Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, is standing at the grand entrance to her home — a glorious Jacobean pile in Dorset — balanced on one leg.
The other side is stretched out at a perfect 180 degree angle.
Mapperton House, which dates back to the Domesday Book in its past, has had an ever-changing chatelaine.
Julie can lunge; she is an extraordinary mistress of manor.
It’s no surprise that she’s a yoga teacher; or that she’s been named one of the world’s top holistic health icons.
Can we, sluggards or sloths, emulate her softness? ‘Yes!’ she insists.
We can all reduce stiffness and improve muscle mass by taking 15 minutes each day.
And today, as we present Julie’s 15-minute daily fix, she issues a rallying cry: ‘Come on couch potatoes!
Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, is standing at the grand entrance to her home — a glorious Jacobean pile in Dorset — balanced on one leg
“Rolling onto your yoga mat from the couch is the most difficult thing.” We need to take time for us and by doing something good for our bodies our emotional, mental and physical well-being improves.’
American-born Julie is a Chicagoan. She’s mother to four children: Emma, 22, and Jack, 20, from her first marriage; and William, 17, and Nestor, 15, from her second, to Luke Montagu, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, the elder son of the Earl of Sandwich.
She and Luke run Mapperton — one of the country’s finest manor houses — and she presents a TV show, An American Aristocrat’s Guide To The Great Estates. Her 48-year old age makes her look amazing.
American-born Julie is a Chicagoan. She was born and raised there. She’s mother to four children: Emma, 22, and Jack, 20, from her first marriage; and William, 17, and Nestor, 15, from her second, to Luke Montagu (pictured right), Viscount Hinchingbrooke, the elder son of the Earl of Sandwich
‘People might think I live this Downton Abbey life, but I don’t,’ she says. ‘We work 13-hour days — preserving a piece of English heritage is quite a task.’
She describes how yoga came to her rescue at a time when she was ‘overwhelmed’.
Shortly after her fourth child was born, she found herself supporting Luke — emotionally, physically and, to a degree, financially — through his recovery from prescription medicine dependency.
After a negative reaction to routine sinus surgery at age 19, he was misprescribed antidepressants and finally strong sleeping pills.
He was still on them up to 2008, when his family decided to let him go.
But, his psychiatrist told him not to take the medication for too long, leading to severe withdrawal symptoms.
As a result, he co-founded the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry to help others and raise awareness of prescription drug dependence.
Mapperton House’s history dates back to 1603 and has always had a flexible chatelaine.
Julie, on the other hand, worked tirelessly. She realized she needed to slow down after her fourth baby was born.
‘He was born at midnight and I had a meeting scheduled for 9am the next day. She was working for a movie company in that time.
‘I was determined to go into work. I said, “Don’t cancel that meeting!” But Luke stepped in and said, “You’ve just had a baby. You have to reschedule.”’
At that point, she realised how badly she craved peace and silence: ‘I was exhausted. I would go outside and then sit down in my car, crying. I needed time to switch off completely.’
Yoga saved her. She became the breadwinner of her family and began to learn how to teach yoga.
She and Luke run Mapperton — one of the country’s finest manor houses — and she presents a TV show, An American Aristocrat’s Guide To The Great Estates
She rented a church hall near their terraced second home in South-West London for £20 a session.
She started with very little and quickly built an empire teaching 24 classes per week.
She also took online courses during lockdown. ‘It was a silver lining of the pandemic. Three hundred people joined my first live online class.’
Today, she is chatting to me from one of Mapperton House’s historic bedrooms, with its four-poster bed and 18th century watercolours.
‘Sometimes I might go into a room to set the fire or close the curtains and I’ll go into a yoga pose,’ she says.
She invites you to join her yoga class for 15 minutes each day.
‘People are surprised at how quickly your body opens up,’ she says. ‘As children, we’re incredibly flexible but stress and inflammation of the body cause it to close down. You can break the tightness from your body. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.’
Julie shares her 10 yoga moves with us. This 15-minute workout will make you as flexible and agile as the lady who can lunge. . .
Forget her eye-watering vertical splits. This is her quick 15-minute routine that the rest of us can follow…
Instead of sitting down, knel low and keep your knees at an angle 90 degrees to your calves.
Keep your hands in front, moving your hips towards your heels. Then, continue sliding your fingers forward and dropping your forehead on the mat.
