Welcome! If you’re unsure why the title is called creative stance – let us explain: Here at Stance we film Breaking, Tricking and other cool and creative videos that take our interest. Using our recent slow-motion videos as an example, we now have a group of videos called slomo.stance. Everything that’s slow-motion has the term slomo.stance featured somewhere. Similarly to freestyle.stance which corresponds to our freestyle football videos with Waas – or any freestyle video for that matter.

Much like Hantu, Stance is also a platform for creativity and storytelling. This is exactly what you will find on here. There’s many dancers and other artists with a story to tell. A story which reveals their necessity to adopt a creative lifestyle. So in honour of the creative lifestyle, everything you will see on here will have some focus on creativity.

However, within any creative artform there’s an element of community spirit. An essence of unity and togetherness that you only find through the arts and other creative endeavours. This will also be highlighted here. Many artists put a lot of their time and effort into the growth of their community. Sharing positive vibes and encouraging others to lead a creative lifestyle. It’s important for us to recognise the hard work that creative individuals are undertaking.

So without further ado – let’s get creative!


Below is a playlist of slo-mo

My name is Olivia Barker, I am the co-Founder and UK Director of the children’s charity Kids Club Kampala.


When I was 18 I had the opportunity to volunteer in Uganda for 7 months. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of the rest of my life. Whilst I was in Uganda, it was there that a good Ugandan friend of mine introduced me to the appalling conditions in Kampala’s slums. The slums are shocking; open sewers, filth, dirt, overcrowding, malnourished children running around with no shoes on. To add to this, the slums are notorious for crime and violence at night, children are abused, forced to work on the streets or caught up in gangs or drug abuse.

People I met in Uganda we would meet would warn us against going there “Those children are dirty, they will steal your stuff, you catch a disease!” I struggled to understand these comments when I looked into the eyes of these smiling kids we met who just wanted to play and have fun and be kids, who just wanted someone to hold a skipping rope for them while they jumped, who just needed someone to say I believe

Kids Club Kampalayou are special, gifted and worth a huge amount in this world.

Simply: It broke my heart. So along with 2 good friends, Corrie and Sam, we decided that more needed to be done for these children. Sadly, there wasn’t much help available as many charities were reluctant to work in the slums because of the difficult and dangerous conditions. It slowly dawned on us that the slum children would never have the same opportunities that other children in the world had, there was no one willing to stand up for them or fight on their behalf. We were falling in love with these kids while the rest of the world was shutting them out. We were determined to help the children in this community in any way possible, and it seemed that our only option was to do something ourselves.

‘Kids Clubs’ started out as a ‘Saturday Club’ inKids Club Kampala October 2007.

Every Saturday, my friends and I would take footballs, skipping ropes, play parachutes into the slums and play games, sing songs, give out sweets, make up silly dramas with nearly 200 children.

Our aim was to let the children have a childhood, to have fun and to play in a safe space away from the challenges and worries of their everyday lives.



In 2015, our ‘Kids Club’ now feeds, educates, provides healthcare and counselling for over 4000 children every day, in 17 different commuKids Club Kampalanities across Uganda. But we didn’t stop there. We thought wouldn’t it be great if the women in these communities were educated and could earn a living? Wouldn’t that help improve the quality of the children’s lives? So we started adult education and microfinance programmes for women. We currently have 250 women who are part of our women’s initiatives, who are gaining sustainable incomes through craft making, tailoring, poultry, cow and pig rearing projects. Several women who have graduated from our adult education programmes are now volunteering to help teach our children’s education classes. And we didn’t want the men to feel left out, so this month we are currently in the process of setting up a carpentry training workshop and education programme for men in the slums. We have experienced unprecedented growth over the last few years, and our model of volunteer run, community led, community driven development is now being adopted by several other organisations in Kampala.


I travel to Uganda two or three times a year now and without a doubt, the most rewarding thing is visiting the children and communities whose lives are being changed for the better by Kids Club Kampala. Seeing children who a couple of years ago were severely malnourished now being healthy, seeing children now have the opportunity to go to school who previously had no hope of doing so, seeing a woman now able to provide for her family, seeing a child who was abandoned now have a loving home to stay in – there is no greater feeling!

Kids Club Kampala

This is what keeps me going, this is what inspires me and I think the most necessary thing is to have a passion for what you are doing and to be incredibly determined to succeed.

