Finding Your Contentment

I used to have a conversation years ago whether it was better to be content or happy. and what the difference between the two states of being were.
Think about happy, and it’s a bit more ‘in the now’ and think about content, and it’s a bit more ‘long term’. Both are great places to be, but which is best?

Should we be striving to be happy or content?

If happy is not a permanent state of being then surely we should be organising our lives and the things in it to be content. But where do the moments of euphoria or happy fit into this long term, one note contented state?
As I’ve grown older and worked more in depth with my mind through yoga and meditation, I have realised that the two are not mutually exclusive. They are blurred with no fixed points. We should be content with moments of happy.
The universal aim of yoga is to make happiness our constant state, rather than a fleeting moment in time.
Working on our internal self, we realise that nothing is permanent, nothing really matters but we are kind and considerate of others, we show compassion to those who are suffering, and to ourselves. We are not a slave to our ego, but learn to be confident and content just to be.
I thought I always lived this way, until I noticed I was indeed attached to ‘things’ for happiness. Material things. And over time, this attachment disappeared,
I can’t even say it was conscious, but other things became more important. Other things began to make me happier than I’d ever been. Yoga namely, and bringing yoga to new people.

Finding contentment in every days things

I’ve always been an easily pleased person, finding happiness in the small things. I think when you come from a background of chaos and unhappiness, it’s easy to see happiness for what it is. Oh, the bus came on time, the fridge is full, my dog just made the cutest face, etc… these things are tiny but huge at the same time.

It might be useful to keep a diary every day of things you are grateful for. Start each morning with a full heart, and end it with a full list of everyday things. A nice tasty lunch, you went to the gym, you meditated on the bus, all possible, all likely to happen over the course of your day.

It’s good to be both content and happy. If our life was a mountain climb, then content is our basecamp, and happy is our peaks.

An easy way to find contentment is on a Yoga Mat! So find your content at one of our classes in Edinburgh! 

What are the Different Styles of Yoga?

Yoga is yoga, yet you may be surprised to learn that it comes in many different styles. Hot Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Yin Yoga, and more!

No yoga class is really the same, and no studio really teaches the same. That may give you an understanding of why there is so much fuss about Yoga, and why the people who go love it so much.

For a new person to Yoga it can be challenging to find the style of yoga that you enjoy. It is therefore essential that you try as many different types of yoga before you find ‘The One’.

Not only are there different styles, there are 1000’s of different teachers. What you may not enjoy from one teacher, you may LOVE in another teacher. Imagine finding a class, teacher, or studio that makes your heart sing? Imagine! 

Yoga really is for everybody, so please don’t write it off if you’ve tried a class and didn’t become an instant fan. Try different styles on for size!

Yoga styles in a nutshell. (Call it a 101 of Yoga but not to its face)

Pretty much all western yoga came via the same person, Tirumalai Krishmanacharya, often called the father of modern Yoga.

Yep, pretty much all of the Yoga we know today came directly from him and his Shala in Mysore, India.

Students of the brands of yoga we practise, Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Vinyasa were handed down from T Krishmanacharya. What an amazing legacy.

If it didn’t come from Krishmanacharya directly, it came from a student who studied under him.

There are 4 main styles of yoga that you will find on a class timetable, and here I explain a little on their history and what you can expect from a class.

Hatha Yoga

History: Hatha yoga is basically all yoga. It is the earliest form of yoga to be documented and dates back to the 15th century. It includes standing postures, seated postures and twists.  The Hatha Yoga Pradikipa is one of the most cited yoga texts and very much worth a read if you are interested in exploring Yoga’s rich history.

What to expect: Just as its history is varied, Hatha takes many forms in yoga classes too, varying from teacher to teacher. It is generally slower and great for beginners. A class will take you through different postures and you will hold them for several breaths. thoroughly enjoyable and a definitely a good place to start.

Summary
Gentle, slow and great for beginners .

Vinyasa Yoga

History: Vinyasa originates from the Ashtanga school of yoga. Ashtanga Yoga practise starts with Sun Salutations A and B, and these vinyasas are also included later in the practise.

