Yoga has been in my life since I was a teenager and has been a constant friend and guide. I decided to finally train formally in 2013 and have been blessed to have learnt from many very knowledgeable teachers. I am a teacher and student and continue to enjoy expanding my knowledge in this remarkable ancient tool for total health.
We all live in a busy world juggling many demands in one day. Unfortunately, this world also revolves around a growing reliance on the use of electronics (mobile phone etc) combined with a sedentary lifestyle (sitting for hours a day). This is playing havoc on our ability to sit, stand and move well - i.e. our posture (or the position of our body in 'space'. Our body shapes are gradually changing as a result, and not for the better - think too much rounding in the upper back, heads which sit in front of the shoulder instead of nicely on top, too much curve in the lower back.
Not so long ago poor posture was mostly associated with old age; now we see it in children as well as adults. Making it worse, is that many of us take our poor body positioning and moving habits into our other activites including fitness (whether it be a sport, a fitness class or running) which eventually leads us down the road to developing injuries, especially as we get older (even though at the time, we think we are doing something good for our body).
Health issues associated to poor posture include chronic pain (neck, shoulder, pelvis, knee etc), insomnia, headaches, nerve impingement (e.g sciatica, carpel tunnel syndrome, frozen shoulder), digestion problems, breathing impairement and mental health issues like stress, depression and anxiety. So I think it is pretty safe to conclude, without a doubt, that good posture is vital for our health and wellbeing on all levels.
SMART yoga came out of a personal need to improve my own postural imbalances and takes all the best that yoga has to offer to provide the body with a full body and mind tune-up.
SMART yoga has all the elements of a well-rounded yoga class to help re-align the spine, strengthen weakened muscles and lengthen tight ones (caused by poor postural habits).
A SMART yoga practice is the perfect antidote to modern life. We don't have much time to devote to ourselves so why not treat yourself to a yoga class which is designed to deliver SMART results. Here is what you can expect if you come to a SMART yoga class:
S - Strength:- Good posture requires muscle strength and stamina and yoga helps achieve both. SMART yoga classes uses a combination of flow sequences to build stamina and longer static holds to improve muscular strength, body symmetry and balance. You will learn how to strengthen your weaker muscles and release/relax more dominant muscles helping you reach your own optimum posture. Core awareness also comes under the umbrella of strength. Without a strong inner core we cannot achieve our best posture. Core work is also the key to preventing and/or relieving back, shoulder and neck pain
M- Mobility (flexbility): is what yoga is most known for. SMART yoga aims to improve the motion in all of your joints, fascia and muscles, helping to keep the body agile and perfectly balanced. The spine is taken through all of its ranges of motion which also helps you avoid the dentrimental effects of back, neck and shoulder pain.
A-Alignment: Yoga poses or asanas work on balancing out the muscles and fascia of the body - both of which help to maintain the optimum position of the skeleton and joints. The beauty of yoga is that it clearly lets you know if you have an imbalance in the body. Once you know where your personal imbalances are, you can start to address them and as you address them, you will improve your posture. Prepare to stand taller and prouder.
R - Relaxation. Learning how to relax both our physcial body and mind is key to improving our posture and with it our ability to manage stress, anxiety and depression. SMART yoga classes combine flowing sequences of breath and movement, as discussed above, (known as vinyasa), pranayama (yoga breathing exercises, simple meditation, visualisation and relaxation to help achieve this. Prepare to feel ZEN like at the end of every class.
T- Therapeutic Tools – I have a huge interest in the wisdom of chinese holistic medicine and the therapeutic benefits of yoga, which I like to integrate into my teaching. Yin yoga in particular, supports chinese meridian theory and works deeply on fascia (which when tight can affect our postural habits). You will enjoy the benefits of these different elements in my SMART yoga classes.
One Final Thought:
The late B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life famously said, "we must create a marriage between the awareness of the body and that of the mind. When two parties do not cooperate, there is unhappiness on both sides.” Modern life is disconnecting us from our mind and body; yoga helps us to reconnect and help eliminate these health issues, and in the long term regular practice will enable you to continue all the activities you love doing, as well as providing you with the tools to age well.