What Is POP Pilates? | Totes Yoga

Our NEWEST and most EXCITING fitness program is here!

I am really excited to teach this class. It is completely different to what I am used to even though I am a certified Pilates instructor and teach 5 classes a week. POP Pilates is nothing like traditional Pilates. I would say it is closer to a body conditioning class with Pilates exercises infused. It is set to upbeat, pop music and pre-choregraphed. This program is a challenge and will have you sweat and feel your DOMS afterwards. Whilst it’s a challenge, it is also described as a ‘dance on the matt’. There is an element of ballet/barre moves in some of the tracks too! I am used to teaching relatively slow exercises classes so this has taken me a while to learn how to teach effectively to others. The transitions are quick!

What is the benefit to POP Pilates?

Good question!

  • Core Strength
  • Improved Posture and Alignment
  • Stronger Muscles
  • Alleviated Back Pain
  • Increased Flexibility
  • Increased Agility
  • Increased Range of Motion
  • Body Awareness/Mind-Body Connection

How is this different to regular Pilates?

Even though it is called ‘Pilates’ this is very different to regular Pilates. It is a fusion of continuous ab-work and total body exercises, leaving no muscle unused whilst developed a very strong core. It has a rhythmic flow from one exercise to the next. It is set to upbeat POP Music so transitions can be quick with little to no break in-between. The full 55 minute version has 13 tracks each with a different focus included abs, glutes, thighs, obliques, back, upper body, cardio and flexibility training. It is very unique and originates from United States. There is very few POP Pilates classes in the UK as of yet!

Where/How Can I Do A Class?

Crowborough Leisure Centre, East Sussex now has a POP Pilates Class from this Saturday (24th November 2018) at 9:30 – 10:30. Taster or POP-UP classes may be presented in West Sussex in the new year! Details to follow…

Let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions! I am excited to bring this class for the first ever POP Pilates class in East Sussex!

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Gratitude is Yoga | Totes Yoga

The definition for gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.

At the end of a class I will very often say “bow your head with gratitude”

What does this mean? We have had 5-10 minutes in Savasana to relax, reflect, and redefine ourselves.  Just like everything, you can’t have the good without having the bad. In life, you have light and dark; positive and negative.

At the end of one class I was teaching, I began to think about how we view life and the energy it attracts into our lives.  I was recovering from a negative week and it had a lasting impression which surprised me as I am usually a very positive person and in the words of Taylor Swift, I “shake it off”.

We are not in control of our circumstances or the things that happen to us

However, we are in control of our we respond to them. The analogy that came to mind for me was what type of glasses do I want to wear? I can view life through my negative glasses, focusing on what’s not going right or I can put my positive glasses on, reminding myself of everything I have which I am so lucky and grateful to have.

The more I wore my negative glasses, the more negative things came to me and I felt them even heavier. When I’m usually wearing my positive glasses and even when bad things happen, I try to see the best in them, they usually work out for the best and something better comes along.

This type of thinking does take practice if you feel like you are in a cycle of negativity

My mind sometimes does go to the negative which causes anxiety and stress and that’s ok because at the end of the day we are only human and should not be afraid to experience our real feelings. So the question is, do you want to dwell on that negativity or move onwards and upwards?

More than ever, we need more gratitude in our lives. In the negative, look for positives. In the dark, look for light. Keep going, you’ve got this.

Warrior Two | Totes Yoga

Warrior Two is one of my favourite poses. It is a great pose to put into a standing sequence during class. It feels great to open the hips and chest from a standing position. I also find it empowering as it opens the lungs to help us breathe better.

The benefits of this pose:

  • opens the hips, groin, chest and lungs
  • strengthens the legs including the thighs
  • improves respiratory systems and circulation
  • stimulates the inner organs
  • develops balance and helps us feel more grounded

When you start yoga, your Warrior Two will look different as you progress compared to someone who has done yoga for a number of years. How? This position stretches the legs and opens the hips. There is a lot of progress here from a beginners yoga class. The more we stretch (with patience), the more we can delve into the poses and go deeper.

