When did you last hug yourself? Maybe you never have. It’s a modern-day horror story we’re all too familiar with.
If that’s you, we hope the first slice of our Digital Detox series inspires you to put down your phone and throw some kindness your way, especially on the days when putting yourself first feels like an uphill struggle.
Hannah Fox’s self-love yoga class is a magic blend of breathwork, guided meditation, grounding techniques and mindfulness. Her sessions focus on loving the shit out of yourself (amen), even when your mind tries to convince you you’re not worthy of self-compassion. You begin to see why we thought getting our cat-cow on with Hannah would be the perfect way to honour our month of Digital Detox, switch off from our screens and give our mental health a good ol’ cuddle.
From alternate nostril breathing to cultivating self-love on and off the mat and letting your heart guide your practice instead of your mind, keep reading to find out how the team got on with part one of our Digital Detox series.
I’ve done one of Hannah’s self-love classes in Brighton before and felt like I was walking on a cloud afterwards, so I was so excited to join her for one of her legendary sessions with the team this time, as part of our Digital Detox series. In my experience, yoga can be quite intimidating when you’re thrown in with the flexible regulars. It’s probably all in my mind but with a posture like a candy cane and clicky knees, I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb in a David Lloyd scenario but Han’s class is super accessible for newbies and yoga bunnies alike – embracing the wobbles and falling in and out of the poses is what it’s all about. Naturally, I feel much more at home in one of her classes since she’s not concerned about what you look like in your poses but how you feel. Amen to that.
As someone who’s usually glued to my digital devices, I savour any time I can get away from my screens. Having said that, unless I’m physically removed from them it ain’t happening, which is why doing something like this really works for me. I can’t unlock my phone and respond to an email quickly, I have to be fully present.
IMO, what makes Hannah’s class feel really special is that it isn’t so much about the yoga as it is about connecting with yourself and giving yourself the permission to let go of whatever’s holding you back from self-love. From the second you lie on that mat, you feel totally anchored in the moment, focusing entirely on yourself and your breath. In our overly digitalised world, that in itself feels like a radical act of self-love! The simplest of movements can feel transformative, whether it’s letting your arms hang heavy on the floor in a forward bend or sticking your tongue out for lion’s breath, the practice invites you to lose all inhibition and rediscover that child-like playfulness of looking a bit silly without a care in the world.
It felt incredible to be unreachable for a few hours in my own little oasis of peace and quiet, with the light pouring into the studio. I could have nodded off quite easily with Hannah’s dulcet tones. Since lockdown, I’ve realised that constant connectivity is one of my stress triggers. If I feel bombarded with notifications and digital noise, I quickly careen into overwhelm and crave solitude which is why committing to a digital detox and practising digital abstinence works wonders for my mental health. Usually, I’d take myself off for a walk in the woods or a swim in the sea whenever I need to hit the reset button but after doing Han’s class, I think I’ve discovered a new favourite way to ignore WhatsApp for a while.
If you can join Hannah online for one of her self-love classes or even better, come down to Brighton to experience one in real life, your mental health will l-o-v-e you for it!
I loved. this. class. so. MUCH. I am an avid believer in the power of breathwork and have a few techniques under my belt that I use regularly to manage my stress/trauma-induced chronic pain so I was super intrigued to learn more in giving this class a go! I was having a pretty bad pain flare at the time and had been rushing around that morning and honestly even just arriving in the studio and being in Hannah’s aura was the zen I needed- she has such a wonderful calming presence about her and it really feels like you can relax and sink into the class knowing she’s in control.
One of the things I found quite unique about Hannah’s class (despite having taken part in very gentle chronic pain classes before) was that we spent the majority of the session with our eyes closed, which I really felt helped focus on the breath and intensify the feelings of calm and connectedness I felt. You would think it would be difficult to mirror someone else’s movement and instructions without being able to see them but her instructions on the gentle movement were clear and intuitive and I just know this class would be perfect before bed because I really didn’t want to open up my eyes at the end!
One of the breathing techniques that we practised and I’ve also loved in the past is Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, or alternate nostril breathing, which has an amazing way of calming the nervous system and reducing anxiety all over the body. I can always feel a noticeable and tangible difference after practising this and in a class setting, it was all the more powerful. Another highlight for me was the singing bowl used at the end of the class which produces sound and vibrations that also help to relax the body. I sometimes listen to sounds like this via meditation apps but this was my first time hearing it in real life and it was so powerful. I believe the F note was played which relates to the heart chakra, and it was such a beautiful ending to the class which had already completely transformed how I felt.
I loved the encouragement from Hannah and her use of positive and grounding affirmations that really made you feel like the world was on pause outside the four walls of the studio. I felt totally enveloped in the moment and found myself continually noting that I should practice stretching, breathing and positive self talk more regularly because of how amazing I felt even 10 minutes into the class- it stupidly felt such a novelty to speak to myself so kindly and understandingly but the reminder to do so was so welcome.
