Yoga makes it possible to detach from daily stresses and move your body with the flow of your breath. Furthermore, it can help improve our relationship with ourselves and others.
How do you get started with yoga, and what exactly is the philosophy behind it? Can it help improve both our mental wellbeing and sleep? Our interview with Meroula Hondrou, ex-pro ballerina and founder of the Meroula Method, will give you all the necessary tools to incorporate this practice into your life.
1. How did you start your own method?
I created Meroula Method around a year and a half ago after being disappointed with the offerings of fitness classes on the market. Yoga classes left me feeling a nice mental release but craving a deeper physical burn and HIIT/cardio classes left me completely burnt out for the rest of the day. I saw a massive gap in the market to create the perfect balance between a challenging workout and a satisfying release. With a background in ballet and a deep understanding of what feels good on the body, I meticulously choreographed routines that hit the ideal burn - blending elements of yoga with strength work and more Pilates & barre style movements using small hand weights throughout. The Meroula Method provides a unique fitness experience, blending different disciplines to create a workout that is invigorating, sculpting and mentally engaging, all while promoting a sense of balance and overall well-being.
2. What does it involve?
Meroula Method is a dynamic, low-impact and high-energy sculpt method that combines the best elements of yoga, Pilates, strength training and meditation. The class is split into three sections: FLOW, SCULPT, RELEASE. The method is ultimately a high intensity sculpt class with a side of mindfulness, it’s the perfect balance and exactly what your body needs.
3. What are the benefits of this method?
It's the ultimate mind-body challenge that will leave you feeling stronger, more radiant, and ready to conquer the world. Through dynamic and fun movements - it allows you to work up a sweat whilst sculpting, toning, and elongating your muscles, but most importantly it is carefully crafted to strengthen your mind like no other fitness routine. The benefits of this class are endless - improved mood, stronger muscles, toned and lean definition, better posture, injury prevention, elongation, sharper mind and improved cognitive function, a deeper connection to self and a strengthened intuition.
4. What are a few good reasons everyone should practice yoga regularly? How do you feel yoga affects our mental health?
I really believe everyone should find the time for yoga. Slowing down is crucial for the time we are currently in, there are constant distractions and noise all around us. Yoga allows you to turn inward and see what's really going on inside - ultimately leading you to make better decisions that will benefit your current and future self, manage your reactions, and improve your sleep so you can function at your optimum. I rarely have the time for my own yoga practice, but when my body is sending me signs to slow down, I turn to yoga and meditation, and I feel my nervous system resetting.
5. What does a typical day in your life look like? Do you have any rituals or routines that you absolutely can’t skip?
I am religious about my routines as I wouldn't be able to do what I do and look after so many people if I didn't first look after myself too. My day typically starts around 7am (sometimes before if I’m teaching early morning classes) As soon as my eyes open, I make it a priority to say “today is going to be a good day” - of course some days if I’ve woken up from a bad sleep this can be hard to do but starting your morning this way sets you up for an optimistic day. I’ll then go into the living room, meditate for 10 minutes, make myself a morning matcha (non-negotiable) then I’ll do 30 mins of movement or prep class depending on the day, either way I have to move in the morning or at least get my own practice in at some point in the day. I’m big on my celery & cucumber juice on an empty stomach for digestion, skin, hydration etc so I’ll make that then make my spirulina smoothie or I’ve recently been leaning more toward having eggs with avocado toast in the morning - either way I’ll make sure I get those healthy fats, carbs, and protein in which I typically have around 10.30am/11am. Then it's out the door. I can't live without my daily walks, so I’ll try to do a park walk at some point in the day - I find I also work my best when I’m walking so, I’ll do emails and calls etc whilst out.
6. Many people suffer from anxiety and stress on a daily basis. Can you share any techniques that help you calm down in these situations?
Journaling - I find compartmentalizing my thoughts really helps to see where the anxiety is stemming from. Wherever you are you can always write in your notes (I do like to see it written on paper though) or speak into your phone about exactly how you feel. Call a friend and tell them you’re struggling with something. Walking in nature is the biggest healer, I instantly feel calmer when I’m walking through the park and listening to good podcasts allows you to zone out and detach from whatever you have going on. Breathing is a big one and something we really dismiss - by simply taking 3 conscious breaths it can do everything in calming anxiety when it comes on.
7. Yoga and meditation can be very effective in helping improve sleep - what tips can you recommend?
- Bath with Espom salts or Dreem Distillery The Z’s bath salts
- Rubbing essential oils on wrists and soles of feet
- Massaging oil/Dreem CBD Bed Balm on shoulders and neck
- Legs up the wall whilst listening to calming music
- Reading in bed
- Sleep tea 30 mins before bed
- Ashwagandha or magnesium supplement before bed
8. Good sleep is essential to our physical and mental well-being. Do you have a favourite Dreem product that you like to use before bedtime?
I am a huge fan of Dreem products and have used them for over a year now. The CBD bed balm is a favourite along with the CBD sleep drops. I’ve struggled with insomnia in the past and I take my sleep routine very seriously, so these have been a game changer for me.
9. What does your night-time routine look like?
I will start winding down about an hour and 30 mins before I go to sleep as it takes me a while to calm my mind from the day. I run a bath and put Dreem CBD bath salts in, light some candles and play a relaxing playlist. I then take time doing my skincare routine and start consciously slowing down my thoughts. Then I massage Dreem CBD bed balm on my neck and shoulders and across my chest and lie on the floor with my legs up the wall to reduce inflammation from the day. It's then into bed with a night-time read, currently reading ‘lighter’ by Yung Pueblo. It’s a long routine and I still have a hard time switching off my mind and getting the proper rest I need but these rituals have helped me massively in not only looking after myself properly but being able to work creatively and at my best, approach everything I do with kindness and massively improve my sleep.