Nahid de Belgeonne is the founder and director of the Good Vibes Fitness brand of boutique studios. She set up Good Vibes six years ago in October 2006, as the first independent Power Plate studio in the UK and a place dedicated to "the enjoyment that positive, fun and thoughtful exercise creates."
Now Good Vibes has expanded its services to include Glow Yoga & Pilates, Europe’s first infra-red heated yoga studio in Covent Garden, and Spincycle in London's Fitzrovia. Both studios still offer Power Plate classes. Nahid also teaches Yoga and Power Plates with a strong focus on anatomy and “how it feels.” She is inspired by many movement disciplines (Pilates, martials arts, Feldenkrais) and was trained by Simon Low at The Yoga Academy and is British Wheel of Yoga accredited.
Recently, Nahid joined us for a live web chat to answer your questions on yoga practice, finding the right class and the best way of setting up a fitness brand...
I'm wondering whether there are any specific benefits of yoga over say, swimming or jogging? Can you ever actually lose weight via yoga alone? Thank you. Josie
Yoga will tone your whole body and you’ll gain mobility. In yoga you are moving your body weight for the duration of the class and so it is great for resistance training and it will improve your tone as well as co-ordination, mobility and flexibility.
Yoga is a wonderful addition to an existing sports regime as in Yoga you move in 3D and often in sports you are moving in a more linear manner and working the same muscles groups repetitively.
Yoga has a calming effect on the body so if you are going to lose weight by doing it, it will be more to do with feeling less stressed and thinking more about what you eat and how you eat.
I began doing yoga this week actually. Although I'm very athletic I reached out to yoga as a means of holistic exercise, this is due to intense stress that I have had for the past 20 years! I hope that yoga will help me unclutter all my negative thoughts and help with thinking positive. Last Tuesday's lesson was very interesting. Is there something specific that I should target in yoga in order to help me cure my stress, of just take it slow and see how I progress? Christine Yannou
I suffer occasional panic attacks and wonder if you think yoga would help with this - in a holistic/calming way? Rochelle
I would focus on a class where you have breath work. I too suffered from stress and used to get panic attacks on the tube but the more yoga I do the less either of those has an effect. Busy people need quieter practices so I would try restorative yoga, you will sleep like a baby after class!
Thank you Nahid, your replies to myself and Sophie honestly struck a chord! Wisdom does come after the 30s and yes the busier you are the quieter practises you need - hence why I find it difficult running now - makes me feel more hyper than calm. Therefore, restorative yoga it is! Christine
I do a lot of yoga but I have started to experience weakness and pain in my wrists. I do a lot of downward dog sequences and wonder how I can protect my wrists from future pain and damage? Also I have tried lots of different types of yoga and really like bikram for the fitness element. I have heard some negative press about bikram for it actually being dangerous. What are your views on bikram and whether it is a good form of yoga? Thanks! Megan
Pain in wrists is a common complaint in yoga and can be easily avoided. Make sure that you are using the ground by pressing down through the outer edges of the hand as well as the base of the fingers and include the underside of the knuckles so you are spreading the weight evenly across the hand. I always tell students to imagine a butterfly under their palms, you need to keep a lift up and away from the floor rather than crashing into the wrists. Keep space in the joints, they are not meant to be weight bearing so use the ground to lift up. Do remember that the all yoga poses are a whole body movement so you need to be mindful of the quality of your movement. Yoga practiced too fast won’t give you the time to adjust and find your pose – essential if we want to keep the mind /body/breathe connection.
I love warm yoga which is what we offer at Glow Yoga. I also love to flow in the warmth rather than hold a series of static poses. What we offer here is a challenging but nurturing flow in a warm but not hot studio taught by teachers with a good understanding of anatomy.
I have extremely tight hamstrings which means that anything like downward facing dog always ends up a bit wonky. Can you suggest any poses I can do to loosen them up a bit? Emily
To release a muscle the last thing you want to do it to apply force to it. The best type of flexibility combines improved strength and improved range of motion. Try this in your down dog: make sure that your knees are bent. I always keep my knees slightly bent in all poses but particularly this pose. Stretch your heels to the back wall as opposed to the mat. You want to keep your joints juicy and a playfulness in your pelvis, take your pubic bone away from your ribs, widen across the collarbones.
Breathe deeply into it.
