This year our yoga classes will revolve around the theme of OPPOSITES. This concept was used widely in yogic literature to help us understand ourselves and the world in which we live. Our first pair of opposites will be BIG and small. As always with Hatha yoga we begin with the physical body and using the body to explore ways of being big – like an Oak Tree or a Mountain and also being small – like a child, a bird or a seed. Moving from one to the other challenges our balance, and strengthens and stretches our muscles.
We’ll work with the breath, expanding the lungs with physical moves and breathing exercises – discussing the benefits of large breaths vs small breaths and taking time to feel what this experience is like for us. Throughout our work during the year there will be many ‘companion’ opposites – loud and quiet, easy and strained may well be other pairs as we develop our work with the breath.
There will be time spent on thoughtful reflection too – looking back at BIG life events and forward to BIG life goals. And then considering the smaller things in life too –
“Sometimes,” said Poo, “the smallest things take up the most space in your heart.”
(from Winnie the Poo by AA Milne)
I’m very much looking forward to exploring this concept and other OPPOSITES with you as the new year of yoga unfolds. Namaste xx
In this year’s Stretch & Relax classes we’ll be taking a tour around the body seeing how each part feels for us on a personal level and also how improvements with one area can often alleviate issues in others… We will begin with our FEET which form the foundation o f our standing postures and which we rely on for our mobility and independence as we get older.
Feet are actually quite fascinating once you get over the look of them. They consist of lots of tiny bones, with lots of tiny joints in between. When the joints in the feet aren’t as flexible as they could be the result is that the feet can’t operate as the ‘suspension’ mechanism of the body – so even walking (let alone running and jumping) can become problematic to joints further up the body (knees, hips and spine) as the foot is not taking the impact of the weight of the body as it steps/plods around. We will use a variety of means – movement, massage with a small ball and massage with our hands to help to get our feet more flexible. And do you know… that because of all the nerve endings in the souls of the feet working with the feet can be extremely relaxing and calming. A traditional yogic remedy for insomnia is self foot massage. We’ll spend some time working on proper alignment of the feet as this can help prevent and heal foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, and shin splints not to mention a variety of mis-alignments further up the body. Keeping the feet flexible and relaxed also helps circulation of fluids to this area which over time helps to keep the skin on the feet healthy. Poor skin health is what leads to the build up of bacteria, smells, verrucas, athletes’ foot etc
So before we pack our tootsies into the boots for winter let’s give them some TLC and – who knows you may notice that the pain in your neck goes as well 🙂
I have been teaching Yoga since 1997 and qualified as a British Wheel of Yoga teacher in 2001. I have been lucky to study with a number of different teachers over the years and have had experience of a variety of Yoga Schools. My style of teaching is mainly influenced by the Viniyoga and Mantra Yoga traditions. I aim to deliver interesting and structured lessons that allow students to develop, grow and improve. Classes include: asanas (postures), pranayama (breath work), concentration, relaxation, and philosophy.
Without a doubt the easiest part of keeping fit is the decision to do it. Beyond that some begin enthusiastically, some mean to but never get round to it and others find a friend to help motivate them.
Teamwork strengthens resolve and builds momentum by pooling struggles and raising spirits when it feels as if you’re not getting to where you want to be. There are plenty of life coaches and wellness experts to testify a simple fact: there’s no better route to well-being than friendship. That’s beside the practical benefits of lift sharing, reminding each other and having a good old laugh!
Be kind to yourself and your friend – well-ness is the most liberating gift you can give to yourself and your mate but it’s easy to be critical. In the first stages of unpicking the bad habits and knitting together the good, it’s likely that there will be a few wobbles. That’s the time when, as a friend, you can be vital in aiding them gently back to the path and support her towards their goals.
Stuck for something to give a friend this Christmas? Why not give the most wonderful thing you can – HEALTH – ask them to join you coming to your yoga class!
Our focus for this year will be Anahata – the heart chakra. Anahata colours our life with love, compassion and beauty. Through our yoga pracite we’ll fill our hearts with love and generosity – give ourselves the time and space we deserve to feel loved and give love with joy and radiance.
In our asana this term we’ll be opening the chest area with back bends and twists, creating space to breath and for the heart to beat. Following a warm up we’ll steadily increase the complexity, strength and duration of postures to ensure that a gradual opening of the body is achieved.
We’ll be working with Mudra and Bandha for relaxation and the relief of stress and anxiety. Our aim will be to develop compassion for ourselves, those around us and the wider world. Many of the readings and practices will come from the Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche – you may like to get your own copy for inspiration of your home practice, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
In our Stretch & Relax classes this year we’ll be going back to basics to remind ourselves of how yoga can help us to live a happier life free from suffering – often this means tackling minor ailments that we simply put up with. Things like tension headaches, back pain, joint pain and constipation. All of these reduce our quality and enjoyment of life – so why put up with it? Let’s get our mojo back, find our Joie de Vivre (painting above is of that title by Pablo Picasso)
We will begin with the Anti Rheumatic/Arthritic group of exercises. Arthritis is a term covering a wide range of conditions and diseases of the joints. Joints become painful, swell and the enforced lack of use means that the muscles around the joint then weaken. Osteoarthritis is the most common and affects many people as they get older. There are around 100 other forms which can be caused by injury, obesity, stress or be hereditary. The yogic anti arthritic range is extremely beneficial both to prevent and reverse the condition. When joints become stiff and painful this results in the poor flow of fluids and energy around the body. The result is often not just localised problems but the whole body can feel below par. This group of exercises therefore works on the whole being and can have a very meditative, calming and uplifting effect.
