My experience with Randox health – Covid pre-departure testing & tips on getting it right…

Trying to figure out how to navigate the complicated testing rules for travelling during Covid? Awaiting your results from Randox health home test/amberkit/pre-departure test – read on!

If you are reading this, there is a good chance you are in the same state of sheer panic I found myself in a couple of days ago whilst awaiting the result of your Covid ‘fit-to-fly’ test results with a flight departing from the UK fast approaching. 

You are probably already extremely annoyed by the lack of useful information available on the Randox Health website and perhaps you have tried to call their delightful customer service (you haven’t yet? Oh, prepare yourself mentally for that one). OR perhaps you haven’t actually carried out your test yet and all the above anxiety I allude to is yet to come. If you are in this lucky bracket – I may be able to give you a few tips to avoid said anxiety from commencing or at least brace you for impact….

I’m probably not helping calm down those nerves with this opener, am I? Well I am sorry to say, if your experience is like ours (and many others from what I have read on trust pilot since) there is a good chance it will be a bumpy ride – BUT there are some steps you can take to ensure nothing gets in your way from boarding that flight you have been waiting for all year. 

So…my experience. 

We booked our flight to Mykonos months ago, despite it being on the Amber list. We are one of those lucky people who have the pleasure of working from home right now and not having too many responsibilities to get in the way. After two cancelled flights and the need to change airport (Luton to Manchester) the week finally arrived to get ready for our flight and begin the Covid testing process (end of June 2021). 

We decided to go for the Randox “Amber pack” as it seemed like the most cost-effective option including the pre-departure PCR test, day 2 and day 8 tests all included for £130 using the Easyjet discount code. I did some research beforehand, and whilst I did notice some negative reviews at the time they seemed to be centred around the day 5 test to release tests arriving late. The majority I read seemed to comment on the speediness of the process and that the “sample received at the lab” would come through first thing the day after posting the test, and the results coming through by the evening. I saw positive twitter posts and read on the Randox website that they both guaranteed next day (morning delivery) of the tests, and to get the test result within 24 hours of them receiving at the lab. So all in all, it seemed like a pretty safe option. 

We were a bit hesitant, before we heard about Randox we had planned to go to Boots for the pre-departure test which would have set us back £100 for one test only. We liked the idea of having someone do the test for us and knew home testing may come with some additional stress. But when we discovered the Randox deal it seemed like great value – and after all Randox is the biggest supplier and all tests probably end up there anyway, so why should we expect there to be much more of a risk?

If you have (or have had) a flight booked during this crazy time you will have probably had to do the mathematical probability math test required to work out your testing date and time range in order to put yourself in the best position for a successful boarding. To help with your own workings I will walk through the steps…

STEP 1: When is 72 hours prior to my ARRIVAL

The first part of the equation is the 72-hour timeframe to complete the test prior to ARRIVAL. Yes arrival, not departure. Many could easily be caught out by this one as you have to consider things like the time difference in the arrival country…and what if there are delays? How many hours do you factor in for possible delays to keep yourself in the valid period? So, for us, our flight was 7:00am Saturday morning, arriving at 1pm in Greece. Which meant, we could test no earlier than 1pm Wednesday afternoon. And this is only in the event our flight departs on time as scheduled. And in times of Covid how likely is that? It is hard to know when you likely haven’t been on a plane in quite a while and anything can happen in normal times right?!

STEP 2: WHERE can I drop off my sample?

You can’t factor the 72-hour window in alone, it is a bit more complicated than that. There is also a risk of being too late of course and the test results not coming back on time. When you read the Randox website, it sounds pretty safe to assume as long as you drop off the night before – the following day they receive the sample and that same day (evening) and latest 24 hours later – you should receive the result. Meaning doing the test 36-48 hours prior to departure seems perfectly reasonable.

The perfect timing therefore seemed for us to be dropping it off late Wednesday night, so it can still be sent off and with the lab the next morning – with all day Thursday and Friday to get the results in more than a big enough timeframe as promised by Randox. Plus, say the worst happens and you get an inconclusive result you SHOULD have enough time to get another test, knowing you might need to shed out for a rapid one (but this is only a low probability, right?). 

