Every session is very carefully created and designed in response to the wishes and needs of each student individually. Penny constantly assesses each student’s progress and then weaves into the sessions postures (asana) to give them more suppleness and flexibility in readiness for more advanced poses.
Each term is made up of poses selected for every student skilfully brought together to create a balanced, all-inclusive whole with every session including all the best ingredients for a perfect Yoga practice.
Please scroll down for a description of what different groups are doing.
More advanced breathing techniques and Pranayama are gradually introduced to raise energy through the chakras, to promote good-health and deepen understanding of how to live contentedly in harmony with the way life is.
Penny uses current psychological thinking along with Buddhism, Tao and other teachings to clarify and illustrate Yoga.
The mental and emotional aspects of Yoga are as important in these classes as performing the postures. Penny explains how the breathing techniques can be used for many benefits; to relax you or to give you more energy; to induce feelings of peacefulness or to raise enthusiasm.
Balancing postures are a key ingredient and Penny eases students into good steady balance. This is important for their effect on the emotions, helping those who become angry or overexcited to retain that energy but direct it into enthusiasm and just as much helping those who feel lethargic and disinterested to regain their natural tranquillity and feel more vibrantly alive.
Above, the student can be seen moving towards Kurmasana, the Tortoise, then ....
.... just a few weeks later almost in the pose having become supple enough to master it
These students are demonstrating different phases of learning an advanced pose called the Scorpion in which both knees are bent as you balance upside down on the forearms . Tess, nearest, no longer uses the wall at all
Varuyas Kriya, a super cleansing pose that boosts immunity requires stamina and strength as well as balance: the back foot is upside down.
Natavarasama, Lord Krishna's pose
Moordhasana is done high on the toes with the head up off the floor - one of few poses affecting the highest chakra
All groups, at every level go through the full range of moves the body needs, enjoy a varied mixture of dynamic (moving) poses, static ones, balancing poses and sequences, to develop grace, fine muscle control, mental and physical equilibrium and stamina as well as the usual strength and flexibility
There is a quiet, focused, very relaxed atmosphere though always ready to smile and laugh. Many breathing and other techniques are explored finishing with deep relaxation and sometimes meditation.
Relaxation techniques are practised in all sessions with extras such as visualization, candle gazing etc, and meditation is introduced little by little. Students find that their minds become steadier and their creativity and imagination enhanced. Although Yoga Poses done with awareness are in themselves Mindful Meditation we also practice open-focus meditation, for de-conditioning the mind and meditation with seed for conditioning the mind.
Ways of opening into meditation, with and without seed, include techniques from: guided imagery, visualization, Zen, metta, mindfulness, observing self-talk, mantra (received or chosen) observation of the breath (Vipassana and other), sounds, pranayama and many more.
Classes are tailored to fit every individual and each term has a THEME, often chosen by or in response to the needs of the students. Some examples are:
Energizing and invigorating the body while enhancing the warm outgoing side of your nature
Calming, releasing tension
Finding tranquility: experiencing your sensitivity and enhancing the gentle, receptive, intuitive side of your nature
Exploring the chakras
Keeping osteoporosis at bay
Mudras, which are light positions (often of the fingers only) that have subtle effects on the mind and body
The observances of Yoga and why we observe them.
Stopping exam nerves
Managing insomnia (whether from external sources such as young children keeping you awake or internal, such as your mind being over-active)
Occasionally the philosophy of Yoga is briefly looked at, more for those groups who are curious.
You are welcome to request poses, themes or sequences and anything else you would like to do.
BEGINNERS groups learn to move into and hold beautifully accurate poses with grace and harmony. You learn to flow with the breath, explore breathing techniques (for instance one to balance the appetite, sleep pattern and calm the nerves) and start simple Pranayama which affects every cell of the body. You start to learn bandhas. At this beginner-level simple sequences are introduced and you will experience relief from many ailments as well as the benefits of breathing well.
IMPROVING BEGINNERS groups refine the easy poses and move into poses requiring more strength and flexibility maintaining accuracy and grace. These are excellent foundation for advanced poses done well (*). You develop greater control of the breathing and more techniques (which can for instance help a shy introvert become relaxed and outgoing so that they enjoy socialising or we can use this the other way and calm those people who get over-excited and exhausted. It can also be used for relieving pain). At this level stronger and more involved sequences are introduced, once the body is strong enough for all the moves, this gives you something to practise at home. You learn to combine the bandhas with postures where this is beneficial which at this level increases resistance to infection**, improves memory and concentration.
In INTERMEDIATE level groups you continue becoming more and more flexible and strong which is reflected in the mind and personality and you explore stronger and more entwined poses. Here you are likely to start to learn the Headstand if you wish. You learn more complicated breathing techniques and learn how to incorporate these into poses, this brings benefits such as releasing anger, fear and stress. You will be doing more advanced pranayama combined with bandhas which together bring marvellous health benefits and can lead you to a discovery of your inner self and the chakras and koshas (subtle bodies). The Sequences may include balancing and bandhas. At this level students will find they can easily move through a range of emotions and return at will to tranquillity.
ADVANCING students are very strong, flexible, calm, focused and humorous and can hold even very strong, demanding, entwined poses beautifully, maintaining the perfect asana with fine accuracy and moving with fluidity and grace into and out of the poses. You will be able to flow smoothly through very strong sequences. Moving in harmony with the breath will have become natural and effortless which brings the mind into a state of introspection and gives exceptional powers of concentration. This is a special state because whilst being conscious of your own self you will have developed greater awareness of others, more compassion and empathy.
In ADVANCED groups the warm-ups as well as poses are much stronger because by this level muscles are strong and supple. Bandhas, breathing techniques and Pranayama are finely tuned and controlled.
In all groups we sometimes make sounds (though you can skip this and don’t worry if you can’t sing, I can’t at all) because these influence the mind and the body and are wonderful for healing the conditions mentioned. Controlled Research Trials revealed that it is only when the sounds, pranayama and breathing techniques as well as the poses are practised that the healing effects are experienced, for instance brain chemistry imbalances and hormone levels are corrected.
Relaxation techniques are practised in all sessions with extras such as visualisation, guided imagery, candle gazing, kinesthetic absorption etc, and meditation is introduced little by little. Students find their minds become steadier and their creativity and imagination both enhanced. Although Yoga Poses done with awareness are in themselves Mindful Meditation we also practice open-focus meditation, for de-conditioning the mind and meditation with seed for conditioning the mind.
Information about the British Wheel of Yoga can be found on:
Anne, closest, is tranquil and absorbed whereas Vicky, equally absorbed is smiling with pleasure.