Vinyasas are also taken to balance out the body. This heady flow creates heat and balance in the body. Vinyasa is a western style that joins all of the Hatha Yoga postures (and some new ones!) into a flowing style.

What to expect: A faster paced class that moves between postures, leading from one to the next in a flowing style. Generally one side of the body is worked through postures, before repeating the sequence on the other side.

Classes can vary in pace, so pay attention to what is listed in the class description. Slower classes will generally be listed as Gentle Vinyasa. Music is normally played too, so let go and enjoy!

Side note: Vinyasa classes changed Yoga for me, they were quite a revelation compared to the Hatha classes I had been used to.

Summary
Faster-paced, fun and all about flow – a real revelation

Ashtanga Yoga

History: Ashtanga Yoga founder Sri K Pattabi Jois studied under Krishmanacharya in 1930’s.  Ashtanga means Eight Limbs in Sanskrit and this is the basis of its style of yoga. The eight limbs in yoga are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. (I will go into these in more depth in another post but if you can’t wait, google or read up!). Ashtanga yoga is rather disciplined and follows a set sequence, moving with breath and count, enabling students to move along the series as they attain new asana. Ashtanga follows the moon cycles and students do not practise on full moon days, or Moon days as they are called.

What to expect: A set routine starting with Sun Salutations A & B, then standing postures leading to seated postures, then backbends, inversions, meditation, and savasana. Ashtanga is fast-paced and great for building strength.

If you can try a Mysore room at an Edinburgh Ashtanga studio, you will learn so much more about this style of yoga and how it works for you.

Summary
More disciplined and great for building strength

Iyengar Yoga

History: Iyengar studied under Krishmanacharya but only for 1 year, he was then sent to oversee a shala in Pune. Side note, he was also Krishmanachayra brother-in-law not that this earned him any favour, quite the contrary.

The two had a troublesome relationship. Despite this Iyengar always credits his Guriji with his success. His book Light on Yoga is a worldwide bestseller. We can also credit Iyengar with developing Restorative Yoga. 

What to expect: A class with props and adjustments. Iyengar yoga is almost a personal prescription of yoga and teachers have to undergo vigorous training to teach. You will be in very safe hands if this style suits you.

Summary
A more personal class, with teacher and pupil working closely together

Yin Yoga

History: Yin Yoga was developed in the 70’s by Taoist Paulie Zink, who was better known as a martial art practitioner. He took Hatha yoga postures and separated them into Yin and Yang classes, adding the Yin postures he developed. Sometimes his classes lasted 8 hours! His students Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers brought Yin yoga to wider audiences, helping to spread into the West.

What to expect: A slower paced class with perhaps only 6 postures, all floor based. Poses are held for 2-5 minutes. Yin yoga works with deeper tissue and fascia, as well as ligaments, aiming to improve flexibility.

Summary
A slow class aiming to build strength and improve flexibility.

Other types of yoga

Hot Yoga

History

Hot Yoga was brought to the west by Bikram Choudhury, who began heating his studios to the same temperature of his home town, Calcutta. It is believed he did this after seeing this type of yoga practiced in Japan. Hot Yoga became a fierce trend and everyone who was anyone began tweeting about it!

What to expect

Yoga poses in heated studios. Bikram Yoga is a sequence of 26 postures true to the Bikram style, whereas Hot Yoga might defer and follow a Vinyasa style of sequence. Temperatures are normally listed, usually 32°C or 28°C. Warm Yoga is practiced at  22°C. Classes are high energy and you will SWEAT!

Yoga Nidra

History

Around for centuries, Yoga Nidra has its roots in Buddhism and Hinduism. Yoga Nidra is a form of meditation and sleep-but-awake mindfulness. Enabling the student to become super-relaxed. It has become popular in recent years because of its relaxation properties.

What to expect

A dark, possibly candle-lit, room. A teacher talking you through a body scan to relax every part of your body, then a visualisation exercise to bring you to a deeper awareness. Expect to feel extremely relaxed to the point that you might fall asleep.