The Randox website is really useful for telling you where the nearest drop off locations are and giving you some information about opening times. Randox tells you to use their preferred Randox drop off sites. Check if there is one close to you. For us, there was no Randox drop off site in our city and it would have meant a 30-minute drive to get there. But luckily (or so we thought), they also offer you to use DX drop off sites – which there are many more of. For us there was one just a few minutes from our house. So, at this point it was all sounding pretty positive (DX were also claiming that their samples would be delivered by the next morning, so it didn’t seem there was any reason to be concerned about using their second choice courier). 

STEP 3: WHEN can I drop off my sample?

HOWEVER. The critical thing you need to check is the opening and delivery times of drop off location for your sample. Don’t assume it’s all day 9-5 and don’t assume they are all deliver 7 days a week – as they don’t! For our nearest location the latest you could drop off the sample was 2pm. So straight away this added a bit more complexity to the equation. The Wednesday evening test and drop off plan was now out the window. This also meant if we needed to complete the test, register the kit and drop it off the test BEFORE 2pm. It was suddenly too close to comfort for our 72-hour timeframe of arrival and would have left no room for manoeuvre should there be any delays….so the plot thickens. After working all this out, the best option for us seemed to be doing the test Thursday morning and drop off by midday to get the samples posted by 2pm (late enough that it gives us good time to arrive within the 72 hours and allows for delays should they occur – but early enough to meet the recommended turnaround times of the sample. They should arrive Friday morning at the lab and we should get the results Friday night or worse case first thing Saturday morning) or so we thought…

The Testing Process

So a few notes on the testing process. Any of you who have done any form of Covid test before will know it is pretty grim. No one likes sticking a swab up your throat and nose but it is now an unfortunate part of life for these days. Some people feel too nervous about doing something wrong – and what if it is inconclusive? 

The Randox home kit test itself was somewhat straight forward – but a few points to note based on mistakes we almost made

  • The URN code is the barcode sticky label, not the other peel off code on the white and green DX sticker. I almost removed this and stuck it to the front of my booklet. 
  • Personally, I found snapping off the swab after you put it in the tube a bit tricky as at first I didn’t spot there was a specific place you need to snap it off – look for this first.

Registering the kit

  • You do this AFTER you have taken the sample not before. This important as when you need to note down the time you take it, it won’t let you put any time in the future. So if you want to try hedge your bets by putting the time of the test as late as possible you won’t be able to do this as the system will not allow it. So register the test as late as possible and do the test as late as possible to when you are going to drop it off
  • I found the registration a bit confusing. The URN is the barcode number you stick to the booklet first of all when you are trying to find that
  • It then asks you if you plan to do test 2 and 8. I found this confusing as I had purchased the amber kit, so yes – I was planning to – therefore it seemed logical to tick yes to this box. however, when doing your departure test registration, you DO NOT select yes here. This would then mean you are registering your test as if it is day 2 or 8. Select no if it is your pre-departure test and carry on through the steps
  • You will receive an email pretty instantly after you register your kit. It is critical that you provide the correct email address at this point as this is where you will receive all your updates (nothing comes via text message). Also make sure it is the inbox you most frequently use

We did find the morning of the test a bit stressful. You are worried in case you didn’t take the swab right or somehow it could get contaminated and if you are working the same day as I was (in that last minute rush before holiday to get everything done) – knowing the time is ticking to get the sample box delivered on time adds to those pre-flight nerves – at the same time you are thinking through your mental checklist of MUST NOT forget to pack items!

Dropping off the test

The DX location I needed to drop off the test was close to my house, but unfamiliar and not that clear. I got the post code from the website – drove to it. Which took me to a carpark in Milton Keynes close to the train station. No “DX drop off location this way” sign as I would have really appreciated and hoped for…so first I just wondered around looking for where it might be. I then went onto the Randox website looked again for the DX drop off locations. The exact location was still unclear, until I found an option to open the location in Google maps which then pinpointed the exact location much more clearly. For me it was in a mailboxes store. 

I went into the shop, handed over my sample package which was taken from me and put in a bag. (It looks on the website like for many locations there is a box you literally drop the sample in and they are more clearly marked. I guess the point here, is that with each drop off location it is likely different!).