If you have a dream to make a difference in the world, just go for it. It is easy to feel paralysed by the sheer scale of the problem or the size of your goal and end up doing nothing. Don’t give up. Dream big, start small. When people say “I wish I could do something” I always respond by saying “you can!” Everyone can. Just give it a try. Find something that breaks your heart. Find a cause that keeps playing on your mind that you can’t ignore. Find something that you care about and want to see change in, and use that passion to ignite a fire in you that keeps you going. People may criticise you for being inexperienced, too young, you may not have enough money or the right qualifications but don’t let that hold you back and don’t be afraid of a little sacrifice. I have put in my fair share of personal time, money, energy and more into Kids Club Kampala. Struggling hard to do something that makes a difference in the lives of others even when you do not get a financial return is much more rewarding than dedicating your life to a job that pays the bills but doesn’t fulfil your soul.

Kids Club Kampala For more information about the work of Kids Club Kampala, please visit our website www.kidsclubkampala.org, or you can tweet me @oliviambarker. Thank you.

meI’m the girl that was picked last for every team sport.


I’m the girl that came in dead last when we ran the trails in PE.


When I was younger I thought of myself as a weak, girly girl.


I hated running then and I still hate it now. I was not competitive then and I am not competitive now.


I grew up in a trailer where everyone in my family chain smoked.

I probably second hand smoked 4 packs a day before I moved out at 18.

In their defense, this was still back when no one talked about how bad smoking is for you.


I thought I was destined to be unfit and unathletic and slightly pudgy my entire life. I live in Port Angeles Washington, very, very Northwest corner of the USA, a small town of 20,000 about 2 hours away from Seattle.


Then in my early 20’s I made a new friend that was a fitness instructor. She coerced me into joining the YMCA with her. I discovered aerobics… and I was GOOD at it. I have rhythm. I can move. I can dance! And it’s fun!


It changed my life. It altered how I saw myself. It even changed the course of my life.

When I started, I was out of shape and had never really been an “exerciser”. I loved aerobics right away but it took me awhile to feel competent. I went to class for a couple years and then started teaching at the urging of my good friend Michelle that I started going to the why with. She was an instructor and trained me and she is also a big reason I am where I am today.

I am still at the same YMCA 24 years later and I have been a fitness instructor for 21 years.

high lunge 

I teach just about everything offered- cycling, weights, dance, step, etc. And I am good at what I do. I’m good at it because I love it. I try to make it fun for my class participants. For the last year and a half I have also been the Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, in charge of our fitness department. I work at the Olympic Peninsula YMCA – http://clallamcountyymca.org/ 

If anyone had been able to see into the future and tell me this would be the job I would have and enjoy 40 hours a week I would never have believed it.


Some of my past PE teachers have even came to my classes … oh, and I kicked their butts…. with a smile of course.

Trying something new- aerobics- changed my life. Listening to the positive advice of a good friend telling me to start working out changed my life.

YMCA I’m 48 and I feel better than I did at 18.

Every day brings new opportunities to be better in some way, stronger in some way, to try something new and different.
To break out of your self- imposed box.
Never miss a chance at a better life.
And hopefully, along the way, you make the lives of others better also.
And you have fun…

the photo above are breast cancer awareness cycling class- everyone wore pink, I taught and we made a couple hundred bucks for a local charity.

the photo above are breast cancer awareness cycling class- everyone wore pink, I taught and we made a couple hundred bucks for a local charity.


I teach 5 weeks of yoga to the college boys basketball team every fall, the Pirates

I teach 5 weeks of yoga to the college boys basketball team every fall, the Pirates

These days we have health tips here there and everywhere. The wonder cures are so vast, varied and often contradictory that it’s sometimes hard to know what is actually good for you. One tip that has stood the test of time however is one of the simplest and cheapest around!

Drinking warm lemon water, what could be simpler?

lemon and hot water

Also, in my opinion it does actually make you feel pretty fantastic even after a couple of days.

As a Yogi and Ayurvedic therapist I will start with a little bit of the Eastern perspective on why this humble health tip is really one worth having a go at.

cute lemon

Ayurveda is the “Science of life” in English and tells us that making this simple addition to your morning routine is a great step towards preventing or even curing some disease. Ama in Ayurvedic science is similar to what you or I may think of as toxins. Most people have some level of toxins (Ama) accumulated in their bodies but if Ama is allowed to stay present in the body for a long time and build up then this can lead to disease. Ayurveda says that the affects of drinking warm lemon water in the morning helps to soften the Ama in the body before it has time to set deeper in the body and become a bigger problem for the person. The water must be warm because both cold and hot water can be a surprise to the system, therefore they will not flush the Ama (toxins) out in the same way as a warm drink will. The properties of the lemon help with cleansing. Also, if you wanted to stimulate your Agni, which is the digestive fire (metabolism) then add in some fresh ginger as well. The warming qualities of the ginger are great if your digestion needs a little boost or are feeling generally sluggish.