You will find a good array of yoga classes at most studios in Edinburgh. The key is try a good selection until you find the one that suits you best!

 

I hope you have a better understanding of Yoga styles and could confidently walk into a class knowing what to expect. We’re lucky in Edinburgh to have such a great array of studios on our doorstep. You’ll find a great selection of teachers, and studios, as well as classes.

They say that the best things are learned when we introduce fun into the equation, so I hope you have some fun finding a studio that sings to the beat of your drum!

Join me for Yoga at South Edinburgh Yoga 

Striving for Perfection in Yoga

It can be difficult to enjoy yoga for the benefits it has if you are striving for perfection. But just like one size does not fit all, no yoga pose will fit all. So pushing aside the ‘perfect’ idea of a pose is better for your practise.

Yoga is hard to not judge on looks, as we learn it by mimicking images. We follow our teachers, You tube videos or photographs in books.

The physical reality of how a pose feels, is different to how it looks.

Unless you are filming or photographing yourself, or practising in front of a mirror, how will you truly know what your pose looks like? And striving to copy a pose might not be the correct way to practise it for YOU.

I was led to my Teacher training because I wanted to know once and for all how to pose an asana. While I learned the basics, I also learned that adjustments are imperative to make a pose work best for you. It is your practise after all. Feeling good within your asana is so much more important that nailing that Instagram post.

Instagram Yoga

Instagram is Yoga’s biggest fan and enemy as it shows extremities of Yoga. If a picture speaks a thousands words, an Instagram post leaves out years of practise, and or perhaps natural flexibility.

In our busy lives we may soak up an image in a split second and not read the caption that goes with it. We might miss that a student has spent years trying to headstand, or Bakasana, Or spent years training as a dancer before finding yoga, perhaps they are in their 20’s now but started yoga at 16.

Instead of expecting to replicate what they can do with their ability, we forget that we are on a journey with our ability.

Leave the images behind and go on how you feel. Turn your focus inwards, as yoga is so much more than asana.

Yoga is more than Asana

Meditation and Mindfulness is a huge factor in Yoga. Yoga was developed so we could sit and meditate for a long time. The poses were developed to focus our minds, and stretch our bodies so we could sit comfortably for long periods of time.

The Meditation came first, asana comes last. So making a focus on asana and not meditation defeats the purpose of Yoga. But hey, we are Humans, of course we get carried away with our feats, achievements and victories.

We forget that we are already perfect.

We forget that we are important in our lives, and striving to be someone else is madness. We have a natural tendency to replicate or copy, but finding yourself, loving yourself, and being yourself is key to life. Finding the poses that work best for you is important, because you are important.

Meet yourself on a mat nearest to you now.

Our classes run all through Edinburgh, join in the perfect movement. 

Having Fun in Your Yoga Class

I am the first person to say Yoga should be taken seriously, but I think yoga classes have room for fun.

Yoga is an ancient practise, I always send a thanks to the ancient yogis when I teach classes, and encourage my students to. I think it’s possible to be respectful yet playful within your classes.

Beyond Trikonasana

I want my students to see more of yoga than Trikonasana, Veera Badrasana A & B, Utthita Parsvakonasana. I want Yoga to become a curiosity to them, to know there is so much to explore. I think this is done with touching on postures like Headstand, Crow Pose and Bird of Paradise. How wonderful do you feel when you think Bird of Paradise is impossible and then find yourself doing it? Very wonderful!

When we go to class, it’s nice to try new poses and asana that we are aspiring to, rather than sticking to basic poses. How will we know what our bodies and minds are capable of, if we don’t try new things with them?

The full potential of asana

Yoga as part of your life is best I think, and having a good directory of asana to aspire to opens up this ancient world. I’m not saying that I teach advanced poses every week, I most definitely teach beginners, but I think those beginners should have a goal.

It can take years to fully realise the potential of an asana, and having fun along the way, stretching our minds is helpful. Plus, an extra bit of fun in your practise makes your smile brighter!

