The oasis of hot yoga in the West End: Bikram Yoga Glasgow

Bikram yoga sounds like the ultimate yoga challenge: 26 yoga poses and 2 breathing exercises in a hot (+40°C) and humid room (think saunas and steam rooms) for 90 consecutive minutes. You’ve certainly got my attention! I’d been leisurely reading about hot yoga itself and the benefits of practising yoga in a heated room for some time, and was intrigued by the notion of heat enabling your muscles and joints to ease into poses you perhaps wouldn’t have been able to try out in a traditional, unheated class. As someone with hypermobile joints (more on that later – let’s just say that my first half-marathon was not a pleasurable experience on my knees), I was a little worried Bikram wouldn’t be the right thing for me. What if I’d hurt myself without noticing? Could that happen? And how about the heat, what if I’d feel dizzy and pass out?

Last month I had the chance to visit the original and Scotland’s first Bikram Yoga studio in Glasgow’s West End. Needless to say, I was very interested to find out what the fuss was about, although I had my doubts about my own suitability for this particular class. Bikram, to me, sounded more like a practise for the superhuman, super flexible and fit people, and in my mind’s eye I could see these beautiful people just flow from one pose to another, not a worry on their mind. How on earth would I, your average girl who likes her white wine on a Friday night in a bubble bath, fit in at all? As someone who has developed a regular Ashtanga and seasonal yoga practice, I thought I would bottle it up and take up the challenge. I mean, the worst scenario would be me lying on my mat in a  hot room for an hour and a half, drinking water and getting accustomed to the heat. If that would teach my inner zen to ditch my ego, then so be it.

So on a Wednesday afternoon, I headed down to the West End, and the instant I walked in I was greeted by the lovely people at reception and the teacher of my class, Alexander. It was Baltic outside, and I’d layered up to fight off the cold, but gosh was it warm indoors! And I wasn’t even in the studio yet, just by the front door. I was taken to the chic and post-modern, yet cosy and welcoming chillout area, to have a little chat with the owner Stephen and the marketing manager Freya. And I have to say, Stephen crushed any fears or doubts I was holding against Bikram practise, or my own ability to take part in a class. Among the first things he told me was that the founder of the practise, Bikram Choudhury himself, had designed the sequence of the 26 yoga postures especially for beginners. ‘There is no occasion you shouldn’t do Bikram’, he said, explaining to me how these static asanas were designed not to be too intimidating for newbies and to help with any health problems – sore backs or tight hamstrings, or hypermobility issues, in my case. He used an analogy of a samurai sword to explain the benefits of the heat:

‘If you take a big piece of metal and try to bend it with you bare hands, you will only break your arm – cold metal won’t bend however hard you try to force it to. But if you heat the piece up, put it in the oven – suddenly you are able to mould yourself a samurai sword, if you want.’

And this is how Bikram works, and why it is so beneficial and good for you. Surely, any form of yoga is good, but a heated class will help you relax deeper into poses and release whatever tension you are holding in your body. Freya also pointed out how the heat makes your heart rate plummet through the roof, enabling you to not only improve your aerobic fitness, but also increase your maximum performance capacity – in other words, your heart works as hard as it would during a run, without the negative effects of an impact sport. Due to this, after a while you are able to reach an endorphin high. You also sweat buckets, which, as we all know, is good for both your skin and body.

By this point of the conversation, I was mesmerised – it all sounded too good to be true. Stephen raised a significant point about the importance of regaining our flexibility after childhood. As everybody knows, children are basically made of rubber and can jump back up every time they fall. But as we get older, our joints stiffen up and without regular stretching and exercise, we soon lose some of our flexibility, which can lead to injuries and other health problems. What Bikram Yoga Glasgow, and Stephen himself, want to do is challenge everyone to give Bikram yoga a try: he indeed said his mission to be to spread yoga across the UK and have everyone to try it, from toddlers to grannies. Because everyone can do it: even the most inflexible and unbendable person can be heated up and molded into a sword, so to speak, as long as they keep an open mind. Because if you don’t move it, you are going to lose it (BBC). In a world tackling obesity and other lifestyle-caused chronic illnesses, I myself am happy to do whatever it takes to stay fit and healthy.

