ANDREA - a full time Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi instructor.

I fell in love with yoga over seven years ago, when I got a Nintendo DS and bought a game called Let's Yoga. From then, I began 'playing' yoga everyday, sometimes twice a day. At first, the practice was more physical for me, but after few months I started to really count on yoga to bring me a sense of calm during especially chaotic days. Soon after, I began recognizing the benefits of a regular asana and meditation practice and continued to incorporate yoga daily - not just during times of chaos. I found myself feeling more energized, more compassionate, happier, and with more awareness. Now, I teach full-time and couldn't be happier to do what I love. What began as a physical practice for strength and flexibility quickly became a lifestyle. I teach my students to take their yoga off the mat and apply the principles learned in the class to their lives outside of the studio. I do not only teach my philosophy, I live it.

piatok 23. októbra 2015

A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga

Here are few questions people ask me, some of you ight know the answers, but some of you find it interesting to read about it :) 

1. What Is Yoga?
The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline. A male who practices yoga is called a yogi, a female practitioner, a yogini.
The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).
Today most people practicing yoga are engaged in the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.

2. What Does Hatha Mean?
The word hatha means willful or forceful. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of asanas, designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many channels of the body—especially the main channel, the spine—so that energy can flow freely.
Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects—active, hot, sun—and feminine aspects—receptive, cool, moon—within all of us. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance of strength and flexibility. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose.
Hatha yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in the unfolding of each moment.

3. What Does Om Mean?
Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe. What does that mean?
Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us—that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.
Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.

4. Do I Have to Be Vegetarian to Practice Yoga?
The first principle of yoga philosophy is ahimsa, which means non harming to self and others. Some people interpret this to include not eating animal products. There is debate about this in the yoga community—I believe that it is a personal decision that everyone has to make for themselves. If you are considering becoming a vegetarian, be sure to take into account your personal health issues as well how your choices will affect those with whom you live. Being a vegetarian should not be something that you impose on others—that kind of aggressive action in itself is not an expression of ahimsa.

5. How Many Times Per Week Should I Practice?
Yoga is amazing—even if you only practice for one hour a week, you will experience the benefits of the practice. If you can do more than that, you will certainly experience more benefits. I suggest starting with two or three times a week, for an hour or an hour and a half each time. If you can only do 20 minutes per session, that’s fine too. Don’t let time constraints or unrealistic goals be an obstacle—do what you can and don’t worry about it. You will likely find that after a while your desire to practice expands naturally and you will find yourself doing more and more.

6. How Is Yoga Different From Stretching or Other Kinds of Fitness?
Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just physical postures. Patanjali’s eight-fold path illustrates how the physical practice is just one aspect of yoga. Even within the physical practice, yoga is unique because we connect the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath. Connecting the mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. Through this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to change them. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.

7. Is Yoga a Religion?
Yoga is not a religion. It is a philosophy that began in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. The father of classical ashtanga yoga (the eight-limbed path, not to be confused with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga yoga) is said to be Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra. These scriptures provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga.
It is also not necessary to surrender your own religious beliefs to practice yoga.

8. I’m Not Flexible—Can I Do Yoga?
Yes! You are a perfect candidate for yoga. Many people think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga, but that’s a little bit like thinking that you need to be able to play tennis in order to take tennis lessons. Come as you are and you will find that yoga practice will help you become more flexible.
This newfound agility will be balanced by strength, coordination, and enhanced cardiovascular health, as well as a sense of physical confidence and overall well-being.

9. What Do I Need to Begin?
All you really need to begin practicing yoga is your body, your mind, and a bit of curiosity. But it is also helpful to have a pair of yoga leggings, or shorts, and a t-shirt that’s not too baggy. No special footgear is required because you will be barefoot. It’s nice to bring a towel to class with you. As your practice develops you might want to buy your own yoga mat, but most studios will have mats and other props available for you.

10. Why Are You Supposed to Refrain From Eating 2–3 Hours Before Class?
In yoga practice we twist from side to side, turn upside down, and bend forward and backward. If you have not fully digested your last meal, it will make itself known to you in ways that are not comfortable. If you are a person with a fast-acting digestive system and are afraid you might get hungry or feel weak during yoga class, experiment with a light snack such as yogurt, a few nuts, or juice about 30 minutes to an hour before class.

utorok 13. októbra 2015

My new achievement!!!

