I practise and teach Hatha yoga with an emphasis on embodiement and mindfulness. Having qualified in traditional Hatha yoga with the British Wheel of yoga, I have developed my practise to incorporate the knowledge of shiatsu and Traditional Chinese Medicine so that the postures incorporate meridian stretches, which stimulate the relevant organ ki or energy as well as promoting strength, tone, balance and flexibilty.
More recent study into the psychology of the chakras and the work of Anodea Judith has heightened my awareness of how we occupy our "asana" or personal space, and how the body is the key to unravelling deep seated psychological patterns. Our bodies express so much of our story and how we feel and respond to the world. Through feeling our way into our own alignment, our psyche is freed up as the body is freed up. Parts of the body that have become locked up, or numb come to life and that part of ourselves is woken up. Movement is the key to the mind. Whilst talking therapies have their place, body work can free us from trauma, and unhelpful habits without having to think about "why". The postures, which have evolved with the yoga tradition over the last century, are accessible to everyone as well as challenging to the fit and healthy. Feeling the movement and breath rising and falling together into movement or stillness with the asana is uplifting and cleansing. After a good yoga practise we feel spacious, clear, relaxed and present.
Our breathing patterns are unique. We are born breathing fully and freely. Over the years, as we experience life, we block and restrict our breath until commonly the breath is shallow and does not draw in the prana, the nourishment and the vitality we need to live fully. Indeed, how we breath tells a story of our lives. The correlation between how we breath and the state of the body and mind has been made for thousands of years in the yogic scriptures and ayurveda, also Taoism and chinese/japanese martiql arts. Buddhist mindful techniques were developed from ancient Yoga breathing practices.
A deeper, softer, relaxed breath will go a long way to alleviating headaches, hypertension, epilepsy, asthma, panic attacks, menopausal symptoms, insomnia and heart disease. Relaxed breathing and full breathing boosts our immune systems and lessens pain. I teach breathing exercises, some traditional, some which are more relevant and effective for modern living and dealing with stress.
In yoga the breath is also much more. In Greek 'psyche pneuma' mean breath/soul/spirit; in sanscrit 'Prana" means life/breath/spirit./energy; in Japanese 'ki' means energy/spirit. In yoga via the postures and the breathing and meditation, we can access a deeper connection to spirit and soul and so a sense of belonging to a greater higher purpose. Through yoga we can be the change we want to see in the world today and get a sense of belonging to something far greater than our own experience.
I believe yoga is evolving from the rigid traditional yoga schools which appeared in the sixties and seventies. Svadhyaya is self study - lacking in our education system we are encouraged to study the world around us rather than studying inward to the world inside us. As yogis we become self aware and more conscious of how we move and feel, we are able to respond to the world without feeling out of control or overwhelmed. We feel coherent and able to deal with all that life throws at us and therefore are able to make a positive impact on the planet and in our community..
As a teacher, I encourage yogis to feel into the postures rather than try to copy what I am doing. my aim is to guide the awareness and use the breath to anchor the mind. One posture will be expressed differently by each student. Our movement is an expression of who we are; through yoga we can tune into who that is and make subtle shifts in our movement to release old habits. this will effect us on a physical level as well as a psychological one.
At the end of the day Yoga is a spiritual practise and a chance to shine.