Celebrating ten years of teaching with a mentoring programme

This year marks ten years since I qualified as a yoga teacher. It also marks a big birthday for me. On my thirtieth birthday in 2010 I took what my teachers called a “very auspicious” dip in Ma Ganga. It was very refreshing.

When I look back over the past ten years, so much has changed. Then, I was single and seeing a lot of the world. Now I have a wonderful partner and two amazing children. I’m more settled.

I remember being told at the end of my Sivananda teacher training that we were being selfish if we didn’t share the teachings. So I came back to London and taught anyone who asked.

It was scary standing up in front of a group of people. I used to feel physically sick with nerves. I doubted myself. I worried what people thought (a lot). But then my confidence grew – not just in teaching but in all areas of my life. 

Yoga taught me to look beyond the surface, to pay attention. As a result, I’d say I’m a lot happier and at home in this body and with this mind. I know myself better.

Teaching yoga in Hertfordshire

Having taught in London for three years, I completed further training and moved to Hertfordshire. I started covering classes locally and began running classes, workshops and retreats. I felt a strong sense of community or ‘sangha’.

In the past seven years, the local St Albans/Harpenden yoga scene has changed and developed considerably. When I started, I wasn’t aware of any other yin yoga classes around here. Awareness of the style was far, far lower than it is now. It was also easier to find space in venues to start new classes. There are now so many more yoga teachers in the area. 

The growing popularity of yoga is brilliant. And people need yin to counter the increasingly hectic pace of modern living. There’s a reason why it’s the fastest growing style of yoga today.

More broadly, yoga has changed and developed too: the toppling of yoga ‘gurus’ from their pedestals in the #metoo era and the rise of the instayogi. Mindfulness is a workplace buzzword. There’s a growing awareness of yoga teachers’ pay thanks to the work of Norman Blair and others. Perhaps the London yoga market has now reached saturation point. Yoga is taught in many more schools.

What will be the next style of yoga to take the world by storm?

There’s a lot to think about and navigate. 

Mentoring programme

With this in mind, I am offering a mentoring programme for teachers of yoga and mind/body/wellness practices. It can be tough teaching out there. It can be isolating too.

We’d cover topics such as:

  • The student/teacher relationship
  • Communication with studio owners and contacts at hire spaces
  • Running classes, workshops, retreats and holidays
  • Promoting yourself and attracting new students
  • The business and financial aspects of teaching
  • Work/life balance
  • Self care.

It would be a small group and we’d meet one Sunday evening a month for four months from March. I’d facilitate and provide advice based on my experience but we’d all share and support each other.

If you’d like to find out more and book, visit the mentoring page.

Six reasons why yin yoga and fitness go well together

Yin yoga is an excellent practice for many types of people – from those who struggle to find time to do anything, to those who run, cycle and do more active types of fitness. We all need to take time to be still, quiet and more contemplative. Yin yoga provides this.

Here are six reasons why yin yoga is great companion to sport and fitness:

 1. Stretching to create space

Most people know that having a stretch before and after exercise is good. A freer range of movement allows the body to find the most efficient path and use less energy.

When we sit or lie in a yin pose, we create space in our bodies, in our minds, and in our day-to-day lives. On a physical level, the connective tissue surrounding our joints starts to become more malleable, improving our flexibility.

Reggie Ray covers this aspect nicely:

When you ask someone to sit down and be with themselves they go, “I can’t. I don’t have time for that.” Now you and I may realize that there actually is a problem. Most people don’t think there is a problem. 

We run our kids in the same way—and it’s destroying them. The soccer practice and the music lesson and three hours of TV and homework—it goes on from the minute they get up until they go to sleep. They never have an opportunity to experience silence. Psychological development requires periods of solitude.

Anthropological psychology—studying other cultures, as well as our own—shows that when children do not have completely unstructured time, when there are no parental expectations looming over them, they actually can’t develop normally.

Read the Reggie Ray full article.