Top tip – take a picture of the DX tracking label before you post. This includes your tracking number and trust me – you will want it! Also take a note of your URN number.

This was 11am Thursday, T-44 hours before our flight departure. The sample was done and dropped off, my heart rate could decrease a little as the first important steps were now complete. 

Knowing our samples were being delivered at 2pm this gave good time for them to get to the lab. We went to bed fairly confident that night all would go well. 

Friday morning, I check my phone expecting to see a test from Randox to confirm the arrival of my sample at the lab. But nothing. OK, no problem. ‘It is still early’ I thought. I’m sure, it will come through in the next few hours, right? 

A few hours passed. It got to 11am. During my (supposed to be relaxing) pre-holiday beauty treatments, my blood pressure started to rise. No text. But maybe they are just late on the email confirmation, don’t panic yet! 

Then I remembered. I had a DX tracking number! I logged on to track the package. “Out for delivery”. Oh no, it actually hasn’t arrived yet. WHY. WHY THE BAD LUCK. This wasn’t looking good. I started doing the math….24 hours from now (if they take the maximum time) is already too late for our departure to confirm the test. But maybe the actual testing will be quick and we will still be OK?…maybe, maybe not. 

An hour later I checked again at 1pm – “your package has been delivered” OK. Good. It is at the lab – it says it arrived at 11am. Still a bit late, but not impossible. Oh but what to do? How optimistic should I be? At this point I knew there would be a very good chance I would be going to bed that night not knowing if I had the result of my test in time for departure and of course – the result of the test! 

This was all becoming a bit of a head fuck and I was questioning why the hell did I go with this supplier and go for a home kit. We needed to start thinking of hour back up plan.

And in our case, we still needed to drive 3 hours to Manchester that day so there was a lot to factor in. We also found out another piece of the jigsaw that would have saved us a lot of time and stress had we known so another top tip for you

  • Check what types of tests the country you are travelling to allows

We did do this on the government websites. But it was only when completing the passenger locator form that we actually realised we could have done a rapid antigen test instead of a PCR. This is all country dependent though – so don’t make the assumption it is the case for you, it may well not be and things change often. To be honest, even if we had known this, the rapid antigen tests tend to be quite expensive running up to £120 for the convenience – this was certainly the case in Milton Keynes. 

But when panicking to find our back up plan of where to get a rapid test – we looked at the testing services at the airport. Which brings me on to my next top tip

  • Check the airport testing facilities -they seem to be the best value, most convenient – and all-round brilliant!

In our case, Manchester Airport was offering Rapid Antigen tests at the Terminal 1 airport train station for £40. AND you got your results in 45 minutes. This was a huge sigh of relief as it meant, if we were stuck with no result later that evening we had an option. If you are currently in back up plan mode in your Randox home kit panic just a few things to check

  • What are the opening times of the Airport (or other) rapid test locations? For Manchester it was 7am-7pm. Which meant, we couldn’t leave it so late to the day of the flight as it wouldn’t be open on time, but we also needed to get their early enough the night before to fit around our flight 
  • Double check the destination you are going to allows Rapid antigen tests
  • Make sure you give yourself enough time to get to the test location (and know where it is) before it closes
  • Check availability and book online. You need a booking and cannot just rock up

At this point we were in the car on the way to Manchester agreeing our plan of action. I had checked there seemed to be good availability to book in at the testing centre in our window of arriving there and before it closed (we had between 5pm-7pm). During our drive we finally received official recognition that our test had arrived at the Randox lab at 2:30PM (despite knowing it had actually arrived at 11am). This added to our nerves and confusion, did Randox guarantee to provide results within 24 hours of the actual delivery time OR the confirmation email? At this point I was also scouring the internet to read about peoples experience to help make our decision as to whether to get another test. 

Since I had last looked, the negative reviews had come pouring in. “DO NOT USE RANDOX”. “POOR SERVICE” etc etc. Many people recalling very similar experiences to us – all very recent. Randox had been replying to many of the comments saying they were experiencing very high volume of tests to process and were clearly under pressure of travel stating up again. 

