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
The gentle yoga class was quieter but always nice to be able to offer a more adapted and therapeutic approach to yoga practice for those who want to start there. Small groups are ideal for this approach to yoga so that we can ensure that it is adapted and suitable for you.
We are pleased to say we raised £163.28 for Off the Record, the local Bristol charity providing free mental health support for young people. Thanks for your donations and the donation jar is there this week for anyone who wants to drop-off a donation who didn't get a chance on Saturday.
It was a lovely chance to collaborate with many of the other independent yoga studios in Bristol too. Our lovely neighbours, Yogawest, who offer the more alignment based Iyengar yoga joined in, Yogafurie who offer hot yoga in Ashley Down, Yogasara and Bristol City Yoga in Stokes Croft, and Flow yoga in Windmill Hill. It is so nice to collaborate with the other 6 studios, work together to share yoga to the broader Bristol community, and raise money for charity. It is great to demonstrate that in this day and age, not everything is competitive or trying to get ahead. We all love yoga and see if as a way to share our love of it with as many people as possible, bring people together and become more integrated with our communities as a collective. Looking forward to the 2018 yoga trail and working with the other yoga studios again to bring that to everyone.
Thanks again for coming and we welcome you back to the YogaSpace studio in Bishopston soon!
1) Listen to your body and be comfortable
Make sure you feel comfortable in all the poses and during breathing or meditation. Adjust to use more blocks in postures or perhaps a chair is a useful support, and talk to the teacher about how to make it comfortable if it isn't. Encourage yourself to take easier alternatives if you are feeling tired or overwhelmed, especially during your third trimester.
2) Take extra care in your practice
If you are a beginner, then this will be easier for you as you'll be approaching the practice with less expectations. But if you are an experienced yoga practitioner, you may need to focus on practicing in a new way, changing old habits of yoga practice, and perhaps even letting go of your favourite pose while your pregnant. Your body is changing, daily, and your postures will need to adapt to this, both in the choice of posture, and in how you do them. Of course you still want to stay strong and supple during your pregnancy to avoid common aches and pains, but be careful to avoid over stretching (see below) or straining.
3) Make space for your baby
Stand with the feet wider than your hips and be careful not to squash your baby-bump or feel any pulling in the abdominal area. Forward bends are still wonderful to practice as long as you keep the legs wider, bend the knees and go as far as feels right for you and feel comfortable doing them. Avoid deep twists in the abdomen, keep any twisting lighter and 'above the bra strap' so your shoulders are twisting comfortably, but not your belly. Consider twisting in ways that leave more space in the belly area. Don't push yourself into anything.
4) Start any time after 13 weeks
The sooner you start, the more benefit you will gain and any time from 14 weeks is a safe time to join in unless advised otherwise. And you can continue all the way through as long as you feel good and keep enjoying the practice.
5) Keep your spine strong and healthy
Keeping your back in great shape will help support you all the way through your pregnancy. Focus on keeping your spine lengthened in asana (postures) and use your 'chin lock' (jalandara bandha) to help keep your spine and back of the neck long. Ask your teacher if your not sure of course!
6) Be careful of over stretching
Your body is producing a hormone called Relaxin during your pregnancy which makes you feel more flexible. You might find you can stretch further than usual, but don't be tempted to take advantage of this extra stretch. Your tendons and ligaments won't thank you later if you stretch too far. Don't stretch 100% in anything, hold back a little and be less ambitiious.
7) Engage your pelvic floor
Great to tone this area to facilitate post natal recovery. On the exhale, think about lifting and engaging your pelvic floor.
8) Avoid straining the abdomen
Approach leg lifting carefully, especially if you feel any pelvis discomfort. Listen to the advice of your mid-wife if you any discomfort in your abdomen or pelvis, it might mean you need special consideration in your yoga practice so talk to your teacher.
9) Choose your class carefully
Your yoga teacher should have specialist pregnancy training, but you don't need a specialist pregnancy class unless you want one. (The British Wheel of Yoga offer a good standard of accreditation for pregnancy yoga training).
A good class should be small enough so that the teacher can adjust the poses to ensure they are suitable as your body will change through each week of your pregnancy.
The class can either be a general class that will adjust the poses for you, or a specialist pregnancy class, whichever you prefer.
If your tired, consider a daytime yoga practice when you have more energy.
If you have special needs, consider a private lesson or two first to give you some guidelines on safe practice.
10) Enjoy the class
Yoga practice should feel enjoyable and leave you feeling energised, revitalised, relaxed and calm. You can keep it up as long as it feels good and doesn't leave you feeling over tired. Enjoy...
See more on yoga classes during pregnancy here.
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With the start of the new women's class at YogaSpace it seemed worth exploring why yoga might benefit from being different for men and women. Especially as most classes are mixed and this usually works really well.
Of course there are some fundamental differences in mens and womens bodies but does it mean that a different class is appropriate?
The answer is of course yes AND no. In an ideal world, we would each have a customised yoga practice taylored to our own bodies, energy and how we feel on any particular day, so a class of 1 would be the most beneficial. But in the practical world, a group class has a lot to offer. Plus its actually rather nice being in a room with others trying to explore the same postures.
In general terms, men are physically stronger than women but typically are stiffer. This of course isn't always the case and there are plenty of strong women and stiff women in the world! Practice of yoga postures helps both body types as each yoga posture will help increase mobility and strength, they would simply be approached differently depending on your body type.
Women do have some physical differences that are unique to them however. They might be pregnant or recovering after pregnancy, they might be menstruating or have hormonal cycles, and they are a different body shape. There is a nurturing approach to yoga which is more appropriate in these situations that while relevant to men aswell, their issues may be different or be related to different cycles.
So this new women's yoga class is a more gentle class, respecting the differences women's bodies might be experiencing, and allowing a space to explore yoga that is more taylored to a woman's body. Of course a men's class would be great to start aswell.
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Chelsea footballers are partial to a bedtime yoga practice to help sleep according to a BBC Radio 4 interview on Women's hour today. To help sleep and aid relaxation, some players have been advised to lie with their legs up the wall, bottom close to the wall, lying on their back, for a few minutes before bed.
Raising the legs above the heart in an inverted position like this is supposed to calm the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing and settling the system to aid relaxation and sleep. It is a restful position (if you find it comfortable and have strong enough legs and back to hold it comfortably for several minutes). Variations of this posture are suggested if you can't relax in this pose.
According the the sleep specialist , it is common to wake up 10-15 times a night anyway, a throw back to when we lived in caves and had to check that all was well with the world and we were not in danger. Women in late-stage pregnancy and new mums will typically wake up twice as much as this, more self-preservation and baby protection taking place it is assumed.
Top tips to improve your chances of getting a good night's sleep included:
- Incorporating a gentle, restful yoga sequence or meditation before bed
- Not keeping a clock in the room that is visible to you, and don't check the time if you do wake up, just try to go back to sleep
- Keep the room slightly cooler than the rest of the house
- Prepare for sleep well, write down and 'to-do's' before getting into bed so you don't worry about them in the night.
Hope this helps!
Founder of YogaSpace,
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