Yoga Explained

Yoga Farnham

In yoga and mindfulness, the cultivation of awareness is key. When we recognise stress and the effects, we can choose to pause and transition from the mode of ‘doing’ (constant activity) to being.

We can acknowledge where we are in our body, mind and emotions, then choose to let go, to soften and adjust our breathing which, when stressed is commonly restricted or held.

Paying sustained attention to the sensations of the breathing and consciously softening our body, we reduce the stress hormones circulating around our bloodstream, calm the nervous system and aid digestion in the process, which slows up and ultimately shuts down when chronically and persistently stressed.

Awareness and recognition are key, then we can act. Take a few conscious breaths in the car at a set of traffic lights or in a queue at the supermarket, to recognise what is beyond our control and letting go is a powerful tool for living our lives with less unnecessary stress and more happiness.


The word yoga means to yolk or join, another translation from Sanskrit is union. Yoga can be described as complimentary practice which develops an understanding of our body and mind to promote overall health.

It has been practiced by ascetics in India for several thousand years although it was during the early 20th century that a very learned yogi called T. Krishnamacharya brought this ancient knowledge from the mystics in the Himalaya`s to three key students; his son Desikachar, BKS Iyengar and Patabi Jois. These three students were largely responsible for bringing yoga to the west in the 60`s and 70`s, Iyengar taught the likes of Yehudi Menuhin and as mentioned previously my teacher Jenny Beeken.


There are seemingly endless `styles` of yoga which is highly confusing for a newcomer: Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram, Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, Scaravelli and more! `Hatha` yoga is the broad umbrella term which encompasses all, which translates to solar lunar and represents the dualities in life (hot, cold; night, day; happy, sad; male ,female etc).

Ashtanga, pertains to the eight limbs or facets in the yoga system and in these classes you move through a dynamic sequence of flowing postures; Iyengar, Bikram (performed in a hot studio), and Scaravelli are the names of teachers and schools of yoga. The important thing in my opinion is to find a teacher that is safe (well trained) and with whom you feel comfortable. Very dynamic and fast moving classes are not suitable for a beginner as there is insufficient time to really understand the movements and can in fact be dangerous. A `Hatha`or `Scaravelli` yoga class will generally be slower and should be holistic in respect of posture, breath and meditation practiced.

If one is elderly or carrying an injury it is particularly important to ask a teacher of there experience; they should adjust, modify and use supporting props where necessary.

Benefits of Yoga:

  • A calmer mind

  • Increased strength and flexibility

  • Improved Sleep

  • Increased energy levels

  • Enhanced circulation

  • Improved balance (on all levels)

fitness, yoga and healthy lifestyle concept - group of people meditating in lotus pose at studio

What Do I Bring to Class?

To practice yoga it is best to wear comfortable clothing that you can move in and a blanket to ensure warmth during relaxation. Yoga is practiced a a non slip mat which with notice I can provide for initial lessons after which it’s nice to have your own. I advise waiting 90 minutes after a meal before practising yoga, although a small snack in advance should be fine rather than tummy rumbling all lesson!

Do you want relief from pain?

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