What are the three key poses to yoga if you could narrow it down to that? And how do you do them? Thanks. Molly
Just because of time, I am going to give you two lovely pose that you can use in your life:
Child’s pose, wonderful rest pose – Kneel on the floor. Bring your big toes together and sit on your heels, separate your knees about as wide as your mat.
As you exhale walk your hands forwards to lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden across the back of your pelvis. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis and rest your forehead on the floor, keeping length in the back of the neck.
Leave your hands there or lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso with the palms up. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders opens the shoulder blades wide your back.
Tadasana – a stand proud pose – place your feet hip distance apart, make sure your feet are parallel. Press the bones of the feet into the floor and feel the rise up through the spine all the way to the crown of the head. Find your neutral spine (where the asis and the pubic bone are in line) so you are not tucking your hips under. Widen across the hip creases, widen across the collar bones. Roll your upper arms out and turn your palms back in. Lift up the tips of the ears…smile!
Finding the right yoga class
Pregnancy yoga: what's the best time to begin and can you go to normal non pre-natal yoga classes ? I'm 21 weeks. Clare Howell
You should only go along to a pregnancy yoga class if you are just beginning as pregnancy classes avoid certain poses and are run at a pace that students can follow. They are also a great place to meet other expecting mothers so the benefits go beyond just attending a class.
I'm thinking about trying meditation classes as I'd really like to learn how to take the time to slow down and not think about a million things all the time! Not sure it's totally your area but can you suggest how to go about finding a good one? I live in London. I'd like something empowering but not super spiritual.... or should I just try to do it at home?? I hope you can help! Thanks! Helen M
Meditation is amazing, I started with just 3 minutes a day and have built up to more as and when I need it. I bought my mp3s from Amazon, you can download them onto your phone and away you go. I’d recommend Rod Stryker’s meditation mp3s if you want a longer practice.
If you can’t relax on your own we offer a 30 minute meditation every Wednesday at 12pm. if you want to go deeper try Yoga Nidra which is a delicious guided meditation, we have a monthly class, the next one is on June 10th.
I'm curious to know what type of male-female ratio you get at your classes - and also whether you get a particular age group? Is there any age that is really too young to start yoga in your opinion as somehow it's always associated as a 30-something thing onwards. Sophie Fortier
It depends on the type of class but yes it's often more female-centric. You can start yoga young and I wish I had, my life would have been a lot simpler. It is a 30s thing here in the West because that’s when we get our wisdom and we don’t have youth to hide our sins!
Wanted to know if you have any clases for ladies only? Thanks!! Hala
We offer one to ones with brilliant teachers here, that is what a lot of clients who want a female only experience do.
Starting a yoga fitness brand
Hi Nahid, I'm going to do train to become a yoga teacher later this year. What advice would you give to new teachers? Thanks. Olivia
I would choose your teaching training very carefully, make sure that there is a strong anatomy element to your course. I would look to British Wheel of Yoga course as they are accredited.
I would love to set up a lifestyle-based gym where I'm based in Wales - how would you recommend I go about raising funding for it? Moira
I am writing a business plan for setting up a fitness studio in South London (to provide yoga/pilates/spinning and other fitness classes) how much market research did you do before setting up your studios and how did you prove that there was a market in each of your studio locations? I would also be interested in how you raised funding as my current business plan indicates I would need a significant amount to get the studio up and running? Frankie
I am afraid there is no easy answer on this, and there are no short cuts to doing the research.
You need to cost your building work, the equipment costs, staffing, marketing, rent rates etc for the start up and need to make sure that you have enough income and a strong marketing plan in place to get the money rolling in a soon as you open.
You should always have your own money to put in, otherwise why would anyone risk theirs in your project? If you idea is a strong one and you have planned well, it will succeed!
Thanks for answering my previous question. I am starting to get an idea of how much work it takes to open a fitness studio but am still so passionate about getting there - just to give me an idea how long did it take you from building a business plan to to actually opening? Frankie
It only took me 3 months but I am VERY driven! Don’t go by that, I think I am a bit... unusual!
What was the one thing you didn't know when setting up your business but wished someone had told you about. Thanks again. Olivia
I wish someone had told me how lovely it is to bring people together who love to come here as clients and work here a staff. It would have made the difficult times when I started easier!
Image credit: Rex