After such an inspirational talk, I was ready to conquer the globe. Freya gave me a couple of tips on how to survive my first class. I was not push myself, as the heat could come as a total surprise: it was absolutely okay to rest in child’s pose when it all got a little too much to handle. If at any point I was to start feeling faint or dizzy, I was to sit down and take a couple of deep breaths. I’d been drinking a couple of litres of water for the few of days preceding my class, and actually brought some electrolytes with me, just to be on the safe side. So after I’d grabbed my towel from the reception, I went to get changed for the class and braced myself. The first class was and is always the most difficult one, mostly because you don’t know what to expect and the reality might take you by surprise. Stephen himself said that usually it takes one to three classes to get used to the heat, so I wasn’t expecting miracles. But at the same time I felt a lot more confident in my venture. I had been reassured that the class was going to be full of ordinary people, from all walks of life, not just elite athletes and myself, shamefully tucked away in a corner. 

After 90 minutes, I wandered out of the studio with a blissful grin on my face. All I could say was ‘lovely’ to everything and anything. Because life felt lovely. I felt lovely. In the midst of a cold February, I had been transported back to warm and comforting India. I felt relaxed and rejuvenated. It had been tough, at first – I had felt my blood rushing through my body and my heart pounding high up in my chest, but after the first half an hour, I forgot all about my discomfort. I started feeling focused, almost meditative at times, and embraced the heat. My forward folds felt deeper and less forced. Everyone was soaked in sweat, but nobody seemed to care. It was as if it was considered as normal, almost as a rule. Nobody was judging you, or competing with you during the class. Everyone was doing the same basic poses, and you didn’t feel like the others were a lightyear ahead of you in their practice. That you were somehow the misfit, or keeping others back. Everyone was dead focused on what they were doing themselves. The whole atmosphere in the studio reminded me of a big, friendly family. I felt welcomed, like I was among my own kind.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. As Stephen told me, ‘the more you want to do it, the slower you should approach it’ – this being applicable to not just Bikram, in my opinion, but to life in general. The faster you run, your eyes fixed on the price, the more likely you are to trip over a pothole and hurt yourself. That’s why I think we should all learn to enjoy the ride, instead of obsess over the destination – myself included.

I can only say that I am a total hot yoga convert after my experience at Bikram Yoga Glasgow, and would take full advantage of their introductory offer (£30 for 30 days unlimited classes, one hell of a deal) if I lived a little closer. If you’re interested in finding out more, I would strongly advise to check out their website – there are 7 classes a day, running Monday to Sunday, and the studio is just a stone’s throw away from Hillhead metro station. The studio runs workshops every now and then, providing yogis a chance to deepen their practise. If you stay in Glasgow, please give Bikram a go – you only live once, and 90 minutes isn’t that much out of your daily 24 hours. You can tape whatever’s on telly, surely?

Sweaty Betty takeover at James Dun’s House with Juice Warrior and Infinity Yoga Glasgow

A few weeks ago, I spied Sweaty Betty Glasgow planning a takeover at James Dun’s House at 4 Hanover Street on Friday 27th February. There was going to be free yoga lead by the lovely Colette from Infinity Yoga, cold-pressed juices by Juice Warrior and the possibility to sample the spa treatments, so naturally I picked up the phone and booked myself in. And was it not worth the commute down! The ladies at the salon made everyone feel welcomed the moment you stepped in. The atmosphere at James Dun’s was calming and relaxing – I would love to spend a day getting pampered in the good care of the girls. We spent a little while waiting for the yoga to begin, having arrived a little early, before pushing ourselves in Colette’s yoga flow. Not sure if it was the pigeon with raised hands, or upper bow in my morning class, but my back has been positively sore all day today! Colette runs the Infinity Yoga studio in the Merchant City, a studio offering everything from your usual non-heated Hatha and Yin classes to hot Ashtanga and Bikram-based classes. I’m dying to become a regular, wish the distance (and the train fares) wouldn’t be such an issue or I’d be down in her care all day every day.