 2. Injury prevention

Most injuries are from overuse. Imbalances in your body can cause inflammation and excessive wear on tissue. A regular yoga practice brings your body back into symmetrical alignment and corrects flexibility and strength imbalances.

You’ll be able to do sport or exercise for longer. Ryan Giggs credits yoga for the longevity of his football career.

3. Yin vs yang

You may have heard of the terms ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ from Chinese Taoist thinking. Yang is about movement, creating energy and heat in the body. Yin is about finding stillness, being calm and cooling the body. HIIT sessions, running and cycling are all yang activity. Focusing just on the yang can lead to fatigue and burn out.

Having both allows the body to come into balance and stay in optimum condition.

 4. The power of the breath

People think that yoga is about contorting the body but it’s actually a breathing practice.

Your breath provides you with energy and power to carry on and reach the finish line. Yoga teacher Donna Farhi explains all:

Doctor and triathlete John Hellemans recommends that the best breathing for top athletic performance is deep diaphragmatic breathing… Dr Hellemans also notes the importance of getting into a rhythmic flow with your breathing and synchronizing your breathing with your movement.

You can do that by taking a breath when you plant your foot during a stride or when pedalling on a cycle. Find a rhythm and speed of movement that allows you to work within the confines of your breath capacity so that you are not building up an oxygen deficit.

Donna Farhi, The Breathing Book

 5. Staying power

In yin yoga we spend around five minutes in each pose (all are seated or lying down). This builds mental stamina. I’ve heard a yin practice being compared to a marathon.

This stillness allows us to become more in tune with our body, and naturally you’ll find that you start to watch your mind. We notice our thoughts – whether they’re positive or negative, linked to the past or the future, and whether they’re recurring. It allows us to connect within.

6. Accepting rather than competing

Yoga teaches that there’s more to life than going faster or further. It’s about accepting where you are today – not comparing yourself to before you had that hip/knee replacement, or thinking about how much fitter you were ten years ago. If we’re able to accept our bodies as they are today, we’ll be happier individuals.

And over the duration of a yin pose, your body will open and you’ll naturally go deeper. No pushing, no judgement, just accepting.

 

You can now practice a 25 minute yin class with me on YouTube as part of Fluxus Fitness’ Great in 8.

 

AcroYoga hits Hertfordshire – a weekend of fun and flight in St Albans

Emmeline and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who joined us at the weekend. We were really impressed with your:

  • willingness to give things a try – even if it felt scary
  • communication skills – saying what worked, but giving feedback to each other about how it could feel better
  • openness – being able to feed back to the group
  • ability to build trust in people you’d only just met
  • sense of fun – lots of laughter!

Here are some photos and more information about the practices – text taken from acroyoga.org.

Saturday’s solar practice

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Trust is the currency that we exchange in acrobatics. With this blanket of trust we become empowered and empower others.

The AcroYoga solar practices are the tools that unlock that power in others and ourselves. The solar elements build strength and feature inversions and partner acrobatics.

As we build strength by using acrobatic and gymnastic training techniques we build confidence. Push ups, down dog push ups, abdominal exercises and partner conditioning are some of the building blocks that create strong teams. We also cultivate the ability to coach each other to encourage positively.

The inversions give us the chance to build trust and efficient acrobatic techniques for headstands, handstands and so on.

Partner acrobatics is where we put it all together in a group of three: base, flyer and spotter. The base creates the foundation for the acrobatics, the flyer trusts and consciously moves through the air and the spotter makes sure this all happens safely! These practices build a playful, strong community that can help us all realise our true potential.

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Sunday’s lunar practice

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The first steps in the practice of AcroYoga are listening and relearning to be open. The lunar therapeutic practice includes massage, therapeutic flying and partner yoga. The aim in these practices is that both the giver and receiver can feel more full and balanced. Our main tools are gravity, sensitivity, loving kindness, feeling and releasing.

Massage is an ancient gift from traditions. It is a practice that can be cultivated to open the body using bodyweight, loving touch and mindfulness. Before students fly each other it is key for them to have some massage technique so they can be more confident when they massage people while they are in the air.