Maybe there is an asana that speaks to you more than others, and one that will make sure you come back to your mat time and again to practise that. That can only be a good thing.

 

Join me for fun classes in Edinburgh this week 

When is Best to Practise Yoga?

If you practise yoga regularly you may have wondered at some point whether it’s best to practise in the morning or evening. Ultimately it is better to have some kind of yoga practise than spend time worrying when is best to practise yoga! Making sure you stretch your body and relax your mind is more important than the time you do it. Your body will love whenever, and whatever,  type of yoga you practise.

Some styles of yoga, like Ashtanga Yoga will ask that you practice in the morning. Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga don’t have a preference, but Yin Yoga asks that you practise with cold muscles, as you want them to relax and be able to work in the deeper tissues and ligaments.

Morning Yoga Practise

I personally like to practise in the morning, as per Ashtanga Yoga, there is something so lovely and fulfilling about yoga in the early hours. If you are lucky, you might get to see a lovely clear star lit sky and a shining moon as you roll out your mat. Not to mention a sunrise as you begin to savasana.

Many yoga studios in Edinburgh run early morning classes and you can easily find a studio close to you with showers so you can get ready for work afterwards.

Practising in the morning means your body is stretched and relaxed for the day ahead. You also get virtuous points for getting up early and working out. Go you!

Evening Yoga Classes

Alternatively, you’ll find plenty of studios with evening classes. From my personal experience with both times of classes, I find you have a busier studio in the evening, perhaps the yang energy of the day comes along with the students?

A good thing about evening classes is that you will find a good variation of yoga class styles in Edinburgh. You’ll also find a time that suits you better. You could attend straight from work or go home and eat before coming back out to a Yoga class. Your body will enjoy the energy you bring to it when you practise in the evening. Perhaps you could even take a Restorative Yoga class or Yoga Nidra, ensuring you sleep like a baby afterwards.

Join me for Morning and Evening Yoga classes in Edinburgh.

I run Yoga classes at Places gym on a Monday morning at 6.15am so do feel free to join us on any given Monday. You can also find me on a Wednesday evening at Cafe Noir West End of Edinburgh.

The Fundamentals of Being a New Yoga Teacher

Learn to be a yoga teacher they said, spread joy where ever you go they said, it’ll be fun they said!

They weren’t kidding. It has been A LOT of fun and I definitely feel the joy, but it’s also been a steep learning curve.

Navigating any new business world is exciting, there are often bumps and steps in the road. Knowing where to put your next foot is imperative to your journey! Although, to enter a rabbit hole, the journey is always a journey, amairite? 

No matter how long your experience and knowledge of yoga, you’re going to come up with hurdles in the first little while when setting up. That’s normal in any business and Yoga maybe more so as the people on the other side (aka other teachers) are very precious about the Yoga they know.

This should never deter you or make you feel inferior about the yoga you know and want to teach. Stand strong. You have the tools to create and spread light just as much as the next Yoga teacher.

That said, there’s a certain sequence of steps to take a newly qualified teacher. The most common advice I’ve detailed below, with it’s pros and cons, and ebbs and flows!

Insure, register and disclose

First up – you need to register and insure yourself as a yoga teacher.

We chose to combine our insurance with registering with Yoga Alliance UK .  It came in about £180, although there was a discount as my Yoga Teacher Training was YA approved. 

Your local run gym will no doubt have a schedule packed with Yoga classes, so it’s a good idea to pop your name down to cover for them. For this you’ll need to get a Basic Disclosure Scotland, easy to apply for, costs £20 and can be done online in 10 minutes. It can take a few weeks to receive it in the post as they thoroughly check your history, so best get it done asap.

Once you have these in place, you can proceed up the pathway to the next stop on your journey – teaching!

Transitioning to Teaching

You will always have so many options as a new yoga teacher, remember that. Your training was worth something. You are worth something. Never undersell yourself, or your services. Finding your particular path happens in time. I personally have always been drawn to gentle, restorative yoga, I come from a fitness background and for me, approaching anything too gung-ho and not respecting your body is trouble in waiting. Respect your body, practise self-care, especially when you are setting up as a new teacher. It can be daunting, but don’t let it consume you.

