I have been a student of yoga since January 1999 and studying to be a teacher since 2011, teaching yoga since 2103 and meditation along the way also. I have read tons of books, blogs and watched yoga explode into being the ‘In Thing’ in the time since I first stepped onto a mat and was surprised that I couldn’t even touch my knees, let alone my toes!
The way Yoga is now portrayed on social media and in magazines as that it is all about the body and the physical attainment - the perfect handstand, cobra, lotus position...
Nothing could be further from the truth. And this leads to a cycle of Compare and Despair....secretly we think 'I can never do a handstand or have a yoga body and so there's no point even trying yoga. It looks way to hard for me.'
But, this is not so..Really!! To everyday people leading everyday lives...that's you, by the way...a yoga practise can be a haven, a sanctuary, a life-affirming place to step into for a little while, so that you feel better equipped to cope with life's challenges. Life, I think, for most of us is quite demanding. I personally feel that I am constantly spinning plates, trying to keep on top of all my responsibilities. And I feel that my time on my yoga mat is sacred; it’s my time to unwind and re-establish a loving relationship with myself. Even as I’m doing my yoga, I sometimes think ‘oh, I forgot to put the washing on the line..!’ And I have to fight the urge to jump up and go and do it straight away! Even after 18 years, I still have to discipline myself to stay with myself and honour this time for me. And this is all part of the 'practise'...that is why we call it so.
And so, to my classes. I try to teach WHAT WORKS FOR ME.
I am not interested in challenging myself too much physically on my mat. Yes, gaining strength a little bit here and there is good; I believe physical strength and flexibility creates these qualities in the mind and emtions also. And a good Sun Salutation is a great gentle workout. But I like to move quite slowy generally, asking, enquiring and listening to what my body needs TODAY, and I encourage my students to do the same. One of the guests on a Zest Life retreat described me as 'a thoughtful teacher' and I like that! I think and feel and express what is happening in the moment. No two of my classes are ever the same, even if I try to make them so.
So, in a class with yours truly, you will find that we usually sit at first for a little while and centre, after all the busyness of arriving etc. Focussing on the breath and waiting for the stillness to descend upon the room and then we begin.
We start moving in a seated position, moving the spine in it's beautiful 6 directions, lying on our backs and doing some hip-openers or standing and shaking off our day.
Then we move into some deeper warm-ups, postures, a sequence maybe, interspersed with counter-poses and short relaxing poses like the Child, Crocodile or Savasana.
Always, always finishing with a deep relaxation and often with meditation. Setting an intention to take some of what has come up for you into the rest of your day...we then say...