Therapeutic flying is an inverted aerial massage. The base supports the flyer with their legs as the flyer hangs passively. The base uses gravity, stretching and sensitive touch to open the flyers upper body. When the flyer comes down they do massage on the bases warmed up legs. The session is complete when both partner have given and received, based and flown, inhaled and exhaled.

Partner yoga is the art of using each other’s body weight and breath to open and warm the body. This is a way for us to use a partner’s strength or bodyweight to open our bodies in new ways. In all of these practices gravity and loving touch help us to let go of fear and pain. As we learn to listen deeply we can use our power in a sustainable way.

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We will be running another weekend of AcroYoga in St Albans in Spring 2016. If you’re interested in coming, let us know.

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Habits, histories and Watford FC

Recently I’ve found myself thinking about samskaras. In yoga philosophy samskaras are seen as mental or emotional patterns that are part of us, passed on by reincarnation and karma in past and present lives.

Basically put, a samskara is a deeply ingrained habit or behaviour and we all have them. I bet it’ll take you less than a few seconds to think of one of your bad habits. I bet you have lots of good ones too.

The more a samskara is repeated, the deeper the impression becomes. Think of an old record and how the needle dutifully follows the hard-to-resist groove.

We’re all creatures of habit and often we feel the pull of the familiar – in our physical bodies, our thoughts and how we live our lives.

I’m approaching a change that I know will definitely alter my samskara. In a few weeks I’m moving in with A Boy.

Now before you say anything, yes, I know it’s exciting. I know it represents a step forward in our relationship. And I want to move in and be with him.

But change can be scary.

In an article on the Yoga Journal website, it talks about how “we often resist new patterns for fear of losing the identities we’ve so carefully constructed.

I get this. We both have different ideas about what it means to relax at home. He has two TVs whereas I have none (he says it’s the equivalent of having one each which is perfectly normal).

We’re building new samskara and we’ll deepen those grooves together. I’m learning about his beloved Watford FC and he’s been to yoga classes. I’m optimistic that some day we will find a way to stack the draining board that keeps us both happy.

The Yoga Journal article continues to say,

“When we change a long-held pattern, we undergo a rebirth of sorts. This rebirth hints at a new incarnation, a more evolved version of the self. Yet improving our samskara brings us closer to our true nature, which is the goal of yoga.”

So if you’re undergoing any big changes to your samskara (and I know some of you are), hang on in there. It’ll be worth it.

 

April and I will be exploring samskara in our next yin yang workshop on Saturday 25 April at All Saints Studios. Visit the workshops page to learn more.

This is Troy Deeney. He is the captain of Watford FC. Just in case you weren't aware.
This is Troy Deeney. He is the captain of Watford FC. In yoga, yellow is the colour of learning. In the world of Watford FC, it is the only colour worth knowing about.

 

 

 

Teacher interview: Emmeline Gee

Emmeline Gee yogaI first met Emmeline a few years’ ago in India. Since then we’ve done AcroYoga together on various beaches and in London at TriYoga with Jason Nemer, one of the practice’s founders. In May we’re running a weekend of workshops together in St Albans, Herts. 

I asked Emmeline why AcroYoga makes her tick.

I first got into AcroYoga in 2011 while doing my Yoga Teacher Training in Bali. I’d practiced yoga for 16 years but I soon became an AcroYoga convert.

I’d describe the practice as a fun combination of acrobatics, yoga, and Thai healing arts – Thai massage. It’s popular in the States and rapidly spreading worldwide. I’ve been addicted ever since. I guess there’s five reasons why:

  1. It’s accessible to most people

It may look like the work of circus artists, but there are basic positions that nearly everyone can enjoy. I’ve done AcroYoga with my aunty and uncle, who are in their late 60s, much to their delight. And children absolutely love it! AcroYoga backbend

  1. You learn lots about yourself and others

Plato said “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”. In AcroYoga, we often test our limits and end up finding new strengths. Trust and communication are crucial – without them you’ll quickly end up just a heap of bodies on the floor.