So we decided to give them a call, to clarify our questions and set expectations of when we would be likely to receive our results. On the day of testing was my first experience calling them. Many times the call just got cut out. Sometimes I would choose a few options and be put on hold – sometimes I didn’t get that far as I just got the busy signal. There was 0 consistency. When I did get through and put on hold the first time that morning I was number 120 in the queue and warned of a 1 hour wait…GREAT. I didn’t bother in the end as worked out for myself the issue whilst on hold. 

The second time, when we were in desperate need of information to decide whether to get another test – we called customer service again. This time I was 180 in the queue. The hilarious thing was when I got to number one I was put on hold again! Another 20 minutes passed before I spoke to the most unhelpful and frankly rude customer representative. 

They confirmed that the 24-hour timeframe to confirm test results would be from the time the sample actually arrived not the time we got the text. They also confirmed that they were very busy and that most tests were taking close to the full 24 hours to come through.

For us, this meant there was a very likely chance our test result was not going to come on time. We decided the best cause of action – to allow ourselves peace of mind and get some sleep that night – was to get the rapid antigen test at the airport. As soon as I booked it I felt relief. Annoying to pay another £40 – but worth it. 

And that test process was as easy and straight forward as could be. Clear signs on where to go – quick turn around in getting the test done – swab inserted by nice friendly Australian man (to nose only! Yay – no gagging today!) – and all was complete within 15 minutes. 

45 minutes later we received our negative result and we could finally relax knowing our much awaited trip to Mykonos could go ahead. 

So, did we ever get our Randox test result? Would we have gotten away with it?

How about this for ironic? I received my negative PCR result e-mail at 4:30am whilst in line for the EasyJet check in desk. I just laughed at this point. But either way, we did the right thing. Imagine going to the airport not having the result – waiting for the results to come through. Not worth it. Plus, my boyfriend never actually received his email confirmation. So if we hadn’t have got the rapid antigen tests I would have been sunbathing in Mykonos alone for a week! 

So..my overall advice for the pre-depature testing is as follows

  • Don’t use Randox if you can find a better option and wan’t to reduce your risk and stress levels
  • Work out your timeframe to do the test before, remember it is up to 72 hours before your ARRIVAL and you want to leave room for possible delays. But you need to show your result at Check in. So don’t think you can take the risk and get your result whilst in the air to get into the country. 
  • If you can take a rapid antigen test this is by far the best option, so quick and easy. And if you can do it at the airport – cheap! If you had a later flight you could do this the morning of the flight. And to avoid a possible positive maybe take a free NHS a few days before just to ensure you don’t infact have the VID!
  • If you are going to use any homekit, this is only really a good option if your timings work out well e.g your drop off location opening and delivery times work out, allowing you to drop off earlier without being too early
  • Use the randox drop off locations if you can even it means travelling a bit further 
  • ALWAYS HAVE A BACK UP PLAN – know what other options are available should your result be running late
  • Do the cost vs stress comparison. Is the cost saving option incorporating a level of risk that is just not worth the stress? Tests that guarantee a quick turn around whether antigen or PCR will likely come with an increased price tag, but they will give you that extra flexibility and peace of mind
  • Check the options at the airport if this can work for you. They seem to have great facilities so stopping over the night before near the airport gives you more flexibility to do the necessary tests without needing to rush in the morning
  • Try and book your holiday day and times considering your testing plan. For example – travelling on a weekend will add more complexity as some of the drop off sites are only open Monday-Friday and it may be harder to get a test appointment. If you want to do a rapid test on the day of departure – don’t go for an early morning flight. Afternoon or evening would make the process easier (unless you do what I recommend above and stay over the night before). 

Hopefully this was useful, whatever stage you are in right now. Whether planning your test approach or trying to decide what to do whilst awaiting the result. There are options even if things go wrong which is good to know – the airports have done the best job at that. But the experience with Randox home kit was frankly awful. And we still have to use them for days 2 & 8 testing…I am filled with confidence that will go well…but at least there is no more risk of missing a flight due to their incompetence. 

