Why I love teaching Yoga

Since the moment I decided that I was going to go for it and teach yoga life has been on a non-stop roller coaster and I have had very little time to think about the reasons why I want to teach yoga. The 8 weeks prior to starting the very first beginner yoga course seemed to be about an endless list of tasks to complete to prepare for the start of the course. Those efforts were worth it although perhaps a little stressful alongside working full time and working towards completing a leadership course. Never the less the actual teaching of yoga has been truly enjoyable and a heart warming experience too.

In recent weeks I have really felt the need to focus in on why I am teaching yoga, what is it purpose so I can help others. It all started with a free webinar that I came across by Yoga Teacher, Marketer and Entrepreneur Ryan Rockwell. For an hour of my time it was so worth it the webinar presented me with the opportunity to look at my own attitude to teaching yoga and also to look at my own attitude towards myself as a yoga teacher. From the webinar I was able to align myself with the true path of yoga in terms of Pantanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga and what they meant to me as a teacher, this provided the focus of what my foundation of integrity is in terms of teaching. Along with the webinar came a free workbook that helped me to gain further insight into why I am teaching yoga, how did yoga help me and most importantly what is it about Yoga that I love to teach so much. First of all I thought it would be nice to share how yoga helped me and then also why I love teaching yoga so much:

How Yoga helped me:
• Yoga helped me to overcome panic attacks, stress and anxiety
• Once I put myself on the mat I know it is time to focus on Yoga only so for that moment however long that is I forget about everything else that worries me, it provides a sense of peace. It provides a sense of freedom and I often find that what was worrying me has gone, I would gain a different perspective, become aware of a solution.

It creates a space for a new line of thought to come through.
• Yoga taught me to value myself and love myself.
• Yoga helped me to be more considerate of myself of what I wanted and needed. I started to hear myself more about what I needed and wanted in my life.
• It changed my perception that I wasn’t solely a nurse, that I had parts of myself that I had forgotten, a writer, experimental entrepreneur. It provided the confidence to experiment with what I thought was lost or unachievable.
• I became calmer, more relaxed, I reacted less and took more action, I stopped procrastinating and I loved more. It created space to do more, exercise more, eat better and sleep better.

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Why I love teaching Yoga so much:-

• I love to teach people with busy lives where they have little time for themselves. I love creating an opportunity for them to take time out once a week for 90mins where they can give themselves that time. It’s about self- care and self- love and recognising that it is okay to have that time for yourself.

•I love to teach people about the meaning of Yoga, Yoga means Union and connecting the mind body and breath, it provides a focus, a concept, an opportunity to leave behind whatever is outside the yoga room door, all be it for a short-time.

•I love teaching breath work and the benefit of how it helps to reduce anxiety, how it can help during panic attacks, heightened stress.

•I love teaching salute to the sun because it provides an opportunity of being in complete flow focusing on nothing else from asana, body movements and breath. It provides a free-flowing energy. A feeling of flying, of being free from stress and worry.

•I love how yoga provides an opportunity to look after themselves better, remember themselves, remember that they matter. How yoga can help improve confidence, better decision making. It brings you back to your true self.

There are so many benefits to yoga on all different levels, but this is what Yoga means to me, why it has been such an important factor in my life and above all why I love to teach Yoga and be the best teacher I can possibly be .. Continue reading “Why I love teaching Yoga”

Writing, Reflections and New Year Meditations

Happy New Year to you all, a new year, new goals, new opportunities and experiences. 2017 was an amazing year, I began 2017 in Prague, an awe- inspiring place full of history, architecture and art that demonstrates the most beautiful and creative souls that ever existed, can you imagine being inside the heart and mind of the architect Peter Parler who was responsible for the Gothic Design of the Charles Bridge? There were so many beautiful and unexpected moments in Prague I think it will always hold a special place in my heart.

