Lifting + Floating: The Art of Transitions

triyoga SHOrEDITCH Workshop - friday NOVEMBER 17th 2017 (7.30-9.30pm)

I remember my first Ashtanga class vividly....particularly the point at which the teacher, Nick, instructed everyone to 'lift up and jump back'. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about - and when he came over to explain the movement to me I was even more nonplussed. Surely this was an impossible ask...try as I might I couldn't get my sit bones more than a fraction of an inch off the floor and there was absolutely no way that my legs were going to get through my arms. Thankfully Nick was a good teacher and over the next weeks he explained the mechanics and principles behind this seemingly impossible movement. Intrigued, I practiced relentlessly for months and little by little the movement began to feel somewhat more possible - although it took many more months of focussed practice before I achieved 'lift off' and many more still before I made it back to chaturanga. 

Since that initial encounter, the 'floating vinyasa' has become an aspect of the practice that l truly love and I've been fortunate enough to practice with many masterful exponents of asana whose grace and control in floating transitions I can only dream of matching. Along the way I've picked up many tips, techniques and practices that can help to develop the strength and control to 'lift up and jump back' or to float from down dog through to a seated position. I'm looking forward to sharing these at my triyoga Shoreditch workshop on 17th November. We'll look at various approaches to each transition (i.e. floating forwards and backwards from both standing and seated positions), progressing from basic options to more challenging variations - there will be options for all levels of experience. 

I'd love to promise that after 2 hours you'll be floating through your practice like David Swenson but unfortunately yoga doesn't really work like that. However I can promise that you'll leave the workshop with an understanding of the techniques behind these movements and with some simple practices that you'll be able to take back to your mat and work with over time...if you stick with them you'll be floating before you know it! 

The workshop is on Friday 17th November 2017, 7.30-9.30pm at triyoga's new Shoreditch studio and is priced at £25. Booking is via the triyoga website.

yoga for rest, relaxation and recuperation...

It’s probably safe to say that for many of us January isn’t the most enjoyable month of the year.

The fun of Christmas has faded into memory, bank accounts are stretched to breaking point and the weather (at least here in the UK) tends to be less than wonderful…cold, damp and drizzly.

This dip in temperatures often brings with it colds, sniffles and other unpleasant ailments that can leave us feeling depleted and low. At times like this taking a yoga practice can feel beyond us – especially if we’re used to taking a relatively dynamic approach to our practice.

However, if practiced with the right approach and intention, yoga practice can be a wonderful tonic when we’re feeling unwell – providing an opportunity for relaxation, firing up our parasympathetic nervous system and helping to give our immune system a little boost.

My own start to 2016 was somewhat spluttery, having been struck down with a nasty virus just before the New Year - and so for a few weeks I took a somewhat different approach to my practice. Vinyasas, most standing poses and hand balances (and even down dog) were replaced by a greater emphasis on seated postures, longer holds and liberal use of blocks and bolsters. You might call it a more yin or restorative approach, but I'd hesitate to label it as either...it's simply an approach that worked for me.

So if you’re feeling a little under the weather, perhaps try the sequence below – I certainly felt it helped me. (N.B. If you’re working with any injuries or medical conditions it’s always wise to consult a doctor before practicing yoga and to work with an experienced yoga teacher!)

I’ve provided suggestions for how long to hold each pose – but work with what feels comfortable and appropriate for you. Enjoy spending time in each posture, becoming curious about the sensations present and exploring those sensations with the breath - use this time as an opportunity to relax, release any unnecessary tension and recharge your energy levels.

And if you have any other poses, suggestions or approaches to yoga practice that help when you’re feeling unwell, please add your comments below…

Sukhasana forward fold: 15 – 20 breaths each side Take a simple cross-legged posture and fold forward from the hips, resting your forehead on the floor or onto a pillow or bolster (as pictured here). If the hips are a little tight you can sit up on a prop to help find a greater sense of release.

Sukhasana forward fold: 15 – 20 breaths each side

Take a simple cross-legged posture and fold forward from the hips, resting your forehead on the floor or onto a pillow or bolster (as pictured here). If the hips are a little tight you can sit up on a prop to help find a greater sense of release.

Pelvic tilts: 10 rounds, working with breath Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor. As you inhale gently press the tailbone down into the mat to arch the lower back away from the floor. As you exhale flatten and spread the lower back into the earth, taking a slight tuck of the tailbone towards the back of the knees. It’s a subtle movement that gently mobilises the pelvis.

