What the fascia? – why I love myofascial release work. 

As some of you know, I recently completed a training on myofascial release (‘MFR’) with the wonderful Tiffany Cruikshank of Yoga Medicine. It was a week of tremendous learning and (I don’t use this word lightly) inspiration, and has left me incredibly excited to incorporate more MFR (e.g. lying on blocks, balls, massage) into TPRYoga classes.

“Tam, why should I care about lying on a tennis ball?” I hear you ask. Fair question. You are a busy person with stretches to do and people to see – why should you care? Below you will find a not short summary of my favourite things (so far) about MFR. I warn you (a) it’s geeky (b) once you’re hooked there’s really no going back.

Fascia Favourites 

  • Interconnected nature

At its superficial level, the fascia is the connective tissue that forms a continuous system across your whole body, like a cat suit. Its structure alone reinforces the yogic principle of interconnectedness. When working with one section of the fascia, you will inevitably affect another, teaching you to think holistically about your body. (This is a big one. So often we encounter body narratives that focus on one element of our body, and our wish to ‘improve’ it. Once you accept your body as an interconnected system deserving of care at all levels, it tips this entire dialogue upside-down.. e.g. “I’m sorry, Im not interested in talking about thigh gaps, I’m busy taking care of the scaffolding of my entire body over here”.)

  • Increased body awareness

A regular yoga practise will give you this already, as it teaches you to observe and work with your body. But MFR takes this to a whole new level because experience truly trumps theory in this arena. As a teacher I can ask you to lie on a tennis ball, but this may make little to no difference to you unless its in the appropriate area for you and you are able to relax into it. In this way, MFR is an empowering investigation by you, of your internal landscape, that only you are qualified to carry out. Why does this matter? Because your body is constantly talking to you, but over time our nervous system tends to tune out ‘complaining’ stimulus from tissues. Tiffany Cruikshank likens it to a small, nagging child repeatedly tugging at your hand “mum mum mum.. muumuu” – eventually, we tune out. Practises like MFR teach you to tune back in, to notice what your body is communicating. Treating your body’s feedback as an important conversation you listen to will make you notice e.g. illness, injury and burnout quicker, enabling you to address these flags before they develop further and changing how you live inside your body.

  • Immediate relief

The jazz hands effect. When correctly located, laying a trigger point on a tennis ball will create instant sensation and, if you relax into it, a rapid sense of relief. In this way, the efficacy of this practise doesn’t need to be explained: try it yourself. Here’s a tennis ball, here’s your gluteus medium trigger point. And.. welcome to the club.

  • Yoga + MFR = a match made in heaven

While the sensation of relief is rapid, it takes time for connective tissues to adapt and heal through MFR. This process is long term and progressive. What helps this healing process by training the tissue quicker? You guessed it. Yoga. Step 1: Stimulate healing in your connective tissues through MFR. Step 2: Apply some of the stretch and strengthening effects of yoga in the continued re-education process of your practise. Step 3: The tissues, now communicating better thanks to Step 1, are re-formed by yoga, adapting quicker thanks to the combined stresses of both practises.

  • Balance

The body’s fascia has two key elements: flexible and strong. Its actual composition backs up yogis approaches of yin and yang, of both creating elasticity and stability in the body, in pursuit of balance.

  • Potent magic

This is crazy, spooky, wonderful magic. Every body is different, so to be specific; in my body, when I lie on a tennis ball and release serratus posterior superior (aka a bit of my shoulder) I experience a sudden release of tension in my ribcage I was previously unaware I was carrying. I also tend to carry stress and tension in my shoulders (like most of us), and some days, releasing tension in this area gives me a tension headache or actual nausea. Nausea! I realise that doesn’t sound appealing, but here’s my perspective: when that happens I know I’ve just let go of something my body has clung to, tightly, and that the release is both instant relief and a shock to the system. In response I stay gentle with my system, hydrate and rest, and watch as, quite quickly, the headache leaves..

