Yoga is a spiritual tradition that began in India about 5000 years ago. The word yoga means ‘union’ in Sanskrit. If practised regularly, it is a system that leads to the unification of a person with his/ her true nature and highest self, and with the universe, creating internal balance and harmony – of feminine/masculine, yin/yang, strength/softness, and all other binaries within the body that work best when in perfect equilibrium.
Yoga, therefore, has a whole host of stress-reduction benefits – it shifts the balance of the autonomic nervous system from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic side, calming the mind, lowering the levels of stress hormones , encouraging better mood and concentration, and creating a sense of clarity and tranquility in the mind. Physically, yoga increases strength and flexibility, improves balance and coordination, heightens cardiovascular conditioning and tones the body, making practitioners feel younger and stronger, as well as more vibrant and supple for longer.
There are many different types and styles of yoga, but one thing they all have in common is that they use physical postures, mindfulness and Pranayama (breathing exercise) to create optimum physical, mental and emotional health in the practitioner.
Yogavana is expanding all the time, so please check this page for updates, or get in touch if you have any questions/ style of yoga preferences/ areas you’d like to focus on in class. Currently, the main yoga styles being offered by Yogavana are outlined below:
Hatha yoga is a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. Nearly every type of yoga class taught in the West is Hatha yoga. When a class is marketed as Hatha, it generally means that you will get a gentle introduction to the yoga postures, and then slowly build up the intensity of the postures. You should end up leaving class feeling stronger, longer, looser, and more relaxed.
‘Vinyasa’ is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘combining breath and movement’, referring—in hatha yoga—to a sequence of asanas (poses). Vinyasa classes are known for their fluid, movement-intensive practices. I tend to teach a strong vinyasa flow, focused on building and strengthening the core and allowing the mind to unwind. There is a releasing of tension from the body, and simultaneously a building of stamina, flexibility and strength. I sequence my classes to smoothly transition from pose to pose, with the intention of linking breath and movement, and I play music to keep things lively. The intensity of the practice is similar to Ashtanga, but no two vinyasa classes are the same, and the variety therefore keeps testing the physical and emotional limits of the body. Prepare to sweat out any worries and have fun on the mat. Open to all levels – but it’s a strong class.
26/2 (Hot Static)
This type of yoga was once commonly referred to as Bikram Yoga. It is a challenging 90 minute class practiced in a heated room, and consists of 26 asanas (postures) and two breathing exercises in a sequential order. This sequence was created for maximum health benefits and eliminates stresses and tensions from the body and strengthens mind control. Although a difficult sequence, the class is designed for all levels – beginners and experienced practitioners alike.
This class is lit only by candles, and combines Hatha and Vinyasa in a gentle and soothing way. We work through the postures slowly and mindfully, and spend a little more time on floor-based asanas/ postures before an extended Savasana/ relaxation at the end. You should leave feeling gently stretched and nourished, with a sense of your worries having melted away.
Yoga Nidra is a type of ‘yogic sleep’ – ideally a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, rather like the ‘going-to-sleep’ stage. It is an ancient technique from India which has been scientifically proven to release tension and anxiety by increasing endogenous dopamine (feel-good hormones) in the brain. It can also assist in coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues, and has been shown to improve self-esteem. The verbal guidance helps the practitioner increasingly work inwards, and this guided concentration on a variety of things (breath awareness, creative visualisation…) makes Yoga Nidra different to meditation where the focus is on a single thing. The goals of Nidra and meditation are, however, the same: to reach a state of consciousness called Samadhi (an ecstatic trance-like heightened state). Therefore, you will leave a Yoga Nidra class feeling like you’ve bathed in a deep state of relaxation whilst maintaining full consciousness.
“The pose begins when you want to leave it.”