Pelvic tilts: 10 rounds, working with breath

Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor. As you inhale gently press the tailbone down into the mat to arch the lower back away from the floor. As you exhale flatten and spread the lower back into the earth, taking a slight tuck of the tailbone towards the back of the knees. It’s a subtle movement that gently mobilises the pelvis.

Apanasana: 8 – 10 breaths Draw your knees into the chest and take a gentle squeeze around the shins. You might like to add a gentle rock from side to side to massage out the lower back.

Apanasana: 8 – 10 breaths

Draw your knees into the chest and take a gentle squeeze around the shins. You might like to add a gentle rock from side to side to massage out the lower back.

Reclining twist: 10 breaths to each side From Apanasana return the soles of the feet to the earth with the knees bent. Shift the hips a few inches to the right and drop the knees down to the left. You can look up to the sky or over your right shoulder. If the knees are floating in air you can take a bolster underneath your thighs – find a place that allows you to keep both shoulders in contact with the earth. On an exhalation bring your knees back to centre and then take to the second side.

Reclining twist: 10 breaths to each side

From Apanasana return the soles of the feet to the earth with the knees bent. Shift the hips a few inches to the right and drop the knees down to the left. You can look up to the sky or over your right shoulder. If the knees are floating in air you can take a bolster underneath your thighs – find a place that allows you to keep both shoulders in contact with the earth. On an exhalation bring your knees back to centre and then take to the second side.

Low lunge (Anjaneyasana): 8 – 10 breaths each side Take a lunge position with the back knee released to the earth - resting on the bottom end of the femur rather than on the top of the kneecap (if the knee is sensitive double up the mat or use a blanket). Make sure that the front knee stays stacked over the front ankle, in line with your centre toes . Draw back on the fingertips and open your chest forward, breathing into the stretch through the front of your left groin. Take to both sides.

Low lunge (Anjaneyasana): 8 – 10 breaths each side

Take a lunge position with the back knee released to the earth - resting on the bottom end of the femur rather than on the top of the kneecap (if the knee is sensitive double up the mat or use a blanket). Make sure that the front knee stays stacked over the front ankle, in line with your centre toes . Draw back on the fingertips and open your chest forward, breathing into the stretch through the front of your left groin. Take to both sides.

If little cat friends decide to join you, welcome them. :)

If little cat friends decide to join you, welcome them. :)

Supported forward fold (Paschimottanasana): 10 – 20 breaths From a seated position, extend both legs out in front of you – you might choose to sit on a block to help release the pelvis and deepen the fold from the hips. Rest a bolster on your legs and fold forward, resting your torso along the length of the bolster.

Supported forward fold (Paschimottanasana): 10 – 20 breaths

From a seated position, extend both legs out in front of you – you might choose to sit on a block to help release the pelvis and deepen the fold from the hips. Rest a bolster on your legs and fold forward, resting your torso along the length of the bolster.

Supported wide legged forward fold (Upavistha Konasana): 10 - 20 breaths take the legs as wide as feels comfortable and use as many bolsters as necessary to support the posture with comfort and ease. the intention isn't to take the deepest expression of the pose but to find a place that enables a sense of release and relaxation.

Supported wide legged forward fold (Upavistha Konasana): 10 - 20 breaths

take the legs as wide as feels comfortable and use as many bolsters as necessary to support the posture with comfort and ease. the intention isn't to take the deepest expression of the pose but to find a place that enables a sense of release and relaxation.

Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana): 10 breaths each side. N.B. if you are working with any knee pain it’s best to avoid this posture unless you’re working with an experienced yoga teacher who can help you to modify appropriately. Take your left knee onto the floor behind your left wrist and shift the left foot to the right side of the mat (so that your heel is in front of the right groin) – keep the left foot active so that the top of the foot / little toe edge of the foot is gently rooting down into the mat. If your left sit bone is raised away from the floor slide a prop underneath it. Walk the right foot back in space to lengthen the pose, draw back on your fingers to extend through the spine and then release into a forward fold, resting your forehead on the earth or on top of a bolster. After 10 breaths come up and take the second side.

Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana): 10 breaths each side.

N.B. if you are working with any knee pain it’s best to avoid this posture unless you’re working with an experienced yoga teacher who can help you to modify appropriately.

