An invitation…

This practice is fundamentally about connecting and listening to yourself – and being guided from within. As a teacher I’m offering suggestion, not instructions. I encourage students to adapt the practice to their unique bodies and needs. From this place of felt safety the invitation is to explore and be curious.

Bodyfulness

This exploratory curiosity can offer students a doorway to ‘bodyfulness,’ a body-based contemplative practice. Rather than trying to control the body, our practice is an entry into an internal dialogue, a conversation without words. A cornerstone of a ‘bodyful’ practice, is the principle that we all are the experts on our own bodies. I encourage students not to use any force or coercion, but to seek to meet themselves with a welcoming attitude of kindness and compassion.

Often as children we learn to feel shame about our bodies, and to feel negatively towards ourselves. It’s now widely recognised that we carry the trauma and stress patterns of our lives in our bodies. Finding new ways to move and to relate to our internal landscape can be an empowering and healing practice which helps to transform our relationship with ourselves. I’m interested in how we can expand this practice to live with awareness both on and off the mat.


Stepping out of your comfort zone

I create new movement sequences each month for us to practice. We explore the different sequences, layering them up over the following 3-4 weeks. Investigating different movement patterns over a series of classes is:

– Good for building strength and range of motion throughout the body

– Helps keep our brain cells working and agile to protect against cognitive decline. As said by neuropsychologist Donald Hebb, “neurons that fire together, wire together,” and everything we repeat regularly contributes to our more efficient functioning.    It’s also important to keep providing novelty. 

– Learning new stuff usually means getting out of our comfort zone. If we can challenge ourselves in a kind and gentle way, this can help us develop helpful strategies to take with us into daily life too.

Yoga: a lifelong journey

For me, yoga is a lifelong journey, a spiritual practice. It begins with cultivating compassion and kindness towards ourselves, which in turn enhances our  compassion for others.

What is restorative yoga?

With today’s busy and stressful lifestyles most people are living with chronic stress, and the associated physical and emotional impacts of this, such as sleep problems, high blood pressure, back pain, digestive issues, anxiety and depression. Relaxation is an antidote to stress, and practices that trigger the relaxation response  are vitally important. 

Restorative yoga uses a variety of poses and props, to trigger the relaxation response, and enable deep rest. To rest deeply is to experience an easeful stillness and peace. The principle behind restorative yoga is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which helps re-set the body back towards equilibrium. 

While restorative postures may look simple and peaceful, it can take time to adjust and adapt to doing ‘nothing.’ The key is patience and a willingness to let go and give yourself permission to relax and quieten. Connecting with the breath can be a useful entranceway as we settle into a restorative pose.

 

Props for classes

In classes we use a range of different props, such as yoga blocks, rolled up towels or tennis balls, and for the restorative poses we often use a mix of bolsters, blankets etc. For in-person students, I have some props available to borrow. I encourage everyone to have plenty of warm clothes, extra blankets and an eye covering to help support you to relax. I send out the props list in advance of class. If you don’t have any yoga props already, you can improvise with sofa cushions, rolled up pillows etc. If you want to buy stuff I regularly put in orders to Yoga Matters, so do ask me.

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