Juliet murrell voga interview

Things that make you go Om: Juliet Murrell, VOGA founder

I like the 90s and I like yoga, pretty much with equal measure. So when I discovered VOGA, a cross between yoga and voguing, I was of course all over it like a donkey on a waffle.

[Although technically voguing was originally started by New York drag queens in the 80s, but was certainly made more mainstream by another queen (of pop), Madonna in the 90s, sooo…]

Combining the ‘expressive moves of a dance class with the breath-synchronised movement of yoga,’ VOGA was created by Juliet Murrell, a former film industry art director, who wanted to bring a cardiac workout to yoga.

I caught up with Juliet to talk inspiration, meditation, visualisation and, er, perspiration (sort of)…

When did you start practicing yoga and why?
When I was 15 – I was suffering with post viral chronic fatigue syndrome and it became my favourite moments to escape from feeling tired and just find a posture, sit in it and breathe. Think that’s how I became so flexible! I also practised Pilates to get my strength up.

When I was studying interior design up in Scotland and still recovering from ME, I had a membership to Holmes Place with my friend and I religiously went to body balance classes. This was a big influence; it became part of my lifestyle to stretch and flex through pilates and yoga.

Juliet Morrell Kissmet

And what were your reasons for creating VOGA?
It manages to encapsulate all my interests: fashion, film, art, wellbeing. But it wasn’t a totally conscious decision. It evolved.

I trained in Sivananda in India which was life-changing and fantastic but funnily enough I kept being told off about my clothing. We had a uniform out there and It’s a very strict purist form of yoga which was perfect as a starting point but I guess my practise evolved into something more expressive which suits me as a person and also a lot of other people out there.

I love the 80s – fashion and music. I watched the inspired film documentary Paris is Burning [see below pic] when I was 20, was blown away by seeing Anna Ninja at Madame Jojo’s in a voguing battle, and I experienced and fell in love with Ibiza two years ago after doing my first yoga retreat out there. This is where yoga music and dance co-exist beautifully and this made me realise it was all possible!

Paris is Burning film

Did you ever have a ‘now I get it!’ moment where your yoga practice just fell into place or started to make sense?
Yoga moment:
Jivamukti yoga class: a perfect balance of spirituality, challenging dynamic yoga and beautifully designed studio, inclusive and calm.

VOGA moment:
Watching Paris is Burning and seeing how much fun they’re having striking strong and powerful poses. Confidently taking them on. I aspire to many of the moves.

That sense of being 100% present in the moment and empowered – this is where the connection to yoga lies. Everybody be somebody. But for yourself. Everybody IS somebody!

Juliet Voga

VOGA is rooted in yoga and breath synchronised movement but pays Hommage to vogueing culture and the expressive moves of dance. The music helps you to get lost in yourself and find that sense of self. Just to be. Theres a meditative power to the repetition. Finding the Calm in moments of high energy is quite an achievement but is achievable! It is a more honest reflection of life so if you can acquire these skills in VOGA and take them with you into everyday life, you’re winning.

Where do you get your (amazing) yoga outfits from?
Puckoo couture. Laurie Nouchka. Posto 9 Activa, Lexie Sport, Live the Process, Lucas Hughes, H&M.

Juliet Morrell poses Voga

Do you meditate? What are the benefits for you? Any tips for newbies?
Yes I do… but not always in the conventional seated pose. I usually find a different pose everyday that I love like cow face pose and sit in that for 15-20 minutes. It helps me to disappear into the pose. At the same time it helps realign the body.

How do you avoid ‘sweating the small stuff’? Do you have a quote or mantra you use, or maybe a book to recommend?

Breathe it all in, love it all out

(words from @kalbarteski)

Remember that what matters most is being happy and well and surrounded by awesome people. Know that good and bad happens every day and try not to react extremely to either. Be inspired by the beauty around you… Don’t take on the rest.

I also LOVE Russell Brand’s Trews. He’s the best at being super funny and making you realise that everything is subjective and ultimately you have to go back to yourself to find truth.

Juliet Morrell Voga Ibiza

Where do you go/what do you do to get inspired?
Tate Modern to wander around and absorb colour and ideas, swimming in London Fields Lido to clear the head, yoga sessions at Frame/Stretch/Fierce Grace/Yogahaven, afternoon film at the cinema, travel – Ibiza to create my sequences – drinks with friends in East London.

And where do you find your Zen in London?
London Spa Bethnal green, yoga practise, seeing my sister  Vicki and wee one in Peckham, watching Seinfeld with My husband Stu!

Which song do you put on full blast when you need an uplifting energy boost?
Candi Staton – You’ve Got the Love – in next sequence.
Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel
Madonna Immaculate Collection vinyl

A photo posted by Juliet Murrell (@houseofvoga) on

Finally, best yoga pose to do in a selfie for Instagram (what)?
Splits! Don’t do enough. I’m usually striking warrior 2s with VOGA arms…

For VOGA classes (regulars: Tuesdays and Saturday)/events/group bookings visit houseofvoga.com.
Next yoga retreat: May 17th-23rd 2015, visit Julietandjocelynyoga.com.
Look out for teacher training courses coming soon in 2015.

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