IMG_2029After the yoga, with everyone positively relaxed and feeling all cosy and fuzzy, we were offered to sample the treatments available at James Dun’s, and I went for a shoulder and head massage – almost falling asleep in the chair! Any new customer can get a £30 intro to Spa offer, enabling you to book a full one-hour treatment for half price. The attendees were given a Juice Warrior juice (I think I’ve fallen in love with Blood Pact: how can it be so sweet without any fruit in it?!) and a Sweaty Betty tote with some flyers, a run bottle (I have been drooling over one for months now, can’t believe my luck) and some hair toggles. I have been wanting to try toggles since I read a couple of blogs praising them to be a lot better for your hair than your traditional hair ties. I shall let you know how these endure all the Tough Mudder training in due course. All in all, I had an amazing time and could not have thanked the team enough for throwing such a relaxing event to finish off a Friday that had been full of stress and worry on my part. I also slept like a wee baby, not a worry in the world.

Now I just wish I had the money to enjoy the Sweaty Betty online sale without having to starve for a week or two… Maybe next time around!

Nothing added, only extracted: Juice Warrior

Juicing has been the trend for the last couple of years: drink your OJ and lose those Christmas pounds, get beach ready with carrot juice in just a week – I am surprised if there is anyone left who doesn’t know what I’m talking about. While I remained sceptical for quite some time, the idea of drinking freshly extracted green juices started growing on me. Sure the media’s take on juicing is puzzling: one minute it’s the source of all evil (Independent, Guardian) and the other it’s actually okay (Guardian). The problem, I find, with smoothies and fruit juices especially, is the ridiculously high sugar content. My friend Catherine cut all sugar off her diet for a few weeks last summer, and just following her quest made me realise how much sugar and salt and other additives there are in your normal supermarket goods. While the option, for me at least, would be to stick to vegetable juices, I was worried I would not enjoy the taste whatsoever. I own a blender and a centrifugal juicer. The blender gets used on the odd Sunday when I feel like treating myself to a berry or fruit smoothie. But the juicer seemed to gather dust in my kitchen cupboard. While I loved the idea of having a green vegetable juice as part of my morning routine, it seemed hard to get started. Would I like spinach? What even is kale? How could beetroot taste any good with carrot? I’m used to having my veggies as part of my dinner, not in a glass. But I thought I’d give it a try when I found out about Juice Warrior.

Finally! A local, Glasgow-based company producing and selling raw, cold-pressed juices. Not just your sugary sickly orange and apple juice, but a full range of fruity green juices all the way to hardcore ‘no fruits allowed’ greenies. I tried out the Cleopatra Cleanse, a collection of 5 juices, a nut milk and a shot of chlorella. And I was surprised to find that although most of the juices were made with mostly veggies, they still tasted delish! With their cleanses, Juice Warrior does not expect you to drop it all and go on a juice fast for x amount of time. You can do that, obviously, if you want to ‘reboot’ your body, in the sense of giving your system a little break – they provide loads of information regarding the whole idea of juice fasting on their website. Instead, I took the juices as part of my existing diet. I would have scrambled eggs as usual for breakfast, but instead of toast I’d sip ‘Sweet Beet’ while watching the news, and then enjoy ‘Nothin’ Fancy’, for instance, as a mid-afternoon snack when feeling a little peckish. And as someone who is not a fan watermelon or pineapple, I still managed to drown both ‘Pillar Box’ and ‘Pina Kale Ada’ and have to say that the latter was probably my favourite of all! Funny world eh?