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Fast forwarding to May, I was presented with an award for Leading Service Improvement, August I qualified as a Yoga Teacher, October I started to teach my own Yoga classes and in December I completed the Mary Seacole NHS Leadership Programme. In between all those events I have worked with some of the most inspiring and supportive group of people I have ever known and in the moments where I wanted to give up, especially the last 6 weeks of the year, they have kept me going with their care, support and encouragement. There have been plenty of mini-adventures along the way and towards the end of the year I was able to spend some quality time with my family and friends. I really enjoy reflecting on the first day of the new year as it helps me to focus on the year ahead and what is to come next.

I may have mentioned in previous posts that I write in a journal on a daily basis, usually after yoga, after meditation or before bed.  I usually find that if I do not write I tend to wake up in the middle of the night anyway and end up writing for an hour or so which isn’t always helpful before a busy day at work.  I like to just sit quietly with my journal on my knee, pen at my side and close my eyes for a few moments where I will clear my mind of any thoughts from the day.  As I breathe and relax there will be a few moments of nothingness, just an empty space but then out of nowhere the words will begin to flow clearly inter-connecting on paper as if they are meant to be together, a story to be told perhaps. I used this technique for an assignment that I had to do for my yoga course on practicing non-attachment and how it felt, the words just flowed in poetic form:

What it feels like to practice non-attachment

As I clear my mind from my thoughts of the day
I enter a space that feels happy and safe,
A moment of silence before the words start to flow
Not even I will know which way the story will go
As the words appear, concise and clear
There are no obstacles to face or problems to fear
For me as the writer there is no agitation
This certainly is not a place of stagnation
No boundaries are here just the freedom to fly high
Maybe the possibility that I can touch the sky
To be here means there is no lack of focus
My mind opens like a flowering Spring Crocus
I am always surprised to see the words on paper
Connecting with ease and often poetic in nature
Maybe a story I am trying to capture
With my mind and heart like an open door
I have the ability to love you more and more
The beauty of the world is all so transparent
This is how it feels to employ non-attachment

 

The poem was a complete surprise and just before I wrote it I had no idea that the words were going to present themselves like that, I was engaged completely in creative flow.

I have journals that I have written over the past few years full of poems, short stories and thoughts, ideas, goals, fears and positivity. The journals pictured below are a sample of journals that I have written in between April 2015-September 2017 and there are more.

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I love how on the first page of each one I write a little caption so for example the journal pictured in the middle was the first of the three and in the front page I have written, “A journal to write nice things in,”  I laugh when I read it because inside the journal are some really deep and dark thoughts, it is a journey of someone working their way through the muddiness of life and back into the light of their own heart. Considering I am usually about hearts, flowers and soft fluffy kittens I really cannot believe some of the things I have written, it is truly dark. The journal on the left is entitled “Changes” and contains pieces about changes in perception, challenging negative thoughts and belief systems and the third one on the right is titled, “It’s where the magic starts and the story ends..” and contains some really beautiful short stories on images visualized through meditation, poetry, of love and happiness.

The reason why I am writing about my journal antics is that yesterday I had some questions about life and direction which I meditated on. I then went to spend some time with my friends for New Years. When I arrived home I felt really unsettled and I couldn’t sleep, I was having all these light bulb moments, ideas and stories, I really should have written before bed but I hadn’t. After finally falling asleep I woke up this morning and made my way downstairs. I made some hot water and lemon and went to spend some time on my yoga mat. Once I had completed my morning routine with a supportive heart opener I had a desire to go downstairs and retrieve the journal I had bought on Saturday. I had made my way in to the city centre to find another hand stitched journal like the ones pictured above but disappointingly I could not find one. I was just about to leave the shop when one caught my eye, it is a little different to the ones I have bought before but I knew it was the right one to write in. It has a laser cut owl and is silver, dark blue and sparkly.

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With the journal on my knee and then pen in my hand I opened the first page and wrote the words that first came into my mind.

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On reflection it is about knowing you are living a life of purpose but sometimes there is something in the background that you have been ignoring that your heart and soul really wants to do. Thankfully I know what that means for me, it is just a case of deciding a definite course of action.