Here are 10 more reasons:

1.The health benefits of lemons and drinking lemon water have been known for centuries or even millennia in many cultures.

2. Lemons’ have strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting properties, hence why it is such a popular ingredient in cold remedies.

3. Lemons are a rich source of Vitamin C which is why they are so great for fighting colds, you can never have too much Vitamin C either.

4. They are also a source of Potassium which is good for the brain & nerve functions.5. Lemons are good for balancing your PH. They have an Alkaline affect inside the body. They are acidic on their own, but when consumed they’re alkaline.

5. Drinking warm lemon water is great for digestion and assimilation.

6. The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and flush through any blockages or baddies in the digestive system. Lemons are high in vitamins and minerals that help to remove toxins, it is also a diuretic so it flushes out the system because it increases the rate of urination. Toxic material or Ama is therefore, expelled at a faster rate which helps your body stay healthy. As previously mentioned in the Ayurveda section, this is just a different explanation of the same idea.

7. It brings you one step closer to a flawless complexion too. Lemon water purges toxins from the blood which helps the skin stay blemish free, and the body is more rehydrated by warm water so after a little time on this stuff the skin starts to look and feel more hydrated and smooth.

8. By starting the day off well hydrated you also help to keep your lymphatic and adrenal systems healthy.
When your body becomes dehydrated it can’t function as well. You may become dizzy, tired, stressed, constipated, irritable etc. Your adrenals and thyroid contribute to creating energy. So, why not keep em happy and healthy? Maybe you won’t hit that afternoon slump as hard as you used to.

9. Lemon is one of the few foods that contain more negative charged ions, providing your body with more energy when it enters the digestive tract.

10. The scent of lemon is also a mood enhancer and has energising properties. The smell of lemon juice and zest can make you feel happier, clearer, and more awake. There is also research to suggest that Lemon can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Lemon essential oil is also good for this.

Here are just some of the great benefits of adopting this simple change into your daily routine.
So, What are you waiting for ?

Stock up and give it a go!

Lemon quote

It is really simple and cheap, make a cup of warm water (filtered if you can) and add in the juice of around half a lemon. Use fresh lemon (organic ideally) and make sure the water isn’t hot. Drink it in the morning first thing, sip steadily and enjoy 🙂

Lemon tea

If you liked this post please JOIN THE CLAN and SHARE it with your friends.

Look out for the follow up to this Post “Creating an Ayurvedic morning routine“. If this is you, maybe you need it?

Morning routine
Morning routine is so important in Ayurvedic science and just generally, it promotes great health and adds structure into your daily life. If you already have some kind of routine it is advisable that drinking the lemon water is one of the first things you do in the day. Allow the system some time to wake up before eating and ideally do some form of activity beforehand. Yoga, walking, swimming,running, even simple things like having your shower first or doing a few household chores will give that extra bit of time for the body to awaken before getting started with breakfast and work. There are many other tips for making a wonderful morning ritual, but that is a whole other article in and of itself…

SO, start off simply with the lemon water and see if you can start to create a fuller routine down the line.

But, if you can only make time for one ritual that will improve your health, let it be this…..

Thanks for reading!

Sharing tools and inspirations

Sharing tools and inspirations

Diamond mining for beginners.

On discovering my story, people often seek to understand what and who inspired me, and what drove my desire to achieve. They wonder if I have the keys to unlock the secrets of success.

In reality we all hold a number of keys to the many definitions of success that there are. It’s only by sharing them that we help others find their own keys.

In the coming months, I will share stories, tools, techniques and insights I discovered on my journey, in the hope that they will unlock something for you or someone you know. I positively encourage you to do the same.

Please share your stories, tools, techniques and insights in the comments below, who knows, it might inspire us to make a featured blog post about it!

When I was around 16, I stumbled upon Earl Nightingale. I saw a flyer for an audio book series, and sent off for the ‘free’ trial. When I received my first recording, I was absolutely hooked. Not only did this guy’s voice sound like a worldly wise grandad giving me great advice, his story telling was so effective, I immediately felt compelled to act on his words.

I have chosen one of his stories to share with you. It’s one of my favourites, because it is applicable to so many situations, and it continues to help and inspire me 28 years after first discovering it.

The story is attributed as inspiration for countless people’s success and is told by hundreds of people all over the world. Temple University in Philadelphia exists because this story inspired its founder. Even though it’s been adapted many times, it is based on a true, and quite incredible real life story. Its timeless wisdom is as thought provoking and relevant now as it was when first told in the 1800’s.

