“It’s so good when it stops”

When I hear this phrase in one of my classes, at the end of working into a fairly taxing main posture, it sets me to wondering why we go to a class to do something we could equally well accomplish at home.  Practising in the comfort of your own home means you can do yoga at any time that suits.  You can do exactly which postures you like and in the colder months you don’t have to brave the wind and rain to get there.  It’s cheaper and you don’t miss out if you can’t attend a session.  Hmmm. It’s starting to sound like I am trying to do myself out of a job!

Despite all the benefits of practising at home, so many of us (myself included!) prefer to attend a regular class instead.  So what is it that makes a yoga class special?  Although yoga is essentially a personal and individual experience, there is something more enjoyable about participating in a group.  Of course, there is the social aspect; you may attend the class with a friend, or get to know others who regularly go to that session.  There is a united camaraderie in working together in postures you are like or are less keen on (but know are good for you!) and motivation to be had in seeing the efforts of others.  Personally, I enjoy abdicating responsibility for the structure of the session to someone else.  In a group class, you are guided through a series of postures that have been planned to work and stretch all parts of the body as you move towards the pinnacle of the main posture for that session.  The mind doesn’t need to worry about what to do next and you can really let go, just focussing on the breath and coming into each moment as it unfolds.

Tempted? There are still spaces for after the break, starting from 4th November.  So if you are dithering about joining a class, why not give it a try?

Share

Welcome

Featured

…to my yoga website!  Please use the menus above to find information about my classes and workshops, including venue information and details of my booking and pricing system for term-time classes.

Tuesday evening yoga has now moved to Bournville Quaker Meeting House.  It is still a drop-in session, so there is no need to pre-book. If you have some previous experience of yoga, even just a few weeks, why not come and join us?  

Term-time classes started again from Monday 4th November. For details of all classes please click here.  There are still a few spaces left, so please get in touch if you would like to join us.

Data Protection is big news at the moment with the introduction of the new GDPR.  My Data Protection Policy is available here.

Om shantii

Jillx

Share

Yoga and mindfulness at Woodbrooke

One of the highlights of my summer is teaching at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre.  This year the course is slightly earlier, running Wednesday, 15 August 2018 – Friday, 17 August 2018.  Our title this time is “Sense and Perception: Bringing Together Yoga, Mindfulness & Photography.”

The yoga sessions will be gentle and suitable for beginners, with an emphasis on mindful practice rather than physical ability. Mats and blankets will be provided, but you will need to bring a digital camera you are comfortable using – your phone camera will be perfect.

The course costs £170.00 non-residential or £245.00 residential and places can be booked online with Woodbrooke by following this link.

I hope to see you in August!

Share

All on a level?

If you have visited the list of classes I offer, you may have noticed that i have assigned them different levels, 1, 2 and 3.  The idea is that this might make it easier for people to choose the class most suited to them. In case you are still wondering which one to choose, here is a bit of an insight into those levels.

The 3 levels sound straightforward enough, but in actual fact there can be a few different reasons why a certain class might be the most suitable. For instance, take ‘beginners’ as a description.  Generally this would mean a class which was introducing yoga and avoided more challenging postures or other practices.  That sounds pretty simple.

However, such a class can also be of benefit to those who have more experience but want to work more mindfully.  And it never hurts to revisit the basics and reconsider how we are applying them in our practice.  By reducing the demands on the mind in order to complete the class activities, we create more mental space to be aware of what we are doing and bring our attention into the moment.  So this class might now suit the complete beginner or someone wanted to focus more on mindfulness than physical exercise.

When allocating different levels to each class, I had to consider the assumptions we make about how to define ‘beginner’ and ‘advanced’.  If yoga were purely about an ability to position the body into a series of complex shapes with ease, then the advanced student would be anyone with an aptitude for gymnastics.  However, if we look to yoga philosophy for our definition, then yoga is about finding a wholeness of our being which brings a calmness to the mind.  By this definition, the more advanced student is the one who is more mindful in their practice, regardless of their ability to perform pretzel-like postures.

