We talked to Flo – the UK's youngest yoga instructor – to see how she's finding lockdown and how she's supporting others to be active during Coronavirus.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Flo.
I’m Flo, I’m 16 years old and I’m currently the UK’s Youngest Yoga teacher. Helping and inspiring others has always been my passion and teaching yoga is one of the ways I do this. Especially at the moment, being kind to yourself and others is such a fundamental part of coping with the crazy times we’re in, so I try to do everything I can to support and help people to do this.
How do you like to keep active?
I'm not naturally particularly sporty, but I do love staying active. One sport I absolutely love to play is rugby. I've been playing since I was about 11 and I find it gives me so much confidence and resilience. I think this is especially important for girls, as I find doing any sport gives me a sense of confidence that not much else does. Doing such a physical sport really accentuates this. I’m currently captain of my team and I play second row or number 8. I also run, although not particularly quickly, either alone or with my dad; I really enjoy getting outside and I’m lucky enough to live in the countryside so have some beautiful views and surroundings to enjoy.
My true favourite way to keep active is yoga. I fell in love with yoga around four years ago and haven’t looked back. Every aspect of yoga reaches out to me and helps me in a different way: the poses and flows help me to become stronger and more flexible as well as appreciate how amazing my body is. Meditation helps me feel more in control and positive, and the relaxation at the end always leaves me feeling like I’ve had my batteries recharged!
How do you stay motivated to keep active while at home?
I’m trying to practice yoga every day and meditate as often as I can. I’m also trying to run twice a week and am following some home workout challenges on YouTube. At the moment I’m finding staying active the best way to combat the isolation blues and make me feel a bit more positive and motivated. Getting active makes me feel so much better that it makes me want to do it more!
How have you been helping others to keep moving while they are at home?
Since the lockdown I’ve been putting my energy into creating online classes. More than ever, it’s so important to take care of our mental and physical health and yoga is a really good way to do that. I've also changed my sessions from face-to-face classes to online donations, but I’m also teaching some free online classes so everyone has the opportunity to get active.
With funding from Active Gloucestershire and Sport England, I’m able to teach a free yoga class for students on Thursdays 16:00 - 17:00. This has proved a popular way for young people to get active, have a chat with other young people, and make time for their overall wellbeing. In addition to this, I’m teaching some free classes for over 70s as it can be really hard to find ways to keep moving when you can’t go outside anymore. These classes are on Wednesdays 10:00-10:45 with time for a chat afterwards too.
Each class has variations for all abilities, whether people would prefer to stay seated in a chair for the most part or want to be jumping about on their mat they will be able to join in and follow the class!
I really want all of my yoga classes to offer a little slither of light and joy into someone’s day, giving them a chance to move their body, take care of their mind and emotions and maybe make some new friends.
What do you feel is different and important about being active right now?
This is a crazy and unprecedented time in history; instead of being asked to dig for victory we’re being told to stay inside as much as we can. This can have a hugely detrimental effect on our mental and physical health – I know I for one have been finding it quite difficult. Moving our bodies in any way helps to break the endless cycle of binging Netflix and eating left over Easter eggs and instills a bit of energy into your day.
I find exercising injects my day with purpose and motivation, making me feel much more fulfilled and happy – especially in the morning. I think being active is one of the most valuable tools we have to keep our mental and physical health in check during these trying times. Not only this, getting active is really fun and a great way to spend your time!
And Flo's advice to anyone struggling to get active?
Sometimes I do struggle to get up and get active. Sometimes I just want to stay in bed and watch some nonsense films, and while it's good to give yourself a rest, it’s also important to give getting active a go! I feel like at the moment there is a quite a big push on social media to turn this lockdown into some kind of hardcore dream body bootcamp, but it’s not that easy. It’s important to take it slow and go at your own pace: it’s not a competition.
If running 5k is too much for you, try 2k. Or if doing a 30 minute ab workout on YouTube is a bit daunting, have a go at something simpler and more up your street. You don’t learn to do a headstand in your first ever yoga class, take it slow and steady, listen to your body and just do your best – nobody's watching!
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