I have beginners look at advanced yogi’s and ask why their pose doesn’t look the same. The simply answer is time with lots of practice! You wouldn’t expect to pick up a tennis racket first time and play like Roger Federer. Don’t get frustrated; just be present and breathe. The muscles will begin to go deeper into poses with time. This is a very energising pose and that’s why it feels so good. I also try to do Warrior Two in my morning classes to get everyone to breathe and seize the day!

Alternatives & Tips:

  • Bend your front knee either behind the ankle or directly over the ankle, but never past the point of ankle
  • Back foot can come to a 90 degree angle, but try to take the toes to face more towards the front of your pose
  • Hands parallel to floor. Take a deep breathe in, find length in your body and as your exhale, relax the shoulders and maybe sink more in the legs.

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Join The Totes Yoga Virtual Online Studio for FREE Yoga & Pilates HERE!

Totes Yoga Virtual Online Studio | Totes Yoga

Do you struggle to get to classes in the week? Or find it hard to fit in time at the gym? This is a struggle for so many of us. We have the intention to workout or stretch but it gets buried in our to-do list’s. And then you have the experts say that even one visit to a class or gym in the week isn’t enough.

Totes Yoga want to make Yoga & Pilates exercises more accessible to people all over the world, not just Sussex (We LOVE Sussex)! Therefore we have created a Virtual Online Studio with free videos from 5 to 20 minute classes. Each video has a particular focus and area to work on.

You may not have the full hour to do a class but whether it’s an hour or 10 minutes it’s so worth it! The hardest thing about fitness is being consistent. The only way to get results is consistency; showing up and doing the work multiple times in the week. So even if you don’t have an hour, you can scan through videos in our Virtual Online Studio to complete at home or anywhere in the world!

At the moment, our Totes Yoga Virtual Online studio is on a Facebook group here:


I love this facebook group as it is easy to interact with other Totes Yogi’s! The only downside is that I have some people in my classes who aren’t on Facebook and are missing out. Therefore, shortly we will be posting on YouTube to make our videos more accessible for everyone. We hope to be able to bring you better sound and quality videos (something that takes a lot of time and research!).

Make sure you get yourself involved in the group for FREE Yoga & Pilates workouts. Simply follow the link, request to join and enjoy!


Standing Forward Fold | Totes Yoga

Forward folds will always be used in a yoga class. Generally used in warm ups and sun salutations. We tend to hold a lot of tension in the shoulders and neck. Standing Forward Fold is best when we drop the head and fully relax the shoulder blades.

The benefits of this pose:

  • relieves stiffness in the spine, neck and back
  • stretches hamstrings, hips and calves
  • improves balance, posture and co-ordination
  • stimulate internal organs such as kidney, liver and spleen
  • improves digestion
  • reduces fatigue, tiredness and anxiety

This pose is most commonly used in sun salutations which involves a flow of stretches for the entire body. A lot of people think the goal is to touch their toes and that’s a good goal to have however it is not the key to success. Yoga is a process. As long as you are feeling the stretch here you are successful and getting closer to your goal each day! As well as the physical benefits this pose also relaxes the nerves and rejuvenates the mind. Variations of this pose would be rag-doll pose where you grab the elbows with the hands and then allow the upper body to become heavier. Try swaying side to side to achieve more of a stretch for the back and legs.

Alternatives & Tips:

  • Bend your knees, maybe rest torso on thighs if this feels right for you
  • Drop the head
  • Relax shoulders, elbows and wrists
  • Place hands by the side of the toes
  • bring belly in to lift stomach muscles

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Tip: Sign up for more detailed posts & FREE guided mediation practices so you can practise at home! We understand how busy schedules can be. Sign up to receive these emails with yoga sequences, breathing techniques and much more! Go to the top of the page on the website to join the Totes Yoga Community TODAY!