Acres of Diamonds

A farmer who lived in Africa became tremendously excited when a visitor told him about Diamonds being discovered in abundance in fields on the African continent. The farmer, consumed by the idea he could find millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds, sold his farm to head out to the diamond mines.

He wandered all over the continent constantly searching for diamonds and the inevitable wealth which would follow, which he never found. Eventually he went completely broke and threw himself into a river and drowned.

Meanwhile, the new owner of his farm found an ugly and unusual looking rock the size of an egg and put it on his mantle as a curiosity. A visitor saw the rock, and almost had heart failure there and then! He told the new owner of the farm that the funny looking rock on his mantle was probably the biggest diamond that had ever been found. The new owner of the farm said, “Heck, the whole farm is covered with them” – and sure enough it was.

The farm is now known as the Kimberly Diamond Mine, with the Orange River running right through it… the richest mine the world has ever known. The original farmer was literally standing on “Acres of Diamonds” until he sold his farm.

Modern day kimberly

Modern day kimberly

If only he started his quest by first understanding what Diamonds looked like in their rough state. If only he had a good look in his own back yard before looking elsewhere.

Each of us in this very moment are standing in our very own acres of diamonds. All we need is the wisdom and patience to intelligently and effectively explore both ourselves and the life we are currently living.

10 Questions to Mine Your Own Diamonds

What I love about Earl Nightingale, is that he not only provides the inspiration through great story telling, he helps us find our own way by giving us a great context and then asking some pertinent questions.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Here is Earl’s guidance on Diamond Mining:

To prospect your own acres of diamonds and unearth the opportunities that exist in your life right now, regularly challenge yourself with some key questions:

1) How good am I at what I’m presently doing?

2) Can I call myself a first-class professional at my work?

3) How would my work stand up against the work of others in my field?

4) Do I know all I can about my industry or profession?

5) How can the customer be given a better break?

6) How can I increase my service?

7) There are rare and very marketable diamonds lurking all around me. Have I been looking for them? Have I examined every facet of my work and of the industry or profession in which it has its life?

8) There are better ways to do what I’m presently doing. What are they?

9) How will my work be performed 20 years from now?

10) Everything in the world is in a state of evolution and improvement.

How can I do now what will eventually be done anyway? Now, I have reduced the story and Earl’s wisdom into a blog sized retelling. If you can find 10 minutes, I’ve found what I think maybe from the original 10 minute ‘free audio book’ taster I heard all those years ago. Click Here. It looks and sounds old and cheesy, but the wisdom is relevant and insightful. If you are interested in the Acres of Diamonds story, the audiobook is 1 hour and 17 minutes, it’s online here. As with a lot of the old teachings, there are often out-dated turns of phrase and religious references – I just tune out of them, as the lessons are far more valuable than the sometimes frustrating idiosyncrasies of a bygone age.

About Pennie Raven

Pennie is a UK Business and Social Entrepreneur, currently living in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Originally from Essex, she

Pennie raven

Pennie raven

grew up on a notorious council estate with high unemployment and above average levels of poverty and crime. By the age of 15 she was homeless, fending for herself, yet went on to enjoy a successful blue chip career in HR and Change Management. By 25 she was an influential voice in the boardroom, and was a director by age 29. She discovered her inner entrepreneur founding the hugely successful Direct Human Resources Group, which then became a casualty of the global recession. She has since founded HR Guardian Angels, helping countless entrepreneurs with their own ventures. She Co-runs Pecha Kucha Sheffield, and recently founded Sheffield Soup, a real life crowd funding event for Sheffield people and their ideas. Pennie has broad interests, enjoying science and technology, arts and culture. She is fascinated by neuroscience and biotechnology.


Websites / Twitter / Facebook:

www.sheffieldsoup.com @SheffSOUP Facebook/SheffieldSoup

www.pechakuchasheffield.com @PKNSheff Facebook/PechaKuchaSheffield

www.hrguardianangels.com @hrguardianangel Facebook/HRGuardianAngels

www.pennieraven.com @pennieraven Facebook/JobsInSheffield

Contact Pennie for:

HR Support, Headhunting, Leadership and Management Development, and Business Growth Consulting.

Events coming soon:

Sheffield Soup Launch Party on 29th July

Pecha Kucha Sheffield Volume 19 – The Artisan Rises on 16th July

For starters, the North Side UK works on two major principles. ‘Support Your Scene’ and ‘North Side State of Mind’. The ‘scene’ for me is my home, where I reside, where I first started my journey, where I kick started my passion. And that place is in Huddersfield in the North of England, hence the name ‘North Side UK’.

