Aquaterra in Islington Teams Up With YogaBugs To Get Families Active!

The recent publication of shocking new NHS statistics showing that nearly a quarter of children are overweight or obese by the time they start primary school has focused concern on the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of young children. In Islington, London, more than 40% of children participate in less than the recommended 3 hours of high quality PE and out of school sport whilst more than 38% of 11 year old children are overweight or obese. This situation is replicated in many other parts of the UK.

As a result, the debate on how we can tackle this problem is set to continue, prompting calls for renewed government action. However parents are also seeking more ways in which they can help their children to stay fit and healthy, both as a family participating together in sport and exercise as well as through specially designed children’s fitness programmes. Finding physical activities that small children can do as well, or better, than grown-ups is difficult. However the yoga world has come up with the solution – family yoga!

YogaBugs North & East London has teamed up with Aquaterra, a charity working for the health and wellbeing of the whole community to deliver family yoga classes. Glenn Branch, manager of Aquaterra’s Highbury Pool and Leisure Centre, explains why:

“We want to encourage parents and young children in Islington to join in the new family yoga classes at Highbury. The children really enjoy channeling their energy in to the yoga and parents get a work-out too. The classes are great for developing flexibility, agility and stamina.”

Denyse Whillier from YogaBugs North & East London added:

“Children’s natural flexibility and energy mean that they can do yoga postures that many adults can only dream about! The CBeebies programme, Waybaloo, has got pre-school children doing yoga. Breathing and warm up techniques help children and parents to clear their minds and focus whilst the posture work strengthens and tones their bodies. Postures such as Lion help children to let off steam, whilst Downward Facing Dog energises parents by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Everybody benefits.”

Aquaterra manages six public leisure facilities in Islington and seven in Bath & North East Somerset in partnership with the two local authorities. For information about the classes call Aquaterra on 020 7690 0413 or email Denyse Whillier on

Teaching Yoga At 93 Years Young!

When we saw this inspiring story about a 93 year old yogini who gets up every morning at 5am to teach classes, we had to share this on the YogaBugs blog. Even after a total hip replacement in the early 2000s, Tao Porchon-Lynch is as flexible as ever. The energetic 93-year-old, from Westchester, who has been practicing yoga for over 70 years, also does the waltz, jitterbug, samba and cha cha cha in her spare time.

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Do you think yoga is the secret to a happy old-age?

Humans Have Yoga… And Now Dogs Have Doga!

 Chasing after balls and fetching sticks has been replaced by Doga, a new form of exercise for the pampered pooch and the latest craze among New York dog-owners. ‘Doga’ is said to appeal to your pet’s natural instinct to stretch and creates a unique bonding experience between pet and owner.

Classes involve stretching, massage and even chanting. The animals take part in the classes either by acting as weights to help balance their owners or by doing some of the moves themselves.

One Doga devotee explained: “Just as dogs pick up anxiety and negativity, they benefit from being a calm, happy environment with their owners. ‘The owners often say that they’ve never see their pet so relaxed.” Animal health experts say they have witnessed dramatic changes in stressed or anxiety-prone animals after attending doga classes. for dogs that spend a lot of time on their own, Doga offers a unique bonding experience with their owner.

Can you see Doga taking off in the UK?!

Yoga For All The Family: Grandparents and Great-Grandparents Too!

Yoga has never been so popular, with its benefits advocated by celebrities from Madonna to Ricky Martin to elite athletes and sportspeople including Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale. Thousands of pre-schoolers have caught the yoga bug, thanks in part to the CBeebies programme, Waybuloo. The benefits for older people are less celebrated. However, this week the Telegraph ran a feature about Fenella Lindsell’s subsidised classes for older people.

Eight years ago, Fenella Lindsell, a consultant on the CBeebies show and co-founder of the children’s yoga company YogaBugs, began subsidised yoga sessions for older adults. This followed a request from her local GP’s surgery in Balham Park, south London to put on classes that increased mobility and helped to reduce the aches and pains.

It took a while for the classes to build u a following but now the three weekly sessions of gentle Hatha yoga are packed. Carmen O’Neill – 82 and the oldest in the class – can stretch further than she thought possible. She says: “I walk straighter, and taller. I feel I’ve got more mobility in my joints and – just as importantly – I meet other people, have a good time, and chat. It’s keeping me young.”

You can read the article in full here –


Why Harry Redknapp & The Spurs Team Have Got The Yoga Bug!

“If someone had walked into a football dressing room 15 years ago and explained the benefits of classes in yoga or Pilates, they would have been laughed at and asked to leave. And not so politely. It was bad enough showing up with a washbag — but stretching? The misconception at the time was that it was only for girls. Stretching was the warm-up bit that got in the way of the ball coming out.”

In an article for the Daily Mail last week, Jamie Redknapp explained why leading Premiership footballers like  Gareth Bale and Ryan Giggs have turned to yoga, representing a marked change in how football views this ancient practice. His dad, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp,has introduced yoga and pilates classes as part of the team’s training programme in a bid to boost the long-term fitness of his squad.

