Yoga - the art of moving, breathing, sitting and reconnecting to that sense of grounded perspective and awe. Using the practice to become revitalised yet quietened in body, breath and mind, Quiet enough even, to notice and dwell in that internal spaciousness that was the same yesterday as it was the day before that, and the year before that...
It's quicker than you think
All it takes is some simple movements, attention turned towards the breath, and bringing a steadiness and calmness through intentional focus. Then space to sit and be still for a moment. Like any skill, there is a learning curve to establishing the necessary skills and understanding of what you are doing. A practice that suits you and works for you might take a bit of exploration and discovery (this is where a teacher is very helpful). But it's certainly worth the effort.
Daily yoga practice doesn't need to be hot, vigorous or sweaty. It doesn't need to be acrobatic, complicated or impressive. It doesn't require flexibility or strength. It doesn't need to be on a yoga mat and lycra is definitely not required, PJs are perfect.
I find it truly remarkable how little it takes to feel like I'm thriving again (after another tiring day of home schooling, therapeutic parenting, an onslaught of bad news from the media, and restrictions on day to day living). Of course if you enjoy making it tough, sweaty, vigorous, or otherwise, then that is great and the benefits will speak for themselves. But there is also a much simpler and more accessible alternative that can be discovered. if that will suit you better.
Home yoga practice videos coming soon
I'll be posting some home practice yoga videos online soon to support some simple home practices that you might find helpful. A yoga class is of course great - it helps you learn the skills and techniques that are time tested to work and gives you a longer practice and more time than you'd likely dedicate to yourself on a daily basis. Yoga classes also get you learning from a teacher who has been where you are and can guide you more skillfully (as long as the teacher has the opportunity to get to know you and your practice and aims). But I'd encourage anyone who is interested to take up a short daily yoga practice too. 10 minutes can truly work wonders. Or join in my yoga classes and there is a home practice handout each term based on what you've learned to help get you started with your own home yoga practice.
Please don't be fooled by the Instagram/media yoga-hype --- it simply doesn't have to be that complicated or hard, it doesn't have to take ages, and no, you don't need to balance on your hands / head at any point.
Check back soon or join the mailing list for updates on videos coming soon (once the home-schooling gaps permit).
The new normal for yoga classes over the next few months is live streaming video.
There are advantages to this:
- you can wear your PJs if you like
There are disadvantages to this:
- we don't get to chat as much, although there is still chat before and after the practice time
We are figuring this out as we go and are excited to continue meeting and sharing yoga with you and providing much needed yoga practice and support during rapidly changeable times.
How it works
It is actually easier than I thought it would be
1) You book into a class either via our online booking system or MoveGB, ideally at least 30 mins before the class begins.
2) Set up a home practice space - somewhere warm and quiet if possible where you'll be undisturbed. Set up your computer, tablet or smartphone where you can see the screen and hear me.
3) You're sent a link straight away once you've booked via our online booking system. The link is active 15 mins before the class start. Check your spam folder if you don't receive the link. MoveGB members will receive the link when they 'check-in'.
4) Click on the link you've been sent and join in the class. :-)
5) Enjoy your practice.
Here is more detailed information. And we are happy to help if you need support getting you up and running.
You’ll need a laptop, computer, tablet or smart phone to join this online class.
If you plan to use a tablet or phone, we recommend downloading the App in advance via your App store.
You’ll receive a Zoom link for this class once you’ve completed your booking which can be used up to 15 minutes before the class start time.
Visit the link 10 minutes ahead of time for your first class. There is a very quick and straightforward download to join in and then you can set up and relax before the class begins.
Check your spam folder if you don't receive the link.
When you join, you can choose to have video switched on or off. We'd prefer it switched on so we can see you and support your practice and offer suggestions, but you are equally welcome to have it turned off if you prefer. If your video is switched on, just like at YogaSpace, everyone will be able to see you - except you'll be a very small thumbnail video.
Once you arrive in the virtual studio, make sure that is your main view and not all of the thumbnail videos of the attendees. If it isn't by default, scroll or select the virtual studio and click on the three dots to 'pin' the teacher and make them full screen.
Once your in if you want to chat to the teacher, there is an option to 'raise your hand' next to your profile which we will see, and we can unmute you so that you can chat to us or we can chat via typing too.
