What is yoga?
Yoga offers us time-out from our busy, hectic lives. Time to just be, giving us space to stretch, breathe and relax and allowing us time to go from our constant "doing" mode to really experience "being".
It is an ancient practice that works with the mind, body and breath. Its teachings go back 5000 years and it is designed to create balance and harmony and get our energy flowing freely.
Physically, it is a series of postures, stretches and movements designed to increase the body's strength and flexibility. Mentally, it aims to still the mind and find an inner calm. Yogic philosophy has crossovers with Hinduism and Buddhism but it is not a religion.
There are many different styles of yoga. I teach Hatha Yoga which is a traditional, classical form of yoga comprising mainly physical postures. It links movement with the breath - viewing the breath as the link between the mind and body - and incorporates specific breathing techniques, known as pranayama. I place a particular emphasis on the breath, correct alignment and relaxation.
Yoga, however, isn't just a series of physical exercises and breathing techniques that is done on the mat in class, it is also an attitude and way of life. Yoga teaches us mindfulness and also such virtues as compassion, gratitude, non-competitiveness and truthfulness. I am particularly interested in mindfulness and meditation and see their value and place in our increasingly busy world. I endeavour to bring these elements, and moments of stillness, into my classes.
What to bring to class and other useful info.
Please wear loose, comfortable clothing and it is a good idea to wear layers and socks as you will need to keep warm when lying in relaxation but you might heat up when working through the posture work. I have mats but if you have your own please bring it. I have blocks, other props and blankets for our relaxation but again, feel free to bring your own.
It's a good idea not to eat a heavy meal before class and ideally not eat anything for 1-2 hours before class. My classes start promptly so please aim to arrive in good time (but no earlier than 15 minutes before the start of class). Please leave your shoes at the side of the hall/studio. Please remember to switch your mobile to silent.
Please inform me if you suffer from very high blood pressure, heart disease, retinal problems, epilepsy, have a joint replacement, are pregnant or have recently undergone any major surgery. It is always wise to consult your doctor prior to beginning a yoga programme. Please inform me if you have any new injury or health condition that was not previously declared. If you are likely to be late or are not able to come to class, a courtesy text would be appreciated 07952 931 383.
The benefits of yoga
The benefits of yoga are huge but in a nutshell it makes you more flexible and stronger - both physically and mentally - and it helps you relax.
Physically, the asana (or posture) work stretches every muscle, uses every joint, and moves the body in every plane, increasing the body's strength and flexibility. Regular practice can improve our circulation, lower our blood pressure, improve our digestion, balance and posture. It can improve our breathing, can ease pain, release tension, aid our sleep, help weight management and encourages a healthy lifestyle,
Mentally, yoga improves our focus and concentration and can improve our coordination, reaction time and memory. Its intention is to give us greater mental clarity and stability and can thus make us stronger emotionally. It teaches us to still the mind and find an inner calm.
Yoga is an excellent stress management tool - it teaches us to relax, helps us sleep better and helps promote a spiritual and mental well being. Yoga works on an energetic level and activates the parasympathetic nervous system which allows the body to rest, relax and recover and this counters any stress that we might be having in our life, thus creating a balance.
Who can do yoga?
Anyone! There is a misconception that yoga is only for flexible or young or fit people. If anything, the more inflexible we are the more we need to do yoga! As long as you can breathe - you can do yoga! As a yoga teacher, I am trained to offer modifications to suit all abilities. It is important to recognise and honour that all bodies are different and realise that everyone can benefit from gentle stretching. I encourage people to listen to their bodies and to decide for themselves to what level they want to take the postures offered.
What to expect in a class
A room full of like-minded people and a smiley, welcoming teacher! My classes always start and end with a lovely relaxation. In between I will guide you through a sequence of stretches and postures that build up to a peak pose and then wind down to the final relaxation. I place a strong emphasis on the breath, mindfulness and relaxation to ease you from a state of "doing" to a state of "being", to leave you feeling both refreshed and relaxed but at the same time, having allowed you to stretch and challenge your body to the level you want. I usually build a class around a theme such as balance or flexibility or it might be a more philosophical theme such as compassion, drawing from the ancient yogic teachings. I will always offer options and modifications to suit all levels and teach in a manner that makes yoga accessible to all.