We begin each session by taking five minutes just to focus on the breath and explore the subtle connection between the breath and the body. This helps to mentally prepare for the practice by bringing the attention into the session.
We start with some gentle breath and movement normally from lying down on the mat and then build up to stronger practices. Often we work up to a "peak posture" but I also like to go through all of the major spinal movements in each class so we'll do at least one twist, a forward fold, a back bend, a side bend as well as a balance . We then move back to gentler practices before we end the section. This is called a "vinyasa" approach and its a bit like a wave that builds in intensity before gently falling away. NB I teach a "staged " approach to every single practice as everyone has things they can do really easily and things they find more difficult. We will always find a version of each posture that works for you!
This second breathing practice lasts a bit longer and can include some of the classical breathing techniques called "pranayama". Once again we proceed according to individual capacity and I always stress that the breath shouldn't be forced or uncomfortable. The main intention in this part of the class is really to use the breath as a focal point to help the mind to settle in preparation for the final section which is ….. .
We end the session with a guided relaxation or meditation technique. And as I'm constantly saying this isn't just "something we put on the end of a Yoga class to make up the time!" The yoga asana are all about improving range of movement and releasing physical tensions so we can sit or lie comfortably for relaxation or meditation. The breathing practices give the mind a focal point so we can let go of the mental "chatter" and this final relaxation /meditation section brings those two elements together. The word "Yoga" means to yoke or join and its here that we bring together those elements of physical comfort and mental calm. It's the real purpose of your practice!
So we've gone through all of the sections and at the end of your practice you'll hopefully feel tension fee and mentally calm! I'm sorry to say that's the easy bit! The hard part is to keep that going when you leave your mat and go back into everyday life but hopefully regular practice will begin to give you the tools to do just that! Having said all of that the single most important thing is to ENJOY YOUR YOGA and the benefits it brings! Hope to see you on a mat soon!