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My Hatha yoga practice

Yoga has been around for over 2,000 years. The word yoga derives from the Sanskrit meaning ‘connect’ or ‘unite’ – which perfectly describes how yoga helps us to become more aware of our body, to be more attentive to it and to our feelings. Over time, yoga has been interpreted in many ways with various disciplines spreading throughout the world, with the biggest growth across the western world in the twentieth century. Nowadays there are so many classes to choose from that finding the right class for you can be quite daunting.

I started doing yoga over twenty years ago, by picking up a video in airport! From that first encounter, I knew I wanted more. I’ve never been one for team sports or attending a gym, but I look forward to doing yoga. I do yoga for the enjoyment of it. It makes me feel alive. To stretch, lengthen, twist and move within the poses is such a rejuvenating experience.

Claire demonstrates a yoga pose
Demonstration of a yoga stretch by Your Move Yoga in Surrey
Claire demonstrates a yoga pose

I’ve attended yoga classes in various styles across the world – I try to drop into a class even when I’m on holiday - but I have always found that the Hatha practice is the one I return to. The word Hatha refers to the sun ‘Ha’ and moon, ‘Tha’ – a complementary balance, bringing equilibrium to your body. In a Hatha practice class, you are encouraged within a pose to bring your awareness to your body, which draws your mind into the present, to the here and now. The emphasis is on the importance of the breath and forging a deeper connection with your breathing. This in turn calms the mind and reduces stress, creating a sense of peace, well-being and relaxation. Many people are drawn to yoga as a way to manage stress, especially in today’s busy world, and this is a good reason to start practising yoga. But there are many other physical and mental benefits of taking part. Some of these are felt quite quickly, while other benefits will increase over time. If yoga is practised on a regular basis, it can:

  • Increase flexibility and strength

  • Reduce stiffness and improves posture

  • Improve balance

  • Relax the nervous system

  • Strengthen muscles and bones

  • Develop better focus and concentration

  • Help reduce anxiety and tension

  • Increase self-awareness and confidence

Finding the time for yoga might seem like a challenge – but even dedicating a few minutes here and there is better than nothing. You can start doing yoga at any age. My classes are accessible for all and you can do as much or as little as you feel is right for you on that day. Each class starts with a few moments to centre yourself and then warm up, before moving on to complete a range of standing and seated postures. We then take time for relaxation – savasana – followed by a breathing exercise – pranayama. It is a joy to take part and share this practice, and my hope is for each student to leave the class feeling better than when they came in.

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