06 Dec London – Ibiza – Barcelona
I’ve lived in East London for the last 15 years and progressed through a variety of creative jobs to arrive at where I am today. Through interior design to art director for fashion and films, then Sivananda India-trained yoga instructor to creative director of my own company House of Voga. I’ve combined all my experiences and inspiration into one brand. Voga fuses yoga and voguing (think 1980s NYC drag ballroom scene/ Madonna’s hit Strike a Pose), and fitness and fashion set to an 80s House beat and designed to empower.
After suffering from ME (post viral chronic fatigue syndrome) in my teens, a quest for empowerment and the discovery of your innate power, energy and ability to heal yourself has led me to creating House of Voga. Cleopatra and a concept of particularly female power originating in Egypt and carried through different cultural forms like vogueing is key to Voga, as depicted in the yoga-style poses resembling Egyptian hieroglyphs and performed with confidence and alignment.
I fell in love with Ibiza after teaching my first yoga retreat out there 6 months after training in the summer of 2011. I’ve always been a sun-loving individual. I love the fire of the Spanish and Catalan people and the chilled lifestyle, the idea of living abroad and speaking a different language so Barcelona made sense as the next spot – a sunshine city. After suffering from my illness I realised how essential sunshine is in my life. So as much as I love London and it will always be my home, it certainly doesn’t make sense to spend my whole life there. My ideal scenario would be to live most of the year in Barcelona but visit London regularly. My husband is a skateboarder and has a skateboard company called Lovenskate based in London; he loves Barcelona too and has lots of friends here already.
Little Roxy, our daughter, was born a few months ago. She changes everyday so I feel lucky that my work allows me to be with her. The downside of having my own business is that it doesn’t stop just because I’ve had no sleep! Everyday I set myself mini targets to complete and I fit it around her. I get outside with her as much as I can – Turo de la Rivera pretty much every morning with the 360 degree vista of Barcelona. She’s also been a key inspiration and re-energised my passion for what I’m doing. Voga Mama and Voga Bebe have been dreamt up throughout my pregnancy and continue the idea that exercise should be fun, not solely focused on losing weight but actually enjoying the quality time you’ve put aside to work out.
Voga Mama is a specialist session aimed at pregnant mums who love yoga, music and flow and want to stay fit, healthy and positive through their journey. It’s yoga with a difference that still challenges your body in a safe way despite your changing condition. Pregnancy throws up all manner of emotional and physical ailments or changes. Your changing body shape can effect how you feel about your body image and confidence so we offer a safe routine that promises to work target areas which will benefit you in the birthing process and after. There’s no reason why you should put on excessive weight if you’re aware of a healthy eating plan and proper exercise which means you won’t be so focused on losing weight post birth which isn’t healthy or fulfilling.
In the morning Roxy and I do Voga Bebe – a combination of baby yoga and massage to give your baby the best start. Incorporated into the sequence are poses that can be performed with your baby, aimed to keep mums confident, toned and fit (essential with so much lifting and feeding) and all to an 80s soundtrack. It gives you time out, head space and instills a sense of self esteem that can disappear when you find yourself immersed in baby chores and sleepless nights. Singing nursery rythmes can feel pretty unfamiliar and strange and some fab tunes that benefit both you and your baby can leave you feeling exhilarated and connected to your baby.
Roxy comes everywhere with me – whether it’s work or pleasure. We still go out to dinner, meet friends in bars – in Barcelona there’s a very kid/ dog friendly vibe – and as yet we haven’t been super strict on getting a routine down. We ourselves don’t have a regular routine so to start now we have a baby would probably stress us out more. We don’t have a pram – no room in the car – and I like the African mama idea of throwing them on your back and them settling into you. We have a fab sling that works really well for everywhere!
Having a baby has added a huge amount to my life and travelling with her I hope will inspire her to grow up ready for adventures and follow her dreams. Living in Barcelona means I get to hang out with my husband, Roxy and our French bull dog Rio everyday so we’re sharing this life-changing experience all together. I can’t wait for Roxy to be able to play with Rio! I think the most challenging part so far was travelling with a young baby on a long car journey. We went by ferry to France, drove through France to San Sebastián where we stopped for a couple of nights and finally arrived in Barcelona. The breastfeeding/ dog stops were pretty much every 2 hours.
Apart from this, I think travelling with a baby has been pretty amazing – it’s a great conversation point to meet people; the Spanish love babies and she’s a fab addition to our family! We miss friends and family back home but it’s easy to travel back so I’ll be seeing everyone at Christmas.
House of Voga offer classes and events in London, Edinburgh, Paris, Ibiza, Barcelona and Mallorca and retreats in Ibiza. They have done pop ups in New York, Mexico City, Brazil and Argentina. They’ll be developing a fashion line in 2017.