Yoga is probably one of the most fashionable forms of exercise today. We have seen a sudden surge of serene and trendy yoga centers popping up in every postcode, usually one with a healthy café offering delicious gluten-free cakes, coconut water and yogi tea to complete the whole experience of well being. Then we have celebrity yoga advocates such as Gisele, Jenifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow being living, breathing examples of the benefits of practicing yoga. I think most of us would agree that we would all like to have that yoga body; bending in this direction and that whilst having a bottom so pert it totally defies gravity. But behind all the aesthetic Instagram posts we are bombarded with every day, yoga has a much deeper metal and physical upside to it that seems to get slightly forgotten.
Yoga can offer us mental and emotional well-being as it teaches us how to breathe correctly, de-stress, unwind, meditate and literally become ‘zen’. This sounds pretty inviting especially when so many of us are struggling to cope with the every day stressors of life: juggling our jobs, family life and relationships can be exhausting. So, in my opinion, becoming a yoga-mad generation couldn’t have come at a better time. With so many of us addicted to our mobile phones, iPad’s and laptops, we are constantly straining our neck and back and more and more of us are suffering from back and neck pain, hunched shoulders and headaches. This is I want to tell you specifically about Iyengar yoga as it focuses so greatly on re-alignment and posture, bringing our shoulders back, chests up and making us look and feel more elongated!
Most of us who think of yoga will usually think of Vinyasa, Ashtanga or Bikram, but fewer people have heard of Iyengar. This is surprising really, seeing as it is Mr. B. K. S. Iyengar himself who has been credited as the man who brought yoga from India to the West in the 1970s, and making yoga the worldwide practice it is today. Iyengar is a form of yoga which focuses on precision, alignment and attention to detail during each asana (posture). Iyengar often uses props such as ropes, blankets and bricks to ensure that when you present each posture you do it correctly, even if you need assistance to get you there. The idea is that this practice gives people a true and complete foundation in yoga so that we are not learning bad habits and that we are teaching our bodies to practice yoga in its true form (which also keeps our bodies safe from any injury). Iyengar is also one of the most prominent practices of yoga which focuses on helping cure/treat ailments such as chronic back pain, insomnia and depression.
For those of you who used to other types of yoga, the main difference you will find is that Iyengar is much slower in its pace. In an Iyengar class you spend much more time in each posture making sure your body is aligned in the right way, making it a great practice for beginners and those with any injuries, however slight or severe. For those of you who practice yoga regularly, weekly Iyengar yoga can help you improve your overall ability and take your yoga to the next level, allowing you to bring the precision and strength you learn in this practice over to your other yoga sessions.
I started doing yoga 18 months ago, as I noticed I was literally starting to look like a hunchback; my posture was terrible and my back would frequently go into spasm from pain. No amount of Deep Heat or hot baths seemed to be doing any good! I had always thought of yoga as ‘boring’ and didn’t expect to fall so in love with it. I was a total stranger to yoga and yet in just a few months I saw a dramatic change in my posture, flexibility and body shape. It has also helped me so much mentally, teaching me how to relax, how to be more patient and how to switch off from the outside world and fully immerse myself in being ‘in the moment’. What I love the most about Iyengar yoga specifically is that because you spend so much time getting each posture exactly right, you don’t realize how much your improving, it’s like one day you wake up and suddenly your doing poses you didn’t dream possible. I love this practice and I hope that by learning about it, some of you can benefit it from it the same way I have.
Here are some places in London to try it out:
I love all classes at the Triyoga centers dotted around London; the teachers are all incredibly experienced and they have beautiful studios as well as a delicious healthy cafe to have a bite after your session!
Yoga classes take place in a beautiful and bright studio. The center itself has quite a serious yogi feel to it – it is a place where people come to mentally and physically focus.
There are four courses for beginners starting at the end of Februrary/beginning of March, which offers one-a-week classes for 6 weeks. A perfect way to start Iyengar!
Rebecca is a private Iyengar yoga teacher who has been practicing since 1998, and also has a degree in Chinese Medicine. Since moving here 4 years ago, Rebecca boasts a truly enviable client list and is one of the most sought after instructors in central London. Having practiced with Rebecca myself, I can honestly say she is the best yogi I have ever come across!
Her degree in Chinese Medicine means that Rebecca also offers acupuncture and other homeopathic treatments at home, which she uses in conjunction with the yoga to help treat injuries and alleviate pain. She has previously succeeded in helping people with hormone imbalance, headaches, insomnia, digestive concerns, post surgical problems and helped enhance sports performance.
Rebecca offers one-to-one sessions at home at approximately £90/hour, as well as doing group sessions at home (4 people: £25/hour).
A modern and vibrant center in Marylebone which offers an extensive range of yoga practices. The center also has on site therapists so you can indulge in a treatment before of after your yoga!
Lots of Love, Roxie xx