Meet Sharon from Plug Studios in Norwich
My life changed over 3 years ago when I joined Andrea’s class, having not much experience. I now know how and what to stretch to help whatever part of me aches at the time. Yoga is incredibly relaxing and will stay with me forever.
Since lockdown, I have missed in person classes so much. Fortunately Andrea, with such dedication, came up with a huge choice of online sessions.
Give her a look, it WILL change your life because (in Andrea’s words) life is always better when you bend!!
Sharon (Plug Studios Norwich)
I first met Sharon three years ago at a local village hall at my first ever yoga class teaching yoga for beginners – the hall was freezing and despite our efforts we had barely warmed up by the end of the session. Inside I crumbled just a little bit at the thought of my students’ discomfort. In spite of this not being the finest hour, Sharon came to tell me that she had really loved the class, if only it had been a little warmer!
Sharon’s feedback in that moment is one of the primary reasons why I am still teaching yoga today – she may not know it (well, she does now) but I almost gave up before I had really started! Turns out the yoga didn’t need fixing, but the venue certainly did. We moved our sessions to another hall (one where the heating worked) and we were we beyond grateful for our new home.
I believe when the student is ready, the teacher will appear – and on that very first exchange – right there in that instant, inside of that one inevitable moment I FELT it, the TRUTH that we are ALL teachers and we are ALL students – I taught her some yoga and she had taught me a lesson in human compassion, when I needed it most.
I will always be grateful for you and your beautiful practice, Sharon – we have laughed and cried, seen through some rough times and some even tougher times and always we are there for each other, always in yoga, always at the end of the phone/email, in class and out. A relationship that is REAL.
Thankyou for your light and for your practice.
Namaste Andrea xx
Sanskrit terms you will hear in Yoga class
Ahimsa – non-harming, nonviolence, one of the 5 Yamas (principles that guide individual behaviour).
Asana – poses/postures, once referred only to seated postures.
Ashtanga –‘eight limbs’ or branches, refers to a physical flow style practice that follows a specific sequence.
Bandha – energetic ‘locks’, accessed through muscular contraction. Most commonly, mula bandha (root lock, located in the pelvic floor), uddiyana bandha (abdominal lock), and jalandhara bandha (base of the throat).
Bhakti – a yoga practice that’s more spiritual, with a devotion to one’s personal higher power or god. Bhakti is devotion, love – a heart-based practice.
Chakra – chakras are focal points for physical, mental, and emotional energies. Literally translated as ‘wheel’, an energy wheel.
Chaturanga – “four-limbed staff pose,” a transition from plank pose into cobra or upward-facing dog. The body lowers so that the elbows are bent 90 degrees right at the waist or sides (like the bottom of a triceps push-up).
Drishti – gaze, steady the eyes in one place without distraction.
Hatha – umbrella term for any yoga that integrates physical poses. The term derives from the Sanskrit word for force, or effort, and is based on the balancing of opposing forces, e.g. sun/moon, effort/ease, water/fire
Mantra – words, phrases, or sounds repeated within a meditation practice, to give the mind a focus.
Mudra – In yoga it refers to hand positions used in meditation practice or poses. Literally translates as ‘seal’ from the sanskrit.
Namaste – A greeting meaning I bow to/honour you.
Niyamas – Concepts to embrace for one’s own attitude towards oneself, e.g contentment (santosha), cleanliness (saucha), self-discipline (tapas) and more.
Om – (or aum), the vibration of the universe.
Prana – vital life force or energy.
Pranayama – a branch of yoga or limb, the regulation of the breath/life force using certain techniques.
Restorative – a relaxing form of yoga which uses props to ensure the body is supported. Longer holds in poses and is designed to calm the nervous system.
Savasana – ‘final rest’ or ‘corpse pose’. When lying down has never felt so good you have found your savasana!
Shanti – peace, rest, tranquility, calmness, bliss.
Surya Namaskar – sequences designed to warm up the entire body, ‘sun salutes’.
Samasthiti – ‘equal standing’ with the weight evenly in both feet, body steady and still.
Tadasana – ‘mountain pose’, active standing, body is aligned, body and breath connected through a lengthened spine.
Ujjayi – ‘victorious breath’. The breath enters and leaves through the nose, the throat is slightly constricted, the effect is to enliven the sense organse and bring you to ‘presence’.
Utkatasana – “chair pose,” or “fierce pose”.
Vinyasa – “to place in a special way,” additionally, the term vinyasa is used as a noun to describe a specific transition, from plank to chaturanga, to up dog, to down dog.
Yin Yoga – slower style of yoga, yin yoga emphasizes longer holds of up to five minutes or more. Yin helps to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility. Also based on Chinese medicine principles and meridians, it often uses props to allow gravity to work on the connective tissues.
Yamas – First limb of the eight limbs of yoga. These are social disciplines or restraints; attitudes and behaviours towards others.
Yoga – translates as “union” or “to yoke”. Yoga encompasses and integrates spiritual and mental aspects, including pranayama, meditation, yamas and niyamas.