Northside Manchester Dance and Art

Some people are actually quick to up sticks and leave in search for something better, even though they had noooo idea it was under their nose the whole time, all they had to do was dig a little.

Here’s the thing, Rome wasn’t built in a day and immediate gratification is only a means to gain something quickly because your not patient enough resist the small things that enable you to accomplish a larger, more enduring reward further down the line.

Northside Manchester Dance and Art

For example, being hungry and choosing to snack instead of waiting for your mother to cook you that delicious meal to relish your need for food. This, my friends, is why I founded the North Side UK. I wanted to build the coliseum and eat that sexy ass meal. I wanted to reap my own rewards.

After only being one and a half years young (established in January 2014), the NSUK foundations are still being set and the people involved are HUNGRY! Being such a young organisation we are still experimenting with what we are capable of and are now getting an idea of how to operate, kind of like a baby learning to walk. You can say we have accomplished quite a bit already since the beginning:

– Throwing consecutive successful events

– Having events in major cities in the north of England (Leeds and Manchester)

– Releasing clothing people want to wear and support

– Collaborating with other local independent artists/clothing designers

– Releasing a project that has spanned the world from the UK to Australia

Northside Manchester Dance and Art

What we really aspire for though, are more people to join us, to share our consensus and to share our values. It’s all good saying we have done x y and z, but what the point if what we do doesn’t make a difference?

We give people a platform in which they can excel, we push them towards their own goals, we help instil growth into our scene, and we do it all for the love.

Luke Adam Mackley (North Side UK Founder & Artistic Director)

Northside Manchester Dance and Art


Instagram & Twitter






NSUK 1 Year Recap

NSUK x Obsolete Collaboration

Improv Show #2 Recap

Improv Show Testimony




My name’s Alice, I’m a 22 year old artist and vegan, based in Brighton, well, almost. I am currently in the process of packing up my life in Sheffield, after four challenging and transformative years at university, and heading south, to begin an uncertain but exciting future in Brighton.

Vegan Artist Sheffield

I am excited to be a part of the Hantu Collective and to start spreading those positive vibes. I plan on focusing on issues like happiness, health and wellbeing, and vegan and ethical living.

I wanted to introduce myself by beginning with a little bit about my vegan journey, and a few things I have learnt along the way. I was bought up in a vegetarian family, in the Bedfordshire countryside. I’ve actually only been consistently vegan for about 2 years, and on and off for a year prior to that, although it feels like I always have been – and I’m never going back.

Evidentially it wasn’t an overnight transition (although this is possible), but over the years I discovered how important it is to make that connection between the animals you love and what is sitting on your plate. I became vegan for the animals and for the planet. Veganism to me is about compassion, making the connection, making the change, making the effort and trying your best. I am learning and growing every day, and always striving for a more cruelty free and eco-friendly life. The more I learn, the more my beliefs are affirmed.

Vegan Artist Sheffield

I have learnt that an awareness of what you consume, what you are supporting, where your food comes from and what you are putting in and on to your body is so important, for yourself as well as everything around you, everything is connected. If you are willing to start asking these questions, you’re already on your way. Make sure your impact on the world is a positive one. Life shouldn’t be about convenience or tradition, when you start to question things, you will find your own path.

Making the transition to veganism was more than the diet for me, it was based on a change I was trying to make and lifestyle I was trying to obtain to bring happiness and positivity in to my life. I knew I needed to start taking care of myself and aligning my actions and lifestyle with my beliefs. When you align your whole self you can be at peace with your whole self. Be the change you wish to see!

Any journey starts within, if you want to change your life, if you want to change the world, start with you. It’s true, no one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

Vegan Artist Sheffield

I am lucky enough to have a few great vegan people around me in my life, I love seeing people make the connection. Family members, friends, and friends of friends have all made the transition to veganism, with others being vegetarian and at least making small steps towards a more cruelty free lifestyle.

If you don’t have a network of vegan people around you, I would suggest looking online, there are so many great vegan communities online that can motivate you and help you find great vegan food items, recipes and products. If you educate yourself, maybe you can encourage the people in your life to try veganism, too!

Surround yourself with positive people who have similar philosophies to you, even if it is on social media. The content, people and energy that you expose yourself to will change the way you think, and the energy you radiate, so make sure it’s positive.

