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Through over twenty five years of regular practice (clearly I was an embryo when I began??!) I now know that Yoga is not a practice to improve myself but a practice in being myself. Consider what ‘HOME’ means to you……comfort, security, warmth, safety, joy? On the flip side, ‘HOME’ to you may resonate with less comfortable emotions, family feuds, judgement, expectations, sadness. Beyond the physical benefits (more on this in a minute…) Yoga gives me the skills to process difficult emotions, to maintain a sense of balance and to know when to accept and surrender to situations beyond my control. And it is a PRACTICE……not a miracle quick fix cure though not necessarily time consuming (simple pranayama… breathing exercises can take 5 minutes a day.)

So, you are curious about attending a Yoga class? Inspired by Instagram images, Celebrity ravings, the girl you work with who seems to float? Perhaps your Doctor, friends, loved ones have suggested Yoga as a way to manage stress? When I tell people I am a Yoga Teacher, I am often met with a similar response…..

‘Oh, I’ve always wanted to try Yoga but I’m……………………………………….. (not bendy, too stressed, intimidated, too thin, too fat, ‘too weak, too muscly, too old, too young etc) and the reality is that I have not met anybody who would not benefit from some form of Yoga practice.

THE HISTORY BIT…

The practices we understand as Yoga were first developed in India around 5000 years ago (pre ‘Sweaty Betty’ and ‘Lululemon’!) The wise men of the time, Rishis (Seers) aimed to develop a methodology that used the breath and body to quieten the mind. We often blame modern life choices for feelings of stress, anxiety and monkey mind (and there’s no denying that the modern world has heightened these feelings) and look outside of ourselves for solutions. The Rishis identified that as humans we already possess the ability to heal ourselves. 

‘Yoga is the resolution of the agitations of the mind’

(Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra…….aka the Bible of yoga)

WHAT TO EXPECT?

Yoga is a Sanskrit (An Ancient Indian language) word that roughly means ‘to unite’.

 In my yoga practice, and in my teaching, I aim to create a united balance of a physical practical of yoga asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation (the quietening of the mind…….and trust me, mine can be VERY loud!).

In a group class, your practice will be led by a teacher who will combine demonstration with oral instruction. Teachers are trained to offer adjustments (if you are comfortable with this) to support your alignment or help you to move deeper into a pose.

You will be guided to use your breath when moving through the poses.

You will practice on a mat with bare feet and in clothes that allow you to move freely whilst allowing your teacher to see the outlines of you body…….this helps her to check the alignment of your poses to keep you safe from injury.

Despite some teachings to the contrary, this is not a spectator sport…..you should aim to practice in a way that feels comfortable physically and emotionally. Too often, I have seen students pushing themselves beyond their physical limitations on that day with the aim of achieving an extreme version of a pose…..this usually will result in you feeling disheartened, or injured. When aiming to deepen a practice your teacher should guide you step by step and should advise when you are ready for the next steps or not.

Hatha Yoga is really an umbrella term to describe the physical practice of yoga. Typically, when going to a yoga class in the Western World, you will be expecting a physical yoga practice. There are many branches of asana yoga practice (Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga Iyengar, Anusara…..) and it is worth trying a few to see which resonates with your needs. In an ideal world, it may even be worth combining more than one style …………… (more on this in a future blog!)

HOW TO PREPARE……

WEAR COMFORTABLE CLOTHING THAT ALLOWS YOU TO MOVE

WEAR LAYERS TO ALLOW YOU TO KEEP YOUR BODY AT AN OPTIMAL TEMPERATURE

AVOID EATING ANYTHING SUBSTABTIAL FOR AN HOUR BEFORE YOUR CLASS

ARRIVE A FEW MINUTES EARLY TO GIVE TIME TO SETTLE

TURN OFF YOUR PHONE

BREATHE, STRETCH, SWEAT (a little) AND RELAX!

AFTER…….TO MAXIMISE YOUR PRACTICE

DRINK WATER……OBVIOUSLY!