Take your left knee onto the floor behind your left wrist and shift the left foot to the right side of the mat (so that your heel is in front of the right groin) – keep the left foot active so that the top of the foot / little toe edge of the foot is gently rooting down into the mat. If your left sit bone is raised away from the floor slide a prop underneath it. Walk the right foot back in space to lengthen the pose, draw back on your fingers to extend through the spine and then release into a forward fold, resting your forehead on the earth or on top of a bolster. After 10 breaths come up and take the second side.

Kurmasana: 15 - 20 breaths Take the outer edges of your feet together to create a diamond shape with your legs (with your heels about a foot and a half in front of your pelvis). Fold forward, gently rounding your back to bring your forehead over your insteps (maybe resting your forehead on your feet or on a bolster).

Kurmasana: 15 - 20 breaths

Take the outer edges of your feet together to create a diamond shape with your legs (with your heels about a foot and a half in front of your pelvis). Fold forward, gently rounding your back to bring your forehead over your insteps (maybe resting your forehead on your feet or on a bolster).

Reclining twist: 10 breaths to each side As above.

Reclining twist: 10 breaths to each side

As above.

Supported back bend: 20 - 30 breaths Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Raise your pelvis away from the floor and slide a bolster underneath the back of your pelvis (i.e. the flat bony part – not the lower back). Encourage a sense of release and relaxation through the arms and shoulders, keeping the back of the neck long.

Supported back bend: 20 - 30 breaths

Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Raise your pelvis away from the floor and slide a bolster underneath the back of your pelvis (i.e. the flat bony part – not the lower back). Encourage a sense of release and relaxation through the arms and shoulders, keeping the back of the neck long.

Savasana: 5 – 10 minutes Lying on your back, open the palms to the sky with your arms resting either side of your body. Extend and relax the legs, allowing the feet to drop to either side. Bending the knees slightly and sliding a bolster underneath them helps to release the lower back. Keep the back of the neck long and allow the breath to become soft and natural. Encourage the mind to stay focused on body and breath – if it takes a little detour, gently walk it back to the movements of the breath and to the sensations present through the body. 

Savasana: 5 – 10 minutes

Lying on your back, open the palms to the sky with your arms resting either side of your body. Extend and relax the legs, allowing the feet to drop to either side. Bending the knees slightly and sliding a bolster underneath them helps to release the lower back. Keep the back of the neck long and allow the breath to become soft and natural. Encourage the mind to stay focused on body and breath – if it takes a little detour, gently walk it back to the movements of the breath and to the sensations present through the body. 

From Competitivess To Creating Freedom

I can't do this...I'm ok with that

I can't do this...I'm ok with that

Have you ever caught yourself gritting your teeth in angst as someone in yoga class effortlessly slides into the splits, or gracefully lifts themselves into a handstand? Or have you ever noticed a sense of smugness creep in as you take an Insta-worthy Bakasana whilst the person next to you performs a spectacular nose dive into their mat? You're probably not alone...

Recently I was asked by one of my students. "How can I avoid feeling competitive in class?". I thought it was a brilliant question and so I wanted to share some thoughts about it below...

I'm sure many of us have heard it said that one of the great things about yoga is that there's no competition (despite those curious yoga competitions that are starting to crop up - have you read Hell Bent?). But really, how true is this, or can this ever be, when we live in a culture that's built on the foundations of striving to be the best, the winner, number 1? Competition is an inherent part of our culture and environment, of our genetic make up even, and so how realistic is it to expect someone to relinquish this impulse the moment they step foot into a yoga studio? In fact it could be the case that the oft repeated assertion that there is no competition in yoga could be making us feel even worse about ourselves by setting up an unrealistic set of expectations (and making us feel that we're 'bad' yogis for feeling competitive). Indeed, it's not competitiveness (an abstract concept) in itself that's bad, but the way we reflect it back at ourselves (for example, to give ourselves a hard time) and the way it can make us feel (shitty or superior). Competitiveness is a fundamental human characteristic and, for me at least, yoga practice should be about becoming a more embodied human being (Patanjali would perhaps beg to differ). 

I'm sure that if most of us were honest with ourselves, we'll admit to being competitive in yoga class on the odd occasion. The great news is that this doesn't make us bad yogis (at least not in my book). For me, one of the most powerful benefits of yoga practice is that it helps us to uncover our conditioned patterns of behaviour and thought (often referred to as samskaras in yogic parlance).

These conditioned patterns of behaviour will, more often than not, manifest in the way we approach our yoga practice. If we're used to striving, straining and struggling to be the best, then it's likely we'll encounter similar behaviours in our practice. If we tend to be lethargic, or full of energy, or a risk taker, or if we like to give ourselves a hard time...each of these patterns will probably manifest in some way.