The Heart | Totes Yoga

On the weekend I attended Les Mills Advanced Module Training (AIM1) for BODYBALANCE with the Creative Director, Kylie Gates. It was an amazing day of learning, developing our skills and connecting with other instructors who are passionate about the program. As fitness instructors, it is really inspiring to meet people who are just as enthusiastic about achieving their full potential as you are. Kylie taught us about the essence of Body Balance. She spoke about the most important thing: The Heart. Of course, we must practice, practice, practice our technique and know the choreography 110%. People can clearly see what you enjoy and where your passion lies. #FakeItUntilYouMakeIt can only take you so far.

One of the presenters at AIM1, Bram, spoke about yoga. He said one of his teachers told him that putting all your energy and passion into something is yoga. Whether that’s cooking, painting, coding, designing, teaching, fishing, etc. So what is your passion? Are you doing it with all your heart? In BodyBalance, I love the music, choreography, flow and over all feel of the program and sharing that with a group of people. I can’t help but smile and feel happy during class even when the occasional technology hiccups happen.

Use your heart and put all your passion into what you’re doing. “Make sure that you always follow your heart and your gut, and let yourself be who you want to be, and who you know you are. And don’t let anyone steal your joy.” – Jonathan Groff

A little story about my own journey…

I started my BodyBalance journey 6 years ago when my mum was doing her initial training! Once I came back from University and started working I followed along with her and did the body balance releases (back when they were on DVD’s!) every day for about 8 months. I really fell in love with it and attended Fitness Fiesta in Camber Sands during Body Balance 70. That release is special because I decided I wanted to become an instructor and spoke to the presenter there about it. It took another 7 releases until I actually built the courage to take the plunge and do it! Below is a picture with myself and two very inspiring ladies Kylie Gates and my mum (she has been a fitness instructor for over 20 years!). If you LOVE what you’re doing, ask yourself, how can you advance it? I loved the attitude of learning at AIM1. Whether you trained on Body Balance 30 or 80, you are never at the end of your journey, there is always more to unfold!

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The Crow | Totes Yoga

The Crow Pose can also be known as the Crane, The Bird and Bakasana. This pose is classed as an ‘advanced’ yoga pose under the ‘arm balance’ category. Although it’s an arm balance posture, this is definitely an exercise for the core.


  • strengthens the abdominal muscles
  • stretches and strengthens the back
  • opens and stretches the inner thighs
  • strengthens arms, shoulders and wrists
  • helps increase concentration, clearing the mind, brining clarity and space from anxiety

I’ve started putting this pose in my yoga classes recently. I give options to beginners who want to build up to it. I’ve honestly fallen in this position so many times. I collapse in this position often which encourages me to be ok with failure (see earlier blog: Why It’s Important To Fail), embrace patience, relax and try again. It’s important to have a spirit of fun with this pose. It takes a lot of strength in the core and arms so I encourage to have a light-hearted attitude here. Otherwise this pose could become more of a mental block rather than not having the strength to do it. So give it a go, don’t give up, have fun and fly!

Alternatives & tips:

  • Spread your fingers on the mat in front of you
  • Lift your hips as high as possible and keep elbows tucked in
  • Legs come on to the backs of the arms/triceps
  • Keep hips high and begin to bring the weight onto the hands
  • See how you feel with the weight on wrists and maybe lift one toe off the floor and then the other
  • Have fun, keep hips high and go for it!
  • Keep eye gaze slightly in front of hands and don’t be afraid to fall

Tip: Sign up for more detailed posts & FREE guided mediation practices so you can practise at home! We understand how busy schedules can be. Sign up to receive these emails with yoga sequences, breathing techniques and much more! Go to the top of the page on the website to join the Totes Yoga Community TODAY!

Why Being YOU is Important | Totes Yoga

Something I have learnt on my journey recently is that being yourself is important. I am relatively new to the fitness industry and the competition is fierce. I have been covering lots of classes and something participants tend to tell me is that my classes are different. All instructors have different styles of teaching but when I attend a class as a participant I think they are quite similar to mine so when participants say it’s different I worry that this is negative. However, I have decided to take this on as a compliment. In a world where there are thousands and thousands of instructors, if I can stick out of the crowd then surely this is positive and my classes are more memorable.