  • Less is more

With a lot of MFR work, you are stimulating collagen production to re-start the healing process. This process occurs naturally when the body experiences trauma (e.g. surgery), but because it’s reacting to a crisis (“omg your knee has been cut open”) it rushes in and lays collagen down in a disorderly fashion (imagine just trying to bandage someone’s wound very quickly; you’d make a mess too). With MFR, you are stimulating this process again, but gently, in order to encourage the orderly laying down of collagen. It is subtle work where ‘ouch this is really painful’ work may not be in your body’s best interest, teaching us to work gentler and with more focussed awareness on healing.

  • Playful movement matters

Your connective tissue remodels to demand, and a substantial proportion of it is made of water (60-70% of ground substance). This ground substance becomes more liquid and  fluid in response to playful, fluid movement (which in turn is key for the fascia’s shock absorption, communication, immune response etc etc ETC). Plus, our biomechanics are different when we actually enjoy that movement. So go on- dance around your room, spiral through a juicy yoga ‘flow’ or whatever free movement makes you content: science is on your side.

  • Bliss

The week of this training we studied for 6 hours a day, and a lot of it was actual MFR work. The effect? I was so blissed out I kept missing trains, getting off at the wrong stops and floating around London. (In our classes I will aim to couple this with grounding work so you all get home safe). The other effect? I kept catching myself quietly singing to myself. ME. An uptight Londoner who is trained to treat public space like a surveillance exam. Quietly singing to myself in locker rooms, pavements, the shower, my kitchen. To me, this was the clearest signal of being in a state of bliss beyond my usual days.

  • Internal communication

We now know a large proportion of nerve endings don’t reach the skin but actually end in the fascia, highlighting its importance for internal communication via the nervous system & brain. However, research has also found the fascia has a separate system of communication outside the nervous system.. Pause to take that in a moment. A fully fledged communication system within the body, outside the brain?! Again: Out.Side.The.Brain. At any moment in your body there is more information being transmitted via the connective tissue than through the nervous system. This speed of communication is also often faster than the nervous system. (!) This is such a clear demonstration of inbuilt, bodily intelligence outside of the usual ‘rational’ sphere it truly makes me shivery with excitement.

  • Quiet little sidetone: external communication.

I tread carefully here because this begins to tiptoe towards narratives I find a little too floaty (no disrespect intended. We all just respond to personalities and information in different ways, and I am tentative in this arena). A yin teacher of a friend of mine often says: “you know when someone walks into a room, and they’re smiling, and their body language is open, but somehow you know something is wrong? That’s your fascia system, reading them and picking up on their vibrations”. Now.. while I wholly believe in bodily intelligence, this has been shaky ground for me, purely because.. “how are you backing this up?? Where, what, how.. vibrations?!” turns out.. research has observed that fascial communication occurs both internally and externally to the body: the connective tissue receives more information from outside the body than the brain does through the 5 senses. This research is young, and we will have to watch its development, but there is data to suggest its real: the fascia is another of your sensory organs. It is reading the world around you and conveying information back to you, from outside of the nervous system.

[Drops mic and walks away jubilantly.]



Sounds to live by: A Balinese Frog Chorus

Because it’s the simple things that say I love you:

Here is a recording of the rice paddy field frogs by my house in Bali. It’s still rainy season here, so this is what the evening chorus sounds like when dusk falls.

A Balinese Frog Chorus (195 downloads)

Take a break from today’s activities. Sit back, close your eyes and listen to these beings bellow up at the heavens.





Yoga for Cyclists

As a devoted cyclist, I know only too well the effects a long term relationship with bicycles can have on your body. To counteract these effects, I teamed up with my friends at the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative to bring you: yoga for cyclists.


These movements will target your hamstrings, hips and lower back, while the second sequence will take you through the sun salute to give your body some moving antidotes to the rigidity of the seated position.

Do let me know how these feel to you, and what wishes you have for the future.





T x




2017: New Year, New You.

January is back, and with it the screens that yell “new body new you” philosophies from all sides.
Here is a sticky, unwashed post-practise affirmation of the following truth:
Your body is perfect. Your body is strong, your body is wise, your body is sacred. Your body deserves gratitude, kindness and respect.
Capitalism has no business in this matter and can ssh. I am busy being grateful for this body: thank you.
T x


A 6 minute meditation for busy people & some sacred rituals for sanity

In the past few months I got a new job, kept two old jobs, took on additional volunteer work and parted ways with my lover. I open with this because it has reminded me of something precious:  times of crisis and transition teach the potency of self care. In times of change these rituals are how I build solid footing under my feet again. Thus, they are precious to me, and I share them in the hopes they can be useful for you too.