Yogi – A practitioner of yoga
As an experienced School Leader and Yoga teacher with a background in the medical profession, I understand how work pressures can affect the body and the mind.
Stress affects our eating and sleeping habits; as well as our social life.
A fact of life
We know that stress is a fact of life and can be beneficial in limited amounts, for example to encourage us to get a task done or to meet that deadline, however we also know that stress in excessive amounts can exacerbate and increase the risk of developing medical conditions.
Stress affects individuals in a variety of ways, from fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, dizziness, weight loss and gain, back pain, cardiovascular disease and even teeth grinding!
If you find yourself feeling irritable, angry, depressed, nervous, socially isolated, anxious, with a diminishing ability to sleep well, you may also be experiencing psychological symptoms relating to stress.
Some work patterns and responsibilities can cause us to experience stress more often than others and many of us struggle with managing stress at different times in our lives.
As an experienced yoga teacher, my focus is on improving mental and physical health, working with companies, corporates as well as individuals and employees to reduce stress, improve energy levels and overall physical, mental and emotional fitness.
I work with students from all walks of life, including the medical profession, emergency services, teaching profession, legal profession, the self-employed, IT and finance companies.
It is my mission to ensure that these clients make great progress to reach their wellness goals.
Positive and encouraging, I tailor bespoke solutions, specific to client needs, crafting my approach to benefit employees, individuals and corporations for higher staff retention, enhanced motivation, productivity, efficiency and creativity, reduction in staff absence, reduction of sickness and a much greater sense of work and team morale.
Stress, Anxiety, and its Impact
In the UK alone in 2017, 74% of people reported feeling so stressed that they were unable to cope.
Hospital admission data from 2017 demonstrated that there were 17,500 episodes where stress or anxiety was the primary cause for hospital admission –this meant that for 165,800 days, hospital beds were occupied due to stress or anxiety, costing the taxpayer £71.1 million – for 203,700 episodes of hospital admission anxiety was the secondary cause.
In 2016/17 526,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety leading to 12.5 million working days lost, resulting in lost output for employers and the self-employed of £33.4-43.0 billion per year and lost tax/insurance revenue of £10.8-14.4 billion per year. Stress, anxiety and impact to the workplace
Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes has said:
“Employers that take steps to support mental health at work will benefit from a more productive, happy and loyal workforce.” Those that ignore the issue, or who undermine the mental health of their staff, risk not only the health of the people who work for them but the wealth of their business and the health of the economy as a whole”
The solution to workforce stress
CHANGE behaviour – AndreaYoga will instil new skills and knowledge through yogic techniques to rewire neural pathways for behaviour transformation.
DESIGN a compelling experience –AndreaYoga can help you to work with confidence and excellence, reducing negative thoughts and emotions leading to improvements in mood, self-regulation, and control.
ENERGISE your organisation – as stress levels plummet, watch energy levels SOAR! No more lethargy, mental fog, difficulties with focus or concentration. Energise your system from the inside out.
FOSTER positive emotional commitment – Yoga has been shown to increase the level of gamma-aminobutyric acide (GABA) in the brain, a chemical which helps to regulate nerve activity. AndreaYoga will help to promote positive mood by raising GABA levels naturally, leading to a ‘can do’ productive state of wellbeing.
INVEST in your people, with a low-cost HIGH yielding impact on overall health, efficiency and productivity. Top companies such as Nike, Google and Apple are placing a heightened importance on cultivating a positive corporate culture by investing in yoga, and for good and far-reaching reasons. The benefits are huge. For a relatively small company investment, see sickness levels reduce, absenteeism minimised and a huge boost in productivity and efficiency.
Low cost for HIGH impact
Sign up for corporate online membership with AndreaYoga today -monthly, quarterly, and annual memberships available. Enquire now for details
AndreaYoga is looking for progressive employers who would love to be part of the solution.
If that sounds like you, please get in touch.
Pranayama relates to breathing exercises which clear physical and emotional blockages and obstacles in our body in order to free the breath, the flow of life energy – or prana- It is believed it can supercharge your entire body.
How we move, think, behave and breathe contributes to the flow and vitality of our universal energy which runs through and around us.
Without breath there is no life!
In our lives and in our habits we can get in our own way, developing unconscious breathing patterns which restrict the flow of prana and breath.
As we work to free the breath through pranayama (breathing exercises) we allow the life energy to flow. The effect is energizing, relaxing and healing.
Prana -ayama literally translated from the Sanskrit means freedom of breath, breath expansion, breath liberation.
Like yoga asanas/poses, pranayama techniques have different effects. Most types of pranayama are practised sitting in a cross-legged position, e.g. Hero’s pose or Lotus pose (padmasana). The spine is upright, the breath should be smooth and even. There are many kinds of pranayama, some of which are energizing detoxifying such as Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath); others are balancing, such as Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing).