Well, this one was a pose I would look at but I`ve never tried it, simply because it looks awesomely impossible :P But I did it - for the first time on Sunday, with like 5 blocks under me to start off, and once you get a feeling of it, it will became a really nice showing off posture :P :) I am so happy I can do it!!!!
I think I tried it because I  corrected my arms and hands in Crow, I did the Crow on Friday slightly different than usual and I could stay in it forever, I just knew my balance it perfect. I could do it for few second before, but not as balanced and perfect as now :)


So now I can start with more difficult postures, my yoga experience is growing each day, it doesn`t matter how many hours you practise, there is always so much to learn!

A bit more info about my new most favourite pose: Firefly Pose - Tittibhasana
Want to fly? Fire up your core. Firefly pose is an arm balance pose that requires more core strength than arm strength.

  • Squat with your feet a little less than shoulder distance apart. Tilt your pelvis forward and bring your trunk between your legs. Keeping your trunk low, straighten your legs enough to lift your pelvis to about knee height
  • Bring your left upper arm and shoulder as far as possible underneath the back of your left thigh just above the knee and place your left hand on the floor at the outside edge of your foot, fingers pointing forward. Repeat these actions on the other side.
  • Lift yourself off the floor by carefully shifting your center of gravity. Press your hands into the floor and slowly begin to rock your weight back, off your feet and onto your hands. Keep your inner thighs as high on your arms as possible.
  • With an inhalation, stretch your legs out to the sides as straight as you can, keeping your pelvis high to make your legs parallel to the floor.
  • Press through the bases of your big toes but pull your toes back toward your torso and spread them apart. The inner edges of your feet should be angled slightly forward, the outer edges slightly back.
  • Straighten your arms as much as possible. Hollow your chest as you widen your shoulder blades as much as possible; this will round your upper back, which will lift your torso higher.
  • Without tensing your neck, lift your head and gaze forward. Breathe slowly and hold the pose for 15 seconds or longer, then release your feet to the floor with an exhale.
Beginner's Tip
You can approximate this pose by sitting on the floor, legs spread to a ninety-degree angle, elevating each heel on a block, and pressing your palms into the floor between your legs.
Benefits
  • Stretches the inner groins and back torso
  • Strengthens the arms and wrists
  • Tones the belly
  • Improves sense of balance

piatok 9. októbra 2015

My Timetable for Oct - mid Nov

These are the classes I teach at the moment - from mid Nov I will have few more added to my timetable (3 confirmed so far)

Monday
11.30am Fitness Yoga Hitchin LC
12.30am Tai Chi Hitchin LC
8pm Yoga Bannatyne's Luton

Tuesday
11.15am Pilates Venue360 Luton 
12.15am LBT Venue360 Luton 
6.15pm Yoga Tru Gym Luton  
7.30pm Pilates David Lloyd Luton

Thursday
7pm Hatha Yoga David Lloyd Luton
8.15pm Yoga Pure Gym 

Friday
9.30am Hatha Yoga David Lloyd Luton
5.30pm Pilates Tru Gym Luton  
6.30pm Yoga Bannatyne's Luton
7.50pm Fitness Yoga Houghton Regis LC

Saturday
9.30am Hatha Yoga Hitchin LC 
10.30am Tai Chi Hitchin LC  
5pm Yoga Bannatyne´s Luton 

Sunday
10am Pilates Bannatyne´s Luton 
11.15am Yoga Bannatyne´s Luton 
4pm Pilates Dunstable LC 
5pm Power Yoga Dunstable LC

streda 7. októbra 2015

Winners of Week 4 September Challenge

Oh yes, I said winners, cos we have ľ winners of the last week's challenge - John and Kate - congratulations and thank you all so much for beautiful pictures!!!
I know I am a week late announcing our winners, but after all month of posting and writing so much about each of the poses I really needed a little break from my blog :P
Thank you for joining our challenge, for taking and posting pictures, it was good fun and I loved seeing your progress!

Here are all the pics from the week 4 balance postures: