I first started yoga almost 20 years ago when I left home to go to university. My first teacher was very inspiring and held the crammed village hall full of people captive with her knowledge and expertise.
Over the following 5 years or so I tried many different classes but my practice was very sporadic. It wasn't until I was in my mid 20's that I began to attend classes with any kind of regularity at DanceWorks in London. There I was taught by Jonathan Monks who changed my perpective on yoga forever. I realised yoga could be an intense workout and fell in love with the concept of 'power yoga'.
It was in 2007 when I had my first child that people began to suggest that I should consider teaching yoga. The seed of an idea was planted although for a while I didn't feel I was ready. Then in 2012 I met my current teacher and everything fell into place. I began my teacher training in 2014 and qualified with distinction in October 2015.
Over the course of my studies I became more interested in the spiritual and philosophical side to the teaching of yoga and I try to stay true to the lineage of this ancient practice. I now teach Vinyasa Flow and Hatha Yoga in several different settings.
I am very lucky to work in a broad spectrum of places, as well as my regular classes, workshops and day retreats. I have worked for Sweaty Betty, helping to launch their ‘power’ line; given an introduction to yoga to A-Level students at The Ashcombe; taught at summer festivals; and volunteered for charity events. I have taught 1:1s to students with many different requirements - for fitness, to help recover from injury, to help cope with grief and through life threatening illness.
Yoga For Body
There are so many benefits to the body from doing yoga that it's hard to know where to start. The most obvious one - and the one that can put people off yoga - is flexibility. It's hard to look into a room full of bendy Wendys when you can't touch your toes and not be intimidated. But it isn't necessary to be flexible to enjoy all of the benefits that yoga brings. And of course, over time you will improve your mobility. If yoga teaches you nothing else - it's patience.
Strength, increased mobility to the joints, muscle definition, stamina, balanced nervous and endocrine systems, better digestion, increased metabolism - the list goes on. More and more health professionals, including physiotherapists, GPs, osteopaths and personal trainers are seeing the benefits of referring their clients to yoga instructors as a way to compliment and improve upon, their general physical wellbeing. Yoga can help stretch out muscles after training for endurance sports, help heal after surgery, help prevent arthritis by keeping joints mobile, and help build muscle power for weight trainers.
My open classes are disigned for overall fitness, but if you have a specific target or injury you may want to consider a private group or 1:1 session. For example I teach a group of runners on a Wednesday night. These sessions are desinged specifically for your needs and extremely beneficial.
Whatever your reason for getting fit, keeping fit, or taking your fitness to another level, yoga has a place in your training program.
Yoga For Mind
So what is it that separates yoga and gives it an edge over other forms of fitness? The answer is that yoga is an holistic approach to wellbeing. Yoga is just as much about the health of the mind and spirit as it is of the body. Again, the use of the word 'spiritual' can send some folks running for the hills. But all we're really talking about here is feeling less stressed, more patient and taking pleasure in the present, rather than running from the past or obsessing about the future. And who could argue with that?! Learning techniques to quiet the 'monkey mind' - the constant chatter in our heads that tells us what we should or shouldn't be doing - allows us to live fully in the present moment. Learning yogic breathing techniques not only increases lung capacity but stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which counters the production of adrenalin and therefore calms us down in times of stress. And if you do want to come to yoga to aid you on your path to spiritual enlightenment, bhakti yoga would be a good place to start....
Open classes are designed from a more physical perspective, but if you are internested in meditation or chakras, you might prefer a private group or 1:1 session.
Yoga For Life
My youngest student so far has been eight and the oldest in their 70's, but these are by no means the upper and lower age limits of yoga students. Although I believe that yoga can benefit children of all ages, I choose to teach from eleven up as I think the teenage years are when the skills learnt on the mat can be fully appreciated off the mat. Coping with all of the challenges that secondary school, and beyond, bring can be a minefield - exam stress, friendships, puberty, falling in love, or the pressure of being involved in elite sports, music or academic fields really take their toll.
Equally, as the years pass and we find it harder to recover from training sessions, injuries, and general wear and tear, yoga helps to keep us strong and mobile, keeps the joints lubricated and can even be anti-aging!