Do you feel you sometimes take your yoga practice a bit too seriously? Do you have a certain agenda when you get on your mat? How do you actually feel at the beginning of a yoga class? When we get on our mat we don’t always surrender and drop everything as we know we should, sometimes getting on the mat can be accompanied with anxiety or a sense of uncertainty. What will we be doing today? How is my body going to respond if we do something unexpected or out of the ordinary? All sorts of unsettling thoughts often dart across our mind. Yet, at the end of every practice we feel like a different person and we generally float off the mat into our day. This is because changing our physicality not only changes our physical state, it changes our emotional state. When we move our body we shift energy around. When I started doing yoga, I was really bossy with myself; my ego would sit on one shoulder and yap into my ear while my more compassionate self would stay silent on the other. I soon learnt that there is no medal at the end of a practice just a blissful, emotional and physical change in energy. You can start yoga at any time in your life; your body will respond and it will change, but as adults we have developed layers that are coated with fear which often stop us in our tracks when we want to do something new, hence the George Bernard Shaw quote above.
I now see my yoga practice as play and have been trying to get my own students to look at it from the same perspective. There are some poses that we’re familiar with and gravitate towards time and time again; they give us comfort and relief. There are others that are more challenging and they leave us feeling exhilarated and excited. Both states are as equally valuable as sometimes we need one more than the other. When we step out of our comfort zone in our practice, our state of mind is important. There is no point in doing a standing balance with gritted teeth, furrowed brow and a “holding on for dear life” breath!!!! We need to approach these more challenging poses like a child, fearless and with a sense of lightheartedness and mischief.
Of course, our yoga practice is work; it requires dedication, discipline and effort but more importantly our yoga practice is play. Play encourages us to be inquisitive with our inner and outer world, it allows us to embrace the joys and anticipation of the unknown, but it is a word we inherently associate with children. As adults we tend to relinquish play for more serious pursuits like careers and relationships which are of course undeniably important, but allowing our inherent sense of play to dwindle and disappear inevitably will have had adverse consequences. Embracing play in some form enhances our day to day experiences. It boosts creativity and critical thinking which help suppress stress and anxiety. It allows us to let go of attachment and expectation of outcome, leaving just the pure joy of the present moment. Play helps us untangle mental and physical knots, it helps us escape the mundane, loosen the grip and throw caution to the wind. It brings laughter to our bellies and smiles to our faces. Through play we lose inhibitions and become more intuitive, we experiment and let go of control in order to come up with our own rules of freedom. This is what we want to bring to our mats. We’ve had a long year of rules so now is the perfect time to embrace some rule bending and lose ourselves in the moment which is surely the true practice of yoga. Come and join me on mat this summer whether online or in the Park (cartwheels if you wish) for a season of creative and playful movement. There’s no time like the present to start this magical practice.
Monday 6-6.50pm HIIT yoga
Tuesday 7-7.45am wake up and flow
Tuesday 9.30-10.30am gentle hatha flow
Thursday 6-7pm yin yoga
Friday 7-7.45am wake up and flow
Friday 9.30-10.30am gentle hatha flow
Saturday 9.30-10.30 am dynamic vinyasa flow
Sunday 9.30-10.45 am balance, play and yoga nidra (guided mediation)
(Timetable maybe subject to change from time to time)
Park yoga will start at the beginning of May. Days and times are subject to weather conditions. If you want to be added to my mailing list to book early please get in touch. £5 a class. Limited to 30 students.
Single classes are £6 but the £40 monthly unlimited remains the same. Recordings of classes are £4 and available for one week. They are free for monthly unlimited. Please let me know if you’d like a recording
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