just felt and within each class each individual discovers more of what they can achieve.  Classes take place throughout the week at the Leafy Green Studio, Cardiff.  For more information on classes, retreats and teacher training, please visit www.leafygreenstudio.com.

BE YOUR VERY BEST
A few years ago I had the privilege of training with one of Kenya’s Olympic coaches.  I explained to him I was an ultra-runner and asked what was the one thing I should take away with me from our training sessions.  “Pilates” he said.  “Your core is your engine.  It will keep you going when everything else tries to stop.”
With this in mind, I have developed a programme – a Pilates tool box if you like – from which all of us can pick and choose our core exercises to suit.  Exercises that will keep us going despite what’s going on around us. 
This Pilates tool box can be accessed via The Leafy Green Studio website and booking a 1-1 session to suit you.
Put your key in the ignition.  Start the engine running.
www.leafygreenstudio.com