WHAT IS YOGA?
Through over twenty five years of regular practice (clearly I was an embryo when I began??!) , I now know that Yoga is not a practice to improve myself but a practice in being myself. Consider what ‘HOME’ means to you……comfort, security, warmth, safety, joy? On the flip side, ‘HOME’ to you may resonate with less comfortable emotions, family feuds, judgement, expectations, sadness. Beyond the physical benefits (more on this in a minute….) Yoga gives me the skills to process difficult emotions, to maintain a sense of balance and to know when to accept and surrender to situations beyond my control. And it is a PRACTICE……not a miracle quick fix cure though not necessarily time consuming (simple pranayama…breathing exercises can take 5 minutes a day.
So, you are curious about attending a Yoga class? Inspired by Instagram images, Celebrity ravings, the girl you work with who seems to float? Perhaps your Doctor, friends, loved ones have suggested Yoga as a way to manage stress? When I tell people I am a Yoga Teacher, I am often met with a similar response…..
‘Oh, I’ve always wanted to try Yoga but I’m….not bendy, too stressed, intimidated, too thin, too fat, ‘too weak, too muscly, too old, too young etc’. The reality is that I have not met anybody who would not benefit from some form of Yoga practice.
THE HISTORY BIT…..
The practices we understand as Yoga were first developed in India around 5000 years ago (pre ‘Sweaty Betty’ and ‘Lululemon’!) The wise men of the time, Rishis (Seers) aimed to develop a methodology that used the breath and body to quieten the mind. We often blame modern life choices for feelings of stress, anxiety and monkey mind (and there’s no denying that the modern world has heightened these feelings) and look outside of ourselves for solutions. The Rishis identified that as humans we already possess the ability to heal ourselves.
‘Yoga is the resolution of the agitations of the mind’
(Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra…….aka the Bible of yoga)
WHAT TO EXPECT?
Yoga is a Sanskrit (An Ancient Indian language) word that roughly means ‘to unite’.
In my yoga practice, and in my teaching, I aim to create a united balance of a physical practical of yoga asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation (the quietening of the mind…….and trust me, mine can be VERY loud!).
In a group class, your practice will be led by a teacher who will combine demonstration with oral instruction. Teachers are trained to offer adjustments (if you are comfortable with this) to support your alignment or help you to move deeper into a pose.
You will be guided to use your breath when moving through the poses.
You will practice on a mat with bare feet and in clothes that allow you to move freely whilst allowing your teacher to see the outlines of you body…….this helps her to check the alignment of your poses to keep you safe from injury.
Despite some teachings to the contrary, this is not a spectator sport…..you should aim to practice in a way that feels comfortable physically and emotionally. Too often, I have seen students pushing themselves beyond their physical limitations on that day with the aim of achieving an extreme version of a pose…..this usually will result in you feeling disheartened, or injured. When aiming to deepen a practice your teacher should guide you step by step and should advise when you are ready for the next steps or not.
Hatha Yoga is really an umbrella term to describe the physical practice of yoga. Typically, when going to a yoga class in the Western World, you will be expecting a physical yoga practice. There are many branches of asana yoga practice (Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga Iyengar, Anusara…..) and it is worth trying a few to see which resonates with your needs. In an ideal world, it may even be worth combining more than one style …………… (more on this in a future blog!)
HOW TO PREPARE……
- Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move
- Wear layers to allow you to keep your body at an optimal temperature
- Avoid eating anything substantial for an hour before your class
- Arrive a few minutes early to give time to settle
- Turn off your phone
- Breathe, stretch, sweat (a little) and relax!
AFTER…….TO MAXIMISE YOUR PRACTICE
- Drink water……obviously!
- Try not to rush…..enjoy the feeling of calm and grounding you have created
- Enjoy a long soak in a warm bath with epsom salts
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS
WELCOME HOME………..I look forward to meeting you on a mat soon!
(Founder – The Yoga Cloud)