Pranayama is best practised on an empty stomach in a ventilated room. There can be contraindications for some types of pranayama, e.g. pregnancy, recent abdominal surgery, hypertension or asthma. This list is not exhaustive, so you should always speak with your health professional before practising if you are unsure.
Types of Meditation
Andrea Yoga | 2020
There are hundreds, probably thousands of meditation types, to give you an idea of the breadth; types of meditation which help to alleviate anxiety, may not be the best types to help combat depression or for spiritual ‘awakening’. Did you know for example, that not all meditations are necessarily completed while sitting, that you can meditate while you walk or move?
Because the field of meditation is almost as broad as the field of all possibilities, here I have explored some of the more popular ones to guide you to some different techniques to find the ones that work best for you.
Three Pillars of Meditation
To bring about ‘realisation’ that body, speech and mind are dependent on the mind itself, we must connect in with mindfulness, alertness and humility.
− What is mindfulness? Put simply, it means remembering what we have started, remembering the instructions we are practising. It is like ‘watching all the time’ or observing as an observer.
− What is alertness? Checking in on our meditation practice, tuning into the awareness whether our meditation practice is going well. Being aware like this guides our meditation from a distance.
− Humility, modesty or ‘careful’ is translated from a Tibetan word ‘bagyö’ which is the third supportive pillar. This pillar reminds us to retain a humility about how we view ourselves and our practice. A sense of maintaining good character and frame of mind.
I find I can remember the Three Pillars of Meditation and apply these ideas to daily life more easily as I recall the following quote by Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu as all three pillars are ensconced in this quote:
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become a habit. Watch your habits; they become a character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
To optimize the benefits of meditation, cultivating a daily practice is strongly encouraged, using the technique and approach that works for you, then applying the skills to your daily life just like any other important skill you want to acquire.
If you meditate once a week, there will be some benefits – you will immediately feel calmer, more centred and focused. But momentum and continuity is key to make the real difference to your life. Even if you practice for just 5 minutes a day. A daily practice will yield the most benefits and with the right technique and approach (for you) is truly transformational.
SO WHAT APPROACHES CAN I TAKE TO MAXIMISE THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATION?
Meditation can be classified into two broad categories: Active and Passive or the idea of aiming at ‘one’ or ‘zero’ – union/emptiness.
There is no hard and fast ‘one size fits all’ in meditation. So, while most meditation techniques share commonalities and benefits, experimenting with different techniques depending on your goals is a good idea.
So if finding your way to your ‘pure being’ or ‘true self’ in effortless inner silence and deep states of consciousness appeals to you, you could consider some of the following meditation techniques…
The Buddha taught that misperceptions and delusions are caused by ignorance of the mind’s own nature. One of the tools for freeing the mind from the suffering brought about by this ignorance is insight, which transcends intellectual cognition and is known only through experiential means. Mindfulness enables us to gain insight, through being fully aware in the present moment.
An untrained mind is described as the ‘monkey mind’ which is constantly distracted by thoughts, emotions, sensations. The monkey mind constantly draws us back to the ‘surface’ and often into chain ‘reactivity’. Mindfulness facilitates the journey beneath the surface level of life experience to the truth of what is happening.
Mindfulness brings the practitioner into the full knowledge of each moment’s experience, as a witness, freeing them from the prison of unpleasant experiences, allowing the ‘noticing’ of chain reactions in the body, emotions, thoughts. Mindfulness allows the practitioner not to ‘identify’ or get drawn by these impulses and reactions.
The practitioner is aware of each experience in the body and mind and can stay with that experience whether good or bad. Recognizing and witnessing the impersonal nature of the experience can help to develop the capacity for unifying the mind, directing attention, sustaining attention, receive experiences fully, investigate the nature of experience and let the experience go whether pleasant or unpleasant.
This begins in a seated position in a quite space, practising concentration on an object, allowing the introduction of ‘noticing’ how the mind reacts to what it is experiencing. In vipassana meditation the ‘object’ per se is the breath the object through which to concentrate, collect and unify the mind.
There are many ways of following the breath, including counting, or noticing the speed. You may stay with the breath by apportioning a word to each breath, for example ‘in’ and ‘out’ or ‘rising’ and ‘falling’
Loving Kindness (Metta Bhavana)
Described often as a ‘radical act of love’ an act of ‘falling awake’, this meditation practice is used to cultivate one-pointed concentration and attention referred to as dharana, from which. The explicit focus of the practice is on compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity and their practice inclines the heart and mind towards these evoked qualities.
A formal loving-kindness practice can soften one’s relationship to overwhelming and afflictive states of mind and prevent us succumbing to negative energetic states.
This practice, allows the practitioner to see into the nature of emotions which can be grief, anger and in this seeing observation, this focusing, this knowing and embracing without judgement causes attenuation and evaporation, allowing loving-kindness itself to emerge.
WHICHEVER IS ‘BEST’ DEPENDS ON YOU AND YOUR UNIQUE NEEDS AND PERSONALITY RIGHT NOW