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Notes from The Studio | Harriet Heath

Posted by Charlotte Nutland on
Notes from The Studio | Harriet Heath

Hello, I’m Harriet, a Pilates teacher and enthusiast of all things movement related. I run a virtual movement studio called Harriet Heath - Mind Body Soul Moves, guiding live Pilates classes alongside an ever-growing library of ‘On Demand’ classes. Lover of life’s simple pleasures, including but not limited to hummus, the ocean, a really good chat and nursing a coffee for at least an hour until it is stone cold.

 

Harriet, we love your business description; mind body soul moves. Talk to us about the soul element? 

The soul element represents the approach I like to take when guiding movement. It is a kind and nurturing approach. Don’t get me wrong, the body will work hard but the focus is more on working to support yourself and create a deeper relationship with your body - one that is nourishing not punishing, one that is working with your body to support it rather than battle against it.

Movement has always been my safe place. I danced from a very young age and, at the time I didn’t have the language or awareness to articulate what I loved about it - I thought it was the performance aspect. What I realised much later in life was that while dancing and focusing all of my attention on using my body and breath to create shapes and flowing movement patterns - for that time there was no external noise, nothing else existed. I felt truly settled and at home within myself.

Pilates and Yoga brought me to this realisation. I had those same feelings while being on my mat. This changed the way I looked at exercise completely and why I refer to my classes as ‘movement’ rather than ‘exercise’. It is not just about the physical body, not just about focusing the mind. We bring the two together in fluid series of movements to create that feeling of connection to self. A moving meditation if you will - to nourish the whole self. There is no time to hear the voices that you aren’t enough, that you can’t do something or whatever it is the external world is throwing at you. You are just you, at your essence, with none of the fluff on top. After a class I hope to leave you feeling clearer, more grounded and more at home within yourself (as well as thoroughly worked out from top to toe).

For me that feels very soulful.

 

We see you love healthy, nourishing food.  What is your favorite breakfast recipe?

Without of it - it is my undoubted favourite meal of the day. In the winter it would be a big bowl of warming porridge but as soon as the Spring weather hits, I abandon the porridge and start with Summer breakfast season.

My go to would be some homemade granola, either with plant-based milk or coconut yogurt, topped with fresh berries, soft figs and a drizzle of peanut butter. I also love a shot of ginger to start the day so that would be alongside it.

Coconut yog of choice – Coyo

Peanut Butter of choice – Manilife deep roast

I very much wing my own recipe’s in terms of quantities, but I have popped what I roughly do for my homemade granola below if you fancy giving it a go.

This roughly fills a large Kilner jar. As I say, I am an ‘intuitive’ (code for make it up as I go along) cook but you can’t really go too wrong with this to be honest!

Jumbo oats – around 3 cups – this is your base, so you want a good amount.

A selection of nuts and seeds (whatever you have in the cupboard, I usually use almonds, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts. I like a chunky granola so I leave the nuts whole, but you could chop the brazil nuts and almonds if you prefer) – around 1 and a half cups

Coconut Oil – 3 tbsp

Maple Syrup – 3 tbsp

Zest and juice of 1 orange

Sprinkling of cinnamon

Jumbo raisins – big handful

Dried Apricots – chopped – big handful

Line a big baking tray and pre heat the oven to 160. Mix the oats, nuts and seeds on the tray.

Melt the coconut oil and maple syrup together in a pan, add the orange zest, juice and cinnamon and heat for another minute or so.

Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and mix it until the dry mix is completely covered.

Bake in the oven for around 45/50 minutes – stir it every 10 minutes while it is baking and keep an eye on it – when it is looking nicely golden brown, fully toasted and no longer wet I would say it is good to go! It can suddenly turn and burn quickly so definitely keep a sharp eye from the 35-minute mark onwards.

Leave to cool then add the jumbo raisins and chopped apricots (or whatever dried fruit you like)

Pop in a giant jar and enjoy!

 

How does your absolute favorite Sunday look?

My absolute favourite Sunday would be waking up with no alarm, followed by the usual morning rituals to set up my day - hydrate, journal, meditate, herbal tea. Then some movement - usually a Pilates class from my On Demand Library, luxuriate over a coffee for a while and then meet a friend for brunch, a really good chat and a walk. In an ideal world (and if was my absolute favourite Sunday) it would be sunny, so we would also throw some sunbathing in to the mix - set up camp in a park with snacks, definitely some cake involved and laze the afternoon away in a dream like haze. I like to have a slow, relaxed Sunday evening ahead of the upcoming week so would finish with a bath, a yummy dinner (preferably outdoors) in to bed nice and early with a good book and drift off thinking of how delicious my day was.

How can Pilates help your sense of wellbeing? 

I think of my body as my home, and Pilates helps me to nourish that home.

Pilates is an intentional and mindful practice. It is a low impact way of moving, so while it can be incredibly challenging, it is also kind on the joints and helps in keeping them healthy and mobile while strengthening the body at the same time. Simultaneous mobility and strength is the ideal scenario for the body and Pilates helps to support this. The focus on marrying the breath with movement patterns is essentially used to help stabilise the body while also encouraging greater ranges of movement. Alongside this, I have found that just focusing in on your body and breath for a sustained time period is incredibly meditative. Your mind has little time to wander off and so you can finish a class feeling in a totally different place mentally to where you started. Space in your mind as well as your body. Pilates is also all about awareness. Awareness of where your body is in space, where different parts of your body are in relation to each other, awareness of your breath while working with co-ordination and control – this translates into your day-to-day life. You become more connected to your body and conscious of how it is moving, more in tune with the alignment of your joints and your posture. It feels GOOD to feel strong, mobile, energised and mindful. It is definitely a practise that comes off the mat with you.

You have curated a really beautiful Instagram feed. How do you balance online time v offline life?

 Thank you very much! I do love Instagram; I think there are so many inspiring people and you can learn so much through a huge amount of accessible information. If I am being 100% honest though, when it comes to my own Instagram, I still don’t really know what I am doing. It is sort of a post what I like when I like kind of approach (not sure that is the most productive way in terms of business), but I enjoy using it as a personal mini art gallery and have now happened to find a wonderful and supportive Movement community on there that I cherish!

I have some pretty firm boundaries when it comes to my phone/technology. Too much time online and I don’t sleep well, I feel groggy in the mornings and it can make me feel wired and a bit frantic (maybe a little anxious if you like). Since switching my business online and spending more time looking at a screen for work, I have had to find what works and feels good for me. I now have my phone on flight mode from around 8pm – 9am the next day. This has gradually been extended because it feels so good. I have my evening winding down and morning routine with no technology (if I want to listen to a podcast or some music, I download it before hand – but I am just not contactable and definitely can’t mindlessly scroll or keep picking up and putting down my phone opening random apps – we all know we do it).

 After taking my business online I also found that the lines became a little blurry between when I was working and when I wasn’t – especially because often my work doesn’t feel like work as I enjoy it so much. I would find myself doing bits in the evening or at the weekend and I think, for me, even though I love my job, it is so important to have clear boundaries otherwise I end up constantly feeling ‘on’. I have a little ritual to mark the end of the work/technology day now. I close my laptop at, say 5pm (ish), light a candle, put on some music in the kitchen and dance - a personal concert for myself. Movement feels so grounding for me and drops me out of that frantic energy I find technology can put me in and back into a softer space. It is just also pretty fun so if you don’t already dance in your kitchen - I would definitely recommend!

 

You can join Harriet on Instagram here 

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