What happens in a class?
A class usually lasts 1.5 hours
Firstly you will be invited to calm your body, mind and breath by lying or sitting on your mat for a few minutes in relaxation. This helps you to experience stillness and allows your body and mind to settle. You will then be guided through movements to music to warm up the whole of your body.
Specific muscles are stretched or strengthened in preparation for practicing postures called asanas. These may be done sitting, standing, or lying down, with focus on alignment of the spine and limbs. Modifications and adjustments are included so that people with health issues can experience the benefits of yoga. Postures may be linked into flowing sequences. The postures strengthen and tone the body and improve the flow of energy. This results in a feeling of vitality.
Working with the breath
The class will include breathing techniques called pranayama. These aim to control and expand the breath, increasing vitality, improving digestion, toning the nervous system and calming and concentrating the mind.
Surely breathing is automatic? Our life depends on breathing and is controlled by the respiratory centre in the brain. Babies breathe instinctively and healthily. As we age there can be a deterioration in the efficiency and effectiveness of our breathing. Sedentary lifestyles can result in loss of elasticity and mobility in the chest muscles and diaphragm. Tension, stress, emotional upset, poor posture and unhealthy environments can also impact on our ability to breathe. Shallow and restricted breathing means less oxygen is being drawn into the body and therefore energy levels are depleted.
Pranayama practice controls and moves prana (energy) through the breath.
The Art of Relaxation
This is the culmination of our yoga practice. Activating the bodily systems with movement, postures, sequences and breathing techniques releases energy and toxins. Managing our health and wellbeing means learning the art of relaxation to enable our body and mind to settle this energy and activate the healing process. Toxins can be found in our food, environment or created by stress. Relaxation allows us to remove toxic effects from both body and mind. It transforms negative thoughts and emotions into positive patterns and behavior, helping us to achieve important life goals.
There are many styles of meditation, all of which aim to still the mind. Meditation allows us time to reconnect with ourselves. We live in the age of technology, which is exciting. However, constant external communication via phones, computers and texts leaves us chasing the one thing we need the most – time to just be. Meditation helps us to slow down, take a step back and see the world from a calmer perspective. This allows our body and mind to be still in a timeless place of freedom.