With a busy domestic and European schedule, coupled with fears about long-term injuries, Redknapp has taken on a yoga instructor – the same one Brad Friedel brought to the club following his summer move from Aston Villa. Friedel, now 40, had been taking classes with his instructor for nine years. She now takes classes for the squad, and coaching staff, prior to training.

Redknapp revealed himself to be a big fan of yoga. “It’s great for the players. They are all doing it now. Brad Friedel started it here. He brought a lady in to start doing the yoga and if it’s good enough for Brad with the shape he’s in at 40, then it’s good enough for the rest of us…… It makes the players more supple. Ryan Giggs is in to it, big time. It certainly has kept him in good shape.”

It sounds like Harry himself needs to keep practising! After joining in a class with the coaching team, he said. “I couldn’t walk for two days but other than that it was good.”

You can read the full story here:

Like YogaBugs On Facebook To Receive A Free Class!

We’re offering parents the opportunity to try out a YogaBugs class for free! If you’ve never been on one of our adventures before and you’re wondering what thet’re all about, visit our Facebook page, click like and download your free class voucher! Unlock the magic of YogaBugs for your child here –

Hullabaloo Over Changes To Yoga Inspired Show, Waybuloo

WaybulooThe BBC has been forced to make a U-turn after hundreds of angry parents complained about changes to the hit childrens’ show, Waybuloo. More than 150 official complaints were received, with hundreds more expressing their fury over the internet.
BBC bosses brought in Come Dine with Me’s Dave Lamb to provide a voiceover. Parents and – more importantly – toddlers hated the changes. Waybuloo is one of CBeebies’ most popular shows. The show features four fictional characters called the Piplings who live in Nara and play with real children, referred to as ‘cheebies’. It encourages children to get interested in exercise by showing them a simple version of yoga. YogaBugs founder, Fenella Lindsell is yoga consultant to the show.

The changes were unveiled by the show’s boss, Vanessa Hill, on Sunday night. She said: “We wanted to make the show easier for families to watch together, engaging older siblings to enjoy the action too….. And what a narrator we’ve got! We’ve struck gold with brilliant Dave Lamb. I hope that we’ve created a series that is funnier, clearer in the stories it tells and is something the whole family will enjoy together.”

Complaining that Waybuloo had been “ruined”, one parent complained: “I’m raving, they’ve put a narrator (the annoying bloke from Come Dine With Me) over the top of Waybuloo. I’m so mad I’ve even complained on the BBC website.” Whilst another said, “We’ve had to switch off. It has ruined a lovely, calming programme.”

After the first instalment proved to be so unpopular, BBC bosses quickly conceded and agreed to bring back the original format. “We appreciate all the comments we’ve received on the new format for Waybuloo.”



Our Top 5 Tips For Better Health In 2012 – Part 2

1. Share Meals With The Family

Not only does it provide opportunities for bonding, this provides an opportunity to try new foods. This is a good habit to instil in your children. Research shows that young adults who regularly eat family meals have higher intakes of key nutrients and perform better academically than those who eat with their families two or fewer times per week.

2. Cut Back Your Food Intake By 100 Calories A Day

Just reducing your calorie count by 100 calories a day (or one less biscuit) would prevent, and reverse, the 2lbs annual weight gain of the average person in this country.

It takes an excess of 3,500 calories to gain a pound, or 35,000 calories to put on 10 pounds in a year. Reducing your energy intake by 100 kcals a day (this is only equivalent to a couple of crackers with cheese, a tablespoon of oil or glass of wine) should make you 10 pounds lighter at the end of the year!

3. Watch Your Alcohol Intake

It’s fine to have a few glasses of festive cheer, but one of the several public-health time bombs we’re sitting on is the rising toll of alcohol-induced liver disease. Official alcohol limits (21 units per week for men; 14 for women) are too high for many people.

4. Don’t Smoke

Smokers live shorter, less healthy lives. No action improves health more than stopping smoking, and it saves a lot of money too.

5. Start Meditating

New research suggests that mindfulness meditation – an essential part of Buddhist and Indian Yoga traditions – is an effective way of helping people to overcome stress and improve their quality of life. This research indicates that this practice has health and performance benefits, including improved immune function, reduced blood pressure and enhanced cognitive function. Stress is a major factor in heart disease; meditation experts say the technique can help control it. One study discovered that patients with heart disease who practised Transcendental Meditation cut their chances of a heart attack, stroke and death by half, compared with patients who did not meditate.

Another study has found that people who meditate over the long-term have significantly larger hippocampi – the part of the brain associated with memory and learning. This study also found those who had meditated also had increased grey matter or a larger brain! Researchers are now looking at whether this helps to slow down the ageing process.