The lovely people at Juice Warrior delivered the juices straight to my front door, in a cool box to optimise freshness. My order included the 5 juices, a nut milk, the chlorella shot mentioned above, a detox and a cleanse Pukka tea, and a lemon to squeeze into my tea and/or water. I spread the juices over three days, having the chlorella shot, ‘Pillar Box’ and ‘Pina Kale Ada’ on day 1, ‘Sweet Beet’ on day 2 (got a bit busy with life that day) and finished with ‘Evergreen’, ‘Nothin’ Fancy’ and the nut milk ‘Coco Cashew’ on day 3. According to Juice Warrior, the Cleopatra Cleanse is very good in order to help your skin to stay hydrated and thus maximises its healthy glow. I know for a fact that my skin is a slave for hormones, but I do feel that after my weekend of juicing my complexion is looking a lot more clearer. Call it the placebo effect if you want – while more research still needs to be done, studies such as this one would indicate that there is a relationship between diet and acne, and possibly other skin conditions. But one thing is for sure, though: the sheer amount of fresh produce helped my body fight off a nasty cold I’d caught from my trip down to London the previous week! I don’t think I’ve ever bounced back to health this quickly in my life!

Nobody ever got hurt eating a little more fruit and veg, so if you’re not a fan of that broccoli on your dinner plate, I would warmly recommend trying out green juices – you might surprise yourself.

The Tough Mudder Diary, Entry #1

Believe it or not, I used to hate PE with all my heart. Sport always felt like something that just wasn’t for me – I wasn’t flexible, I wasn’t fast, I sucked at ball games due to my inexplicable fear of falling balls (this is still true to this day). Always a little chubby, I accepted my life as a non-athlete and went on about my life. Until the nurse told me I’d better shed a couple of pounds, just to be on the safe side – after all, it’s no good being slightly overweight when you’re only 18. So I started running. And got addicted to the endorphin high that hits you after two miles. Not long after, I picked up a yoga book in a local Waterstones, and soon the 10-minute morning sun salutation had grown to a full hour of synchronised breathing and stretching after my morning run. At university, I joined the gym, and since last September, I’ve become addicted to weight lifting. And ladies, it surely does not make you manly and bulky! I have never felt fitter or happier, so when a friend asked if I wanted to do Tough Mudder with her, I didn’t hesitate to sign up for it.

And this is where we start, as nobody will find anyone’s teenage struggles either entertaining or interesting – trust me. Each month, I will share the ups and downs of my training with you: which products I have discovered that have made me able to move my legs the day after a tough training session. How on some winter mornings, the bed just feels like a better place to be than the cold, great outdoors. And how each month I can sprint up the stairs to my flat quicker and with less effort than previously. Hope you enjoy the ride!

So last month, my American friend Courtney talked me into trying such a peculiar phenomenon called indoor cycling classes. As someone who loves cycling, I for some reason never found it appealing sweating in a small room with a bunch of strangers, having an instructor shout at you on the top of their voice. I would much rather take my bike and go for a wee ride around town, maybe stop for a cup of tea before heading back home. Cycling, for me, has always been first and foremost about commuting, moving from A to C via B. But Courtney sounded so enthusiastic, I could hear myself agreeing to do a lunchtime class with her the next day. The studio was tiny, but surprisingly less-daunting than I thought it would be. The instructor was a lovely woman, emphasising to do as much or as little as you felt like you were capable of. And once the bass was booming in the room, I took all my previous prejudice back – I loved it! Bouncing up and down and pushing yourself for 40 minutes made me walk out of the studio with a big, cheesy grin on my face. And after a few weeks of attending, I started noticing my running improving, too. It’s amazing how quickly your body gets accustomed to a new form of exercise. Sure, for the first week or two I was walking around like a penguin, making the kids at work giggle, but now my body has adapted and accepted the extra 60 minutes of exercise a week. I actually have more energy – and a bigger appetite! – and fully embrace our sweaty lunchtime dates.


It is funny how cross-training, rather than breaking your body, makes it function better. I would encourage everyone to challenge themselves this month: try out something you’ve always loathed. In my case it was spinning classes, but you might have always found yoga a little weird, the weight machines at the gym daunting or maybe you’ve never been one to take a plunge at the poolside. Whatever it is, let go of the prejudices, maybe ask a friend to come along for mental support. But try open your mind and give it a go – you might find that the sport you always thought you would hate is actually not that bad in the end.

Friday Night Pamper with LUSH Cosmetics

Everybody loves a good pampering session after a long, busy week. So this Friday night, why not put your legs up, close the bathroom door and run yourself a nice hot bath! I’ve gathered together a few tips on how to make the most out of your me-time and how to transform our loo into a luxurious spa, even if just for the night.