You can follow the exercises in the yoga handbook Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha – it is called Pawanmuktasana Part 1. PMA1 for short!
In our quest for BALANCE IN OUR LIVES, this term we’ll remind ourselves of the Niyamas (yogas rules for living) to see if there is anything that draws our attention or feels out of kilter at the moment. We’ll begin the class listening to a variety of chants of the Gayatri mantra -said to be the one of oldest mantras – and let the words and tunes flow over and around us to bring positivity and inspiration. You can listen and learn the meaning of the Gayatri in the video below…
Our posture work will be simple, gentle and deeply nourishing. We’ll allow our focus to rest on how the body enjoys opening and relaxing into stretches. Working with the Bow (Dhanurasana) posture and Head to Knee (Janu Sirsasana) besides some floor Vinyasa work and standing balances.
For our breathing practice (Pranayama), we will be working on the basics of alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodana) with everyone finding their own rhythm and pace. Relaxations will be based upon passive relaxation techniques with some stories to complete each class. I am really looking forward to teaching this terms work:)
This term we will turn our attention to the cardiovascular system – bringing the heart to mind! We will be hopping and shaking around, raising the heart rate and considering how best yoga can serve our heart health and circulatory system… Without giving the game away, we’ll be moving the body in upper torso twists and back bending with the Bridge posture. These will open up the space that the heart can be in – so that it can go on with its uninterrupted beat given the space that it deserves.
We’ll be ‘Learning to Relax’ with some exercises from the book of the same name by Mike George, using exercises to let go and feel calm and at ease. All of which will give the heart a rest from our usual day to day stress. Stress is now known to be a major cause of heart problems, so the more you can learn to relax the kinder you are being to your heart.
If you would like to join us next term, please contact me here to book a place
Our mission in Yoga Fit this year is to get a strong core!!
Last term we worked with the plank and this term we’ll be moving on to a standing balance ‘Warrior lll’ which needs all the core strength we can muster.
In our usual lively approach we’ll work through all the parts of the body firstly warming up and then with strengthening and stretching postures. Using some jumping techniques which use a surprising amount of tummy strength we will keep ourselves on the go for pretty much the whole session, winding down in the last 10 minutes with a few restorative postures.
There is a saying about yoga ‘Whatever Age You Begin To Practice, You Stay…’
Why not put it to the test and join one of my new classes? You too can halt the march of time and reap all the benefits of this ancient form of health care!
The 2 new classes will begin on September 7th, ‘Beginners Yoga’ 11.45 – 12.45 and ‘Yoga Fit’ 6 – 7. This is a great opportunity for people new to yoga to ‘get in at the start’ and learn with like minded people about the postures, breathing and relaxation practices.
‘Beginners Yoga’ will focus on the systems of the body. Each half term we will take a look at how our body works and what exercises we can do to improve the function. Beginning with the Skeletal system in September and then moving onto the Muscular system, Cardiovascular system, Digestive system, Respiratory system and Nervous system. Each class is in fact an all round practice working on the body and mind, but with its particular focus holding your attention and building up your knowledge of yourself and yoga throughout the term. The posture work takes around 40 minutes and we take a relaxation exercise for the last 15 minutes. Relaxation is a key part of yoga, aiding the body in bringing it to harmony and allowing time and stillness for healing. The whole class lasts for 1 hour and is suitable for all levels of fitness.
‘Yoga Fit’ concentrates on the physical elements of yoga, getting the body to function and flow with grace as nature intended. This year we will be focusing on the core. Each term we will look at a variety of yoga postures (asana) learning about correct alignment and the benefits of each pose. As we become familiar with the postures they are linked together to form a graceful flow or vinyasa. This is performed several times during the class in tune with the breath. The class lasts for an hour with the final 5 minutes dedicated to a relaxing breathing exercise.
If you are not familiar with Ryhall Village it is a couple of miles from Stamford along the road past Sainsbury’s. It takes about 5 minute by car, passing the new football ground, then 2 mini roundabouts and finally turning into the village on the right hand side. A minute later and the village hall faces you with the tiny library opposite. There is ample car parking directly in front of the hall, and what makes it super for yoga is that the hall has a foyer and then a large space with wooden flooring and wall lights. The space is ‘womb like’ giving you a feeling of escape from the world outside.
If you are interested in either class, or know someone who may be, please contact me for more information or to book your place.