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I am about to become a full time yoga teacher, which is both tremendously exciting and somewhat daunting! I will be able to teach during the working day and hopefully meet lots of new yogis, take yoga into schools and into businesses.

I want to thank everyone that has helped me so far, everyone I have taught and those that have taught me because I have learnt so much from both sides. I am working on a couple of really exciting projects and I have a list ideas that I can now develop. This is yoga time!

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I have been thinking of returning to teaching my public yoga classes but seem to be struggling with the obvious concerns that I, and my students will have. This has led to a shift in approach. I have been considering yoga outside, I have taught outside on occasion and always enjoyed the experience and derived huge satisfaction from the enjoyment that is evident with the participants.

So why is yoga outside so good? Besides the benefit of simply breathing in fresh air and loading up on vitamin D, there are some quite compelling reasons:

It's easy to get stuck in a routine and taking yoga outside helps get you out of that rut. Yoga on the grass really challenges your balance and concentration, taking it up a level. You can run through your regular class and you will have an entirely different experience, from the grounding foundation you can achieve, which is more organic and sensuous, to the different muscles that are engaged when moving through the flows and hence new neural pathways being developed.

You feel more connected to nature and you are… whether this is the birdsong whilst you are holding the postures, or a gentle breeze on the skin when the leaves in the trees start to dance, you can really mindfully engage in the class, and it feels so natural. Granted, there may be the occasional bug that decides to check you out but this adds to the experience, and tests your powers of focus!

There’s plenty of space and let’s face it, space will be needed which is why indoor classes will be smaller and possibly more expensive. My intention is to bring more people into yoga and ‘outside’ works really well. The class can arrange themselves any way they want and not get too close to their neighbour which can happen indoors.

You will feel more engaged with the class and you fellow students. Yes, it might be a bit different being outside and we might feel a little self-conscious at first but once the class starts and you can engage with the beautiful poetry of bodies moving in sync., you feel connected and absorbed within. A bus could drive by and you wont care, you are in the moment and with nature, and I guarantee the people on the bust would rather change places!

The relaxation at the end is incredible. Whether lying or sitting, you can really connect with the sensations across your body, your connection with the earth, the temperature across the skin and the sounds that occur and focus your mind. Truly incredible.

If any of this sounds interesting, I will be updating this website with details of the classes, locations, and timings in due course.

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Whilst the common perception in the west of yoga is centered on physical practice, there is much more going on. Occasionally, when teaching classes, I will dip into the more philosophical aspects, as these are more relevant today than we may think.

Whatever your philosophical leanings, ‘contentment’ crops up at some point. Within yoga, this is described as ‘santosha’ one of the 5 ‘niyamas’. The ‘niyamas’ are constructive tools we can use to cultivate happiness, let’s face it, we are all searching for happiness but mostly we look in the wrong places. Marcus Aurelius wrote in his meditations, “the happiness in your life is dependent upon the quality of your thoughts”.

So santosha is delight, joy and the experience of acceptance of life, of ourselves and whatever hand we have been dealt. The practice of santosha is to look at ourselves and find peace and acceptance, which is far harder when we have been brought up to compete, compare and strive for more, to bring happiness?

In a yoga class, or practice, santosha is about accepting our perceived limitations and actually celebrating them! We are all unique and uniquely brilliant at what we do, there is no comparison with others when we practice yoga.

Moving thorough the yoga postures and holding the postures with a sense of contentment and acceptance of any constraints allows us to recalibrate our minds and say to ourselves, ‘this is enough, accept this and see the good and benefit in this.’

When we apply this process consistently and continually throughout our yoga practice, this has a profound affect on our mind. It is the same as when we are managing the physical stress with the breath, we develop inherent coping mechanisms for life in general, especially away from the mat.

So when my students are practicing the movement and holds, I prompt them to feel what the body is telling them, perhaps back off a little or do a little less but still be ok with the effort and execution. They should be fulfilling their own unique requirements of the posture, not trying to achieve the unachievable, be content with the body they have – take a breath and accept.

This is quite a powerful technique to develop and this skill of self-acceptance is something that can unquestionably help improve people’s lives.

A great quote from BKS Iyengar, one of the latter-day pioneers of yoga:

“the brain is the hardest part of the body to adjust in postures”

I really feel that the wider aspects of yoga, not commonly known, are worth further thought and will continue to dip into the niyamas and yamas through my classes, as they are as relevant today, as they have ever been.

If this resonates, perhaps try a yoga class, on-line or when restrictions are lifted, to explore this marvellous practice to see how it might help in your life.

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