It is in these two areas that I notice beginners finding yoga classes challenging.  Sometimes it is in the physical demands of the class, but often it is the quieter parts where we sit and breathe or relax for a longer period of time.  It takes time and patience to develop this part of our yoga practice.  So, with this in mind;

  • Level 1: Suited to beginners, returners or anyone wanting a gentler practice.  Postures are mostly done individually (rather than linked in a sequence) and it is relatively easy for adaptations to be made to suit individual medical needs.  Classes might include a short seated practice and relaxation, totally about 15-20 mins of quiet time. Beginners classes are booked in blocks and there is a progression in the introduction of the postures each week. A different theme is presented each term, with a relevant topic each week.
  • Level 2: These classes are still open to beginners but may be slightly more demanding.  They might include short sequences of linked postures and there will greater emphasis on working mindfully. The topics discussed revolve around the issues and questions raised by the group and postures will be discussed in more detail.
  • Level 3: Classes are aimed at those with some previous experience.  I assume students have a reasonable level of physical co-ordination, plus an understanding of how we combine movements with the breath in our practice.   All classes include a sun salutation sequence and longer classes include a seated practice and relaxation, totalling about 30 mins of quiet time.

If you are considering joining a class, I hope these definitions are helpful.  I have included them along with other things you might want to know, in my FAQs here. If you already come to one or more classes, do let me know what you think!

Share

Five things to consider when choosing a yoga class

Yoga is becoming increasingly popular these days, with mounting numbers of people benefiting from attending a class on a regular basis.  As a beginner, choosing a class can be a daunting business.  With such a range of styles and teachers to pick from, where on earth do you start?  if you are thinking of joining a class in the New Year, here are five things to consider before you take the plunge:

1. Location.  I have found that many people look for a class that is close either to their home or their work.  This makes sense as it means you will be more likely to be able to attend on a regular basis.  It’s wise to choose a venue you can get to in plenty of time.  If you are always dashing in at the last minute you will waste the first part of the class because you are still trying to slow down.

2. Venue.  Classes can be found in gyms, sports centres and local halls, with all having their merits. Having taught both in gyms and in local halls, I have found that the latter are likely to be relatively quiet (there are always exceptions!) and attended by a regular group of students.  This can make it easier to concentrate and the teacher is more able to become familiar with the needs of the group.  In a gym the group is often more variable from week to week and there may be noise from the other gym activities, but equipment may be provided.  Classes may only be open to gym members, but if that’s you they can provide a good opportunity to give yoga a try at no additional cost.

3. Drop-in or block-booking?  If you prepay for a block of classes it can increase your commitment to attend on a regular basis.  You gain consistency by working with the same teacher and classes may be planned to build on the teaching from previous weeks.  This is ideal to get you off to a good start as a beginner, or for the person with a regular space in their diary.  Paying in advance can increase your incentive to attend, even though you would prefer to stay snuggled on the sofa because its chilly outside.  On the other hand, a drop-in class is ideal if your schedule can be hectic, particularly if you have previous yoga experience, and there’s no reason why you can’t still attend regularly when possible.

4. What style do i choose?  To a large extent this depends on what you hope to gain by attending the class.  Yoga styles can vary hugely, from a gentle mindful approach that helps you to relax to a strong physical workout.  I have found that the majority of my students indicate that they come to class to either improve their flexibility or to relax.  I hope my classes help them with these goals!

5. Which teacher do I choose? In the UK there is no statutory regulation of yoga instruction so it is important to ask about your intended teacher’s qualifications.  There are a number of organisations accrediting this training in the UK.  For example, my own accreditation is with the British Wheel of Yoga, which offers a Teaching Diploma that can be studied part-time over several years, in a variety of yoga styles.  All members with teaching status are insured and there is an annual requirement for continuous professional development and possession of a current First Aid certificate.  Ultimately, as long as you are assured of your teachers accreditation, this choice comes down to personal preference, as even teachers with the same qualification can have very different styles and ways of teaching.  Ask if you can attend a class to try it out before you commit to a longer booking.

Interested in joining one of my classes?  if you have previous experience then come along to my drop in class on Tuesday evenings.  Alternatively, get in touch to find out about spaces in my other classes, where you pay per half term.

Hope to see you soon!

Share

Exploring elemental nature

I have spent the last few days teaching at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre.  Our course was entitled Exploring Elemental Nature.  According to the Taittiriya Upanishad, the four elements of earth water, fire and air arose within the space element and everything is comprised of these four elements.

Over our time together we explored the elements through yoga practices and mindful photography,  looking at our connections with the different elements in the context of nature. The gardens at Woodbrooke were as beautiful as ever and mother nature blessed us with the full spectrum of weather from torrential rain to blue skies and sunshine.  The heavy rain swelled the brook to a miniature torrent and it spewed forth in bubbly foam at the lake’s inlet. The gardens were adorned in crystal water drops and reflections abounded. All in all we were given plenty of opportunity to channel the water element in our pictures!

Although i didn’t have much time for photographs myself, here are a couple that I took over that time, using my mobile phone.