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  1. It’s so engaging you won’t be able to think about anything else

When you’re balancing upside down on someone else’s feet it’s impossible to be anywhere else apart from the present moment. That can be hugely exhilarating and a great stress-buster.

AcroYoga

  1. You do it with other people

I love hatha yoga but it’s largely a solitary pursuit confined to your own mat. AcroYoga is done with a minimum of three people (a base, a flyer and a spotter) so it’s very sociable. Many towns have AcroYoga communities who meet regularly and ‘jam’ – it’s a great way of meeting lovely fun people.

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  1. It’s way more fun than the gym

I’ve never had much motivation to train in a gym. In AcroYoga we use each other’s body weight to build strength and flexibility. Balancing each other on our feet and hands is hugely entertaining and often involves a large amount of giggling. It’s a great workout and 100% more exciting than a stepmachine.

And did I mention already that it’s great fun?!

AcroYoga St Albans

Emmeline and Clare’s AcroYoga weekend is suitable for beginners – to both AcroYoga and yoga in general. It’s 9-10 May at All Saints Studios, St Albans. For more information visit the workshop page

When Emmeline isn’t AcroYoga-ing, she can be found on superyachts offering yoga instruction, massage and beauty treatments. To find out more about her, visit Angels on Board.

 

 

 

YouTube yoga schmoga

hqdefaultNow don’t take this the wrong way but I’m bored.

This week I’ve seen a YouTube film shared on Facebook by a number of people and it just hasn’t inspired me. You know the kind of thing I’m talking about:

Young, fit, athletic, woman in skimpy clothing doing advanced asana in a stunning location accompanied by suitably calm yet inspiring music.

Meh.

There’s no end of debate about the commercialisation of yoga, the sexualisation of yoga and a focus on beauty and the aestheticism of the practice.

“Wow, isn’t she amazing. I wish I had a practice like that. I wish I had a body like that. I like her top…” These films may be viewed by some as inspirational – or indeed aspirational – but I feel they take us away from accepting what is. What is possible in this body today?

Yes, the woman in the film has a stunning practice and it’s obviously taken her many years of dedication and hard work to reach this point. I’m sure she’s faced many hurdles along the way too. And I’ll put my hands up – I’m no stranger to watching yoga porn on YouTube. But give me something I This Girl Canhaven’t seen before. I’m getting so bored.

Give me guys in prison learning how yoga can help them find peace. Give me African kids giving Bikram a run for his money. Give me yoga for people with cancer.

For this reason, the thing I’m choosing to share is This Girl Can: an amazing government advert showing how, in a nutshell, this girl can. It’s honest, refreshing and shows what the average woman looks like when she exercises.

Watch This Girl Can and then watch the YouTube clip I’ve seen on Facebook this week. Then tell me which one makes you feel better.

Alternatively, you could come along to February’s yin yang workshop at All Saints Studios this Saturday. The theme for this month is celebrating imperfection. Visit the workshops page for more details.

 

New yoga class at Sandridge Village Hall

Hello all,

This is just a little blog post to let you know that I’m starting a new daytime yoga class at Sandridge Village Hall on the outskirts of St Albans, Hertfordshire.

It’ll be on a Thursday morning 9.30-10.30 and will be a yin yoga class. The first class will be 4 September.

What is yin yoga?

Yin yoga is wonderful. Of course, I’d say that as I teach it. It’s for those days when you want nothing more than to be still but you feel you ought to be doing some exercise. We spend the class sitting or lying in yoga poses and your body gets a good stretch. It’s also deeply relaxing.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been on a yoga mat before and I’ll give you lots of attention.

Yoga at Sandridge Village Hall
Sandridge Village Hall is on the main road running through the centre of the village. Come and yoga!

Why am I starting a yoga class at Sandridge Village Hall?

I don’t believe Sandridge Village Hall has a daytime yoga class. And it’s a lovely space. I’ve taught in a few local halls and when I saw this one, I was so happy with it. It’s got heaters for winter mornings, a wonderfully clean floor, and lots of free parking to the left of the hall.

