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Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline which originated in ancient India. There are many different schools and styles, and one of the most well-known types is Hatha yoga, on which these classes are based.
In the West yoga has became popular mainly as a system of physical exercise; however Yoga in the Indian tradition also has meditative and spiritual elements.
The poses or postures in yoga are also known by the sanskrit term Asanas and are one of the most recognised aspects of yoga classes and practice. Other aspects include breath/energy control (pranayama), concentration and meditation, diet/lifestyle, and relaxation.
The main element of my yoga classes is a series of poses, chosen to benefit students or to deal with particular physical or other issues. A typical yoga class will begin with a short relaxation incorporating a breathing practice, warm up exercises, followed by a variety of postures (asanas), and a final relaxation. Meditation and Mindfulness techniques may be included. Students receive either a lesson plan (1-2-1 students) or lesson summary (drop-in group classes).
Group classes are one and a quarter, or one and a half hours, while 1-2-1 classes are normally 1 hour, although may be longer by agreement.
Make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing – a T-shirt and tracksuit trousers or leggings are ideal - plus you may want an extra layer or two to put on during the final period of relaxation.
Anyone can practise yoga independent of age, gender or ability. You can practise yoga virtually anywhere; you don't need any special equipment.
Yoga can aid in reducing physical and emotional tension or stress. Yoga improves concentration and awareness. Yoga can help with insomnia and improve sleep quality. Yoga builds strength, increases flexibility, and some forms improve stamina. Yoga brings about a sense of peace or relaxation, helping one to remain calm in difficult circumstances. Yoga improves breathing and can have a positive effect on respiratory function.
According to the NHS Choices website: Most studies suggest that yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, with particular benefits on strength, flexibility and balance.There's some evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains (including lower back pain), depression and stress.
There are many different yoga poses and variations of particular poses, and the names for them can vary depending on the school of yoga. I always include the sanskrit name (if known) as well as the English version, because the word sanskrit means 'perfect', and each sanskrit word perfectly describes the pose or practice to which it refers.
If you have any questions about which yoga poses might be good for you (and which might not be so good) do get in touch.The US magazine Yoga Journal has a directory of yoga poses, as does the British Wheel of Yoga. Wikipedia also has a lot of information about poses.. See also our yoga books page.
A balancing pose which helps to strengthen the leg muscles, and stretches the back muscles between the shoulderblades.
In this pose, I am helping to stabilise the student by supporting her hips, and making sure the upper arm is in a vertical position (some students with neck/shoulder problems may have difficulty with this aspect of the pose).
Gives a good lateral stretch to the spine, which is a movement that most people don’t do very often in daily life. Also helps to strengthen the legs.
Here I am helping a student to bring the hands closer together while supporting her upper arm. The aim is to get contact of fingers to fingers or hand to hand, and to encourage greater shoulder mobility.
I am supporting this student's back with my knee/lower leg, while carefully lifting her legs to enable the spine to extend upwards rather than to collapse.
This pose is all about alignment. Gives a feeling of strength and stability.