If you need additional help, we’d be happy to talk you through your first set up earlier in the day or prior to the class.
Yoga practice at home - top tips
We are learning as we go given the sudden change in situation so any feedback or suggestions for improvements is very gratefully received.
We look forward to seeing you online soon.
2 metres apart - 9 max per class
We are limiting class sizes to 9 participants so that there is at least 2 metres distance between heads in the class. Arrive early and avoid lingering in reception too long to maintain your distance. The side room is also available to head towards and leave your belongings to provide more space.
Bring your own mat or towel
Bring along your own mat or towel to lay over ours. Ours are cleaned before each use with sanitizer but lets maintain caution.
Adjusting the practices slightly
- We are not adjusting using our hands or walking around in between people to maintain the social distancing recommendations.
- We are avoiding any poses that are face down on the mats and not recommending anything that involves touching the face.
Paper towels and wipes
We're using disposable paper towels to encourage hand washing and avoid communal towels.
Cleaning the studio and wiping everything
After every class all door handles, taps etc. are all wipes down with sanitizer which as far as we know kills the virus.
Looking into online class offerings
Watch this space. But we might be able to offer some classes live online so if you are self isolating, then you can still maintain some practice. .
What you can do to help
Check the website before coming in case the class has been cancelled. If the teacher feels unwell or anyone in their house does, they won't run the class.
Arrive 10 minutes early to settle in, wash hands etc.
Wash your hands before and after class
Avoid touching your face
Please don't come if you have a cough or temperature or are living with someone who is
Keep up your yoga practice
Maintaining equanimity during times of difficulty is so important and helpful not only to you but to those around you. Staying grounded, maintaining a connection to the wider perspective, knowing that this will pass, and tending to the seeds of worry that can grow out of proportion if we don't also tend to the seeds of calm and steadiness.
If I can be of any help please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Please bring along your own mat or towel
Given the need to be proactive and sensible in our response to the current corona virus outbreak, I'm recommending that if possible, please bring along your own yoga mat or a towel to lay down over the yoga studio mat where your head will be placed.
Avoiding close contact sharing could be either over cautious, or helpful in inhibiting the spread of the virus so let's err on the side of caution.
It will also help you relax in your yoga practice and place your awareness more effectively.
~ If you feel unwell, have a temperature or cough, please avoid coming to class. (We will ensure that any missed classes can be made up at a later date, we would rather you were cautious.)
~ Wash your hands before and after class.
~ Wipe down your mat when you get home.
We do clean the mats and the studio regularly and thoroughly and will be stepping up our efforts here.
In the meantime, keep moving, keep breathing, keep calm and carry on.
YogaSpace raised £228.41 (updated 22nd October) grand total of the Trail to be announced soon - all to support young people's mental health. And we had a really inspiring day talking with you about how yoga can help and how the Viniyoga approach to yoga practice ensures there is always a way to find a yoga practice that suits you, even when you don't even remotely resemble a bendy, lycra clad person doing a pretzel pose!
Thanks for coming and and joining in, and we look forward to welcoming you back to YogaSpace in Bishopston soon! xx
Yoga is a set of practices but also, it is an area of study. The practices that we embody - the movements and postures, the breath and the meditative supports - can be wonderful to simply experience and do. No prior knowledge needed. But as your experience and understanding develops the richer it becomes, As an adjunct to the practices is the understanding, the context and the wider practices of yoga, which are rooted in a rich, broad, deep and ancient tradition. Not something you get to grips with in a group class generally (try one of my Bristol-based yoga workshops or Foundation Courses to find out more about this).
The Association of Yoga Studies (AYS) of which I'm a teaching member, is a viniyoga community that meets every year and comes together for a weekend of wonderful yoga workshops. This weekend just past was our annual convention with an inspiring theme on Yoga and Music led by Ravi Shankar and Sheela Shankar from India. They are both long-time yoga scholars trained directly by Desikachar and Sheela is an accomplished classical Indian singer. They shared the most beautiful and subtle approach to yoga practice through sound, song, chant and ancient Vedic poetry. Sheela delightfully performed songs for us and then led us skillfully in ancient chanting practices. While Ravi gave us eloquent context and history around the chants that we practiced.
As always with the teaching conventions, I've come away inspired to explore these subtle practices in my personal practice and feel re-rooted in the tradition of yoga. It is such a privilege to be welcomed into this warm and generous community all brought together by the legacy of the humble, honest and rigorous teachings of TKV Desikachar.
