Fern Ross, our new yoga teacher, talks to us about her love of yoga, and how a knee injury brought a new depth to her practice.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a spiritual, mental and physical practice that has many wide-reaching benefits: from a calmer mind to a stronger, more flexible body. Originating in India, the word yoga means to ‘yoke’ or union. With regular practice, it does just that, leaving the individual feeling more balanced. For me, like many Westerners, I came to yoga focusing purely on the asana, or the physical side of the discipline. But, over time, I have reaped the mental benefits, and deepened my spiritual understanding. Ultimately, following Patanjali’s eight-limbed path (as set out in The Yoga Sutras, upon which all classical yoga is based), yoga leads to liberation, or Samadhi, where the soul and mind are in equal balance.
''Over time, as you practice, you begin to learn that all you need to be happy is within you. That in itself is a very powerful thing''
Why should I do yoga and how can I benefit?
While Samadhi may seem too unquantifiable a context for most of us to grasp, practising yoga (including meditation) can bring many benefits to modern life, but I’ll focus on the ones that hooked me. Firstly, the asanas make you strong and flexible, working the body from the inside out, starting with the breath. Second, the breath gives you a focus throughout your practise, grounding you and transforming it into a moving meditation as you flow from posture to posture. And third, yoga forces you to slow down, be present and turn your gaze inwards. Over time, as you practise, you begin to learn that all you need to be happy is within you. That in itself is a very powerful thing.
What style of yoga do you teach?
I teach Vinyasa Flow and Hatha, but I have tried a number of styles of yoga, ranging from classical Ashtanga through Rocket and Jivamukti to more restorative styles, such as Yin. Personally, I like getting sweaty and feeling strong, and I also like creative sequencing, so I fell in love with Vinyasa as soon as a tried it. What I like about it most is that, due to it being so creative, you can tailor each class to the individual, and adapt your flows to suit the energy of the people in the room.
How do you tailor your classes to the individual?
During my training, the anatomy module was one of my favourites. I had surgery on my ACL a few years ago, and had to undertake a year of physio to regain full strength and mobility in my right knee. As a result, I am all to aware of the body’s limitations: not everyone can bend like a pretzel; it’s so important to listen to your body and practise mindfully. My classes have a strong focus on alignment and I always offer options, so that everyone can enjoy a complete and injury-free practice that suits their body.
What do you love most about yoga?
As I mentioned earlier, I was initially drawn to yoga because of the asanas. I’m naturally very flexible and like getting bendy! But over time, I started to reap the mental benefits and my spiritual awareness grew. I had previously suffered from anxiety and depression, and I found that through regular practice, my mind was quieter and confidence grew. It gave me a sense of self and a sense of purpose, and I want to share the power that this mind-body-spirit connection can bring.
Fern will be teaching on Saturday mornings. For more information, click here.