 Step 1: Yoga

You saw that coming, didn’t you. This practise is my basic baseline of sanity and different every day. One thing stays the same though: an initial meditation. If you are a regular to TPRYoga classes, you will know this practise well. It is how we open class to calm your nervous system as you become present, grounded and re-energised.

Recently I committed to a morning meditation, BEFORE my 9-5 schedule. As I am not remotely a morning person, I set the time required at manageable six minutes. (This means I now wake up exactly 7 minutes earlier than usual. Seven minutes. Manageable).

Here is yours, free to download. You can do it sitting up in bed, on your mat, in your office, on the tube. All you need is 6 minutes where you can have your eyes closed.

TPRYoga-Morning-meditation-Summer-2016.m4a (345 downloads)


Step 2: Sacred rituals off the mat  

Now that I have your attention.. we get to some thoughts of ‘yoga off the mat’. In recent times I have been thinking of mundane tasks as rituals, as conscious engagement to care for myself and my environment. It has shifted my engagement from a place of stress and obligation to one of gratitude and choice. My invitation to you is to treat this list as food for thought; try them out if you like or make your own list. (Especially if you are as stubborn as I can be, in which case it is best if no one but you decides what your rituals are). So, seriously; what are yours?

Here are mine:

  • A made bed.

When I leave for work in the mornings, it has always been in a hurricane of chaos. But I have learnt: If I come home at 6PM and my bed is made, I feel I have taken time to respect my space of rest. I get to nod to morning me and say “thanks dude, I like you.”

  • 8 hours of sleep

We all need different amounts of sleep: my housemate has 6 hours and is happy, as long as he gets a nap. I have finally reached a point where I understand that I need 8 hours of sleep. Consistently, 6 out of 7 nights a week at least. Cornerstone of sanity, right there.

  • Water

I dare you to change nothing about your routine except commit to drinking two litres of water on the daily. Do it for 3 days in a row, and tell me you don’t feel more alive.

  • Tupperware

This one has two points to it. The first is, plan your meals. I cannot describe the sense of “I am a fully fledged adult who kicks ass and looks after herself” that I get when I unpack my little lunchbox to a healthy, beautiful meal I cooked for myself. Picking up a £5+ salad from Prêt has never had that effect. I also save bucketloads of money.

The second is: post-use, wash your tupperware and keep it in your bag. I have successfully gone for dinner with a friend and carried home 2+ days of leftovers, all without using any additional packaging.   I shamelessly did it at a recent training’s buffet, and walked away with these gems:



  • Self love rituals

Not self care. Proper declarations of love.

  • Yin yoga: This is the practise I choose when I stop trying to be efficient. No core work, no cardio, no arm balances, no big shapes. Just healing and release. TPRYoga courses always involve at least one yin class. Here is one I do regularly to recover from my 9-5:
  • Targeted body therapy. We all have different areas we hold tension. Mine are my shoulders (hence the above class), my outer hips, glutes and feet. For my outer hips and glutes I use the Acuball mini alongside a playlist designed to keep me on this little miracle devise. For my feet I love Footsavers. Your feet will never feel the same again. (If you’d like to try either of these, give me a headsup and I will bring them to a lesson)
  • Moisturising. I am not kidding. Your skin is your biggest organ. Give it some love.
  • Leaving the city: Even for a day. Always feels like therapy. The fun will be there when you get back, I promise.

In conclusion, as TPRYogi Eliane put it recently “Yoga can either just be elaborate stretching, or a way of life”. What will be yours? No matter how mundane or ridiculous they may seem, let us know. We all have basic cornerstones of sanity to share and learn from.



Yoga Playlists: the Build-It-Yourself Collection

Hey yogis,

Welcome to the much-debated topic of yoga playlists.