Happy New Year

Thank you for reading

Andrea

Teaching Yoga for the First Time

It is so cold today and the snow is falling thick and fast, so I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to stay inside, keep warm and reflect on my experience of teaching yoga as a newly qualified teacher before we move forwards into the new year.

The decision to start to teaching yoga was not an easy one, I knew my work load was heavy, but I felt that I really wanted to get going with the teaching. I resolved that there was never a right time to start something new and so set about preparing my very first 8-week beginners course. I am so passionate about teaching and I love it, it feels very natural to me and do not have any issue in speaking in front of a large group of people which has always seemed strange considering I am not a person that seeks the limelight. When I deliver any training my tone of voice completely changes, as does my posture and the words just flow without any effort. I always trust my own timings, so I work out what I have to say and then just deliver in whatever time I have, and it just works.

With all my teaching and workshop facilitation experience in mind the prospect of developing an 8- week course wasn’t so daunting. I also had a framework to work around that my teacher Mick had provided as part of the yoga teaching course and I was able to entwine my own ideas into the sessions to make them more in line with my own style of teaching. What did make me feel more nervous was the thought of teaching something new that I wasn’t very experienced at to others. Whilst training we had practiced in class but somehow teaching on my own to my own group of students felt very different. As the first class approached I could feel myself becoming more and more nervous but in the back of my mind I kept thinking it’s going to be okay and thought of all the preparation I had under taken and I had prepared, I had prepared the first session as if I had never practiced yoga before in my life to the point where I felt exhausted.

On the day of the first class my work calendar was full and in between meetings there wasn’t really much time to think about teaching yoga plus I had arrived in the place you are when you are approaching an exam or an interview for a new job, there isn’t anything you can do, you know it’s coming and you just need to embrace the experience and just go for it and give the best you can.

Not long into the first class I remember there being a moment where all the students were in Savasana and I started to panic as I thought to myself I really cannot do this, but I stopped my unhelpful thoughts from going any further as I remembered who I was. I remembered all the times I had taught, from the first student nurse I mentored to developing and delivering infection control programmes in Northern Uganda and not to mention the very first time I delivered a beginners’ jewellery making workshop. All those experiences at some point had been new but I managed to do it every single time and so why should this moment be any different. As I relaxed into my thoughts I felt my natural teaching flow return and before I knew it the first session was over.

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Following each class, I always engage in a post teaching reflection to see if anything could have been done differently or improved for the next class and after the second class I realised that yoga wasn’t a new subject to me I had been practicing yoga for 10 years and I really didn’t need to plan sessions as if I had never done yoga before, I needed to be more confident in what I knew and my ability to deliver. This realisation seemed to improve my confidence and I started to relax even more. I noticed week by week that I became more creative in my teachings despite the teaching plan. What I taught and when was very much led by where the yoga students were in their practice I knew when to speed things up, slow things down and when to challenge the students a little further. By class 8, I had the briefest of class plans and I completely improvised based on what the students wanted to do, and it felt right, I was completely in creative flow. It was such a good feeling to see how the students had grown and developed but also for myself as the teacher. I feel so grateful that I am able to teach something that I love.  With two classes per week coming up in the new year I am really looking forward to developing further as a teacher and assist the students to develop their practice too.

See you soon

Andrea

The Journey so Far

For those that know me well, I have a love of writing.  About 7 years ago I started to write a book, I have a completed manuscript but so far I have not done anything with it.  I still view it has a work in progress and from time to time I pick it up and re-write sections of it, I love doing it and I have always said it will have its place in time.   As well as the book I am an avid journal writer, I write in my journal every night most of the time before bed but sometimes I write in my journal after yoga practice or as part of a meditation exercise.  I am almost through my 4th journal this year.  A few years ago I started to write a blog called Love Yourself Better. I wrote it because I found myself having these constant negative thoughts that needed to be challenged and it was a great way to get everything out of my system and challenge things.  Writing things down provides a release to all the things you are holding onto but maybe not able to vocalise. It is a great way of facing your feelings and fears in a non threatening way.  Writing helps to put things into perspective, it helps you to untangle your thoughts and feelings,  you can then analyse it, make sense of it, identify patterns and you can challenge your thinking behind what you have written.  So when I qualified as a yoga teacher and set up classes it was only natural that I wanted to blog at the same time too.  Unfortunately I haven’t had much spare time to write anything as I have been working my way through 12 very long leadership modules and they have had to come first, I still have a 2000 word assignment to write but I am almost there.  Today is the first time that I have had some space to write and I have so wanted to.  Writing is an intuitive process and I know when it is time to write, I know when the words I have to say are ready to come out on paper or on screen.  I usually have an idea what to write but then I start writing or typing and something else miraculously appears.