Often we remain oblivious to these patterns even though they can exert a strongly negative influence on our lives. For example, striving for success at the expense of others can be a path to alienation, and constantly giving ourselves a hard time can be truly debilitating. But when we practice asana or meditation, we're presented with a really valuable opportunity to recognise and explore our patterns of behaviour and thought. This is a wonderful gift of the practice because when we become consciously aware of something, the power that it exerts over us tends to weaken. To paraphrase my meditation teacher, Martin Aylward, our practice then becomes a 'practice of creating freedom by becoming aware of the ways in which we're trapped'. In this way, whatever arises in our practice can be used as a doorway for exploration and liberation.

So the next time you catch yourself feeling competitive in your yoga practice, rather than giving yourself a hard time, perhaps use it as an opportunity for enquiry. Recognise that this is a very natural, very human behaviour and then shift your awareness and attention away from your thoughts and the story they're painting and into your body, noticing what sensations are present at that moment and meeting them with a friendly curiosity. Notice where theses sensations can be felt and how they shift and change...holding them in awareness without judging or labelling them. 

It's amazing what a liberating and powerful experience this simple technique can be. It helps to free us from the tyranny of negative internal dialogue and allows us to show some kindness to ourselves (and others) by recognising our very human behaviours and patterns for what they are. And it helps us to become more accepting of ourselves and our practice - complete and whole just as we are. In this way, we can use our practice to enrich and nourish us, allowing us to become more fully embodied and present to our everyday experiences - rather than as another stick to beat ourselves with.

YOGA CLASS in Waterloo

Every Tuesday 6:30-7:45pm

CLASS DESCRIPTION

These weekly classes offer a dynamic practice to strengthen, open and bring balance, along with a mindful approach to improve wellbeing and invigorate body and mind. 

Everyone is welcome, from beginners through to those with more experience. Postures will build step by step and be tailored to suit individual needs with modifications or variations.

WHERE: 

PLEASE NOTE THAT FROM 07 NOVEMBER 2017 THE VENUE FOR THESE CLASSES WILL MOVE TO: ST.JOHN'S CHURCH, WATERLOO ROAD, SE1 8TY (see location on a map)

  • 2 mins walk from Waterloo Station (Jubilee, Northern, Bakerloo lines and mainline rail)
  • 2 mins from Waterloo East Station
  • 5 mins walk from Southwark tube station (Jubilee line)
  • 14mins walk from Embankment tube station (Bakerloo, Northerm, Circle and District lines)

PLEASE USE THE DOOR TO THE FAR LEFT AS YOU FACE THE CHURCH AND PRESS BUZZER NUMBER 5 ON ARRIVAL.

  • Once you've been buzzed in, walk down the stairs past the toilets and through a set of doors.
  • Turn left to walk through a common area with offices and then through a second set of doors.
  • Continue to the end of the corridor and turn left again - our room is on the right. 

IF YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS LOCATING THE VENUE OR THE ROOM PLEASE CALL MATT ON 07956 905 583. 

 PRICING: 

  • Drop-in: £12
  • Monthly pass: £50 for 5 weeks or £40 for 4 weeks (determined by number of Tuesdays in a month - payment before the class, cash/cheque accepted)

 BEFORE YOUR FIRST CLASS: 

Health form: We ask that you complete a health form before your first class. Please download from here and email to openhouseyoga@gmail.com or bring the completed form to class. Alternatively, please arrive 10 minutes early to your first class. 

 FURTHER QUESTIONS?: 

We look forward to seeing you in class soon and in the meantime if you have any further questions or if you are pregnant or have any health conditions that you would like to discuss please get in touch.

5 Tips To Mastering Arm Balances

Eka Pada Bakasana - a personal favourite!

Eka Pada Bakasana - a personal favourite!

Confession: I love arm balances. To me they bring a wonderfully fun and playful quality to our yoga practice. They also invite us to undertake a curious exploration of our perceived boundaries, patterns and possibilities - fear, striving, exhilaration and frustration may all arise, and can be held with friendly awareness. In fact they're a significant reason as to why I fell in love with the practice in the first place - my first teacher was a big believer in including arm balances in every class and I loved the challenge that they presented, even though I was rarely able to hold the poses for long (if at all). 

Over the years of practicing yoga I have increasingly come to appreciate that arm balances are not simply (or even primarily) a question of strength. Of course a degree of strength is involved (as it is with any asana) - but the practice of arm balances is really more a question of refined technique. 