Now I have written this article whilst on the plane to sunny Mykonos (30 degree heat awaiting!) I can forget all about the stressful experience and instead look forward to sipping an Aperol Spritz by the pool by the afternoon. And if you too are awaiting that flight out the UK after months or years of being grounded in rainy England – know that all the stress will be worth it for you too.

30 DAYS OF YOGA: Day 30

Last day of the challenge!

1 hour Catmefan Vinyasa Flow

So the final day of the 30 day yoga challenge has arrived. I have thoroughly enjoyed incorporating yoga into my daily life and experienced so many benefits in mind and body. I will do a full blog article later on to provide a detailed review of the changes I have seen and felt, including how my metrics have changed in terms of body fat and muscle composition.

For my last video of the challenge I decided to go for a 1 hour session of the classic yoga we all know and love. Vinyasa flow is what you will most likely do, in a regular yoga class as a gym or yoga studio. And for good reason! Vinyasa flow let’s you enjoy the flowing movements as you transition from one pose to another in a rhythmical style, focussing on your breath as you go. This workout will give you lots of lovely stretching sensations, fill your body with heat, test your balance and build your strength all in one. Nothing new or too challenging here – but if you want to take it a step further Cat gives some options to incorporate more challenging poses if you wish to. 1 hour of yoga a day is a good amount of time to work to for daily practice, especially if yoga is your main form of exercise.

As this challenge ends, I plan to keep up daily yoga and incorporate some further muscle work as a new routine to build muscle and strength. This week I started incorporating some additional exercises into my sessions, by following up with bodyweight exercises such as crunches, hip thrusts, squats, Russian twists and a few more. This is a great way of getting the benefits of the gym at home with no equipment except your matt.  

30 DAYS OF YOGA: Day 29

Yoga for the morning, noon and night!

Today I wanted to try out 3 shorter yoga sessions for the morning, noon and night – so see how this compared to one longer session. You may find this easier to fit into your schedule, or enjoy the sensation of waking up your body in the morning, topping up your energy levels midday and winding down in the evening.

Morning session:

Yoga with Adriene: Sunrise Yoga – 15 min Morning Yoga Practice

For the first time during this challenge, I tried out a specific yoga practice tailored to helping you start your day right. This class by Adriene is the perfect pace and will stretch you out nicely. A classic combination of yoga poses flowing together, is what you can expect from this sunrise yoga practice. Try out morning yoga for yourself to feel energised in body and calm in mind for the day ahead.

Lunchtime lift:

Yoga with Adriene: Power Yoga, 45 minutes

Ready to burn some calories before lunch? Try a Power Yoga class to get the heart rate up. This one from Adriene is one of my go-to yoga videos. I like the variation of flows that give your whole body a workout. It also includes surprise and challenge by including a few sets of jumping jacks and squats. If you can’t squeeze a 45 minute workout into your lunch break (with time leftover to eat as well!) you can always substitute with a 15 or 30 minute power yoga class instead.

Evening wind-down:

Jessica Richburg: 20 minute evening Yoga Flow: Daily routine to relax and unwind

When we have stressful or busy days it can be hard to switch off before bed. When this happens, sleep is often disrupted or it is difficult to fall asleep at all. We are all guilty following a busy day, of spending the evening crashed out in-front of the TV,  or fixed to our phones. But when we do this, we are keeping our minds busy and cluttered, rather than clearing them out and helping us to press the reset button. With an evening yoga practice you are allowing yourself some me-time, some quiet time. We invite ourselves to let go of the day thus far and truly relax and unwind. That’s why I picked this class – it’s nice and slow, with a series deep stretch poses that will feel so good at the end of the day. Exactly what you need from an evening yoga practice. Perhaps meditation is more your thing? However you choose to relax, make sure to make it a priority. A clear mind and a good night sleep tonight, will do wonders for your productivity tomorrow. 

30 DAYS OF YOGA: Day 28

FightMaster Yoga: Vinyasa Flow Yoga for Weight Loss

Today we are keeping up the faster tempo, but with one longer workout. FightMaster describes this practice as a HIT style yoga class as you will do a series of fast moving flows in between resting poses. It is hard to keep up on a few sections – especially if you feel a need to check in with the TV to see what you should be doing! It might be a good idea to watch the faster sequence through once before doing it yourself.