I am vegan because being vegan makes me happy, and it makes the animals and the planet happy, too! I am conscious of what I am putting in to my body and what impact I am having on the earth. I am the healthiest and happiest I have been, and living a vegan lifestyle is such an important part of that. Anyone can do it, it’s not expensive or difficult, if you want it enough; it’s easy! Vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes are the cheapest and best foods. You can attain more than enough nutrients from these foods to sustain a healthy, fulfilling and happy lifestyle. As well as this, there are a whole range of different meat and dairy substitutes to make the transition easier – anything you can eat I can eat vegan! It’s not about restricting yourself, eat what makes your body feel good.11787209_10153061481247914_280874752_n

Veganism has helped change my life. This lifestyle has encouraged me to view my food and my body in a more positive way, and to start taking care of myself. I began to see my body and appreciate my body as just that, a body. Bodies are great! They are strong and resilient, they are your vehicle to physical freedom, and therefore what you fuel them with is important.

I thought I would end on some rules I try to live by:

Listen to your body. Eat good food, until you feel full. Drink lots of water. Run about more.

Side note: If you are interested in learning more about reasons to go vegan, here are some documentaries I would recommend watching

Looks at the different ways humans use animals

Follows 3 meat eaters finding out where their food comes from and challenges them to go vegan

Looks at the impact of animal agriculture on the environment

Other great docs include: Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., Blackfish

Gratitude: A New Hope …

Gratitude’s something I’ve worked at for a long time, I’ve failed regularly. That’s the truth. Time was an issue. A bad excuse. Knowledge was a barrier. Even worse right? Finally, maintaining the habit of taking the time to be grateful for my life turned the practice into something that started to feel like a total ‘burden’. Yet another thing to squeeze into my already jam packed days. #EPICFAIL

Then I learned that there are ways around all these poor excuses. And they are poor. I finally stopped mentally investing into my deficits and started investing my time into answers. As usual the answer involved learning something new.

My plan is to wipe out all these excuses for you and make a daily gratitude practice something that’s easy and enjoyable for you to do. Something you can do on a daily basis and in such an easy way you’ll enjoy and feel good about doing it. Better yet, you’ll be able to see/track how often you’re doing it, effortlessly, using the principle of visual feedback almost like your score on an Xbox game to motivate you to keep going. How bad ass is that? Apps are so COOL.

We’re going to turn the practice of gratitude into a game. We are going to gamify gratitude. You’re going to ‘play your way’ to successfully incorporating the practice of gratitude in your life to continually enhance it on a daily basis. It’s cumulative. The more you do it, the more it does you. There are so many ways to the top of this mountain so let’s start climbing and discover what works for you, shall we?




Why do it? ‘Convincing’ you part…

Dude, I’ve got s*** to do. This isn’t important. Ok, I get you. Me too. So let’s keep it short and sweet. You can get lists online as long as the M1 and as varied as the sugar in candy crush. All of them show multiple correlated benefits and thus the importance of a daily gratitude practice for your life. Check the links at the end of the article for more info.

Suffice to say the scientific benefits include (but aren’t limited to) the following; exercising more, less physical symptoms, feeling better about your life, more optimistic about your upcoming week, more likely to progress towards your personal goals (academic, interpersonal & health based), higher levels of positive emotional states (alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness etc), being more likely to help and provide emotional support to someone who needed it. You’ll also benefit from ; higher energy moods, greater sense of feeling connected to others, better quality sleep and for kids having more positive attitudes towards their school and families.

Personally, I can’t think of many things in my life currently that do all that and more. Can you? Btw, it costs you NOTHING. Yes NOTHING. Candy crush can cost ALOT. And like I said earlier it’s cumulative. The more you do it, the more it does you. You will want to do it more often. Just like Candy Crush. Wait! No! I didn’t mean that. Seriously! Anyway, let’s quickly move onto how to do it, shall we? Are you ready? Ready, steady…GO!




THIS is how you do it…The MULTIPLE ways to DO gratitude …

There are lots of ways, many places and multiple times in your day you could practice a moment of gratitude. You’ve probably just never considered how or which times and places those could be, most likely because you didn’t realise how easily you can fill that moment with a brief quick discipline to improve your life. People don’t think like this. We slip into mindless trances at times we could do something more useful with our mind and emotions. It’s habit.

So let’s create a new one shall we? I’m sure you know people who do gratitude differently than I’ll outline below so in the days/months ahead, if you find yourself spontaneously doing any of them when you least expect it, enjoy it and experience the feelings of warmth that comes with it, the inner glow of gratitude. When that happens you’ve found something that works for you. That’s all I want to achieve with this article. You’ll have won already. You’re finished, kind of.

Trust your experience and intuition. Follow your instincts. You’ll know when. The moment may find you before you find it. It doesn’t matter. Once you’ve got yourself a gratitude ritual that triggers those feelings you’re one step away from consistency which is tackled easily using a habit tracking app to provide ‘fast feedback’ to help reinforce your new habit of how and when you’ll best be doing gratitude in your life.