20160825_084220

I couldn’t resist the morning display of water droplets on this alchemilla leaf.  I love the way the surface tension creates a container for the water molecules within.

20160825_124743

That same morning we used this lovely bowl as the focus of a meditation on the water element.  When a shower turned into a downpour later, I was inspired to take the bowl outside, to photograph it in the rain. The bowl seemed to represent a large water droplet, built up of the energies of all the smaller ones within, whilst nature provided new droplets to join the greater whole.  Each was complete in itself, yet blended perfectly with the others, separate yet connected as is all of life.

I shall be teaching again at Woodbrooke in August next year, when our course will be ‘Looking, seeing; doing, being.’ It would be lovely to see you there.

Share

What is level 3?

If you have been reading about my yoga classes, you will have seen that I have classified them into different levels.  I accept beginners into the first two levels of class, but level 3 is for improvers.  So what is it that makes level 3 different?

On a physical level, much of it is the same as levels 1 and 2, with the addition of a short sequence of postures known as a sun salutation in the middle of the class.  My instructions tend to focus more on the breath and how we feel the postures, rather than including the basics of how we position the body in them.

However, the biggest difference lies in the attitude of mind that students bring to the class.  In level 3 we are trying to be more mindful as we work, making a greater effort to be with the body and breath throughout the session.  As a result the class may seem quieter, and more serious.  That’s not to say that there is no ‘time out’ as being mindful is pretty hard work and sometimes we need a break!

Although the differences may seem small, students have told me that the level 3 is harder because they need to concentrate more.  If you have been coming to a level 1 or 2 class for a while and would like more of a challenge, perhaps level 3 is for you.  My drop-in class on Tuesdays at Weoley Hill Village Hall is the perfect opportunity to give it a try, so let me know if you fancy coming along one week.

Share

Autumn term update

Aside

The autumn term is here again and classes in Bournville and at Weoley Hill Village Hall are all starting again this week. There are some spaces on Mondays and Thursdays if you are still looking for a place.

If you are a beginner or returner please also consider my new class at Selly Oak Friends Meeting House, which is planned for 6.30pm on Wednesdays.  I am hoping to start this class on 17th September, so if you would like to come along please get in touch this week.

Share

The end (of term) is nigh

Yay!  The end of the summer term is upon us!  As always, I wonder where the time went.  It has been so warm and summery so far, I am hoping that it will continue into August and you are all able to make the most of the warm evenings this year.

I will be teaching at Weoley Hill Village Hall until mid-August so you might like to come along and try out that session.  It’s intended for those with some previous experience, and includes a short sequence of postures (Sun Salutation) as well as a longer period of breathing/mediation and relaxation.

I will also be teaching a workshop at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in late August.  Places are going fast, so if you fancy joining us for a relaxing combination of yoga, meditation and photography you will need to sign up soon. Click here to find out more.

With less teaching over the summer I will be working on improvements to this website and also my photography site.  I have already introduced a new page for Class News so please check here for the latest information on any of my yoga classes, including availability and any planned changes.

Have a fabulous summer and see you in September, if not before!

Share

And what will you be doing this Easter holiday?

Well, I really don’t know where the spring term has gone, it went so quickly!  Here we are, and it’s already Easter!  It seems to have been a very busy term and it’s great to have a few days to regroup and catch up with myself.

Time to do all the admin tasks I have been putting off.  It’s surprising how good it feels when I get round to doing all those little things I haven’t gotten round too over recent weeks.  I like to write myself a ‘To do’ list and very much enjoy ticking them off!  In some ways it’s like a type of mental. domestic and business clutter-clearing. My mind feels more spacious for not being full of mental post-it notes reminding me to shred my unwanted documents, sort out my lesson plans and prepare lesson themes for later in the year.  Ohhh, and perhaps give my mat a wash!  It take so long to dry that I can never do this in term-time, but tomorrow may be the day!

Another thing I have been busy with this week is giving my photography website a makeover.  I have installed a new theme and re-jigged some of the pages.  Instead of displaying static galleries of images, I am planning to upload sets of pictures on a more regular basis, based on mini-projects and outings with my camera.

If you fancy exploring the meditative aspects of photography, there’s still time to sign up for my workshop at Selly Manor on Saturday 10th May.  The day will include a variety of meditations and plenty of time to contemplate the wonders of spring in the manor’s gardens.  Just give Selly Manor a ring or drop in if you would like to book a space.

But most of all, I hope you manage to treat yourself to some time out over the Easter break.

Have fun!

Share