This is a full body workout that will help you build strength and burn calories. The full range of motion will feel so good after a day sitting at a desk. For me, this is what’s great about yoga. It feels like I can unravel the tightness in my body and prevent any stiffness and pain. One thing I know for sure after doing this challenge, is that yoga will become regular part of my routine for good now. 

30 DAYS OF YOGA: DAY 27

3 Upper Body Yoga Workout Videos

Boho Beautiful: Yoga Workout, Better than the Gym, Abs & Core

So after a few lower body/butt workouts – we move onto the lower body. We will also be shaking it up with a few examples of ‘yoga workouts’ as in – taking things up a level to resemble something a little closer to a gym workout. The perfect compromise with the gyms closed, but still delivering a yoga-based exercise routine. In this blog I will share 3 short videos that will work your core and arms. Don’t be fooled by their short duration – you will be working very hard!

With this first video from BohoBeautiful you can except to be sweating after a few minutes and begging to make it stop! Enjoy that burn. Lovers of HIT workouts will favour videos like these due to the power and speed combination. A great ab and upper body blast. Expect lots of plank variations, lunges and arm and leg raises from table top position.

Ready for more?

SarahBethYoga: 10 minute power yoga workout: Quick arms & Abs

Don’t put those abs too sleep just yet. You will be working them again in this video. But the good news is, it is only 10 minutes and you will be working your arms too. This one is slower paced than the first and broken up with lots of child’s pose. You can expect to be doing yet more planks but modified with the knees down to put more focus on the arms than the core. In this video you will get the chance to practice your ‘hopping’ which I actually found really fun. You will feel this one working with a nice reassuring ache/burn in your arms afterwards.

BohoBeautiful: 5 minute workout for toning: How to loose arm fat

Now this is not strictly yoga. But it is delivered by a Yoga Youtube favourite BohoBeautiful – and as she mentions, it will help strengthen the arms to improve your yoga ability. Plus, I spotted this whilst looking for videos and thought it would be a great one to share. I have done similar short arm workouts and could not believe how much they hurt so quickly! You will know 100% this workout is building those muscles. Trust me, 5 minutes with this exercise is enough! This would be a great short video to do everyday if you want to tone your arms. Who needs weights with workouts like this?

30 DAYS OF YOGA: Day 26

Yoga with Adriene: Yoga for your Butt and Thighs: 30 minutes

Today we are keeping the theme of working the lower body – in particular the butt! Why so many butt focussed videos you might be wondering? Well 26 days into my challenge now – I am amazed by the differences I have seen in my body. I noticed a new muscle at the top of my arm (part of my lower shoulder) that I have never seen to become visible before in my life. My arms, upper body and stomach are looking toned and strong. My legs are also looking more toned particularly in the calf’s.

But naturally, I have a pear shaped figure. I have a big butt and bigger thighs and hips. This is where I carry my weight. So to tone up and trim these areas – I am keen to try a few more workouts that focus on the lower body. Hopefully, I will see some of the same results I have for my upper body and stomach. If you have different target areas – you can switch up your practice with yoga videos specific to your body shape..

With this video, Adriene will get you doing lots of variation of lunges, forward folds and leg raises to get your heart rate up and feel the burn. Enjoy!

30 DAYS OF YOGA: Day 25

Shona Vertue: Yoga for the butt: 40 minute Dynamic Yoga 

This yoga video is all about working the butt! The great thing about yoga is that there are so many variations of classes to match the muscle groups you want to target. This video was from an instructor I have never come across before – Shona Vertue. It is a totally different style of video from anything that I have posted before. The instructor is fun and a bit silly which you will see as soon as you press play. More of a classic ‘youtuber’ vibe – you will either love or hate this video. Perhaps you are more clined to the chilled out style of Boho beautiful or FightMaster. I went from initial scepticism whether this video would include ‘real’ yoga – to enjoying the energy and enthusiasm the instructor gave to the practice. To my surprise, other than a few specific gym style bum workouts – the rest was filled with yoga flows and poses that we have all come to recognise.

