WHAT IS YOGA?
- So what is this yoga anyway?
It makes you look and feel great, end of story…no need to worry about the finer details, just do it! Hee hee okay, okay he’s a very brief intro for you: Yoga is a practice that dates back thousands of years. As it has become increasingly diffuse and diverse over the years it is almost impossible to come up with a universally common definition but I will try. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit (ancient Indian language) yuj, which means to yoke or join, and hence yoga is said to be for the purpose of uniting body, mind and spirit. Most modern practices embrace the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, written c.250CE which outline the 8 limbs of yoga, which interestingly focus on mental and spiritual wellbeing more than the physical practice. Today we often start with the 3rd limb, the poses (or asanas) I guess because that’s the kind of world be live in now. We want to move, groove and make things happen…which some folks find is a disservice to the tradition at whole. However I tend to find that when people begin yoga as a physical activity they soon learn that it has a whole lot more to offer, and just by experience begin to understand the other limbs of the practice. For me as a student and teacher of yoga, yoga is an opportunity to break throughout the things that hold you back, to be more of yourself, to let go of your old crap and invite in the new!
- How does it differ from other forms of exercise?
You might find some similar looking stretches in other forms of exercise which is great, we need to stretch. However the most powerful tool we use to learn in yoga is the breath. There is great attention placed on the breath and as we follow the breath we begin to draw our awareness inwards. It is this inward journey that helps to cultivate a positive and peaceful mind not just a a strong and healthy body. Sometimes when people ask me to explain how yoga differs I just invite them along to a class, after all experience speaks a thousand words!
- Is yoga suitable for me?
Yes. Full stop.
Absolutely everyone can benefit from yoga. People always worry about not being flexible or strong, or slim or whatever. If we were all super-strong, chilled out prezels then maybe we wouldn’t need it so much….but we’re not. I started yoga as one of the most inflexible people ever, and over my first few years of practice, overcoming flexibility envy, I began to realise that the benefits are not in being able to do a pose, the benefits come from the journey of doing the poses(to whatever extent). By simply practising, no matter what your age, experience or condition of health it is possible to ‘do’ yoga. If you can breathe, you’re in. Of course not all classes will be suitable fro everyone, so if you have an injury, a health condition or are pregnant, it’s really important to speak to the teacher of the class you want to go to and perhaps your GP depending on your condition.
- Is it a religion?
No, you do not have to be a certain religion to practice yoga or give up your religious beliefs. It is a philosophy. The yoga sutras of Patanjali are ancient scriptures that provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental aspects of ourselves. There is no dogma, no judgment, no wars fought over yoga…it is simply a path that if followed will make you happier and healthier.
WHAT TO EXPECT
- How do I prepare for my first class?
Whether you’re heading to a class or trying it out online at home these top tips will help you get the most out of your experience:
- Don’t eat anything heavy 2 hrs prior to practicing, a light snack like a piece of fruit is okay up to half an hour before
- Wear comfortable clothing, nothing too baggy. If you feel chilly, wear layers as depending on the practice you might be surprised how hot you might get and may need to loose a layer. When the class slows down and its time to relax you’ll be thankful of something a little warmer to put on
- Don’t wear any heavily scented perfumes or lotions as this can be really intense for other practitioners as the room get hotter
- If you’re going to a class, especially for the first time, arrive at least 10-15 minutes early. Introduce yourself, tell the teacher if you’ve got anything going on with your body and have time to settle in before class starts
- Take some water. Most teachers don’t encourage you to drink much during class but you’ll definitely want it soon after class as even the most relaxing of classes are really detoxifying!
- What do I need to bring?
Bring a positive and open mind! Also don’t forget your water!
If you’re going to an active class, a towel is essential. Many studios will provide or rents mats, call ahead and check if you’re not sure. It’s always great to have your own mat, see our picks for mats in the BEND IT shop!
- Will I lose weight?
If you’re doing a dynamic class then yes this is amazing to get the metabolism firing on all cylinders and you should find over time that you begin to drop any extra pounds you’ve been carrying around. (if you need to) Even when the scales don’t change you’ll often find that because the focus is on building strong yet long muscles, and your posture improves you appear slimmer and healthier without any weight loss at all. INTERESTINGLY even when people attend a super-chilled Yin Yoga class regularly they can begin to loose weight too. This is because it reduces stress and stress encourages weight gain in most people and because all yoga, regardless of the style, helps to bring the body back into balance. Balance = healthy weight. I’m not saying everyone will turn into Kate Moss after a month of yoga (who would want that anyway!) but it certainly helps to achieve and maintain a healthy weight
THE STYLES I TEACH
- What types of classes do you offer?
You’ll see Core Strength Vinyasa and Yin Yoga often on my timetable. Sometimes alone and sometime a smart fusion of all.
- What is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga is an amazing practice that has a profound effect on the body and mind. You’ll learn about the principles and anatomy of Yin, why the fascial system is so important, why is is good to disengage muscles sometimes and how sometimes balancing a more active practice (yang) with a more yin-based practice can actually help you progress more quickly. Yin poses are restorative by nature but are not always comfortable, as you learn to play your edge of stretch. In class we take time to warm up and then begin our our journey of delving deep into the body, breath and mind. You’ll feel amazingly light, open, refreshed and energised at the end of the session. Suitable for absolutely everyone!
- What is Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga?
I used to teach Vinyasa Yoga which was really great. I loved the fluidity, the creativity and the energy of the practice. Then I discovered Core Strength Vinyasa and found a whole new world of understanding and freedom in my body and mind so that’s what I draw from these days. So its still Vinyasa, but with an extra bit of spice and wisdom. Rather than a ‘style’, Core Strength Vinyasa (CVS) is a methodology of practicing yoga as founded by the awesome Sadie Nardini. It combines smart anatomy, clever cues and a whole load of moving from centre. You can expect a cool paced flow class with a focus on deep core work which teaches us to use our DEEP CORE LINE effectively which helps to dissolve tension in parts of the body that we tend to overuse. This means quick and effective gains in power, flexibility and strength, making your experience more enjoyable, poses more attainable and meaning you can rock your yoga for years and years to come!