I’ve been trying to act like current instructors to fit in but surely my fresh perspective and modern training is of benefit to me. Research tends to change. Exercises that were deemed good ten years ago, new research has shown otherwise. Things are always changing. I am very proud of the compliments I’ve received after many of my classes. By compliments, I mean the participants saying how amazing they feel after the class. THAT right there is way I love what I do. Why I come away from classes on a high.

I have found being myself is important. Teaching exercise the way I want to is important. It may be different to other instructors, but I find it is meaningful to teach what I enjoy. I could submit and adjust to teaching more traditional styles but participants can see I am not as invested and present in the class as I am when I am teaching more current exercises. This is still a struggle I face as a young instructor with new ideas and different music. I am trying not to let myself change to what I think people want me to be otherwise I completely miss the point. I teach better, am more enthusiastic and the atmosphere is lighter and fun when my personality shines through. Being yourself also attracts the right audience.

After all I’ve started a company called “Totes Yoga”. I could have gone for something more spiritual and serious but that’s not me. I’m a fun, slightly silly and bubbly person who loves to laugh. I want to make people happy through Yoga, Pilates and Fitness because that is what it’s done for me. I love to share this happiness.

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Warrior One | Totes Yoga

I love Warrior One. I love warrior sequences and we will be delving in to all warrior poses. I don’t just love the physical benefits of warrior one, I also love how it feels. Standing strength is one of my favourite parts of a yoga class.


  • Strengthens and stretches calves, hamstrings, thighs and ankles
  • Opens chest and shoulders as well and the groin and psoas muscle
  • Strengthens the back and the legs
  • Promotes good posture and encourages circulation
  • Focuses on respiration which energises the entire body

I tend to include Warrior One in sun salutation sequences. I love flow yoga; gliding one pose into the next, using our breath to get the most out of yoga postures. Warrior One is mainly about standing strength. This pose engages the whole body and it also feels fantastic. Most yoga classes will include Warrior One and then follow through to Warrior Two and Three. They all sound similar and are easy to sequence together however they all have different purposes. The main purpose for Warrior One is that the hips are faced forward and both feet are in contact with the floor whilst back foot is used as a strong back stop.

Alternative & tips:

  • Ensure front knee is over ankle or behind
  • Back foot is at a 45 degree angle
  • Square hips to the front
  • As you lift your hands, inhale. To exhale, drop the shoulder blades and sink into the hips
  • Squeeze glutes and press fit firmly into floor
  • Feel the energy in the back leg to support you

8 Standing Yoga Poses Sequence - Warrior I

Tip: Sign up for more detailed posts & FREE guided mediation practices so you can practise at home! We understand how busy schedules can be. Sign up to receive these emails with yoga sequences, breathing techniques and much more! Go to the top of the page on the website to join the Totes Yoga Community TODAY!

The Importance Of Rest | Totes Yoga

When you hear “rest”, what do you think of? We all want to achieve our goals and get there as soon as possible. So why waste time on resting? The thing is that rest actually helps us move towards our goals. I used to feel guilty when I wasn’t being proactive. I still do sometimes. But truthfully, our body and brain needs rest.

This may look different person to person. I’m happy turning my brain off and catching up on Netflix as my version of rest. Some days it will look more conventional and I’ll want to take a bubble bath, read a book and take a nap. Resting can be anything that takes you away from your daily work. Not necessarily taking your mind away from your business strategising, but taking yourself away from any stress or negatively that can come from working too hard.

I found that once I’ve taken some time to look after myself, I have a lot more clarity about what I enjoy doing and what projects I want to work on. Rest to reenergise and find more enthusiasm to go after your ideas. We can get so wound up in stress, meetings, schedules, etc., that we completely miss a better route to get closer to our destination.  Rest clears my mind and helps me see things from different perspectives.

If you are an typical gym go-er, you may use or hear the phrase “rest days”; a day of not going to the gym to rest the muscles. Muscles need time to repair from tearing muscles fibres from lifting weights. If you do not take time to repair muscle, this could cause injury. Similar to if you overwork, you could take yourself further away from achieving. Fresh perspective and innovation is magical. Find your version of rest today. Take a step back, relax and just be.

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