What to Expect
It is very natural to feel rather unsure when you are coming to a new class, especially as a beginner. However there is no need to feel nervous at all. You will be made to feel very welcome. I give very clear instruction and I will make sure you are doing everything correctly. Yoga is all about you looking after you; focusing on yourself and well being. I regularly have new people to integrate into the group - from the experienced to the beginner and everyone will have their areas they find challenging in both of these groups. Yoga is non-competitive and if you are new you have to make sure you don't over do things. If you find the practices difficult, they will become easier with practice.
I focus very much on the individual giving specific modifications or adjustments depending on need. I will ask you to fill in a confidential health form at the outset of joining my classes which helps me to determine if there are things that you should avoid, modify or do more of! Please do not be offended if I give you a modification or a prop to use, these are to keep you safe and to work intelligently. In fact, yoga could be defined as ‘intelligent action’. Or it may be, if something is too easy for you, I will give you a more challenging alternative.
I like to keep my classes light-hearted, with people being able to express emotion and ask questions if they need. I encourage laughter. I believe that life is very often difficult and tiring enough and sometimes just a quiet space with nice people, doing something you know is good for you is the perfect remedy to the busy and often stressful lives we all lead. This doesn’t mean that the effect of the practice isn't deep.
The 'Rookery' yoga studio:
The 'Rookery' studio is part of my home in Pitney and is suitable for up to 10 students. I have mats and blocks here but you are welcome to bring your own if you prefer. People also tend to bring some water to class. You will need stretchy clothing and some clients have yoga socks, however most will just have bare feet.
In winter I light the log burner to add heat and atmosphere making the room very cosy - then in summer I have the windows opening onto the birds singing in the neighbouring walnut tree. I find all these give an added level of contentment and well-being.
Typical class structure:
I will make sure you feel comfortable in the class by introducing you to your fellow yogis. All my clients are really lovely so you will soon feel very much part of the group. I will check for any injuries or anything new that’s happened to anyone in the group so I deliver a safe and appropriate class for all and give people what they need.
I always start my classes with attention to the breath and take a moment for you to check in with how you feel. This gives a marker so you can assess any differences / changes by the end of the class. Yoga works incrementally, in ‘krama’ or steps; the benefits of each practice adding to the next. Being with the breath at the outset draws our attention inwards and as we only breathe in the present moment, it brings us into the here and the now, helping to let go of past and future worries; being fully present.
By doing this we invoke the relaxation response. When in this state, our bodies can start to allow all the processes that the stress response has halted or adjusted such as digestion, circulation, hormone secretions etc... When stuck in the stress mode, it is like having the pedal of your car pressed down all the time; there is no rest, the body cannot function optimally, or indeed, heal. Yoga allows the body to re-balance, to re-calibrate. Our body will heal itself given the right conditions. Through relaxing the body we allow the muscles to relax and therefore be open to being stretched in the posture work.
We then begin the asana (posture / attitude) practices. I endeavour to individualise the class for certain requirements depending on whom I have in the class. I am looking at the function of what we are doing, not just the form, although proper alignment is always a consideration. The class may consist of sequenced movements that build and deepen in intensity. There are always modifications offered, either easier or more challenging. Some postures will be held for a number of breaths and you will build up both strength and flexibility. Stretching can be uncomfortable, but I will guide you in how to make it effective and how to do it properly. We will sometimes use props like belts or blocks. These are useful aids to make the postures work for you. They are not the 'soft' option. The point of the 'asana' practice is to make you comfortable in your body so you can sit still, with no discomfort and therefore disturbance to the mind, for meditation.
We will usually have a breathing practice at the end of the class prior to relaxation. This can have many effects depending upon what is required, like energising or relaxing perhaps. Pranayama are specific regulated breathing techniques. These practices prepare the mind for meditation.
This can come at this point in the class, prior to relaxation or it may sometimes take its place. By working with the breath however, throughout the class and synchronising movement and breath, we are already practicing meditation on a certain level.
Finally, comes relaxation. I use many forms of relaxation and I believe this is a very important part of the class. This is the part where all the practice comes together and the benefits are assimilated throughout the whole body. You will leave feeling refreshed and relaxed. If you continue to practice you will find that you develop a much calmer attitude and things that once disturbed or caused you stress, no longer do so.