I have been living with the principles of yoga practice for over 40 years, influenced by many traditions and people including Iyengar, Ashtanga, Shadow Yoga, “Scaravelli inspired”, the Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga of Sadie Nardini, Pranayama with Philip Xerri, Yoga Philosophy with Peter Connolly, various vinyasa flow practices, and time in India. Significant for me was initiation into Surat Shabd Yoga in 1984 – a primarily internal, meditation based yoga practice.
I hold mixed ability drop-in classes. Some people in the class have been doing yoga for a long time, and I am looking to encourage them to progress. Equally, some people are just starting, so they do less. But we all work together. In a mixed group like this, it is particularly important to recognise that yoga practice is not a competition. It is an individual journey. So don’t be put off if the person next to you can do things that you can’t. With practice you will be able to do it too. For now – do what you can. Do what is right for you. You start at the place that you are currently at and progress forward from there.
My classes are aimed at making a structural change in our bodies. If you are not very fit and strong now, and you do nothing, then nothing will change. If you start working steadily to improve, then the structure will reflect that activity and you will grow stronger and more flexible. Not too much, not too little. ‘Balance’ is a central theme in yoga.
The overall aim of the work we do is to increase strength, flexibility and overall health at a pace that is right for you. Then you can be as healthy as you reasonable can be, and you will arrive at old age as gracefully and as fit as you reasonable can be.
Some of the central principles that I thread through all of my classes include:
- working with opposing muscle groups – working muscles in contraction followed by stretching those muscles.
- working with awareness of the underlying anatomy – it is important to understand the structure we are working with.
- working with breath – breathing is central to life and is generally paid little attention.
- working into the end of range of movement – this increases flexibility and awareness of safe practice.
- working with awareness – this leads to increased levels of concentration and perception on many levels which is the direction in which yoga practice leads.
The class sequence usually consists of physical posture work (asana) followed by breathing work (pranayama) and relaxation.
These classes help to tone and strengthen, to improve general range of movement especially in the spine, to increase a sense of well being and improve general health.
I also run one-to-one sessions. These allows specific attention to a specific person – with attention to the age and the constitution of that person, their vocation, capability and the path to which they feel drawn. It allows a program to be developed to suit you as an individual. They are really great if you:
- are new to yoga and would like to have extra guidance in the fundamentals of the practice, or to gain confidence before joining a regular class
- want to deepen your practice, or explore specific areas of interest or material not generally covered in classes
- have any injuries or health conditions
- can’t make normal class times or normal classes, for whatever reason
- want to take you practice to another level