Your Worries and Struggles when it comes to starting or maintaining a yoga practice.

In doing some research for my online yoga course, I asked people to tell me what it was that they found difficult when either thinking about starting a yoga practice or maintaining a yoga practice.

The main topics that came up were:

1. Correct alignment
2. Flexibility
3. Busy schedule & finding time to practice
4. Physical balance / mental focus
5. The Breath
6. Fear of injury
7. Self-practice
8. Comparison
9. The philosophy of yoga - mind body spirit connection
10. Meditation / stillness / calm / mindfulness
11. Happiness / balance / sense of calm / confidence / connection - how to incorporate yoga into our lives daily

I wanted to give you some of my thoughts on these topics to see if I could help.

Correct Alignment
I am fascinated by the body and anatomy which inspires the way I teach. I teach a mindful alignment based class in order for you to find strength and balance in the body. The truth is we all have different bone structures in our bodies so not all poses are going to be practiced in exactly the same way. We have to explore our bodies to work out what works for us individually. I talk about this in my classes during the online course and give you the chance to find what works for you in your practice.

Flexibility
Flexibility is something that I believe is over rated! We of course want a certain amount of range of movement in our bodies in order to feel mobile however the rise of the instagram yoga pic has glorified flexibility beyond what is safe for our bodies. For example you do not have to have your heels on the mat in downward facing dog! Plus it's normal for it to be hard to step your foot in between your hands when you first start yoga. (Don't worry newbies if that doesn't make sense yet, I go over this in my course.)
Yoga will definitely help you to be more flexible but more importantly it will teach you how to feel physically and mentally strong and empowered.

Busy Schedule
This is always a tough one. What I would say is that we have to carve out time in our week for ourselves - in the long run it allows us to be more productive and more available to those in our lives whom we love. The online course is structured over 4 weeks however I want everyone to take it at their own pace. There are 4 longer length classes but a lot of the content is shorter videos, workshops, pose breakdowns, meditations and EBooks.

Physical Balance / Mental focus
Balance is something that I believe changes from day to day. I really struggled with balance when I first started yoga and it was a sign to me that my mental state was all over the place. I found it hard to focus, therefore I found it hard to balance. We talk about drishti in our yoga practice which simply means focused gaze. The more we practice, the more we are able to develop an inward sense of focus and concentration and the less easily distracted we become. So our balance improves as does our ability to focus our often fragmented and busy minds.

The breath
The breath is an integral part of a yoga practice and the specific type of yoga I teach is called Vinyasa, which is a sequence of poses where we synchronise the breath with the movement. When you start to practice yoga you may struggle with this but like with most things, it comes as you practice more and more. The most important thing during a practice is to breathe! On my online course we start our classes with a moment to focus on the breath and to understand how incredibly healing the breath can be. I also have a little workshop and a meditation centred on the breath.

Fear of injury
We often allow our fears to overcome our hopes, wishes and dreams. Yoga teaches you to explore your body in an intelligent and mindful way. So if you are listening to your body and staying away from anything that does not feel good then you are unlikely to injure yourself. (If you are someone who is hypermobile and very bendy see below about the Facebook page.)

Self-practice
Lots of you want to develop a self-practice which makes me very happy! I have written an EBook that will feature as part of my course on the Daily Practices that have changed my life. These include gratitude, intentions and affirmations. In terms of a physical self-practice I would like to create a course in the future for this. Self-practice is HARD! Therefore I don't think it's something that can be taught as part of a Foundations Course.

Comparison

One of the most wonderful things about a yoga practice is that it is for you and only you. It is not about other people. To me the most experienced yogis that I teach don't necessarily have the most advanced physical practice, it's about their focus, their ability to be in the present moment, their ability to listen, their ability to connect to their bodies, their minds and their breath.

The Philosophy of Yoga
I may not come across as the most spiritual yogi as I don't always use the sanskrit names for poses and I am not going to preach the yoga sutras to you! However what I do incorporate in my classes is an understanding of how we can bring the ancient practice of yoga into our lives in a modern day context. To me, this approach is more accessible to those of you who may not have any understanding of the philosophy of yoga. In my course I have an EBook that explains the philosophy of yoga in detail and how we can bring this into our everyday lives in a fast paced world.

Meditation / stillness / calm / mindfulness
What is meditation? There are many different types of meditation but the type of meditation I teach on my online course is a mindfulness based meditation practice. Meditation teaches us to train attention and awareness in order to experience a calm and emotionally stable state. Having a practice of stillness has had the most positive impact on my life. One of the best things that meditation has taught me is to be less reactive - I have a tendency to want to "fix" things straight away and meditation has allowed me to pause, breathe and take time to react... which means my reactions are less emotionally fuelled and much more thoughtful.

Happiness / balance / calm / confidence / connection - how to incorporate yoga into our lives daily.
Yoga and it's ability to allow us to connect with our bodies in a mindful way is incredibly powerful. How many of us take time during the day to check in and ask ourselves how we are feeling? The answer is: not many of us. Yoga gives us the tools to keep checking in, to listen to our bodies and help us create an understanding of our inner landscape. It gives us the ability to be kind and compassionate towards ourselves and others. As a result we become more in tune with our emotions, to our desires, needs and hopes and dreams.
So many people I know have found that yoga has given them the confidence to make the changes in their life that they had so desperately needed. I am living proof of this! I originally used yoga to find a work-life balance but it has seeped into every single area of my life. My self-love and self-confidence has massively improved as has my overall health and happiness. Yoga is truly magical.

I’d love to e-meet YOU! It’s liberating to know you’re not alone in your struggles so I wanted to create a group where we can continue the discussion further. Be sure to join my private facebook group where we can share and become a community of yogis in it together. Plus I hope to answer any unanswered questions for you all.

Sophie xxx

photo0008 copy.jpg
Sophie Dear