Find time for yourself, and your own personal practise. Don’t worry about other yoga teachers and what they are doing. You are your priority, you and your students.

You have trained as a Yoga Teacher for good reason. You have always had the power my dear. ( To steal a well-known film phrase)

Find a Yoga Studio

Finding a yoga studio to take a chance on a newly qualified yoga teacher isn’t easy. You are advised to go along and practise at the studio, build a relationship with them, then ask to teach cover classes, in the hope that sometime in the future the long list of dependable cover teachers they have has ran dry.

The gem here is, that it sometimes does, so don’t lose hope.

However, I think it’s fitting that Yoga studios are built on communities, and like any community it is always challenging for new people to join in. It’s fair for members that a strong and solid teaching group has been set. If you are truly invested in a yoga studio, then it’s worth waiting around for the chance to teach there.

Set up classes

Finding a space and setting up your own classes is easy in principal, but you have lots to consider. First is cost of renting your space, second is marketing your class, and third is finding an empty, suitable space.

Spaces are usually full of yoga/pilates/zumba classes already. So how do you find a space that is suitable for you? Ask EVERYONE you know, shout about it online, check friends, family and neighbours. Nine times out of ten someone will know a space. Perhaps look for local coffee shops to collaborate with. Would they like to run classes before they have opened? It’s becoming popular! South Edinburgh Yoga, for example, rents a space above a Gin Bar. Genius! Be inventive. Yoga can be done on the space the size of a mat, you do not need a lot of room. The space just needs to be nice to practise in.

I wish you well on your Yoga teaching journey, may the force be with you!

 

Sign up for our new Wednesday and Saturday Classes here 

 

 

 

Why it’s Okay to Begin Somewhere

edinburgh beginners yoga classes

Since starting out in Yoga so many people have expressed a desire to start taking my classes. I’m so chuffed about this, as this is why I started teaching Yoga, I want people to go to Yoga!

A common theme I have noticed is that people think being a beginner means that they can’t possibly come to a class. I’m sure you’ll join in on my dismay, because of course you can be a beginner and go to Yoga classes. The very core of my Yoga teaching is to bring yoga to people who have never practised before.

I have a wonderful quote pinned to my kitchen wall, and it goes something like this;

Anyone who was ever successful in anything, artists, actors, scientists, etc, were all beginners once.

We have to begin, otherwise we’d never have new experiences, new skills, and new enjoyment.

Please let it be clear that the yoga poses you see on Instagram, are not the yoga poses that are expected of you. Most Yogi’s who post advanced poses have been practising for years, and years, and years. Yoga is a life choice, not an Instagram post.

There are also individuals who come to yoga from a dance background too, making them naturally predisposed to litheness and fitness. It may seem that yoga is new to them and they are wildy advanced at it very quickly. But just like advanced Yogis, they have been practising for years and years in a similar discipline, often since early childhood.

You often find in a yoga class that different abilities become apparent in different people. Some may be able to touch their toes easily, and some may be able to balance easily. Just like in our daily life, we’re all capable of different things.

It’s very rare you’ll walk into a yoga class and be able to complete all the asana to their full potential. That’s not the point of yoga.

The point of Yoga is that you are invested in your body, your health and your mind.

It doesn’t matter where you start, all that matters is that you start. Your Yoga teacher will be there to lead you in a class, but the practise is your own. Just like you roll up your mat and take it home with you, so you do your practise.

Learning to accept your journey where it is, is key to a happy yoga practise, and a happy life I think.

Our genetics give us so much, and they give us our body shapes. We can’t, and never should, compare our bodies with another’s physique. We are not all built the same. And that’s what makes us all so varied, gorgeous and wonderful to get to know!

I hope this sends you some comfort, and I hope you book the yoga class you’ve been considering taking.

You are worth it, dear beginner!

Join us for beginner’s Yoga classes in Edinburgh