So...to help you take your arm balance practice to the next level, I have outlined below 5 key principles for safely exploring these wonderful poses. 

1. Use your hands as feet

Most 'arm balances' (with some notable exceptions such as Pincha Mayurasana) are in fact 'hand balances'. So, it's critical that we build the foundations through our hands correctly by activating our 'hasta bandha' (hand lock or seal). It's exactly the same principle we take when creating a stable foundation in standing poses - but using our hands instead of our feet. 

To do this spread your fingers wide with your index fingers pointing forward and focus on rooting the index fingers, thumbs and little finger sides of the hands into the mat. Gently grip the floor with your fingertips and notice how this creates a slight 'cupping' action of the palms (maybe imagine you have a little ant under your hand that you want to avoid squishing). You might also notice that this helps to provide a much greater sense of stability and foundation through your hands and avoids weight collapsing into your wrists.

2. Stabilise the shoulders

Our shoulders are built primarily for mobility rather than for stability - in fact they are the most mobile joints in our bodies.  So in order to safely engage our shoulders during arm balance practice we have create as much stability as we can through these joints.

We do this by ensuring that the head of the upper arm bone (the humerus) is properly 'plugged into' the shoulder socket by externally rotating the upper arm (think about rolling your inner bicep forward so that the 'eye' of your elbow is in line with your thumb). 

Additionally, broaden and flatten your shoulder blades across the back so that they don't wing upwards and away from the body - this can strain the muscles of the rotator cuff surrounding the shoulder joint (causing further instability). 

3. Hug your elbows to your centre line

Think 'Chaturanga arms'. Hug your elbows in towards your centre line so that they're in line with your shoulders and over your wrists (rather than bending out sideways either side of the body) - and so that your forearms are parallel to one another. This creates a strong and stable skeletal structure for arm balances upon which we can 'stack' the rest of body - reducing the amount of muscular effort we need to invest.

4. Use your whole body

Jason Crandell likens the practice of arm balances to solving a Rubik's cube. He says you won't get far by simply squeezing it harder - instead you have to understand the relationship between each part of the cube in order to solve the puzzle (not that I've ever actually managed to solve a Rubik's cube).

Susie rocking Bakasana

Susie rocking Bakasana

Arm balances are very similar - we need to understand that it's not really about brute arm strength but about how the body works as an integrated whole. Think about a simple plank pose (a foundational pose for all hand balances) - in order to hold your plank you need to activate muscles throughout the body to avoid collapsing towards the floor. We can apply similar principles to other arm balances. For example in Bakasana we need to activate the hip flexors to draw the knees in towards the body and the adductors to hug the knees against the upper outer arms - this helps to activate our 'core' musculature, making it possible to enter and maintain the pose. 

5. Have fun with it

As I mentioned at the start of this post I love arm balances for the playful quality they can bring to yoga practice. Embrace this playfulness and use the above tips to safely approach your exploration of these wonderful poses - it might take a little while to get the hang of some of them but with persistence, they'll come . Enjoy the journey!

As Time Goes By

time.jpg

This morning I was suddenly hit by a very profound realisation of just how precious time is. Of course this isn't revelationary news…but for whatever reason, the truth of this reality suddenly hit home on a deep level.

"Ok great" you say, "that's all well and good...but what's your point?"

I'm not sure that I have one really, but if I do, it's this…

Too often we drift through life, coasting from one moment to the next without stopping to contemplate just what a wonderful experience it all is. Worse still, we're guilty of actively wasting time...spending it doing jobs we hate, surfing aimlessly around the web (I'm particularly guilty of this) and watching mindless rubbish on TV rather than using our time productively. The phrase "life's too short" is often bandied about but how many of us ever pause to really think on the implications of that statement…or to act upon them? If we did then perhaps we'd make some pretty significant changes to how we use our time. We might focus it more on the things that we love doing, the things that we're passionate about and that fill us with a sense of purpose, rather than just 'passing the time' doing things that we're not really all that interested in. We may even learn to treasure and value every single moment, to always pay attention to the joys and wonders of this world and to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude for the life that we've been fortunate enough to live. 

This would mean not always grasping after what we want or can't have (ideal case scenarios), but being appreciative for what we do have. It would mean not just focussing on an abstract, indeterminate destination or goal, but fully experiencing and savouring the journey that we're on in the present moment and making that journey as productive and purposeful as possible. Yoga (amongst other practices such as meditation) can help us with this by encouraging us to be more present in the moment, more aware of what's happening in our bodies and with our minds and more attuned to our experiences.

