September highlights 

Loads of fun snowdog-hunting (get the app here) / gorgeous food from Masterchef contestant Imran Nathoo at Lost Lands outdoor cinema, (check his upcoming events here) / getting sweaty at hotpod’s new studio in Canton / addicted to Milgi Market’s salad bowls – find them inside Cardiff Market / sad to see trees down everywhere along the Taff Trail in the wind / ran our first ever family race at the Cardiff Half Marathon festival of running 

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Hot pod yoga Canton and #yogaeverydamnday

If you know me in Real Life, you’ll know that I’m currently in the throes of a yoga challenge; I’ve (stupidly?) committed to do yoga every day throughout September and post a picture each day using #yogaeverydamnday
I’ll admit that it’s not a huge challenge. I love doing yoga but, like most people, I’m guilty of being ‘too busy’. So this challenge has been great at making me find at least 20 mins each day to practice.

I don’t push myself when I’m doing yoga at home though; gentle stretches and my favourite poses are the order of the day, so I’ve been trying to mix it up with a few classes thrown in. So what perfect timing for a new hot yoga studio to open in Cardiff?!

Hot Pod Yoga, Canton, Cardiff

I’ve written before about how much I love Hot Pod Yoga. The heated pod means your muscles are warm and stretchy, but the pod feels clean and cosy; not sweaty and stinky like some gyms or hot yoga studios. 

I’ve been going to their classes on Ocean Way most weeks and now they’ve opened another studio in Canton, giving me even more options. 

The pod is located in the Compound Gym, which was difficult to find first time, in an industrial estate off Sanatorium Road. If you’ve been to the Ocean Way pod, there’s much less space in the room in Canton to get changed and store your belongings, but once you’re inside the purple glow of the pod, it’s calm and cosy. 

The pod

Aaron Marqua was our teacher for opening weekend and he was awesome! Funny, yet stern, he got us all doing copious amounts of one-legged push ups and yogi bicycle crunches – my shoulders and stomach muscles were aching for days afterwards! The good thing about hot pod’s range of teachers mean if you don’t feel like being that challenged, you can find a gentler teacher (try Scarlett’s classes if you want to feel more nourished). 

Classes at hot pod are £10 each, but they do various class passes and membership options which bring the cost down and can be used between both Canton and Ocean Way – convenient if you work near one and live near another, like me. 

https://hotpodyoga.com/uk/

This is an honest review. I honestly love hot pod yoga! I had a free class as part of the Canton launch weekend and won another class place through HungryCityHippy’s social media competition, but I was under no obligation to say nice things and the hot pod team wasn’t aware I’d be blogging about them. 

Hot pod yoga

Yoga is my favourite type of exercise and we’re really spoilt for choice in Cardiff. There are so many different yoga classes on offer, you’re bound to find something you like. Saying that, I’ve yet to see an aerial yoga class in the area, please do let me know if you see one as I reeeeeally want to try it. 

Anyway! My current favourite form of yoga is hot yoga. The first hot yoga studio opened in Cardiff a few years ago and since then, more and more have popped up, proving just how popular it is among Cardiff yogis.

The newest offering is Hot Pod Yoga. 

The Pod, picture from hotpodyoga.com

The pod is basically a cocoon-like portable heated yoga studio, this one is situated at Cardiff Central Sports and Community Centre off Ocean Way (the old Virgin Gym).
The pod fits around 20 people, is heated to 37 degrees and promises an intense workout.
Picture from @hotpodyoga_cardiff on Instagram
Hot yoga is always going to be an intense workout, the constant 37 degree heat means your muscles are warmer, giving you more flexibility and enabling you to push yourself much harder than usual. You sweat loads too, which is said to rid toxins from your body. I don’t know if this is true but I always feel great and sleep really well after a hot yoga class.
Our teacher, Adell, was good – giving us a challenging flow with lots of variations and different postures thrown in. The class is said to be suitable for beginners, but I think someone completely new to yoga would’ve struggled a bit. 

What I really liked about Hot Pod Yoga was the pod itself. It was heated without feeling ‘sweaty’ – there was none of that moisture dripping down the walls that you often get in a hot yoga studio. And I noticed that the pod didn’t smell of stale sweat either – a definite plus! Because the  pod is dimly lit I felt I could really focus on my own practice without getting distracted by the other people. The purple lighting also made the pod feel calm and relaxed. 

Hot Pod Yoga also offers a ‘nurturing flow’ restorative class on Wednesday evenings, which I’d love to try next. 

You can read an older post about more of my favourite places to do hot yoga in Cardiff here

Hotpodyoga.com

I was invited to try a class at hot pod yoga for free, in exchange for an honest review. 

What we’ve been up to this week

There’s a bit of a change to the blog this week. As you probably know, I’ve recently had a baby girl. Life with a baby and a four-year-old is busy! As I’m on maternity leave, baby F and I have been getting out and about in Cardiff most days, but I’m too knackered to properly blog about what we’ve been doing. 

So instead I’m going to start doing weekly roundups, with quick snippets of what we’ve been up to. I’m also planning to make the blog a bit more personal. Please let me know what you think. Here goes….

