Beginner’s intro to yoga – video

As a yoga teacher people often tell me they want to do yoga, but are nervous of going to a class having never done it before. This video is a very gentle introduction to yoga that you can do at home with no one watching. It introduces you to breathing with your movements, gentle stretching and a deep relaxation at the end. 

Even though I’m a yoga teacher I still find it difficult sometimes to get on my mat to practice. Sometimes I’m uninspired, or don’t want to be alone and so incredibly present with myself and my feelings. Bringing my interrupted awareness to my breath and my body, as we do in yoga, can feel raw and challenging as the emotions and thoughts I’ve been ignoring come up to the surface. This may not feel comfortable in the moment but is so essential and cleansing – to move the energy of those thoughts and emotions through and eventually out of my body. 

That’s one of the many reasons I love following yoga videos at home – I feel like I’m not doing it alone and the teacher on the screen is supporting and guiding me. I hope you have a similar experience. 

 

Healing yin yoga and hip openers

gemma childs pose.jpg

It was a day of things going a little awry and then synchronistically working out perfectly.

I was planning on going to my morning Sivananda yoga class at the ashram in Putney, as I trained in this very soothing, classical style in India. I didn’t sleep well at last night so was waking and sleeping till late in the morning and missed my class. Not to be thwarted I decided to go along to a later class a local studio I haven’t been to before, a Yin class. I thought Yin, a very slow style of yoga where the poses are held for long periods of time, would suit me perfectly as I am recovering from chronic fatigue and so have been doing very little exercise recently.

The poses were a range of steady holding and gently flowing, it was physically harder than I expected to hold still for so long! I was very impressed by the teacher’s knowledge both in the realm of the spiritual and physical. The piece of information which stuck in my mind most and turned on a light bulb of understanding was her explanation of the iliopsoas.

She explained the iliopsoas is the only muscle that is attached to both the lower limbs and the torso (the spine) making its way down through the pelvis, it is actually the deepest muscle in the human body. In yoga it is known as the ‘muscle of the soul’ as it holds emotional as well as physical tension. When we are relaxed in life and feel able to express ourselves our hips tend to be more open, when we are in flight or fight response (stress) our hips become tighter and movement is reduced. This is why when practicing hip openers in yoga, especially in a yin yoga class (where we held a low lunge for at least 5 minutes!), often emotions and hidden frustrations come bubbling up to the surface.

This was my experience exactly, I knew that my right hip was especially tight, and I attributed it to difficult emotions connected to close male relationships in my life (right side of the body represents yang/ masculine energy). While holding the stretch on the right side the wave of emotions was overwhelming so much so that I feared I might cry out if I didn’t release the pose and take a break.

I loved the teacher’s beautiful, soulful and anatomically correct explanation of why the emotions are caught up in the hip area. I breathed through the emotions, through the discomfort in an effort to let go as much as I could. Often in a deep hip opener I can feel the resistance building in my body almost like very small convulsion and if I stay with it and breathe through it my body releases the blocked energy and I can relax and let go a little deeper.

This class, this teacher, this pose and this explanation were exactly what I need to heal and nourish myself today. And the bonus prize was the studio are offering a £25 unlimited pass for 2 weeks for newbies – so much to be grateful for in the flow of synchronicity.