Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sophie Clyde, the much sought after London based transformative yoga guru. You may have familiarised yourself with her through Grazia, attended one of her intimate and holistic events hosted alongside The Yes Chef, Tess Ward; or crossed paths with her on the mat. With one look at Sophie, my legs, bum and tum wanted to know all of her secrets. They say that bikini bodies are sculpted in the winter and I need all the help that I can get.
Areta: How long have you been practicing yoga?
Sophie: 5 years
Areta: What is your favourite aspect of yoga?
Sophie: I love the empowerment and freedom that is created in the body and mind through the development of a strong core. When we build strength it heightens our ability to stay grounded and our own self-worth deepens. We are able to engage with every situation life throws at us in a more positive way and we can move forward feeling stronger.
Areta: What type of mental and physical benefits can a newcomer to yoga expect to gain from regular practice?
Sophie: I can really only speak from my experience; for me it significantly reduced anxiety, something that restricted my ability to enjoy life. Instead of being stuck in the past or trying to predict the future, it gave emphasis to the present moment through breath work (pranayama), mantras and poses (asana). Physically, it helped me recover from a lower back injury, I lost weight and toned up, and gained more flexibility. Most importantly, it led me to feel more compassion for others and myself. Ultimately, uplifting my quality of life on every level.
Areta: What is your favourite pose?
Sophie: Headstand (Sirsasana) because it engergises me. If I am feeling slugglish or tired, it’s the best remedy!
Areta: What types of food do you eat to help energise your practice?
Sophie: Hot water with lemon is great before or after a practice to cleanse the system. I find that having enough iron in my diet to be essential otherwise my energy levels dip. I eat complex carbohydrates, like brown rice and proteins such as lentils and nuts. I often carry around dark chocolate for in-between classes.
Areta: Dark chocolate and headstands. I knew we’d get a long just fine! Sophie, let’s get down to the dirt. Which postures are particularly good for sculpting and lengthening muscles for the much coveted bikini body?
Sophie: All of the following poses require an integration of each and every muscle to the core. One of the many reasons I love yoga is that it’s a more holistic way of building strength, rather than working specifically on individual muscle groups. They will give you tone and balanced strength throughout the entirety of your body.
Repeat the yoga circuit below five times to hone and tone from top to toe!
Marjarsana / Cat variation, one arm one leg extensions
Sophie: This is an excellent way of building up a strong vertical core! Start on all fours with the hands lined up under the shoulders and the knees under the inner hips. Extend the right leg out behind you, flex the foot and extend the left hand. Hold for 5 deep breaths and repeat on other side.
Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Facing Dog Variation, one arm one leg extensions
Sophie: Start from Downward Facing Dog. Root the knuckles into the floor. Lift the right leg, get strong in the thigh (this will create stability).Then come onto the fingers of the left hand. You can either stay her or fully extend the left hand. Hold for 5 deep breaths and repeat on other side.
Vashistasana / Side Angle Plank variation (Prop: block/book/pillow)
Sophie: This builds strength in the triceps, thighs and entire core. Hug the block in-between the top of the thighs. Start in a Forearm Plank making sure the elbows are directly under the shoulders. Roll onto your right forearm and right side of your feet. Flex the feet (this will help with balance) and make sure they are stacked on top of each other. If you a building balance you can place your left hand on the floor or extend it up into the air. Hold for 5 deep breaths and repeat on other side.
Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Facing Dog into Plank with Knee Bent
Sophie: Start in downward facing dog. Inhale lift the right leg up into the sky. Exhale draw your knee in toward you and onto the outer edge of your right elbow. Inhale extend the right leg up into the sky again. Do this action 10 times and the repeat using the left leg. Make sure the movements are mindful, slow and with alignment to the breath. This is wonderful core work that will build up your strength for Eka Pada Koundinyasana II (one legged arm balance).
Plank slides (Prop: blanket and smooth floor)
Sophie: Come into a plank pose with your hands on the mat and your feet on the blanket. Exhale use your core to draw the knee into your stomach. Inhale shoot your legs back in space either to plank (if this is too much you don’t have to extend the legs all the way back to plank as demonstrated in the photo)
Areta: Five poses (done respectively on each side), repeated in a circuit 5 times, sounds like a very sweaty workout! I love that these moves can be done anywhere, at anytime and don’t involve any fancy kit! Lunch time planks anyone? Thank you Sophie, for the excellent tips to help us get limber, stronger and ready to strut our stuff this summer!