Price of Sandridge Village Hall yoga class

It’s £10 per class. I’m also starting a special deal: £80 for 10 classes – for use in this class and the Monday morning Mead Hall gentle class in Wheathampstead.

When does the Sandridge yoga class start?

First class: Thursday 4 September, 9.30-10.30. See you there!

 

UPDATE: As of January 2015 this class is being held at All Saints Studios just up the road. Visit the class schedule page for details.

 

Five reasons why yin yoga is, like, the best thing, ever.

A few years ago I went for a job interview at The Life Centre in London. One of the questions I was asked was: “How would you describe yin yoga to a prospective student?” I said I had no idea. I’d heard of it but hadn’t practiced it. Suffice to say, I didn’t get that job.

And now, here I am waxing lyrical about the wonders of yin yoga.

Clare Wener yin yoga Hertfordshire
You may never have heard of yin yoga, or perhaps like me during that interview, you’ve seen it on studio schedules but haven’t ventured any further. You may have been to my monthly Hertfordshire yin yoga workshops but it’s fair to say that it’s a wonderful, nourishing practice. I’m biased, of course, but here are my five reasons why:

1. Yin yoga teaches acceptance

When you’re in a pose for a minimum of five minutes, you can’t push it. If you do, you’ll regret it. So it teaches you to stay where you feel something, but not too much – not trying to inch your forehead closer to your shins in a forward bend. And anyway, over the duration of the pose, your body will open and you’ll naturally go deeper. No pushing, no judgement, just accepting.

2. Yin yoga cultivates a beginners mind

The postures have different names in yin yoga. For example, pigeon pose is called ‘swan’. This encourages us to approach each pose with no hang-ups about how we’d ‘usually’ do the pose in a yoga class.

The mind of the beginner is empty, free of all habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt and open to all possibilities.

Suzuki Roshi


3. Yin yoga creates space

When we sit in a yin pose, we create space in our bodies, in our minds, and in our day-to-day lives. On a physical level, our connective tissue surrounding our joints starts to become more malleable, improving our flexibility.

A reading from Reggie Ray covers this aspect nicely:

Here’s a teaching that Chögyam Trungpa gave that has changed the way a lot of people look at their work lives: learn how to invite space into your worklife. The space itself will actually accomplish most of what you 
need to do. In the form of helpful people turning up, auspicious coincidences… And in so doing, you are not only opening up your self, you are opening up the world. It becomes a dance. It’s no longer your job to sit there for 10 hours doing your thing, it’s to respond to the way the world wants things to happen. It’s de-centralized.

Read the Reggie Ray full article.

This has felt particularly apt for me over the past few weeks. Thank you, world.


4. Yin yoga achieves balance

The weekly grind can get you down. We’re always watching the clock. We’re getting children to school/clubs on time, rushing for the train, keeping our bosses/partners happy, I could go on.

We’re also always on the go when we do finally relax. TV keeps our minds active and we also stay busy when we exercise – going to the gym, running, cycling – or even through more energetic forms of yoga such as ashtanga and vinyasa flow. They all generate heat and get you moving.

This is all great, but we have to make space to be still and surrender.

Yin provides this balance. Being still can be hard but it’s necessary to counter all the busy-ness in our hectic Western lives.

5. Yin yoga is about awareness

When we practice yin yoga, it’s inward focussed. We start to notice sensations within, and naturally you’ll find that you start to watch your mind. We notice our thoughts – whether they’re positive or negative, linked to the past or the future, and whether they’re recurring. It allows us to connect within.

 

So there you go. There’s my five reasons. Perhaps you’ve encountered similar things if you’ve practiced yin yoga. Feel free to leave your observations below.

I teach weekly yin yoga classes at Bermondsey Fayre, London SE1; The Yoga Hall in St Albans; and from 25 February I’ll be starting a weekly class at BAYoga Studio in Berkhamsted. More details on the class schedule page. I also teach monthly yin yoga and yin/yang workshops in Hertfordshire.