Our Top 5 Tips For Better Health In 2012 – Part 1

 1.       Develop A Regular Yoga Practice

Join us for the Yoga Journal 21-Day Yoga Challenge – Why don’t you join us too and transform your life and yoga practice? You can choose either a beginner’s track or an intermediate track, depending on your previous yoga experience.  You’ll get a daily video, weekly meditation and regular newsletters with practice tips and recipes. Participants can set goals and track their progress, either solo or in teams, to keep you motivated. The challenge begins on January 9.

The Yoga Journal website is a fantastic resource. Here you’ll find videos and podcasts – suitable for all levels – as well as lots of yoga inspired features. Another great resource is the Yogaglo website – For the bargain price of £11 per month you can access hundreds of online classes led by leading yoga teachers.

2.       Start Running

Running costs nothing and is a very attainable goal for most people. Your one expense should be a decent pair of trainers to minimise the risk of injury. Initial enthusiasm can also lead to injuries, so make sure you don’t push yourself too hard at the outset.

If you don’t fancy running on your own, there are a number of running groups, led by licensed running/fitness coaches, which are ideal for beginners as well as more experienced runners. To find out about groups near you, look at If you’re looking for a sociable, weekly session, visit These 5km “park runs” embrace all abilities, and there are now over 90 “park run” locations in Britain.

3.       Focus Harder On “Informal Exercise”

It’s the everyday activities that burn off calories by just getting us around. With just a small shift in mind-set you can improve your health by simply doing as you usually do, but working “smarter”. A study, in 2005, comparing the amount of informal exercise performed by obese and non-obese individuals, found that if obese individuals had “non-formal exercise activity” levels similar to the lean non-obese subjects, they would have burned an additional 350 calories a day, equivalent to roughly 1lb of fat every 10 days! Even postural changes and fidgeting made a difference.

Most people are aware of using stairs instead of escalators or getting off the bus a stop early and walking, but try being creative. Anything that expends more energy – even not using buttons to open automatic doors, but pushing or pulling them instead – is effective over time. In the office, write fewer emails: get up and talk to people instead. Fit as many of these “activities” as possible into your normal living pattern so that you are exercising without upsetting your day.

4.       Always Sit Down To Eat & Eat Slowly

Sitting down relaxes the digestive tract and increases our awareness of what we’re eating. We’re less likely to suffer from indigestion and more likely to enjoy our food if we sit down to meals rather than eat on the run.

People who eat their food quickly have a higher risk of becoming overweight. Researchers have offered several explanations for this, one possibility being that eating slowly allows the body to signal that it is full up before consuming too many calories. A study of 30 women, offered lunch and water and asked to eat until they were full, showed that when women ate slowly they consumed less food (both in terms of the calorie content and the weight) than when they ate quickly.

5.       Eat A “Rainbow Diet”

To ensure that you get your recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals, eat at least 20 different food types each day, including fruit and vegetables of every different colour. Foods with a variety of colours have different healthy nutrients – vitamins, minerals, micro-elements, antioxidants, etc. There are literally tens of thousands of protective phytochemical compounds present in the plant kingdom which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and immune-boosting properties. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is our best bet for delaying/ preventing virtually every chronic disease. This view has been established by scientific study and endorsed by UK and US government health agencies, the World Health Organisation and virtually every major medical organisation.

Would A Dynamic Yoga Practice Help My Child’s Academic Results?

A Dutch review of previous studies has found that how well children perform in the classroom could be linked to how physically active they are. The review, led by a team of researchers from the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam looked at 14 studies involving more than 12,000 children. Writing in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, researchers said they found strong evidence of a link between exercise and academic performance. Exercise may help by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain.

The authors of the study, led by Dr Amika Singh, were prompted to look at the relationship between physical activity and academic performance because of concerns that pressure to improve children’s school marks could mean they spend more time in the classroom and less time doing physical activity. Dr Singh’s study, ” Physical Activity and Performance at School: A systematic review of literature including a methodological quality assessment ” was conducted to examine the correlation between physical activity and academic performance.

The authors identified 10 observational and four interventional studies for review. Twelve of the studies were conducted in the United States, one in Canada and one in South Africa. Two of the studies reviewed were rated as being of high quality. The researchers said they found strong evidence of a “significant positive relationship” between physical activity and academic performance using these two studies as evidence. The study said this could be because exercise helps cognition by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Physical activity also reduces stress and improves mood, thus making children more likely to behave in the classroom.

These results came as no surprise to Fenella Lindsell, founder of YogaBugs and yoga consultant for the popular CBeebies programme, Waybaloo:

“The benefits of a regular exercise programme such as yoga have been widely reported. For example downward facing dog is a great posture to practice as it helps to get more oxygen into the lungs, so increasing blood flow and improving circulation. Oxygenating the blood feeds the organ systems in the body. This has the benefit of rejuvenating the brain cells and invigorating the brain. In yoga, we learn how to breathe deeply and evenly. Learning to breathe slowly and deeply calms the mind and quiets the emotions. Getting a handle on our emotions helps us to manage stress. Having a calm, clear mind creates the right conditions for learning.”