I’ve already told my housemates all about Hannah’s Instagram and classes (she practices just 5 minutes from our flat) and truly can’t wait to dive back into another dreamy hour of time purely for myself, uninterrupted. She is a superwoman!
I actually had not done a yoga class in quite some time, so going into the self-love and breathwork class I had no idea what to expect. Hannah immediately brought such comforting energy and I felt myself relax around her without fear or judgement. I think sometimes you can do yoga and it feels like exercise and other times you can do it and it feels like self-care/meditation and Hannah’s class was definitely more like the latter.
As we lay down to begin Hannah had already started burning some incense which was wonderful, from there we started by simply laying on our backs with our eyes closed, concentrating on our breathing. My imagination is pretty suggestible so as soon as Hannah told us to imagine our bodies relaxing into the ground I really did feel a weight lift from within me. I’m the type of person that is always doing something/ listening to something / watching something, even when I’m in the bath I’m distracted, and when I go to sleep I listen to an app called rainrain. So it’s extremely rare for me to just be still and concentrating on my thoughts, which I found so soothing.
We then went on to move through the classic yoga positions, slowly, whilst still concentrating on breathing and keeping our eyes shut which is great for more of a novice like me. We stopped to work on different types of breathing, my two favourites were Nadi Shodana Pranayama breathing, which concentrated on alternating nostrils to breathe with one hand. I felt like my head and airways had a new lease of life as we carried on the class. My other fave (which I can’t remember the name of) had us stood up with arms outstretched to the sky on the inhale, and then bending down and throwing our arms through our legs on the exhale. If I was to try it now whilst sat at my desk I think I’d kill my back but after all the stretching and moving I felt so much more flexible and loose, it was magic!
The self-love elements came from thanking our bodies, telling them how grateful we are, removing any type of shame we had for certain areas. We gave ourselves a hug and were told to hug our bodies as if we were hugging someone else, and I found myself stroking my back with my thumb. You read a lot online about how you shouldn’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend which of course is easier said than done but this act of hugging yourself as you would another was a really intense physical embodiment of that sentiment.
By the end of the class, we had returned to once again lying on our backs which was such a lovely cool down. Hannah came around with some oil and had us inhale it as well as putting some pressure on certain parts of our face and head, which was divine and I almost cried, I’m not sure why, I think just felt extremely at one with myself. I can’t wait to go to one of Hannah’s classes again as it literally had me vibrating with lovely energy for the rest of the day. I’ll be using a few of Hannah’s digital classes on YouTube moving forward, and I suggest you do too!
I love practising yoga but it is definitely one of those things that I struggle to find the time to do/prioritise other things over it, which is terrible really because yoga is something that would really benefit me practised more often as I’m an anxious Allie. I was really looking forward to doing this class with Hannah as I hadn’t attended a yoga class since before covid and had only done online classes on YouTube. I also really liked the idea of a self-love yoga class, something that is definitely important to practice!
Hannah was such a lovely human and made me feel so comfortable just in her presence. We all laid on our mats with our eyes closed as incense burned and waves crashed through her speaker really setting the tone for the next hour and a half. If I’m honest I was so relaxed for the entirety of the class everything has kind of melted into one and my memory of it feels slightly blurred, which I think is a good thing!
I’ve done yoga before and so I knew all the basic yoga moves, but I think even if you had never set foot in any kind of class you’d be more than okay in Hannah’s as she talks through everything so well and you feel confident enough that any mistakes made don’t matter, moving your body is just enough. I loved focusing on my breath as this is something I definitely am bad at doing, anyone else get mid-through doing something and realise they are practically holding their breath? Cause same. We practised one technique called Nadi Shodana Pranayama which I think the girls have mentioned too which was incredible! I have awful sinuses and it really felt as if it cleared all the pressure from those and the tension in my head from stress.
At the end of the class we thanked our body for all that it did, hugging ourselves which was actually rather emotional, I felt teary-eyed and really appreciative of my body in that moment which was a nice feeling as, I’m sure like a lot of us, I can be quite critical of myself at times. We then returned to laying down and Hannah came round with oil that we inhaled and she pressed down on pressure points, which felt like a mini-massage which I could have had for HOURS, it felt so relaxing and releasing too.
I’ll absolutely be attending one of Hannah’s classes again in the future and actually, this has kickstarted my appreciation for yoga and meditation. Taking a few hours away from any distractions really reminds you about how important it is to take time away from screens and daily stresses are. I underestimate how even an hour away from everything can really clear your head and help with anxiety etc, so something I’ll be continuing to work on!