And yes this would also mean that at times we'd need to embrace challenges and difficult situations. Rather than just giving in to our natural aversion to these situations, we could try to cultivate a sense of acceptance for whatever's present in this moment. This is obviously easier said than done, but once we bring our focus and attention to working with our present experience in an accepting way, then it becomes easier to deal with.

Again, the practice of yoga can help us to develop this skill. When we practice yoga asana we often find ourselves in unfamiliar (and occasionally disorienting and uncomfortable!) postures. But with practice comes skill. We learn to breathe through the discomfort, and indeed to embrace it, being fully open to our present experience. With time this becomes a natural reaction, one that we can carry into other areas of our life...helping us to make the most of every moment we have.

 

The Benefits of Yoga For...Feet

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Our poor feet!

Squeezed into tight, uncomfortable, smelly shoes when all they want is to be free. Forced to totter around on high heels when what they really crave is to feel the earth between their dainty little toes.

The human foot is an incredibly complex structure containing 28 bones, 33 muscles, 31 joints, and over 100 ligaments – in fact the feet contain a quarter of all bones in the body. As a result of this complexity, our feet are incredibly adaptable, with the ability to move in a variety of different ways. They have developed in this way to provide us with stability and balance as we move across uneven terrain - useful when running away from dangerous beasties or hunting prey back in our cave dwelling days.

However, in contemporary life, when we're usually walking on evenly paved surfaces and cramming our feet into the latest in fashion footwear, the adaptability of the foot is seemingly no longer required – in fact you could say that it's somewhat over-engineered. Unfortunately, this leads to a situation where the deep musculature of the foot, which supports the 3 arches of the foot that provide our architectural strength, is not fully utilised and so becomes redundant and weakens. This in turn creates a variety of problems such as flat feet (fallen arches), weak ankles, bunions, hammer toes and claw toes - all of which reduce the strength of our body’s foundation and lead to further misalignment in the legs, hips, spine and head. So ignore those pinkies at your peril!

Practicing yoga postures awakens the four layers of musculature in the soles of our feet and reintroduces movement into the foot, restoring the natural aliveness, strength and adaptability of the feet. Furthermore, it can help to correct a variety of conditions caused by wearing inappropriate and constrictive footwear – such as shortening of the Achilles tendon from wearing high heels (forward bends will stretch the Achilles tendon and the calf muscles attaching to it). Spacing the toes in yoga asana practice also helps to counter the effect of wearing shoes that are too tight (a common cause of bunions), allowing more blood to flow in and out of the feet and releasing the musculature. Ahhh...happy feet.

So do your feet a favour - let them out of their straight jacket, get on the mat and get them wriggling free again. They'll be ever so grateful - and in the long run so will you.

Myths and Misconceptions: 5 Things Every Beginner Yoga Student Should Know

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1.       Don’t get hung up on how inflexible you are. There are no prizes for people who can wrap their legs around their head twice (not recommended :)) after all, yoga is more about how you feel inside rather than how you look on the outside.  If you work mindfully within your present limitations you will enjoy all benefits that yoga has to offer.

2.       Yoga isn’t just for the ladies. In fact, historically yoga was exclusively taught and practised by men. Indeed, the roots of some of the very dynamic forms of yoga we enjoy today were first introduced to adolescent boys to harness their testosterone energy and give it a positive outlet.  Nowadays, men are feeling the benefits of yoga in all areas of their life from their work life to the sports field.

3.       There is more to yoga than first meets the eye. The yoga postures (asana) we learn in classes are only a small part of the practice of yoga. There are many other disciplines to be experienced including pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation to name a few. Asana is a good place to start as it helps to strengthen the body and begins to focus the mind.

4.       Yoga is not just about sitting around with your legs crossed and ‘Omming’ a lot. Of course it can be, but yoga is a very personal journey and so different things work for different people. Yoga asana can be practiced for many different reasons; as a method of exercise, stress relief, injury prevention or spiritual exploration to name a few. It’s up to you - with so many different styles of yoga available and different teachers offering different perspectives keep an open mind and have fun exploring what feels right for you.

5.       Don’t be miffed if you’re not floating around your mat with grace and finesse within a few weeks. First of all, don’t waste energy worrying about what you can and can’t do – just enjoy the practice for what it is. And secondly, be patient - acquiring new skills takes time and there are no short cuts. With a regular practice, everything comes in its own good time.