What goes on in a Soulful Yoga class?
Thinking about joining a yoga class but not sure what to expect?
I thought it would be good to explain a bit about my classes so you can have a better idea of what goes on.
I always start my classes with at least 5 minutes of tuning in. This is time to let go of everything that’s come before in the day and all that may come after the class and enter in to the present moment. We spend a few moments bringing our attention inwards and get used to being aware of our bodies, breath and energy. To practice yoga effectively it’s vital that we have awareness of and attention on our bodies and not be off lost in thoughts about other things. From this place of presence we are able to listen to ourselves and move in a way that is beneficial and won’t do us harm, we are also able to pick up on the more subtle messages from our bodies that can lead to big insights in our practice.
During this tuning in time we will often use some conscious, gentle breathing techniques to ground us and help us to settle in to our resting state. Yoga and meditation are wonderful tools for taking us out of stressful states and settling us in our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), the rest and digest state the is so vital to a peaceful, happy existence. These initial quiet, calming moments at the beginning of a class help to activate our PNS and set us well on the way to reaching that mindful, calm headspace.
Next we begin the asana part of our class (asana is the sanskrit word for the physical yoga postures). Generally we start slow with a series of postures to warm and wake up the body. I love this part of the class because it gives us a chance to move with awareness and learn how to hold our attention on particular body parts. It can be surprising how little awareness or time we give to our bodies in day to day life and simply becoming aware of our bodies can have transformative effects on our lives.
Once we’ve warmed up we move into a series of postures to help us explore the theme of the class. I love to bring in a bit of gentle vinyasa (flow) and a healthy dose of balance to counteract the movement with some much needed stillness. All of this is aimed at being accessible to all people with all different experience and fitness levels. Variations of postures are given where necessary so you can meet yourself in whatever place your at on the day and give yourself exactly what you need in that moment.
To finish the physical part of our class we usually come down to the ground to wind down. Here we may hold postures for a little longer and explore our bodies with a little yin flavour. Bringing some sumptuous, calming stretches in at the end is a lovely way to finish our practice and help us to get ready for our shavasana relaxation.
Last but not least is 15 minutes of yoga nidra. Yoga nidra or yogic sleep is the ultimate in rest and relaxation. During this guided meditation style practice we move through the different levels of our being, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual to bring in deep relaxation and let go of any tensions. Nidra is practiced laying down and is a beautiful way to end a yoga class, giving our bodies time to integrate the work done during the physical postures. When practiced regularly yoga nidra can have profound beneficial effects on our lives.
In each of my classes we explore different themes, using our yoga pratice to gain greater understanding and exploration of ourselves and life in general. Generally we will stick with a theme for 2 weeks to a month and through out this time the series of postures practiced in class will be similar each week. This gives us time to really learn, understand and embody the postures but a slight amount of variation in the series keeps it interesting and fresh and helps us to explore the theme from different angles.
My classes are traditional Hatha style yoga but I am also hugely influenced by my teacher Swami Atma Gyanam Saraswati and his Bhava yoga approach. Bhava is all about the feeling of each posture and embodying each posture on all levels to gain greater insights and understanding of ourselves and the asanas. One of my favourite examples of this is in downward facing dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana, to bring the bhava of this pose in one must conjure the image of a dog stretching and embody that feeling. Delicious, long, dynamic backbend, bum heading up to the sky and really enjoying stretching out and sinking in to this shape. You can’t help but feel good and enjoy it so much more when you bring to mind this image, dogs clearly feel great when they stretch like this and to embody that is to feel great too. I love to bring these ideas in to my classes and add an exrta dimension to the postures.
Currently All my classes are recorded (me only, not the students taking part) and are available on catch up if you can’t make the live time.
Much love beauties x