FAQs

What style of yoga do you teach?
Yoga teaching is very personal. Styles vary a lot from one teacher to another. Most yoga practised in the West is Hatha (physical) Yoga – the yoga of postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. However, yoga is a very broad church, and I try to reflect that in my classes. I try to steer a middle road between the two polarities of extreme rigour ("hair shirt yoga") and the ultra gentle approach ("cotton wool yoga"). I take the practical approach that yoga is for anyone who is interested, regardless of ability. Wherever possible, I suggest less demanding alternatives for the more difficult postures. The different types of yoga often overlap, especially during relaxation at the end of the lesson, when raja yoga (mental mastery) techniques are often used. In a nutshell my style can be described as a broad-based Hatha Yoga.

Pranayoga is a more dynamic style of Hatha Yoga with strong breathing, researched and developed by me. I normally teach this on special day seminars but it is occasionally touched on in normal classes (see my biography).
What can I expect in one of your classes?
Evening classes usually start with a short relaxation session. This helps to put work stress etc. to one side, so that we can concentrate better. By popular request, daytime classes tend to omit this opening relaxation. We then do some gentle warm-up stretches, and then it's down to business! Lessons always end with a closing relaxation. Most lessons last about 90 minutes in all, but this sometimes varies. You will not be put under any pressure to tackle anything you are not comfortable with. Yoga is not competitive.
I've got a bad back – is it OK to do yoga?
Almost certainly, but get your GP's OK first. Doctors and osteopaths often recommend yoga for back problems. However, the term "bad back" can cover a multitude of problems from a minor muscular spasm to major degenerative damage to the discs and/or vertebrae. If you suffer from serious degenerative problems you may need to modify or omit certain postures. Many back pain sufferers acquire a "fear barrier", where they become afraid of moving the body with any degree of freedom, which inhibits recovery. In addition to physical benefits, yoga helps to break down the fear barrier. If you suffer from chronic pain (whatever the cause), check out www.healingpathway.co.uk.
I'm pregnant – can I still do yoga?
Yes, but there are certain precautions you need to take note of. Ask me for a handout on antenatal yoga. Great care should be taken in the first three months of pregnancy if there is any history of miscarriage.
I'm stressed out – will it help me to relax?
Definitely, but you may not feel the mental benefits immediately. Because of the body/mind connection, if the muscles are relaxed by stretching, the mind will also relax. Most yoga enthusiasts report less anxiety, better sleep patterns and less drug/alcohol/tobacco dependency within a few weeks of taking up regular practice. If you suffer from depression, please ask for my handout on the subject.
Will yoga conflict with my religion?
No. Yoga's cultural roots are Hindu, but it has long ago transcended its religious origins. India has given yoga to the whole world; it is now practised by people of all faiths and none. Most of my students do not inform me of their cultural views but I have taught Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Anglicans, Catholics, Quakers and two Catholic nuns. As a practising agnostic, I try to keep my approach strictly secular! Mantra yoga (chanting) is often overtly devotional, but it is rarely practised in mainstream hatha yoga classes. Because of my secular approach, I do not teach mantra in weekly classes.

Note: The opinions here are entirely my own – other teachers may disagree with them!

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