TRY NOT TO RUSH…..ENJOY THE FEELING OF CALM AND GROUNDING YOU HAVE CREATED

ENJOY A LONG SOAK IN A WARM BATH WITH EPSOM SALTS

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS

WELCOME HOME………..I look forward to meeting you on a mat soon!

Helen xx 

HELEN GLEN

FOUNDER THE YOGA CLOUD

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……a space for Teens to rest and restore 

‘They don’t know they’re born’, ‘Best years of your life’, ‘You don’t know what stress is’ are just some of the clichés about teenagers we hear regularly. As both a School and Yoga teacher I have witnessed an alarming decline in the mental health of our young people and can assure you that none of these statements ring true!

The teen years have been well documented as a time of heightened emotion, exploration and boundary pushing… ’The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole & ¾’?? It is not accurate to believe that all teenagers are self-absorbed narcissists oblivious to the turmoil’s of our modern world, most of the young people I have had the privilege to teach care deeply about others and the World around them but can feel overwhelmed by the life choices they are making from subject choices and friendships in school, political views, future careers… to what to wear for the party of the year on Saturday night. The struggles between parents and teens can feel relentless (for all involved) but are merely the tip of the iceberg when compared to the daily internal battles being fought by our teens.

The search to belong… aka finding a tribe

The apparent oxymoron of the teen state of mind is the desire to become an individual whilst also finding a place to be accepted and belong in a tribe of likeminded friends… And then there’s socialmedia… primarily a tool for growing communities and building connections, perfect for an unsure teen to connect with friends quickly and easily at any time and from any place. Social media can be a wonderful source of inspiration and community but increasingly the constant bombardment of perfected images of ‘perfect’ people with ‘perfect’ lives, are seriously damaging the mental health of our young (and not so young) people, we need to guide our teens to develop life skills that allow them to build positive relationships with themselves, each other and the wider world.

Yoga practice… not perfect

I’m not advocating a ban on social media, we have to be able to live well as part of our modern world, I suggest some simple approaches to support your teen as she navigates her constantly changing world…

  • Develop MINDFUL use of electronic devices

Talk to your teen to establish some ground rules for her use of devices… try a day free of technology, daily time limit or no devices in bedrooms after a set time.

  • Daily Intentions

A quick chat or journalling in the morning can help your teen to set a mindset for the day, this could be something she needs to tick off her to do list or maybe about her emotional approach to the day.

  • Pit & Peak

This is one of my favourites and for us usually happens at the dinner table or in the quiet half an hour before bed. So simple… each family member describes their pit (low point) and peak (high point) of the day… a negative event may have overwhelmed her feelings and it’s nice to find the positive from the day. 

  • FEED

        Regular, nutritious meals are essential… water and greens… teaching her to prepare some simple meals will empower her to cook for herself and understand her bodies needs.

  • ORGANISING

School, homework, exams, goals, dreams, ambitions, friendships, relationships, socialising, hobbies… our teens have so many wonderful opportunities and can feel pulled in many directions. Set time aside to organise her commitments together… be sure to build in down time.

  • YOGA

A regular Yoga practice can help to give your teen a safe place ( on the mat) to breathe and feel grounded…..we can’t take away the external challenges but we can offer practices that can build the foundations for a healthy and emotionally resilient life.

We are delighted to offer our ‘YogaTeens’ monthly practice for your teenagers… A safe space  of yoga, meditation, relaxation, and more

Don’t just take our word for it… here’s what our teens said after we launched our YogaTeens practice in May 2019

‘Before I arrived I was very nervous and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do it, but I quickly relaxed and began to find the poses easier to do’

‘It helped me to let go of things that I had been holding onto’

‘It was a very tranquil environment’

‘Helen is so kind and doesn’t push you too far out of your comfort zone’

‘The snacks were delicious & I liked how they were homemade?’

‘I expected it to be really relaxing….and it was!’

With love

Helen xx 

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