Instructor Insights: Shirah

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What's Shakin' with Shirah

Shirah's a barre teacher and core yoga instructor who knows what's up with all the alignment. Get to know this body guru!

Fit-focused Qs:

What is your go-to breakfast on a busy morning? REALLY busy? Just coffee! (I’m usually sprinting out the door). If I’ve got a little time I might have a Coconut Yogurt (Harvest Moon is my favorite) and some fruit or if I’m not teaching super early I’ll make my favorite: spelt oatmeal with chia seeds, berries, and a big spoon of bright green pumpkin seed mousse. 

What's your best strategy to stay motivated?  I come from a dance background, where training is super intense and often highly judgemental. When you are comparing yourself to a standard of perfection, you will always feel that you’ve let yourself down, which is so defeating! It took me a lot of years to change those negative thought processes and be kind to myself. Now I know I’m way more likely to work out if I visualize how I’m going to feel after. Because really, moving your body is awesome because of how it makes you feel! It’s way easier to stay active when you think from that perspective and do it just for yourself. 

The best thing we can do for ourselves after a workout is … Roll out! Yes, everyone tells us to stretch after class, and maybe sometimes we listen. Oops! But foam rolling is different from stretching because you’re actually using pressure to release the tissue (fascia) that encases your muscles, which can free up whole kinetic pathways in the body. No matter which type of workout you’ve just done, taking just a few minutes to foam roll your fascia will be a game changer for your recovery AND help you improve in the next class you take. 

Grab a foam roller and work up and down the front and sides of your thighs (Quads, TFL, and IT Band) and make sure not to hit your knee joint. Your shoulders are working harder than you think they are, especially when you’re taking HIIT, using weights in Barre, or doing tons of Chaturangas, so next, roll the sides of your back (Lats, QLs, back extensors) and try rolling around and in between the shoulder blades (Traps, Rhomboids, Rotator cuff) and the front of the underarm (Pectorals).

Is there a special dietary regime you follow? What changes have you seen or felt since you have started it? I’d consider myself a foodie... I love trying new restaurants and foods and I love baking (I find it therapeutic). There’s not much I won’t try at least once. I don’t respond well to strict dietary limitations (I end up rebelling pretty quickly), but if I go out for a decadent meal or hit the ice cream a little too hard, I’ll just try to eat simple, nurturing foods the next day. I don’t eat much meat (which actually started for environmental reasons) and I try to choose whole, organic foods, especially for my home. I try to incorporate fermented foods, and avocado, sweet potatoes, and spinach are major food groups for me. I take probiotics religiously! I recently started drinking hot water with lemon before my morning coffee (thanks to the BECYCLErs who recommended this) and it’s been a big help for my digestion! Most important rule I try to follow: I simply eat when I’m actually hungry. Tuning into my body enough to ask whether I just feel like snacking or actually need fuel really helped me shift into healthier habits. 

© Nomadic by Choice

What are your top three Yoga Poses / Barre Moves / exercises to do at home? 

1. Bridges: These are my go-to for glute and hamstring strength (and anyone who’s taken my barre class knows how serious I am about this!), plus if you focus on adding a deep forward tilt in the pelvis — instead of pushing up from the lower back — you’ll get a nice thigh opener and even some deep core work. 

2. Twists: Active twists (like rotated chair pose and lunges with elbow outside the opposite knee) are great full body poses that challenge many different muscle groups, core stability, and balance. Passive twists (usually lying on your back) are a great way to release tension in the spine, restore your nervous system, and stretch the outer hips and chest. Bonus: twists are great for your digestion, since all that abdominal pressure really gets things moving!

3. Don’t think this one has a name but DO IT! Lie on your back, stretch your legs straight up to the ceiling, and keep your whole rib cage dropped into the floor (that last bit is extra important to keep your spine safe). Squeeze your inner legs together from top to bottom, especially knees and ankles, and begin to flex and point the feet. Really work the ankles and feet as deeply in flexion and extension as you can so that you’re activating all the muscles of the feet, ankles, and shins, and just keep going until you can’t anymore! If your neck/shoulders are tense, bring your hands behind your head. If your hamstrings are tight, hold the backs of your legs, but stay long through the knees. For an extra challenge, curl your head, neck, and chest off the floor and add more abdominal work. You’ll really feel the little muscles of the feet, ankles, and shins that often get neglected, and if you’re really stabilizing your trunk into the floor you’ll get some nice deep core work as well!

What are your tips to have energy all day? Keep drinking water and move your body! If you don’t have time to take class, some gentle stretching and twisting (to bring oxygen to your muscles and organs) and a few good planks (for some endorphins) can really do the trick. Smaller meals/snacks lower in sugar that are eaten more frequently will help you avoid big dips in blood sugar that might make you feel fatigued. 

What's your favourite motivational quote if any?  Does “KEEP SQUEEZING THAT BALL” count?


Quick-fire Qs

Favourite smoothie at MyGoodness: Love you so Matcha!
Best Restaurant in Berlin: La Lucha (amazing modern Mexican) and Emma Pea (funky little vegan place).
Best Bar in Berlin: Totally different vibes...Redwood for cocktails, [f.u.c.] for the most Berlin experience ever.
Best Place to dance in Berlin: Kater Blau.
Favourite exercise: Slow, controlled Pilates Ab work.
Least favourite exercise: Ardha Chandrasana (half moon pose)...it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just very elusive for me at the moment!


Silly Qs:

© Nomadic by Choice

Dog, cats, neither? Why? Jack Russell Terriers are the best, and I’m addicted to videos of kittens on Instagram.

What's your personal theme song? Sometimes I catch myself humming Beatles songs in my head as I walk down the street. 

You're stranded on an island. What's the one thing you'd wish you had and why? Good company! Don’t think I’d last long without that.