It seems such a long time since I qualified as a yoga teacher along with Gemma, Jo, Tatjana and Lauren.  Yet it is only four months ago.

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Teaching Yoga was a journey I never expected to undertake, it was never in the plan.  I had been considering applying for a Lecturers post at the University and I was part way through an application but something didn’t feel quite right and I decided to sleep on it.  The following day I saw an email from Mick at the YogaLife Project  in Manchester advertising their Yoga Teacher Training Course and I knew that that was something I would like to do and after a little more consideration I decided to sign up.

Two years later I am teaching my own beginners class, again something I never expected to do.  On the day I received my certificate I remember feeling a little lost and thinking where do I go from here.  I hadn’t planned to teach this side of Christmas due to the leadership course but with 12 months insurance paid for it seemed such a shame to waste it.  I had many sleepless nights wondering/debating if I should start teaching or not.  My main concern was that I was studying at the same time and I was worried it would all be a bit too much to do.  I noticed a local school was advertising a gym space for hire and I decided to contact them and ask if they had space and they did.  From then on everything fell into place.

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The very first beginners course started on the 30th October and it is running for 8 weeks, the Monday coming up will be class 6, I cannot believe we are heading towards the end already.  I am very passionate about teaching and I regularly run workshops and educational sessions through my job anyway so it is great that I can teach something else that I love too. I cannot tell you it has all been easy and there have been a couple of times when everything has bottlenecked and I have felt the pressure of working full time, facilitating and preparing workshops, studying for my course, teaching yoga, running a home and just generally keeping up with life.  At those times of pressure it has been really important to take time out, make sure I get some fresh air or bring myself to the soothing kindness of my yoga mat but it has all been worth it and I am proud of what has been achieved these past few months.

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From January 2018 there will be two classes, another leap of faith,  but I wanted to be able to accommodate those students that had really developed their yoga practice and wanted to explore yoga a little more and have the opportunity to deepen their practice but also maintain the more gentle level of beginners for those who preferred that style or are new to yoga.  I am really looking forward to 2018 and developing the yoga classes further, it really is quite an exciting time.  To see classes available, dates and prices please visit here

Om Nema Sivaya

Andrea

 

 

What happens in class…

I thought it might be helpful for those who are attending the forthcoming 8 week beginners yoga course or are thinking of doing the course to write a blog piece about what happens in class. The prospect of a 90 minute class can be quite daunting one but more so a very enjoyable one. It offers the time and the opportunity to explore yoga, delve a little deeper within ourselves and most importantly relax.

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Have you ever taken the time to observe the body following a long working day at the office, perhaps you have been sat at your desk all day, or you have been on your feet for hours, some of you may have been driving for a long period of time in the car or perhaps just moving from one meeting to another with very little movement in between? If we take a moment to notice we can feel a series of aches and pains running through our bodies, tightness in our joints, stiffness in the neck and heavy tired eyes from hours of concentration. We can alleviate these symptoms by engaging in yoga practice but for it to be effective we need to combine both movement and breath.

Yoga classes consist of an 8 part sequence, connecting the mind, body and breath that creates a sense of balance. For most classes (apart from class 1 and possibly class 2) on arrival we will sign in, move to the mat area and settle into Savasana also known as Corpse posture. As we settle and relax you may still be aware of the aches and pains that have been accumulating throughout the day but in yoga practice the smallest of movements can make a difference to how we feel. As we close our eyes and begin to move inwards (part 1) we immediately remove ourselves from our working day and we begin to prepare for the here and now, our yoga practice. As we begin to focus on our inward and outward breathing our bodies begin to respond and start to relax, we will start to feel the tension in our bodies that we have been holding in our bodies disappear and we begin to forget that the tension ever existed.