While reaching for your fingertips, curl your toes beneath you. You will feel your tailbone lifting as you reach through your fingertips.
This can be used to relax tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper arms.
You’ll feel the front of your chest expanding and your abdominal muscles stretch.
Your back will be gently stimulated, and your hips will open up.
Stay in this pose — and all the other poses — for five breaths, each time inhaling for a count of four and exhaling for six.
Place your elbows under your shoulders while lying on your stomach.
Push your forearms down with hands flat on the floor, and slide the thighs back, pressing your chest forward to slowly raise your upper body and then you’ll feel a nice backbend in your lumbar.
People who sit for a lot of time will feel the lengthening and stretching of their spines.
It will also stretch the chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen — while firming the buttocks and helping to relieve stress.
DOG WITH DOWNWARD VIEW
This is a great way to increase blood flow in the morning.
You will need to start in a crouching place. Now, you can push your body up on flat feet and hands.
Keep your knees slightly below your hips and your hands shoulder width apart. Spread your fingers wide.
Don’t forget to inhale and exhale for five breaths while straightening your legs as much as you can.
This will stretch your calves and hamstrings, strengthen your back and digestive system, and alleviate back pain. You may also find it helpful for fatigue, headaches and insomnia.
REVOLVED HIGHLUNGE POSE
Place your right foot on the ground and lunge forward. Your left leg should be vertical.
Stretch your arms out and reach your elbows. While keeping your arms straight, rotate your body towards your left side.
We’re looking for a nice twist in your spine which helps with balance and strengthens the shoulders, legs, feet and glutes. Repeat the process on the opposite side.
You can open your hips and hip flexors. This will help you focus and relieve sciatica pain.
The side bend is done while in a lunge pose. It’s a great one for boosting self-esteem and perseverance.
This strengthens your quads, arms, neck and neck. It opens up the chest, shoulders, and chest.
With your left leg in front, lunge forward and place your left arm behind you. Next, extend your left arm outwards so that your hand is parallel to your chest.
Take five deep breaths and then repeat the process on the opposite side.
Keep your feet three feet apart. Turn right toes slightly to the left and right toes slightly to the right.
Inhale and extend your right hand forward. This will cause your torso, as well as your arms, to lean in the direction of your elbows.
The left arm should be extended in the air while the right side should rest against your right leg. Repeat the process on the opposite side.
If you’re hunched over a computer all day, this is a wonderful pose for increasing neck mobility.
This is an excellent way to get started!
Start in a kneeling position and move your right foot forward. Keep your back straight.
Next, move your hands forward and extend your right foot. Place your right foot on the ground and then flex it. Repeat this process for the opposite foot.
Do this exercise regularly and your pelvic floor muscles will strengthen — and there’s that all-important stretch to the hamstrings, groin and hip-flexors.
This will help you to have a strong stomach.
With your legs extended, extend your arms to one side and your feet apart in wide posture. Your right foot should be facing the front, and your knees should face towards the ground.
While bending your right leg, press your left knee back. Keep your tailbone down.
Turn your head to the right and reach through both of your arms in front and back. Remember to breathe — and repeat on the other side.
While strengthening your shoulders, arms, and legs, this position also allows you to stretch your groins, thighs, and ankles.
It can expand your chest and shoulders, increase stamina, and stimulate abdominal organs, digestion, and enhance endurance.
It’s also an aid to balance and concentration — and if you’re in the second trimester of pregnancy it helps relieve backache, too.
EXTENDED ANGLE –
Keep your left leg straight and extend your left arm forward. Bring your left elbow to your left knee. Now, extend your right arm straight up towards your ears.
Place your left knee over your ankle and reach for the right fingertips.
Repeat this process for the reverse side.
This pose strengthens your thighs, hips, knees and ankles — and it stretches your groin, back, lungs and shoulders.
WIDE LEG FORWARD BEEND
This pose is a great way to end your exercise. It helps relieve fatigue and stretch the hips, hamstrings, and groin.
With your feet apart, place your arms straight up and keep your back flat. Next, bring both of you palms down to the floor below the shoulders.
You can use your arms to bring your forehead toward the floor. Bend your elbows towards the wall.
It’s fine to keep your hands by your head, or — if you want an extra challenge — after trying this move a few times, you can stretch them out to place them either side of your ankles.
Press into the feet, lengthening the legs to press the hips up towards the ceiling — and you’re ready to face the day with a calm mind.