According to a news article last week on the BBC, one in five schools now teach yoga as part of the physical education provision.
There is a current trend is for schools to move away slightly from more traditional, competitive sports. Yoga can help students get the physical benefits of getting active and moving the body, improving their posture and physical strength. And also they could learn useful skills to help them develop better concentration, keep them de-stressed and able to handle life-stresses and exams better, and be more in touch with themselves during adolescent change.
Yoga can be great both as a group class where they take a yoga practice as a PE class, but also shorter practices can be used less formally. For example teachers can start off a class with some focusing work such as a short stretch or chant to help settle the class and get them focused on the lesson ahead. Lots of useful possibilities!
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It is that time of year again. We're back from holidays, feeling pretty chilled out, and facing an Autumn of work with shorter days and dipping temperatures. There is a need to try and keep the summer-time relaxed feeling for as long as possible while the warm weather lasts.
The yoga courses starting next week at YogaSpace try to encourage that feel-good feeling with regular yoga practice and even personal home practice for those who are interested (my students often take home handouts with little stick men in yoga poses offering a short 15 minutes yoga session to try at home - not homework, and by no means compulsory!).
Nothing beats a regular yoga practice for helping you feel good. The once-a-week de-stress in a group class is great, but keeping it up and taking even 10 minutes a day can really help cultivate that feel-good-feeling all through the week. All you need is a space on your carpet in a quiet part of your home and an uninterrupted 10 minutes (hard for some I know!). But an investment worth making.
Morning stretch anyone!
Finding a yoga class or yoga practice that suits you is a fine art and finding a range of postures that are right for you can depend on what you are looking for from yoga.
Some yoga postures are physically demanding, and some are completely inaccessible to many, but even postures that are relatively easy to get into initially, can actually be some of the toughest.
This yoga postures website www.santosha.com lists a range of postures and then grades them based on how hard it thinks they are. Interestingly it gives 'Savasana' the corpse or lying relaxtion pose the easiest grade. I At first glance you could easily agree with this rating, surely you just have to lie there? However I regularly see students in my yoga classes struggling with this pose. It is a personal challenge to many to actually lie and relax, close the eyes and keep the mind attentive while the body releases onto the mat. People can fall asleep in a class in this posture, indicating that they are over-tired rather than able to relax the body. Or they find it hard to close the eyes or feel comfortable lying face up. Or their back bothers them and they don't find it relaxing. Or they just can't let go of the tension in their shoulders and hips. It is a tough posture in many ways, and the stillness of the mind, one of the goals of yoga, is challenged here as the body isn't moving to provide focus and distraction.
Postures, or asana as yoga terms them, can be deceptively difficult, and getting into them is only the very first step of practicing yoga. Deepening the work in the more 'simple' postures, advancing your work in a seemingly straightforward asana rather than trying more advanced asana in a physical way can often lead to much greater rewards.
So finding a class with advanced postures isn't always the way to develop your own yoga practice. Advancing your work in the primary yoga postures is a good approach for many practitioners rather than reaching for the headstand. And it is this basis which makes yoga accessible to everyone, not just those who are super bendy or super strong!
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Founder of YogaSpace,
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