CoSS Wellbeing Yoga
Kundalini Yoga, by Satwant Kaur
Yoga is the practice of uniting body, mind and spirit. This holistic practice includes pranayama (breathing techniques), asana (postures), deep relaxation and meditation (often with mantra) in every class. Kundalini Yoga is a powerful system for transformation – of habits, of your way of thinking, of your physical body. The primary aim of the practice is moving and balancing energy, to give rise to greater consciousness. Join us to release stress, to rejuvenate body, mind and spirit, and to deeply relax into yourself. This yoga is accessible to everybody – regardless of your current level of flexibility or fitness. Classes are open to all levels of experience and ability.
I started practising in my early twenties – a time in my life of much questioning of the meaning of life, of my purpose, of my path in life. It was through my practise that I found many of the answers to these questions, and more importantly, discovered a space inside myself that is beyond all questions. It helped me to move through a lot of fears and blocks within myself, and work at the edge of my comfort zone, and in this way, to keep growing as a person. Now, twenty years into my yogic journey, I still find that my yoga and meditation practice brings me back to my centre, helps me to cope with the stressors of daily life, and makes me feel alive and energised! Now I’m in my forties, I also realise that my body needs to regularly move and stretch in order to maintain flexibility and strength.
I love teaching yoga because I believe this technology should be available to everyone – to discover that true relaxation, true happiness, true well-being can be found within themselves.
Kundalini Yoga is meant for people living normal everyday lives – balancing jobs, families, and the challenges those bring – rather than for monks or ascetics. Anyone can do Kundalini Yoga – you do not already need to be ‘flexible’ or have any previous yoga experience to get something out of practising. Like many forms of yoga, it follows Patanjali’s yoga sutras, and is a ashtang (eight limbed) yoga, focusing on yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. However, in Kundalini Yoga, these eight limbs are developed concurrently, in a single practise, rather than consecutively (mastering one level before moving onto the next). This makes it very well suited to the modern yogi, who may be fitting yoga practice in between a nine to five job and other life commitments. It is a powerful practice that leads to profound effects and change, in a short period of time.
A Kundalini Yoga class will typically consist of: mantras to tune in, warm ups, a yoga kriya (a complete set of yoga asanas, to produce a specific effect), deep relaxation, and meditation. Often asanas (yoga postures) are combined dynamically with breath and movement, and can produce noticeable change in state of being with only a few minutes practice. One of the powerful tools used in Kundalini Yoga to balance and to heal is your own voice. Mantras are used for tuning in and closing the class, and are often combined with postures or in meditation.
All yoga is aimed at creating a union between the body, mind and spirit – to balance and harmonise. So what your yoga practice can bring to you will be at a physical level (greater flexibility, feeling more relaxed, sleeping better); a mental level (feeling less stressed, being less reactive in situations, changing patterns of behaviour, improving memory); a spiritual level (feeling a connection that is beyond your everyday identity, seeing the bigger picture, and remembering that, deep down, everything is OK). In short, yoga teaches you that all you are searching for is right here, in you.
Flow yoga, by Sarah Fleming
Wednesday Wellbeing Yoga is a short 45 minute lunchtime session that aims to give the participants an opportunity to take time away from everything else, and to focus on how they are feeling mentally and physically. The class consists of simple moving and breathing exercises, with a particular focus on moving the body in a way that counteracts some of the pain and stiffness that can be caused by too much sedentary office work. CoSS have been facilitating these classes for over a year now, and during that time we have moved from the Education Building, to the Sports Centre, and currently you can find us in our new virtual home on Zoom! I would encourage anyone with a curiosity in yoga to join in for a session, particularly anyone who feels “too busy” for yoga. The best analogy I can give for this lunchtime practice is that it’s like restarting your computer; When there’s just too much going on (too many windows open!), and things are grinding to a halt, take time away from your busy day to breath and move, and set yourself on the best foot forward for the afternoon ahead!
Everybody has a yoga body, and all our yoga bodies are unique to us. One of yoga's challenges is to not get hung up on what we can and can't do, and not let our out practice become achievement orientated. Over time yoga can makes us stronger, more flexible, better able to balance, but these things should be a side effect not the goal. That's just my interpretation of yoga practice, but what yoga means is unique to the individual. Often what brings people to start yoga in the first place isn't the same thing that keeps them coming back. Just like our unique selves, our yoga practice is constantly evolving and changing, and whatever brings you to practice is to be nurtured and respected. Some days all you might be able to do is lie on your matt and take a rest, and other days you might be brimming with energy; the beauty of yoga is that it will meet you exactly where you are, there’s no need for you to be anything other than exactly as you are. If you’ve never tried yoga before, then now is the perfect opportunity!
Whilst we’re on zoom there is no expectation for you to have your camera or audio turned on if you would prefer not to, so you can participate or even just observe the class from the privacy of your own home. I would recommend wearing comfortable clothes that don’t restrict your movement, and if you don’t have a yoga mat just make sure you have about the equivalent space on the floor to use. A cushion can be handy for sitting on, and anything else that helps you to get cosy in relaxation at the end (a blanket and an eye pillow if you have one). If you have any questions or apprehensions about joining in , or if you just want to chat anything yoga please drop me a line. If you’re working with specific injuries or medical conditions you can always discuss these with me privately and I can suggest ways to adapt and modify your practice to suit your individual needs.
“Connecting with colleagues, making new friends, and growing a community of yogis has had a really positive effect on my mental health during lockdown. To share time and space with people to simply breath and move is surprisingly profound, even online it feels like a shared experience, so thank-you to everyone who has come along to a class and given me the opportunity to practice with you.”
“For me yoga is all about wellbeing – even on zoom you are connecting, learning and being active. I have found it a little oasis of calm during a difficult time.”
“Yoga has completely transformed my ability to relax by breathing properly. I hadn’t realised the bad habits I was in.”