Stretching feels good - it releases endorphins and increases the blood flow to our muscles. Through our yoga postures (asanas) we stretch and move the body through all planes of movement. Stretching helps us prevent injury and also counters the bad postural habits we often adopt when sitting at a desk, in the car or hunched over our phones.
I always offer students different levels of stretch and postures, encouraging you to work with YOUR body. It is important not to overstretch and in yoga, we learn to tune into and listen to our body, working WITH not against.
Through our posture work, not only do we get more flexible but we get stronger and improve muscle tone too, using all the muscles of the body. I will often theme the class around a particular body part e.g hamstrings or hips - two classes which are always popular!
It's wonderful to see students progress over time - to get stronger and more supple and to be able to achieve poses they couldn't once do. A huge sense of achievement is then felt from both the student and teacher alike!
The best thing about the breath is that it is with us always and it is also free! Learning how to breathe fully and mindfully, as well as how to breathe well, is a powerful tool that we can use in our day to day life.
In yoga, we learn to be aware of our breath and, in doing so, we instantly connect with our body. We learn how to use our breathe to calm us down and lower our blood pressure or how to energise us and clarify the mind, through specific breathing techniques called pranayama. We realise the powerful link between the breath and the mind and we learn to co-ordinate our breath with our movement.
One of my students recently told me. "On a personal level I've got so much out of taking up yoga, I used to struggle with asthma badly. Since doing yoga regularly I've been able to stop using my inhaler completely. I think it's because I have learnt to breathe properly!".
THAT is the power of yoga!!
Yoga gives us the opportunity to relax. I lead you through guided relaxations and teach you relaxation techniques that you can use in your everyday life - be it in the dentist's chair, at a hospital appointment, on a flight or trying to get to sleep.
We learn to not pay attention to the chatter of our thoughts but to connect to that place of inner calm deep inside each and every one of us.
My yoga classes start and end in relaxation (lying down - under a blanket, what's not to like?!), giving you that time to switch off and release any tension - both mentally and physically, offering you the chance to go from a "doing" mode to experience simply "being". Rest is SO important.
We live in an increasingly hectic world. I believe it is imperative, for our own health, to allow ourselves the time to stop and switch off, giving ourselves the chance to counter the often relentless busyness of life.