  
I met up with a friend who’s also on maternity leave this week and we took our babies for lunch at Wyndham Tea in town. Pictured above is my sticky Asian chicken salad. Yum! Their lunches are always healthy and delicious.  I’m also loving Waterloo Tea’s loyalty cards – do pick one up if you’re in any of their shops. I’m one visit away from a free slice of cake. Result! 

  
Baby F and I have been going to Rhymetime at Radyr Library in Tuesdays from 2.15pm.  The free class starts with a story, then songs and rhymes and there’s always a craft and toys for older children. Most of Cardiff’s local libraries run Rhymetime classes. I’d definitely recommend going along if you have a pre-school child.

My lovely Mum looked after F for a few hours so I could sort myself out and get my eyebrows and hair done at Salon Nia. You can read more about their HD brows treatments here. I’m too embarrassed to do a before/after selfie. But believe me, there’s a huge improvement!

I’ve been trying to get back into fitness after giving birth. I’m *thinking* of running the Cardiff Half in October, but time will tell if I’m really up to it! Luckily the weather was good enough on Friday morning to take the buggy for a gentle jog along the Taff Trail after the school run. I always stop at the bridge at Gelynis Fruit Farm to take in one of my favourite views of Castell Coch. 

  
I’ve also been going back to Hot Yoga at Elite Fitness in Fairwater. I’m loving Diana’s classes on a Saturday morning. 

The four-year-old has been a bit poorly this week but he was well enough on Saturday afternoon to take a trip to Caerphilly Castle to see The Dragon/Y Ddraig. You can see a video of The Dragon here. Please do click the link as we couldn’t get close enough to take a decent picture. The queue to get up-close was ridiculous. Look at it!

  
The Dragon moves inside the castle this week and will be there until the summer so we’re planning to go back in the Easter holidays for a proper look.

It was my sister’s birthday this week so on Saturday night we went for a family meal at the Happy Gathering Cantonese restaurant in Canton. I’ve been going there for around 20 Years. I don’t think the decor or menu have changed at all during that time. The service certainly leaves a lot to be desired but the food was great as usual and the place was packed with families. The children’s menu is really reasonable and J enjoyed his first ever BBQ spare ribs!  

So today is Mothers Day. G joined 1,500 other people to run the Newport half marathon this morning and got a pretty stunning medal for his efforts, but the little ones and I stayed home and had a relaxing morning with coffee, croissants and cuddles. 

  
Have a great week, whatever you have in store…..

My #ShopCardiff week

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Last week I took on the Shop Cardiff challenge.

It was a really fun week and looking at my Twitter stream, lots of people were getting involved. Here are some of my highlights;

Fitness
I’m not currently a member of a gym, when I exercise I use council-run leisure centres or independent yoga studios. So hot yoga at Elite Fitness in Fairwater on Monday and another class at Yoga Fever on Saturday wasn’t that unusual for me. However, I hadn’t been to the former since their studio relocated from the city centre to Splott a few months ago and I’d forgotten how good Sharon’s classes really were.

Eating out
This is where Shop Cardiff really came into its own. On Thursday I met up with a friend for dinner. This friend and I meet up quite regularly, so to keep costs down we usually hunt out a 2-for-1 deal or some other voucher, mostly in chain restaurants. But I suggested that on this occasion we meet at the Smoke House in Pontcanna, a new restaurant which I’d already heard good things about. I’m so glad we did. The food was perfect (see the pulled pork above – yum), the staff incredibly friendly and it wasn’t even that expensive – under £15 a head for a main course and a beer was much better than a chain deal, when you consider the service and quality of the food.

I also ventured back to Pontcanna on the Saturday night with my husband, for dinner at Fish at 85. Again the quality of the food and the service was a cut above what you’d expect in a chain. This meal was more pricey, but we were celebrating my new job and his birthday so it was what we’d expect to pay for a special night out.

Shopping
This is where I fell down. Being a full-time working Mum means I stuck to my once-weekly supermarket shop, which I get delivered to the house. For convenience and price it is one thing that really helps me juggle my time.

However I made the effort to head over to Wally’s Deli for Easter chocolate treats after work one evening (my boss sent us home early on the Thursday before bank holiday – whoo hoo – otherwise it would have been closed by the time I’d got out of the office and walked there.)

I also needed to buy some birthday balloons so rather than heading to a supermarket I popped into the party supplies shop in Llandaff North at the weekend. I’ve used it before and it’s great, they’ve got loads of party stuff and its easy to park.

Others
During the week I also visited Salon Nia in Radyr for eyebrow threading and we took our little boy to Gelynis Farm for the Easter Egg Hunt, which was really fun and only £3 per child. You can see a pic of the bunny doing her thing below. Although these are both things I would have done despite it being Shop Cardiff week.

Overall I was surprised at how much it wasn’t actually that much of a challenge for me, as I regularly use independents. However where I failed during the week (supermarket shopping and two Brains pub lunches) it was purely down to convenience – particularly as I don’t work in the city centre.

What struck me is that what you get with independents is personality and customer service. When chains expand they seem to employ larger amounts of low-paid staff, who don’t really buy into the ethos of the company.

Perhaps next year I’d organise my time better and stock up on fruit, veg and food for the week at one of the Riverside markets rather than using a supermarket.

I hope Shop Cardiff continues to build on its success. I’m looking forward to #ShopCardiff2014 already.

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