 

A mind that is fast is sick

A mind that is slow is sound

A mind that is still is divine.

 

Meher Baba

Sweaty Betties

A few months ago I was asked if I’d like to do an hour of yoga in the new Sweaty Betty St Albans shop on the day of the opening. I didn’t say yes immediately as various thoughts were going through my head. I felt torn and here’s why:

4 reasons AGAINST doing yoga in Sweaty Betty St Albans

1. The practice of yoga is about reducing your ego i.e. that sense of ‘I’ and the self. We associate ourselves with everything that’s about the ego – for example: what we look like, what job we do and how we behave.  By practising aspects of yoga – the physical asana practice, chanting mantras, and doing selfless service (doing things without an expectation of reward) – we are reducing our ego and connecting with our inner nature i.e. who we really are.

Surely doing yoga in the middle of a shop is simply drawing attention to yourself and boosting that sense of self, fuelling the ego.

“Always watch that ego. Control of the mind and annihilation of the ego are the essence of all yoga disciplines.”

Swami Vishnudevananda

2. Linked to this, humility is the greatest quality for a yoga teacher. As a yoga teacher, it’s about passing on the teachings you’ve received in a humble way and your focus is on your students, ensuring you give them your energy and attention.

You could say that ‘performing’ yoga whilst being surrounded by gawping onlookers instead of students isn’t very humble.

3. Sweaty Betty can be seen as commercial. It’s a business – a successful one – and it makes a lot of money. Indeed, I was reading an article the other day about how they’re starting to give Lululemon a run for their money having opened their first stores in the US.

Should yoga be about making money? It’s a debate that’s been had time and time again. The ancient physical practice of yoga postures in India came about as a way of preparing your body for long periods of seated meditation. It’s really only since the West has got hold of yoga that the physical practice has become what it is today and it’s much more commercial as a result.

4. When you practice yoga, it shouldn’t be about what clothes you wear. This has been drilled into me from my Sivananda background where you wear the baggiest clothes ever and anything goes. Branded clothes are yet another way of increasing our sense of ‘self’. What do those clothes say about us?

However, I must say that now that I practice more ashtanga, clothes are much more important. You get pretty hot and you want that sweat to be taken away from your body quickly. I’ve learnt that technical clothes have their benefits.

4 reasons FOR doing yoga in Sweaty Betty St Albans

1. It’s a chance to meet new local yogis. I have my familiar places where I like to practice. It’s a chance to meet other people who are into the same things.

2. Taking me out of my comfort zone, trying something new, practicing in a new location… I might find it challenging in different ways. I might learn something as a result. We can get stuck in a rut with our practice.

3. You get given free clothes. I know, I know, they give you the free clothes so you’ll wear them when you teach and then students will say, “Ooooh that’s nice. Where’s that top/those leggings/jumper from?” But you know, their clothes feel nice, they’re flattering and yes, I like clothes. So shoot me. Ok, don’t really shoot me. That would be violent and yoga isn’t big on that. You can see that I still have some way to go on the whole ego front.

4. Finally, it takes yoga to new audiences. If you saw someone doing sun salutations for the first time, you might stop and watch. You might not have expected to see such a thing whilst you’re having your normal Saturday morning wander around the shops.

It might encourage you to find out more about yoga. It might even make you go to a class.  Yes, it would be great if it was one of my classes but I’d be happy if was any local class.

It’s about raising the profile of yoga. The more people that practice, the more the world will be a happier and healthier place.

And so I did it.

Doing yoga at Sweaty Betty St Albans

Shop front and me in window
How much is that pindasana in the window? The one with the downward-moving tailbone.

From 11-12am on Saturday I found myself on a yoga mat in the window of a shop. It was weird and it was fun.

Sun salutations were interesting as you couldn’t stretch your arms out to the sides as you’d simultaneously hit the glass and take someone’s eye out. At times I felt I was showing the shoppers of St Albans a little too much of my bottom.