This is a great video if you want to feel the burn in the glutes but still get all the amazing feelings and benefits that a classic yoga class will bring. With gyms still closed here in the UK – it was great session to get those post-gym feeling when you have worked your lower body. 

30 DAYS OF YOGA: Day 24

Kino Yoga: One Hour Yoga Strength and Flexibility

Saturday means some extra time for a longer yoga workout. One of the hardest parts of sticking to an exercise routine is often fitting it in around your life. For me, weekends are a great time to give yourself a little more ‘me’ time and prioritise exercise and fitness. Otherwise it might require a change of routine – either getting up a little earlier or using your lunch breaks to exercise. What matters is that you find something that works for you and you can stick to.

So this is a first from the KinoYoga. KinoYoga channel has a wide range of yoga classes including a pose encyclopaedia. I would highly recommend watching tutorial videos dedicated to showing you individual poses in detail, as they help ensure you are getting your form right. I did this recently with forward fold, as I sometimes didn’t know which muscles to focus on and was worried I was slouching. Doing the tutorial video I now understand exactly how to position my body before folding, to bend from the hips and bend the knees when you need to. Before I was obsessing that I needed to have straight legs even if that meant losing the correct positioning of my back.

This class is quite different from any I have done previously so far. You can expect to hold poses for long periods of time. This is challenging for the muscles and will test your strength. The video focuses on holding a series of poses and switching up with a flow of plank, chaturanga, upward dog to downward dog in between. Without a doubt, this was the most advanced yet of the practices I have done. It includes Grasshopper pose (I could barely attempt this), forearm stand and shoulder stand. 70% of the class is suitable for beginner/intermediate level with the rest pushing your limits and only achievable for advanced yogis. Overall I enjoyed it and just accepted that it will take a while to get to the advanced poses – but great to get some inspiration!

30 DAYS OF YOGA: DAY 23

Cat Meffan: 40 minute Power Yoga: Intermediate Level 

I kept changing on my mind about whether to go for this workout as it had intermediate in the title. But eventually I decided to just give it a go. I am glad I did as whilst it does provide challenge there is nothing too scary in here. Well there is a headstand – but just skip it or take baby steps. If you look at advanced poses like this and feel that you are so far away – that’s OK. I looked into it and it can take years of daily practice to achieve headstands and full splits. If getting to this level is really important to you – you will need to put some serious work and dedication in.

Achieving the really challenging poses isn’t what yoga is all about. I would much prefer to perfect the standard poses – like being able to forward fold with completely straight legs,  hold balance postures with no shake or hold plank pose for extended periods of time. These are more important measures of increased strength and flexibility for me. Everyone is different – so set your own goals to work towards them over time. 

This is another Power yoga video which means you can expect flowing faster paced movements working your whole body. A perfect workout to incorporate 3-4 times a week to continually build muscle and lose calories.

30 DAYS OF YOGA: Day 22

Boho Beautiful: Yoga for Flexibility to achieve splits 30 minutes

Ready for a real challenge? Already very bendy? Then try this one out. If you are a beginner however, or get intimidated by the word splits – skip this one. Just for the record – I can’t do splits. I am far from it. But I like the idea of increasing my flexibility. I didn’t go into this workout expecting to be able to achieve a full split, I went into it knowing I would only go as far as my body would allow. If you have the same mindset you will be OK with this practice.

Seeing the Boho lady in full split did make me quite envious. This woman is like a piece of rubber! Just shows what yoga can do if you really commit to it. Most of the poses in this workout are challenging. Only those at intermediate to advanced will be able to mirror the positions shown on the video. Just focus on your version, what feels good for you. There is a section where the instructor stays in split for quite a long time – you may wish to use this time for yourself to do some poses your body is craving. This workout is for those focused on flexibility rather than strength and weight loss. So if you want a more up-tempo workout this isn’t for you.

I took a shorter practice today as I had took a few short yoga sessions both before and after. Not following a video, but just a combination of flows that I have come to enjoy during this challenge. I particularly like the Vinyasa plank to chaturanga to upward dog to downward dog. I then follow this up with knee to nose in plank multiple times to work the core. This combination you can do slow or at speed to work up a sweat.