What I love about the teachings in this weekend's community, is that your never more than a breath away from a reference to the Yoga Sutras or the Vedas. The ancient traditions are maintained with a thread of understanding that is brilliantly woven through the workshops and brought to life through the teacher. The interpretation of yoga hasn't been recycled so many times without reference to the original teachings, that it is barely recognisable as yoga at all (as is common in many modern yoga teaching approaches). Refreshing, inspiring, grounding and beautiful.
Chanting sublimely embodies a timelessness that is hard to find in other yoga practices. The chanting of a song that was written millennia ago, chanted to the same clear, strict rules which means it sounded the same then as it does now (if your teacher is as skilled as Sheela Shankar) bringing you to the exact same point as the people who chanted it before you, The sounds, the breath and focus required to maintain the ability to chant in Sanskrit, the acute listening and heightened senses, the connection to that which is timeless, And the awareness that of course life hasn't changed that much. The outward appearance and experience is unrecognisable, but our internal experience is still on the same path and these teachings which were so valuable then, are still available to help make life and living better. Love it!!
Perhaps an ache will reduce, perhaps a tension habit will subside, perhaps the sleep will start to improve, or you'll be less moody. Perhaps your chores will feel more pleasurable, or you'll be more present with your kids or colleagues. Perhaps you'll be more patient or open to other people's ideas, perhaps you'll be a little kinder - It shows up in many ways.
But the other can also be true. The prep may feel GREAT. The practice might be fully satisfying, and you want more prep. You might feel like you are becoming a fantastic chef and your prep is awesome. You practice more, you love it, you find your tribe and you're into it, BUT you don't notice the meal.
Life beyond the practice is the important bit - how the prep leaves you. Do you feel tired? Are you getting a repetitive strain or grumbling discomfort in your body that wasn't there before? Are you agitated or judgemental, impatient or aggressive etc. How is your ego handling all of this awesome prep and how great you have been feeling lately? How are your relationships with those around you? Subtle results that are important revelations to the results of our practice. Being vigilant to the sidetracking towards the glitter of the prep, rather than the meal itself and how it shows up in you in subtle ways, is a consideration when practicing yoga.
What I love about yoga practice is that the more consistent and appropriate prep you do, the better the meal - the better the rest of your life feels. This builds day-on-day, week-on-week, year-on-year. And occasionally in our prep, we get to taste a sublime flavour that stays with us far beyond the yoga mat.
Regular, consistent, appropriate prep, regular consistent practice, to bring into the rest of your life.
Appreciate what you have
Take time to appreciate what you already have and not get too caught up in high expectations for the holidays. Enjoy what comes your way, and find abundance in each moment. Notice the simple things that you take for granted and marvel at how amazing they all are!
Try some home yoga practice
A great time to commit to a short daily yoga practice, even if it is only one pose, or sitting and taking 12 steady, slow breaths.
Sanctuary in a book
Find sanctuary in a contemplative book, even if only for 5 minutes a day.
Be in nature
Spend some time with nature. If that isn't possible, spend a few minutes each day gazing at a tree or plant.
Treat yourself - mindfully
Treat yourself, but try and do it mindfully so that you really enjoy it and will remember it later on and so enjoy it again when you think of it!
Do a kind action every day for no particular reason. Share some joy with others in your local community, or do something kind for yourself. Random acts of kindness, even if only a smile to someone you don't know.
Here's to wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a joyful and healthy new year. x
Free yoga to raise money for charity!
We are delighted that we had another successful Open Day with the other independent yoga studios in Bristol as part of the Bristol Yoga Trail. Together we all raised a whopping £943.59 for charity, all going directly to OTR (Off the Record) supporting young people's mental health. Each £10 raised equals a counselling session for a young person and we are so pleased to be able to support such a good and worthwhile cause.
Thanks to everyone who came along to our free yoga classes. From the 8:30am Saturday morning yoga class, to the pregnancy yoga and the viniyoga classes, everyone seemed to have a lovely day and we certainly enjoyed meeting so many new faces and beginners to yoga. Gloucester Road in Bishopston was buzzing and the balloons from our studio and Yogawest next door made a gloomy day into something quite delightful.
Don't forget to use your discount vouchers and come back and visit us again soon! x