As we venture from relaxation into conscious yogic breathing (part 2) we become energized preparing for our intention setting through solar salutation (part 3). When we begin to move our bodies no muscles or pair of muscles or joint works in isolation, they work together. It is usually tension that causes restricted movement but by focusing inwards on our bodies and continuation of our conscious yogic breathing the tension releases and we can move more easily.As asana practice (part 4) deepens through exploration of postures (part 5) it provides further opportunity to observe the body, what tension is left can be released by focusing the breath on these areas. Asana practice impacts on the health and wellbeing of the spinal cord, allowing are energy to flow more easily.

As we return to stillness (part 6) our bodies are free from tension a result of the combined movement and yogic breathing. We are present, removed from the past that was just a few hours ago. We will recognise/know that a change has occurred, and have created an absolute balance of wellbeing on the physical, mental, emotional on spiritual levels (part 7). Following our yoga blessings we will leave our yoga session behind with a sense of peace, harmony and wellbeing just as we were meant to be (part 8).

Om Nema Sivaya

Yoga and I

Prior to 2007 I had taken part in a handful of Yoga classes at the local gym. The classes were an hour long and the sessions were busy with about 25-30 people in them if not more. The classes were okay but it was difficult to remove myself from the constant thud of the beat of the music in the main gym area next door. At that point in time I didn’t feel yoga was for me. Fast forwarding a few years I was a member of a different gym and it was more geared up towards spa and relaxation, they had 90 minute yoga classes on offer but at that time again, I didn’t feel that yoga was for me.

In 2006 I sold my house and gave up my job and travelled for 8 months. I was unsettled at home and I was in a job that I had stopped enjoying. I had gone from School, Sixth form college, University and then continued with Postgraduate study. I was 31 and still had not left the education system. I was burnt out, exhausted and felt like I needed something more. Around the same time I started to have panic attacks and even though I would get up each day and do what I needed to do my anxiety was taking its toll. I was struggling to find something else that I wanted to do and one day it was suggested that I take some time out and go travelling. It seemed such a ludicrous idea at first but once I had thought about it seemed like a perfect solution.

I travelled to Thailand part way through my journey and as part of a cultural experience I had stayed in a Buddhist Temple.  It was here that practiced meditation 3 times a day. It was a truly enjoyable experience and far different from any meditation experience I had had from the yoga classes in the gym all those years before. The experience stayed with me for quite some time. Unfortunately, on returning to the UK, resuming study and going back to work the panic attacks returned and I was back to square one. This time I did take advantage of the longer yoga classes at the gym, I finally felt ready for Yoga.

The class was small, intimate and away from the main gym, it was quieter,  you could hear noise but it wasn’t so off putting. That first class was memorable for a few different reasons, firstly I was in a high state of anxiety at the thought of going to a class I had never been before, my anxiety continued for the majority of the class.  I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it through, but it was most memorable because at the end of the 90 minutes my anxiety was gone, I had survived. The connection I had made in my mind that if I practice yoga my anxiety would go stayed with me and I never looked back. As the months and years passed I am relatively anxiety free. I say not totally because I am human and sometimes as humans we let work and worry take over, the constant news feed from mainstream media and social media alike cause anxiety.   They  play on our fears and concerns, we pick up so much negativity from these sources we often don’t even realise it, yet what we see and read stays with us affecting our thoughts and feelings. Our thoughts are rarely present and seem to ricochet between the past and the future causing confusion of where we are and what we are meant to be doing.

There are so many benefits to Yoga but for myself it has so much more meaning. Yoga has taught me how to be calm, how to deal with stress, how to remove myself from drama and cope with challenges. Sometimes I forget and my thoughts will flit from past to future and from future to past but Yoga is a constant gentle and kind reminder that there is no past or future and takes me back to where I am meant to be, in the present.