I’m going to give you what I’ve termed the fantastic four; 4 different practices that I use based around the work of Roger A. Emmons (one of the researchers in the field) as a way to simply start. Side note: He outlines 10 practices in his book ‘Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier’. These are just the ones I found most useful. Feel free to use your own ingenuity and creativity to consider where/how in your life you could do gratitude more easily, more consistently. Anyway, without further delay here they are; the fantastic four:

The Fantastic Four:

1. Keep a gratitude Journal; List anything and everything you’re grateful for or could be grateful for. Steer away from avoiding too many repetitions as days go by. You want to keep expanding your ‘gratitude map’; things you could be grateful for so your brain learns to seek out what you haven’t considered yet, new mental categories. This way your gratitude catalogue gets bigger on a daily basis. It’s always growing. So pay attention to what you’re not paying attention to. Notice more and you’ll feel more things to be grateful for every day. And say why too because this gives the facts reasons to back them up making them ‘feel more real’; thicker. It’s like the difference between a short and a grande. One packs more of a punch.

This will increase the significance of it to you, enhancing your experience and remembrance of its power. It’s not the iron man suit. It’s much better. See every item you write down like a ‘gift’. Again I use an app for this for ease of execution. So many journal apps exist but personally I use ‘Diaro’ but again you must find what works for you. It’s all about personalising the process. ‘Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own’ – Bruce Lee’s words.

2. 3 questions (Naikan); A Buddhist meditation involving asking 3 question that helps us see how our life’s connect to those of others around us. The questions: (1) What have I received from…? (2) What have I given to…? (3) What troubles and difficulty have I caused…? Relationships are the bulk of human happiness so this practice reconnects you to their importance and significance for your life.

3. ‘Breath of Thanks’; from Dr. Frederic Luskin’s book ‘Forgive for good’. (1) 2-3x a day, stop, close your eyes, look up, take a personal moment to slow down, notice the rise and fall of your breathing. (2) For each of the 5-8 exhalations say thank you to your body, appreciate your life, all the good you do and that others have done for you. Take time to do this. The simple practice of stopping to slow/deepen your breathing itself is therapeutic. Adding a healthy dollop of gratitude via reflection amplifies the beneficial effects for you. Give this gift to yourself. You just have to breathe.

4. Visual reminders; Put ‘gratitude art’ (artwork/items that remind you to be grateful) around a place        where you’d notice it regularly. Bathrooms, lounges, kitchens etc. in whatever form you like. Plaques,        posters, fridge magnets, paper weights, post it notes, e-reminders on mobiles etc. Whatever you want.        What would you want? Do whatever works. Constant reminders will help provoke ‘gratitude thinking’ thus triggering a biochemical release and awareness. Emotionally lighten up your living environment in a cool new way. Use your down time to create more ‘golden time’ for yourself.

That’s it. Hardly a chore right? Remember, you only need ONE. Only one. Remember the benefits. It’s so simple. My suggestion is that 4 is something that you only need to do once. Just set it up and leave it in place. It does all the work thereafter reminding you when you notice it. Play around with numbers 1, 2 and 3. You may end up practicing variations of all of them or stick to just one. It matters not. What does count is to discover what works for you. Create your own remix of 1, 2 and 3 if you like.

Go play. But you’ve gotta start. Once you’ve begun you’ll want to continue to reap the most benefits so here’s a way to maintain the habit. The final bit and then we’re done…




Gamifying gratitude

Let’s talk about feedback. Feedback is critical. It tells you how well you’re doing. When you know you’re doing well you’ll want to keep going. If you don’t know how well you’re doing or how close you are to your destination you’re flying blind and can lose your desire to stick at something. You get lost in the woods without a map and worse without GPS. There’s a reason planes have a dashboard right? And if you try to figure it out without data you’ll be prone to various cognitive biases which all of us are and these can hinder our own progress let alone mess with our self-belief. So let’s stay objective and let’s keep it REAL.

We need a way to look at our results; this avoids wishful thinking and helps us build our habit faster than without it because we’re calibrating to ourselves like a plane calibrates to the landscape using feedback from the dashboard. If you can see how well you’re doing you’ll feel good about it creating a self-perpetuating cycle that motivates you to keep doing something; in this case your gratitude ritual. By contrast the quicker you can see how well you’re not doing, the faster you can correct yourself to get back on track (course correction).

I want you to SEE your progress or lack thereof at a ‘moments glance’ on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, whenever you like, so you can see the BIG picture not just the daily one. That way you see EVERYTHING and even if you miss a day you will know that it’s OK because you’ve hit so many bullseye’s before today and that it’s a minor trip compared to all your wins beforehand. Knowing how well you’re doing is critical to progress. Feedback enhances learning and the more senses you can receive this through the better.