All about the atmosphere

It is almost as important to have your surroundings reflecting the serene and relaxing atmosphere as it is to get the bath temperature just right, so light up a few candles. Find that perfect playlist on Spotify – I personally go for the nature noises; there’s nothing better than imagining yourself in a beach spa somewhere far away, watching the exotic sunset. Make yourself a cup of tea or, if the week has been especially tough, pour a nice glass of wine. Dim the lights and let the warm, flickering tealights invite you to let go of the stress.

Getting the bubbles just right

In a spa, you wouldn’t expect to be seated in a plain boring bathtub. So spice it up! Lush offers a range of luxurious bath products, ranging from bubbles to bath bombs to bath melts – whatever your fancy, they will most likely stock it. If you’re looking for a classic Hollywood soak, go for the bubble bars – if you’re feeling more adventurous, try the fizzing bath bombs. ‘Granny Takes A Dip’ is the ultimate mood lifter with ginger, pepper and lemon: the scent alone perks you up, and the rainbow of colours relaxes the mind, too.

Scrub your worries away

A bath is not complete without a good face mask and full body scrub. Firstly, start off  with a good exfoliation – I tried out the ‘Ocean Salt’ -body and face scrub, and by golly is it refreshing! As a two-in-one body product it’s great for both your cheeks as well as your legs: the sea salt removes the dead skin cells, while grapefruit cleanses and tones, and mango butter gives the finishing touches with its skin softening properties. Follow by a face mask of your choice and you will feel as good as new.


Last but not least: moisturise

In our cold and damp Scottish weather, it is important to remember your moisturiser as it is the key to good-looking skin. The famous ‘Charity Pot’ body cream not only cares for your skin, but Lush donates 100% of the price of each pot (excluding the taxes for obvious reasons) to a good cause: currently to fight fracking in the Mendip Hills in Somerset. So while the rich and creamy lotion softens every inch of you and restores that healthy glow of your skin, it also supports charity. So one less thing to worry about!

Find out more at

Trip down to England

Nice little weekend trip down to my aunt’s. Saw my good friend Lotta in Oxford, had a lovely day getting lost in the old university town. Got enough of trains, though. Force me into one and I swear I’m not responsible for my actions haha!

Feeding the ducks

Such a perfect, lazy Sunday. The Finnish Christmas radio started broadcasting so it’s been my childhood favourites over and over again. My English essay is still missing a thousand words or so but I’ve got plenty of time – it’s not due till tomorrow 5pm! And me being up at 7.30am (as usual) I’ll have 700-odd words before lunch which for the record is going to be Jamie Oliver’s tomato soup and fresh gluten-free bread. And in the afternoon I am going to bake some Christmassy cakes. Gluten and lactose free, for sure.

Did my Christmas shopping on Saturday. I am now a hundred pounds (or more!) poorer but I’ve got everything now. Even gift wrapped the first presents yesterday evening – doing all possible to procrastinate as much as possible. Michael’s having a bad effect on me but then on the other hand I’ve never been this relaxed during an exam week. Maybe I’m just growing old and finding the real priorities in life. Liking it a lot anyway.

Also, after 8 and a half months of strict dieting and food control, I am now having a month off. Enjoying whatever I want, whenever I want. I’m hitting the gym for real and cutting off the sugar and so on again in January but now I will just indulge myself (of course, within reasonable limits, you know me) and take the most out of Christmas. ‘Cause it’s my favourite time of the year.

Have we got other Christmas lovers around? x

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Christmas – one of my favourite festivities! I might be a wee bit early this year but let’s face it, who could resist Marks’s 3 for 2 Christmas offers? Not me at least. So, I got myself a little pine tree. And some hangings.

Yesterday evening I ordered the first presents – goodbye thirty quid. It doesn’t matter, though, since I love giving more than anything. Especially when the present is something the other person genuinely likes and you can just see how their face lit up when they’ve removed the wrapping. It’s the best feeling ever!