• The Fruits of Yoga

    The Fruits of Yoga

    words by Amanda Meaden

    There are many reasons why people practice yoga.  Most of these reasons come under the heading of ‘personal development’ - perhaps we want to be able to relax, maybe we want to be more flexible, thinner, fitter, whatever it is, we want to change and with yoga positive change is certainly possible, which is a wonderful thing.

    As we set our goals, however, it’s worth bearing in mind one key factor.  We can only ever be ourselves. We may be able to become a more relaxed, more flexible, thinner, fitter version of ourselves, but we cannot be someone else. Ever. Through yoga practice we gradually come to learn about ourselves, about our nature, our strengths, our weaknesses, where there are gaps in our knowledge and understanding. Some aspects of ourselves we can change, others we must accept as we move into the fullness of our potential.

    To put it another way, if you are a peach, be a peach. Be the best most unctuous, most juicy, peachiest peach you can be, but don’t try to be a banana.

    Amanda teaches Yoga for Breath, Mind & Body 10.30-11.30am on Thursdays

  • Pregnancy, birth and post-pregnancy - a special and transformational time for mothers and babies

    Pregnancy, birth and post-pregnancy - a special and transformational time for mothers and babies

    words by Laura Swann

    Pregnancy, birth and post-pregnancy is a uniquely special and transformational time for mothers and babies. It is of significant importance in a woman’s evolution. In a relatively short period, life will change in a beautiful and profound way. Whether you are a seasoned yogi or a complete beginner, a targeted pregnancy class offers a tailored focus for a pregnant woman’s body-mind and specifically supports a woman throughout this process with time to relax, de-stress and connect to her baby and body.

    Pregnancy can be a time that heralds uncertainty, with an overwhelming amount of information on offer. It can also be challenging to connect to ones own expansion in a culture so focussed on fitting a certain mould. Its the perfect time to connect to the female body with gratitude as we witness our power and simultaneous softness. It is not unusual to initially sense a real disconnect in our breath patterns as we navigate connecting to abdominal breathing. Prior to pregnancy if we have been chronically retaining breath or breathing only into the upper body - even unconsciously as a result of our conditioning to not soften our bellies - the result is that physiologically we are hampering our vital ability to breathe well using our full body (as so beautifully observed in an infant).

    The pregnancy yoga class aims to hold space for a woman to find her own unique way and explore all her feelings in an unbiased, safe and nurturing place. Somewhere she can connect to her body and feel empowered in it as well as in her own choices. This helps cultivate a strong sense of awareness, encouraging a woman to stay present and focussed throughout pregnancy; as well as offering a practical toolkit of movements and breath practices to use throughout the labour process. As a deep personal exploration with a very practical approach, it is focussed on the anatomy of the pelvis and abdomen in holistic relationship to the rest of the system as it expands to welcome new life. Deeply rooted in current scientific research with a multi-faceted and integrated approach.

    Pregnancy yoga does not have to be just for mums to be - longer workshops explore labour circuits and breathing practices with birth partners so that everyone can learn how to better support the mother in her incredible process of bringing her baby into the world. Many women have discovered yoga during pregnancy and never looked back. And what could be a more beautiful way of beginning a practice of cultivating awareness of the self and surrendering to your own deep intuition and wisdom. It also provides a great space to connect to other pregnant women and share, maybe even blossom a new friendship. Pregnancy yoga can serve as an important catalyst supporting a woman’s health and well being well beyond the process of childbirth and throughout her whole life cycle.

    Learn breathing techniques and movements to use in preparation and throughout the stages of labour

    Support your evolving body through the beautiful journey from womanhood to motherhood

    Making connection and bonding with your baby

    Find ease and release tension from mind and body

    Empowering you to hold your own space

    Deep rest and relaxation

    Nurturing a space for the process of creation

    For the month of June you may trial pregnancy yoga at Studio Kooks for a one-off £8 to come and see just how special this hour is. If you choose to make it a weekly occurrence regular drop-ins are £10 with a 6 class pass currently offered at £55. Suitable from 14 weeks prenatally.

    Laura teaches Pregnancy Yoga 5.45-6.45pm on Thursdays

  • Breathe to relax

    Breathe to relax

    words by Lisa Clark

    Isn't it wonderful to watch a baby peaceful! Have you noticed the soft rise and fall of a baby's belly as they breathe? We lose this primal way of breathing as we age and 'suck it in' or allow the stresses of life to restrict ourselves to chest breathing. Deep belly breathing is something I draw my students attention to in savasana (corpse pose), at the end of my mindful vinyasa flow class, during relaxation. I like to set the scene with tranquil music, blankets a head massage and lavender eye pillows. With a gentle dialogue to include inviting the awareness of the breath towards deep belly breathing.

    So now for the 'why' belly breathing, otherwise known as diaphragmatic breathing. One of the amazing benefits of belly breathing is its ability to help you relax - almost immediately. The soft rise and fall of the belly actually massages the biggest nerve in our system, the vagus nerve. This in turn helps take us out of our more stressful 'fight or flight' mode and into our more relaxed 'rest and digest' mode. Our nervous system, being still connected to this primal response stress mode, of 'fight or flight' was needed to help us get up and run from a sabre tooth tiger and is still needed at times in our modern life. But our systems don't recognise the difference between the stresses that do and don't need to have us in 'fight or flight' mode. Therefore issues related to money woes, traffic jams, job or relationship problems keep us switched on in this unnecessary mode for too long. The consequence to our health can include problems such as high blood pressure, suppressed immune system, anxiety and depression.

    We can't avoid all sources of stress in our lives, but developing healthier ways of responding to them through practices such as yoga and regulating the breath can be profound. Deeper abdominal breathing slows the heartbeat and lowers blood pressure, taking us away from the negative health issues. I can't think of a better reason to get on the mat, practice yoga and breathe very deeply.....wonderful!

    Lisa teaches Vinyasa Flow Yoga 9.30-11.00 on Monday mornings.

  • Restorative Yoga

    words by Damaris Booth

    What is Restorative Yoga?
    Restorative yoga evolved from the teachings of BKS Iyengar and is suitable for everyone regardless of yoga style or level.

    Poses are held for longer lengths of time (up to 15mins) with the body fully supported on bolsters and blankets to ensure comfort and ease. Gentle stretches and breath awareness help to release tension and allow your body and mind to deeply relax.
    Why practice it?
    Stress is prevalent in modern day living and while a little can be beneficial too much can eventually lead to illness and disease. Stress is the most common cause of long-term absence from work in the UK. With busier lives, greater pressures and feelings of time escaping us, our health and happiness can often be compromised.
    Restorative yoga helps to tip the balance back to centre. It soothes and calms the nervous system, switching it over to the ‘rest and digest’ mode essential for promoting maintenance and repair in the body. It enables us to enter a state of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’, so we can begin to live more consciously.
    Taking time from the busyness of life to find moments of stillness and quietude can reap huge benefits for your health and wellbeing.

    ​Come and see for yourself!

    Damaris teaches Restorative Yoga 7.00-8.15pm on Friday evenings