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Not Your Average Yoga Teacher

I’m Helen; I’m 46, I live with Arthritis, Asthma, Spondylitis and Fibromyalgia, oh and I am a Yoga Teacher. 

My opening sentence isn’t what you would usually expect from a Yoga Teacher. Most people would associate Yoga with young, super active, body conscious people, but then again I’m not your average Yoga Teacher. It’s my mission to make Yoga accessible for everyone and to break down those stereotype which we associate with it. Everyone’s body is different, so Yoga needs to be different for everyone. We can make it fit you, rather than you having to tie yourself into a pretzel.

I participated in my first ever Yoga class as a teenager and left half way through in tears. It was an Ashtanga class, a really strong form of Yoga and the instructor actually cam along and sat on my back without any warning! This was not what I expected from a Yoga class and is certainly not what I would ever do. This experience put me off classes, but I continued to practise at home using a video and books as guidance. 

Over the years I’ve practised under a number of teachers, but sadly it’s mainly the ones who didn’t suit me that have stayed with me: the teacher who didn’t move from her mat and offered no alternative poses; the teacher who was so focused on cardio that her classes were more of a workout than Yoga and the teacher who wanted to prove that she could master party tricks like tying herself in knots. However, it’s these negative experiences which have made me the Yoga Teacher I am. I will never force you into a pose; I will try my best to find a modification to a pose which suits you; my classes are at a steady pace and while I can do the odd party trick, I won’t be expecting my clients to do them unless they really want to!

When I tell people I do Yoga, the most frequent response is, “You must be so flexible: I’m not flexible; Yoga isn’t for me!” I always respond with, “Can you breathe?” Next follows another strange look and in incredulous, “Of course!” I simply smile, “Well, then you can do Yoga!”

My Yoga journey eventually lead me to completing my 200 hour Hatha Yoga Teaching qualification as well as a 40 hour Yin Yoga qualification and I am a member of Yoga Alliance Professionals. I want to bring Yoga to people who would automatically assume it’s not for them. I’m going to be working alongside Maggie and her team at Spark Fitness from September 2020 to bring you a range of Yoga classes and workshops. Due to current restrictions, we can accommodate 4 people in person in the studio, but we can also live stream if you can’t make it to the studio or prefer to practise from home. 

My Yoga for Runners workshop is suitable for all abilities from Yoga virgins to Yoga veterans. We will be working through stretching, strengthening and balances poses before experiencing Yoga Nidra, a deeply relaxing meditation said to be equal to 4 hours of deep sleep. Following this 2 hour workshop, you will feel stretched, relaxed and stronger, ready for when you next lace up your running trainers. Many top sportspeople include Yoga as part of their training routine as it lengthens muscles, realigns joints and stabilises the body through balance and strengthening postures so that the body is better equipped to cope with the rigours of their sport. 

Tuesday evenings will be home to my Hatha Yoga classes. Again, these are suitable for all abilities; remember that Yoga fits your body, rather than your body having to fit Yoga. These classes start off with breathing techniques which calm the mind and prepare you for your practice. From here, we will gently stretch the body before moving to some gentle flow work, moving from one position to the next. I will demonstrate the poses and give you guidance to make it fit your body. I will never force you into position. Following our movement sequence and build to a strengthening posture, we begin to relax in preparation for our meditation section of the class. After class, you will feel stretched and refreshed. 

Over a two week period, I will be running a Yoga for Beginners course. This will be for 45 minutes a day Monday to Friday. During this course, we will look at Yoga as a form of exercise and a model for life in general. We will break down postures during pose clinics, ensuring that you know how the pose should feel for you. Over time, we will put these poses together into a flowing sequence. Each class we will start with a breathing technique, which in Yoga we call Pranayama, before gentle stretches and looking at poses. Each class will end with a meditation session. Over the two weeks, we will build up your knowledge of what Yoga is about, how it can benefit you and learn some key poses (in Yoga, we call these Asanas). This course will give you the confidence to continue your Yoga practise either at home or joining our weekly studio classes. You will understand how to incorporate Yoga into your everyday life and will feel stretched, strengthened and calmer. 

As I opened by saying, I am not your stereotypical Yogini. I love Yoga and try to live a Yogic lifestyle, but I don’t force myself into uncomfortable poses. My mission is to bring Yoga to people who think they cannot do it; to help you find your Yoga, just as I have found mine. Remember, if you can breathe, you can do Yoga!  

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