Rachel Teaches Hatha Yoga
All Yoga styles have evolved from Hatha Yoga. Hatha is the classical and traditional form of Yoga. It is a vast science and therefore it is difficult for a teacher to pass on the tradition in a mixed ability class. And so the form becomes diluted. So much so that the most prevalent style of Yoga these days is Vinyasa. This style is about postures that flow together in a sequence. Vinyasa is a very physically based practice and attracts people that like to work out.
Rachel is keen to try and be true to the original style of Hatha but in a way that is accessible to everyone. The traditional way of Hatha has practices that are difficult to translate and pass on because we don’t have a Western equivalent. Savasana for example is the deep relaxation that we practice at the end of a session. We go to a place of bliss that has no definitive word in English. In Sanskrit it has many names.
Hatha Yoga teachers are all different. Rachel draws from what she finds interesting and useful in her own practice. She firmly believes that Yoga can help to keep us fit and healthy into old age. She teaches people with a range of health issues, abilities and ages. She is keen to help people that are hyper-mobile (loose joints). People with long ligaments need to work with strength and alignment. Hypomobile (stiff joints) people are the ones that shy away from Yoga with the feeling that they are ‘not good at it’. Most people will have a combination of hyper and hypo mobile joints and this is why each individual must approach their practice in a unique way and not expect to look like someone else in the same posture. Yoga is for everyone.
Yoga is not about what you look like. It is about how you feel. It is about being in your body and responding to the messages that it sends you. It is about developing this body awareness. Being in connection with yourself. As long as the practice of Yoga is beneficial and safe, Rachel is more interested in the way that each person experiences Yoga and the authenticity of their own practice, than how they look. Everyone is different. Each person has a unique body, breath and a mind that is personal to them. She is more interested in how Yoga feels to you in your Self.
Safe alignment in the joints and muscles is crucial. Rachel gives clear verbal instruction with explanations regarding safety, alignment and benefits. She gives a few hands on adjustments if needed. She observes all her students and will demonstrate postures if they are complicated.
Rachel sessions vary so that no class is repeated. She has a staged approach so that all levels can benefit in a mixed ability group. Beginners are given space to accept themselves at the stage they are at and given lots of advice about their personal limitations and encouraged to be non-competitive. Advanced students can stay longer in postures, take them to the next level, and play with what they can do.
A general class will start with self-awareness and mindfulness that assists you in developing focus and attention on yourself. Followed by breath awareness that will help to lead you into the relaxation response and initiate destressing. We then begin to activate core strength which is crucial to every session. The movement aspect of the session will involve full pain free range of movement of the spine, toning, sun salutations and winding down into stillness. The sessions end in deep relaxation and final meditation.
Sometimes there will be balances, inversions and chanting. Rachel gives each student the space to just be with how they are. Emphasis is place on safe alignment, self-acceptance, self-compassion, and also the enjoyment of being playful in your body and stepping away from mental and emotional stress.
Every class is based on a similar routine but no class is ever the same. Sometimes they may be quite gentle and meditative. Sometimes they are centered around strength and power. She aims to give people an experience of simply feeling better after a session than before. Hopefully you will come away feeling refreshed, limbered and clearer in your body, mind and heart. The beauty of Yoga is to take from it what you need. It is a never ending journey, a never ending source of challenge, and transformation.