I did an hour of ashtanga primary series. In ashtanga there’s talk of ‘drishti’ – where you look during each pose. It might be towards the tip of your nose, your knees, or elsewhere on your body. Also there’s the practice of ‘pratyahara’ – withdrawing your senses and going more inward. I tried to keep both practices in mind during the hour. It was hard.

At one point I noticed an elderly couple standing watching on the pavement. Then there were families with children, and teenagers taking photos on their phones. Drishti… pratyahara… drishti.

I thought about those new audiences. Those new potential yogis in the waiting.

It felt great to share the practice with people who weren’t familiar with it. The staff at the shop were lovely and I was made to feel very welcome. I saw some familiar faces and I met

some new ones too. I was aware of my ego and tried to keep it in check throughout. I was

Urdhva Padmasana - part of the ashtanga finishing sequence
Urdhva Padmasana – part of the ashtanga finishing sequence. Images thanks to Sweaty Betty.

just doing my practice.

I (and my yogi friend April) might even be doing some guest instructor things there next year so keep an eye out.

Would I do yoga in a Sweaty Betty shop window again?

Yes I would. I’m all up for having a bit of fun and trying something new. And you know, if I wasn’t up for trying something new, I’d never be teaching yoga.

 

What do you think about this? Would you have done it or would you have run the other way? All comments are valid…

 

The joys of yin yoga: students’ perspectives

It’s all well and good me saying how great yin yoga is but I thought it would be nice to hear from others to find out what yin means to them. I spoke to a couple of regular students and here’s what they said:

Reclining backbend yin yoga pose
Louise’s favourite yin pose: gentle backbend and hip opener

How would you describe yin yoga to someone who’s never practiced it?

Natalie: Yin yoga is a deeply relaxing yet energising form of yoga that encourages you to really breathe into each pose. Poses are held for around five minutes or so and are mostly seated.

Janet: I would say that it’s relaxing and calming. It realigns your body and soothes your mind. We hold poses for five minutes at a time and you only do what is good for your own body.

Louise: I wasn’t excited ahead of my first yin experience. I love ashtanga and I thought yin sounded a bit dull and easy. Not my sort of thing. I quickly realised why everyone goes on about yin being the perfect complement to ashtanga. And it’s definitely NOT easy. Or dull. I find it challenging yet peaceful. Stretching yet relaxing.

Natalie's favourite yin pose: Butterfly - forward bend, hip opener
Natalie’s favourite yin pose: Butterfly – forward bend, hip opener

Why do you enjoy practicing yin? 

Janet: I’ve got sciatica and I know it helps my back. I feel the benefit throughout the whole week! It helps me to feel relaxed, stretched and soothed.

Louise: I generally struggle to clear my mind and relax. Thoughts and tasks always creep in but yin seems to give me an opportunity to really let go and just be.

Natalie: Firstly I love it as a ‘balancer’ to ashtanga yoga. It is wholly complimentary yet completely different in approach and focus. I feel that with this style of yoga I really begin to understand the enabling power of breathing. I am naturally very ambitious and competitive and find yin makes me stop and reflect on why I am doing yoga in the first place.

After a yin session I feel balanced, relaxed and energised. I find it clears my head and helps me focus. I sleep well afterwards and feel less ‘crunched up’ in my posture.

Favourite yin pose? 

Janet: I’d have to say particularly the twists as they help my back.

Louise: When you sit on a block and then lie back over a bolster. A kind of active bliss!

Natalie: Seated, with legs over the bolster, leaning forward towards my shins. I find it invigorating and can see a real difference in terms of how much my body opens over the five minutes.

Have you practiced yin? Why do you enjoy it? Do you have a favourite pose? Feel free to comment below.

If you’d like to try yin or continue your practice:

  • I’m starting a weekly yin class at The Yoga Hall in St Albans from Thursday 17 October.
  • April and I are next teaching a yin/ashtanga workshop in Harpenden on Saturday 19 October.

    Yin pose: spinal twist
    Janet’s favourite yin pose: spinal twist