So now you know WHY to do gratitude, the benefits, you’ve chosen your practice(s) and you’ve started. Now you want to turn this into a ritual so it happens daily, every day until its automatic. You need consistency and a sense of reward. We now turn to our mobile phones (shock! Horror!). No, turn tinder off. That’s not what I mean. Read on… A range of apps exist that are free/cost pennies that provide visual tracking of any new habit practice.

I personally use Habit bull (Android) to track my daily gratitude ritual along with various other daily habits. You could also use many other apps on both android and iphones which do the same thing:


Habit bull & some of the others let me set reminders for any habits I want to keep up, tells me how often I’ve done it and my percentage of successful days of doing it compared to all the days I should have. You can even export your results to view them externally. All at the touch of a button. Neat eh? That’s why I use it.

So that’s it. Pick a habit, download an app and start today. The reasons are various and it serves you in experiencing a more pleasurable existence which you can spread to everyone around you. Now go light up the planet by starting with yourself first. Then you just did. Go play…


Links to scientific studies on gratitude:







What got me into Yoga

I first started going to yoga around ten years ago when I was at University in Brighton, I’d had some health problems which started just prior to this which led to fatigue, weakness with feelings of brain fog, which made it difficult to concentrate. I was diagnosed with ME (/Chronic fatigue syndrome) and recommended yoga to help ease these symptoms. After I finished University and came back to Sheffield I got more into yoga and decided to train as a teacher. I did this in an Ashram (Hindu monastery) just outside Dehli, which felt like the right thing to do with yoga originating in India. I spent six weeks over there and completed Hatha yoga teacher training. I now take part in yoga classes on a regular basis and feel much stronger physically and mentally through doing yoga. Some of the benefits of yoga include improved posture, flexibility, toning, relaxation and detoxifying the body. I mostly go to hatha classes but also enjoy or have tried Iyengar, Dru, Ashatanga and Kundalini. All classes I’ve been to have included some posture (asana) work as well as some breath work (pranayama).


In a Hatha yoga class a series of postures (asanas) will be carried out to help improve flexibility and balance. It also uses breath work throughout and generally has a relaxation at the end. I go to Sophia’s beginner’s yoga class every Monday and, even though I’m not a beginner, the level which it is taught as is perfect for me. I’ve also enjoyed going to to Eric’s (Sunmoon) and Leonie’s classes.



Yoga in the Adalucia Mountains Spain! (Dancer’s pose – Natarajasana)


Iyengar uses props such as belts, blocks and bolsters which aid with correct alignment in the postures. The Iyengar School in Walkley has lots of classes aimed at different groups, such as therapeutic yoga for people with health problems or serious injuries. I’ve also enjoyed going to Monica’s classes (Zagyoga), who has a new studio at Harland works, on John Street.



“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured” – B.K.S Iyengar


Dru classes usually start with the energy block release system which involves moving different parts of the body to release tension and also includes positive affirmations and flowing sequences. I’ve really enjoyed going to Kellys Classes at Hagglers corner.




Ashatanga yoga, sometimes referred to as Ashatanga Vinyasa is more dynamic and involves synchronising the movement and the breath, it is named after the eight limbs of yoga which is covered in the yoga sutras of Patanjali. I’ve been to Ashatanga classes at various gyms across Sheffield and I’ve been to Reach for other yoga classes and also yoga in Encliffe park for summer solstice and International Yoga day.



Yoga at encliffe park by Yoga at Reach (Warrior pose – Virabhadrasana)


Kundalini focuses on breath and movement with the aim of releasing the energy stored at the base of the spine. I first tried it at Peace in the Park last summer with Nina, who teaches at Breathe Pilates in Broomhill and have since enjoyed going to Emma’s classes a few times.



Kundalini yoga teacher Emma (Tree pose – Vriksasana)

Classes vary from around £5 to £9 drop in and some places offer a reduced rate for booking a block of classes. There are plenty more amazing teachers and classes and also types of yoga around Sheffield at various gyms. There also seems to be more and more yoga studios in and around Sheffield, I’m still looking to try classes at Amys Ashram (Dore), Hot Yoga Sheffield (Crookesmoor) , Instinctive health (Kehlam Island) and Yoga Hut (Meersbrook). Finally, there is also a group on Facebook where people can post about new classes and workshops etc; called ‘Yoga Sheffield’.

Thanks for reading! My details..:)


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Sun Salutation sequence – Surya Namaska