Let me begin with a nod to the counter-argument: Yes. Absolutely, no doubt: yoga does not require a soundtrack. Your self practise does not need music, nor do group lessons. Some practitioners never ever have music, and I wholeheartedly respect that. My self practise often has no music, and occasionally I will teach a class with no soundtrack. It changes students’ focus,  breathing syncs across the room, alongside many other benefits that I value.

However. Like much of yoga practise and teaching, I think this one comes down to personal preference. And personally, I like using music both within my practise and in class for two reasons: it helps students to move and to feel.

Suddenly asana can become a dance, and emotion perhaps normally suppressed is permitted to emerge. (I learnt this one the hard way when a teacher played Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’ in Savasana and I, shortly after a breakup, burst into tears.)

Now.. the playlists themselves. As many of you know, a TPRYoga class will typically follow a sequence familiar to many practitioners. There will be a Warm Up → A Flow → A Lunar Section → Savasana.

My classes normally involve a 90 minute playlist, arranged with today’s class in mind, that takes you through all four phases.

However I recognise that music is hugely personal, and you may not like all the songs for your self practise, or you may wish for more variation on a regular basis. In light of this, I present you with the following four playlists.

May you pick and mix as you choose, may it enable you to move and to feel.

As ever, please report back! We’d love to know if you enjoyed these, or if you have any recommendations of your own. After all, it is your practise..


T x

Warm Up:





A love letter to pincha mayurasana.

I am not a patient person. This is a fact in my family.  One of my earliest memories is of my thrifty grandfather handing my sister and me a Lindt chocolate square each, and instructing us “nicht kauen!” (“Don’t chew”). My sister, who is supremely patient, followed instructions.  In contrast I would rapidly demolish said chocolate, open wide to demonstrate and beam up at my grandad in total certainty there would be MORE. I used to be comfortable with this definition of me because, when necessary,  others forced patience upon me. ( Keyword: Arabic degree..)
However, when I *met* pincha mayurasana, this all changed (I won’t take the love letter theme much further I promise.. Stay with me). Patience was suddenly necessary, and no one was going to help me. No one was going to give me a timeline,  or a way to cheat this, to fast forward and instantly excel.
Retrospectively, I have a timeline for you: Two years and two months ago is when I first met this pose. The precise moment is still with me:
It was December 2013 and I was about to move to Laos. I was madly in love with this man, and heartbroken to be leaving him. And so practising very consistently, in his attic,  to keep my focus (This attic is now a recording studio, by the way. That you can rent. I recommend it!).
I was in headstand, when this crazy little voice said “what happens if you..”. Now, sidenote: normally, I love this voice. Yogis will know it well; it pops up in the middle of your practise and suggests you try things your mind and body never thought possible. It is courage,  it is optimism.
On this particular day, the voice was, however stupid. It said “what happens if you lift your head up?”. Which I did. Held it too, for about two seconds.  And then my body/mind realised my muscles weren’t set up to support this unprecedented pose, and I came crashing down.  Take note: having your body weight come crashing down on your neck/head is foolish and may result in death. Do not try this, please. Set your foundations first, I beg you.
As I lay on the floor, slowing my nervous system back down to “it’s cool we’re still alive”, I decided this was a pose I wanted to learn. Slowly.  Patiently. With integrity and quiet strength. And yes, also as a means of creating presence in a time when the bigger picture of my life was too overwhelming. (Thank you, all of yoga, for this).
This was difficult. And new to me. My body quite naturally bends into lots of postures. But this would require building muscles, and teaching them to engage so that this pose could be safe, supported. And, hardest of all, entered into slowly.
So, for months, I practised. And all the breakthrough moments are with me. The day I could come up into this without so much momentum I made the wall shake, in my extremely humid Lao bedroom. The day in my friend Denis’ house in Vientiane I could hold this with a neutral pelvis, knees bent and feet flat on the wall of my lao bedroom. The day, back in the UK in my mamas house, I no longer needed a block to frame my hands. The day, back in London at yoga school, my beautiful yogini colleague Lynne Fugard gave me the tip: “look forward”, and suddenly, I was hanging in mid air.
And today. When I can come into this slowly, deliberately, in the middle of the room. When my body knows this pose, but my mind doesn’t yet believe it. Which means, every single moment of flight is this breathtaking miracle.
Thank you pincha, for patience.  ♡