Let's talk about YOGA

breathe, move and find your inner warrior; it's all yoga darling...

Let's talk about YOGA

The roots of Yoga trace back 5,000 years to an ancient body of knowledge, wisdom and philosophy in India.  Both a practice and an experience; yoga is a discipline that seeks to cultivate the authentic union of mind, body and spirit.  There is a lot more to yoga than contorting the body and holding the breath.  And it's definitely not just for girlies...

The word "yoga" comes from the Sanskrit language and loosely translated it means “union” or “oneness”.  The experience of yoga is that satisfying feeling of unity and integration, health and dynamic wellbeing, when the whole of ourselves is in balance.

Yoga is one of the six orthodox “darsana” or schools of philosophical thought in India.  Its evolution and development, from the ancient vedic period in India to the present day, is a fascinating and complex story that continues to unfold as yoga seeks to meet the needs of contemporary society.  In a world where the pace of life is increasingly frenetic, finding a place of harmony is increasingly necessary. There are many different routes to balance and integration in yoga and there are many different types and styles of yoga.  I teach and practice hatha yoga in a traditional style of what has come to be known as "modern postural yoga" but my asana work also relies on contemporary understanding of anatomy and biomechanics.

I trace my own lineage in Jnana yoga to Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math but I qualified to teach Hatha yoga with the British Wheel of Yoga, governing body in the UK.  My teaching and practice of Hatha was originally informed by the modern postural lineages of Krishmamacharya, and in particular T. K. V. Desikachar, but for the last 10 years I have been greatly influenced by the work of Donna Farhi.  Such contemporary teachers, who are exploring the biomechanics of movement in relation to principles of asana, and who are considering movement, the body and the self, in relation to the whole and its environment, are contributing significant positive developments to the evolution of yoga practice.  These nuanced approaches give birth to a more individual and less regimented practice that, freed from the constraints of postural expectation, can allow each person to find their own optimum experience.

In addition to all of this I have a particular interest in the restorative and meditative practice of yoga for mental health and wellbeing and am currently studying an MSc in Psychology along with an MA in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation.  It is my belief that yoga, although rooted in ancient tradition, has a profound and eternal relevance and I hope to combine these two areas of study at doctorate level.

Hatha & Modern Postural Yoga

Hatha yoga is the most widely taught form of yoga in the west and teachers cover physical postures to stretch, strengthen and flex the body (asanas), exercises to develop breath awareness and control (pranayama), relaxation and meditation. Hatha yoga is non-competitive, is beneficial for everyone and can be practiced by all, regardless of age, size or flexibility. Modern postural yoga is the term given to yoga practices with an increased focus on asana. Surprisingly, it was not until the end of the 19th century that posture work began to feature largely in yoga practice. Set against the ancient roots of yoga this is therefore a relatively modern development.

Fit, Fun, Fexible and Wonderfully YOU

I could wax lyrical about the benefits of yoga but that would just be boring. Suffice to say that the combination of physical exercise, breath control and relaxation develops flexibility, muscle tone and strength in the body, clarity and focus in the mind, and brings with it an overall feeling of increased wellbeing, balance and harmony. The benefits of yoga are now so well recognized that yoga is becoming available in the NHS through a new initiative providing "social" prescriptions, in a move to fundamentally shift the focus in health care management.

People practicing yoga frequently report:

* increased energy & stamina
* improved posture
* improvements in joint mobility
* increased fitness
* increased concentration
* reduced anxiety & depression
* improved quality of sleep
* increased self esteem

Hatha yoga is an all over body and mind workout: and best of all – anyone can do it!

Don't Just Take my Word for It

Everywhere you look these days people seem to be talking about the benefits of yoga, but for something a bit more concrete than just talk:

A recent study conducted by the British Wheel of Yoga in collaboration with Sheffield University found that yoga is significantly beneficial for overall health. To read more visit the British Wheel of Yoga website http://www.bwy.org.uk

Information Overload?

So what does all of this actually mean for somebody thinking about yoga with me? In simple terms it means that I trained with a reputable organisation and I am registered and insured. My teaching is rooted in the classical traditions so it has depth and meaning and pays homage to the yogic texts and philosophical teachings. But it is not rigid and static and I continue to develop my knowledge and experience by training in theory and practice with leaders in the field. I teach philosophy, pranayama, meditation and asana. I work with postures in a way that defers to contemporary scientific knowledge and respects the physical limits of the human body and those of each individual who joins me for yoga. I have a specialist interest in the benefits of yoga for mental health and wellbeing and I am knowledgeable in the different traditions of yoga and meditation.

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‘So much more than I expected’

Gillian has a lovely manner. I started attending her classes six months ago to help alleviate stress and symptoms of menopause. Yoga has given me so much more than I expected, although my suppleness is a work in progress. I have learned how to breathe efficiently and subsequently relax more. Gillian has certainly had a positive influence on me, all I needed to bring was my mat and an open mind!