Updated: Nov 30, 2021
© Copyright 2021 Artwork by Cordi Neckermann
Ever since I started practicing yoga about 15 years ago, I had always wondered why I should contort my body into impossible shapes, when the real point of yoga is to learn how to slow down and let go of the pushy, goal oriented part of ourselves. Later on, during my various teacher training courses, I finally learned the meaning of it all and my suspicions were confirmed. Form (of the body) is for the soul, whereas range of motion (or contortion) is for the ego! In essence, the most basic yoga poses and meditation practices offer the fulfilment and all the physical and mental benefits we need, providing they are performed with the correct alignment and guidance. This avoids the requirement for body contortion and yoga torture!
Yoga is for every BODY
There is no law that says you can only do yoga if you can touch your toes with your nose or lift your leg over your head, nor is this the goal of a yoga practice! The purpose of yoga is to unite our head, heart and body, thoughts, feelings and sensations. This does NOT mean think of a goal and torture your body by ignoring all its sensations and feelings. The only requirement to start a yoga practice is by actually having a human body (unless you know of a good alien yoga teacher!) and the willingness to pay loving attention to this body, including all thoughts and feelings which it produces, as well as the sensations it creates when we move.
Stretching feels good. We stretch naturally after sitting for a long time or when we are trying to release any tension. Stretching should never feel like torture. The expression Yoga-pain is a contradiction in itself. Yoga is not supposed to cause pain... it should only result in Yoga-smiles. Yoga-smiles happen when we feel just the right kind of challenge in a pose. You should feel each alignment point in its place in harmony with your range of motion, whilst at the same time, being able to breathe in comfortably and even laugh. If your face turns into stone in a pose, you can’t breathe freely and you'll most likely need a forklift truck to prise you out of bed the following morning. That is definitely NOT yoga. It is some form of weird self-torture, which is exactly the opposite of yoga.
The lighter side of Yoga
When I started my yoga journey, I had an amazing teacher who brought a wonderful sense of humour and lightness to her classes that made me fall in love with yoga and eventually inspired me to become a yoga teacher myself. I have however, attended classes where the vibe was completely different. Lots of shushing, angry looks and disapproving facial expressions flying around the room when there was too much happiness or enjoyment happening. Belive me, when all your chakras are blocked, there is absolutely nothing to laugh about.
All jokes aside, yoga does have a deeply spiritual side that deserves respect and reverence. This is one aspect which I very much respect and this is the reason I focus more on alignment and practicality in my classes. Making it easy to take the teachings and benefits of yoga from the mat out into your daily life is something which is really important for me. I believe teaching self-love and taking things a little more lightly in a yoga class, creates a positive and inclusive atmosphere for all participants. Whilst I have learned all the deeper, spiritual background to yoga during my extensive training, I have consciously removed this element from my classes and no longer make reference to it. I truly believe everyone should feel comfortable and welcome in my classes, regardless of their own belief system, background, gender or body type. Remember, yoga is for every BODY!
Practicing yoga together; moving, breathing and meditating is something that unites us as humans. The deeper spiritual connection that results out of a yoga practice is to be interpreted by each individual and not influenced by me as a yoga teacher. There are some wonderful yoga teachers who embrace the spiritual teachings and do it with love and care. One of my favourite teachers here in London is Zephyr Wildman. I however, will happily leave it to these teachers to teach such advanced techniques and am focussing instead, on introducing people to yoga and teaching the basics, which I find incredibly rewarding.
Dance to the flow of your own breath
The most valuable tool that yoga offers is learning to move to the flow of your own breath. There are a multitude of benefits for both the body and mind that stem from this practice. Dancing to the flow of your own breath, paying attention and being kind to yourself are the three golden rules in my yoga class. Torture through stretching has no room in my practice and funnily enough, science seems to agree with me there. Stretching to maintain a healthy range of motion and alignment is enough to stay fit and healthy. You don’t need to be able to throw yourself into a split or stick your nose to your toes. Slow and steady wins the race.
If you feel like adding some extra heart to your yoga practice or you feel ready to try it out for the first time, please click here to book your spot in my Happy Morning Yoga class. I also teach one to one session online or in person, depending on where you are located. Drop me an email at email@example.com to book a private lesson.
Take care and stay aligned,