Frequently Asked Questions
I'm happy to answer anything specific - call me, email, use the contact form on the site or message me from my facebook page. Here are some I get asked often.
Which class should I choose?
It depends what you're looking for and your confidence level. Both classes can accommodate beginners, and any age. Your Yoga is shorter, and the focus is on postures that are less demanding, but there are also easy options provided in the longer Yoga class. If you've done yoga before, you might find the short class too simple, or you may enjoy being laid-back. The relaxation, meditation and pranayama (breathing) are the same in both.
You can try either class and change to the other - see which you prefer. You can mix and match too, according to your availability. Although one class will give you a good idea of what a yoga class is like, I do recommend trying 3 or 4. It takes time to learn the physical postures and for the benefits to start to show.
What if I have an injury or medical condition?
Contact me to discuss it, and check with your medical practitioner. Most non-acute conditions are OK in yoga provided you don't strain.
How often should I do yoga?
Ideally, you should practise yoga daily, even if only for a short time per day. Few of us manage to fit in a daily practice to busy lives so don't feel bad if you don't. But practice makes perfect, and the more often you do yoga in a week, the sooner you'll feel the benefits and notice your progress. It's just like any skill from knitting to wrestling. Try to keep practising even if life means you sometimes have to miss a class or two.
Doing two sessions per week will give you more than 100% more benefit than doing one session per week. Most scientific studies of the positive benefits have had participants practising yoga 3 or 4 times per week, usually under the supervision of a teacher.
can I do too much yoga too soon?
It depends what you mean. Generally no, since the emphasis of yoga is not to harm, but with some words of caution. At all times, you need to listen to your body. If you are ill, or tired or injured, be careful. If your body hurts it's telling you to stop, never strain or try to force your body to perform. If you feel a little sore later on, it usually just means you've used muscles that are unaccustomed to being used. It will wear off, and wear off even quicker if you move them again.
At home, you still need to warm up before you attempt more demanding postures, just as we do in class. Practising pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation are very beneficial skills which, exactly like the asanas, get easier and more beneficial the more you practise.
Are there courses? When can I start?
I work in sets of themed classes. Although we'll practise and build some postures over any theme, it doesn't matter when you begin. You will see your own progression over time, whenever you start. So don't put it off, or you may just never get round to it. There's no time like the present!
How do I pay and buy multiple classes?
I accept cash and cheques at present. You can buy 5 or 10 classes to use whenever convenient, there's no time limit on them.
What style of yoga is it?
I find it difficult to answer this question because I don't follow any one style such as Iyengar, Ashtanga, Sivananda, Bikram, or Forrest. The main reference text used by my training school is also used by Satyananda practitioners, so there are similarities. Along with many other teachers however, I combine modern medical recommendations and cautions with classical yoga techniques to provide a class suitable for a range of different abilities and tastes. Many styles are named after their inventors e.g. Iyengar or Bikram, and are frequently strict about what can and should be done in class, leaving less room for options.
Describing a class as 'hatha' doesn't explain much, apart from it being a reference to more classical techniques than some of the above mentioned styles. My own view is that anything called hatha yoga should obey the principles that mind, body and spirit are all important components for a class - and a healthy life. This is why I include sections other than the asanas (physical posturing). I also believe that what defines a physical practice as yoga has to do with keeping your mind aware of what's going on in your body during asanas, so throwing yourself around and thinking about something else or forcing the body to contort uncomfortably should not be a part. That doesn't mean you'll never sweat or use your muscles though! I can offer harder as well as easier options for anyone who wants them.
mOST YOGA TEACHERS SAY THE SAME THINGS, SO YOU ALL TEACH THE SAME, RIGHT?
Wrong. Yoga has room for a very wide range of differing styles. Qualified teachers (make sure yours has a yoga qualification not just a fitness one) have had to pass a range of tests ensuring your safety and a minimum level of knowledge about yoga, and will have to attend continuous professional development training to keep them up to date. Even so, styles vary widely. You should be leaving class feeling calm and that probably won't happen if the teacher irritates you.
Yoga is a process and you need to find a teacher you can get on with, so you get the most out of it. Inevitably, the teacher's personality and interests will influence their teaching style. My own style is to encourage everyone to focus their minds throughout class, whether you're breathing, posturing or meditating, because it's the mind-body connection I find most fascinating. It helps prevent injury and will provide the biggest benefits to the whole person. I'm sceptical of claims made for yoga without any scientific proof. I know some in the yoga community think this heretical, but I've had a scientific training and that's just how I am. I still explore traditional explanations such as the chakras or koshas, because science continually finds truth in ancient ideas and cultures. For example, the main chakras coincide with major neuronal junctions, so it's likely there's some connection with Western ideas even here.
BUT What about all this mind stuff?
Yoga is holistic i.e. it isn't just physical jerks. Increasingly, the psychological aspects of physical ailments are being recognised by Western medicine (and there's plenty of conventional scientific evidence of the effects). Sometimes, just keeping your mind open to the possibility that doing something different or apparently silly might work, can have surprising results. Many scientific breakthroughs happen when the prevailing logic of the day is ignored. My advice is to give it a chance before you decide to dismiss it. Your mind simply can't be separated from your physical body, so why pretend otherwise? But if you aren't able to accept this, there are plenty of other classes available like dance, pilates, keep fit and many more where the focus is purely physical. Any increase in physical activity provides some mental benefits too, but it isn't yoga if it's just doing the postures.
but It looks like religion or superstition; some people even chant!
Yes, it has parallels in the major faiths, but it isn't a religion, just a way of living or a philosophy. Yes, we do chant occasionally, it depends on the class theme. The reason is all to do with the benefits of joining in with others vocally (football crowds chant, too) and frequencies that are calming. That's precisely why the major religions use it too, albeit discovered by trial and error rather than any Western medical knowledge.