Bringing out the Yoga Hero in me

I have only tried Yoga a handful times before. One of these times was at home, in front of the TV watching and copying from a video. I even invested in a Yoga mat hoping that it would turn into a recurring activity but no! I haven’t used the mat since and I’ve not visited the Yoga studio I live next to either. Still, I like the idea of Yoga and the peacefulness it brings, so when Independent Leeds invited me for a Sunday evening session of Yoga I accepted.

Yoga Hero

The session was held at Yoga Hero, an independent studio, down at Leeds Dock. I’ve never heard of them before, despite that they have changed locations a few times since they opened up two and a half years ago. They have three instructors and for this session we were taken care of by Holly who leads the Rocket and Ashtanga classes.

Yoga Hero studio Yoga Hero tote bags Yoga Hero reception

The studio is very light and big and as soon as you enter you feel calm. I suspect the simple, but yet cosy decoration has to do with and definitely the candles and incense. The latter also bringing thoughts of being abroad.

Yoga Equipment

Seeing the equipment already laid out made me nervous as it dawned on me we were about to go into positions which my not so flexible, nor balanced body might have difficulties with.

The only equipment I’ve ever used before in Yoga is the mat so I was surprised to also see a block, a bean bag and a strap laid out.

Yoga mats

*image courtesy of Independent Leeds

Yoga equipment

The meaning of Ashtanga

We began the session by sitting down, listening to Holly talking us through what Ashtanga Yoga stands for and what type of Yoga it is. This style is an uplifting Yoga, where you flow from one pose to another using the breath. It’s great if you want to build strength and flexibility.

Yoga instruction at Yoga Hero

*image courtesy of Independent Leeds

Holly Yoga Hero

The word Ashtanga is sanskrit and the first part ‘Ash’ means eight and ‘Tanga’ means lim. Basically it consists of eight parts which together symbolise the way of life. The first lim symbolises how you treat other people, not to judge, be honest, not to harm etc. The second lim refers to personal disciplines, the third is all the different positions within Yoga and fourth is all about breathing. I don’t remember all the rest but I think the seventh is meditation, which I really like the sound of.

Ashtanga Yoga

We started with a breathing exercise, finding a steady way of breathing in and out. Gaining energy breathing in and letting go of tension breathing out. I felt a lot more relaxed just drifting away concentrating on my own breathing and nothing else. It was more difficult keeping this up throughout all the poses we did but I suppose more practise will make perfection.

Stretching at Yoga

*image courtesy of Independent Leeds

Some of the poses were easier than others. The one that is called the child pose is apparently the most relaxing of them but I found it the most painful so I assume I did it wrong. The easiest and most comfortable for me was when we laid on our back with our legs straight up in the air, using the strap to pull down our feet and in a way keep them steady.

Starpose at Yoga

*image courtesy of Independent Leeds

The best part was the relaxation at the end when we were given blankets and laid the beanbag over our closed eyes only listening to our breathing and the music playing in the background.

I should definitely take up Yoga, I felt so relaxed afterwards. My legs were too jelly like for me to run home but that didn’t matter, I felt really good about myself and it’s a perfect end to a weekend and holiday before going back to work.

Thank you to Louise at Independent Leeds for inviting me. A big thanks as well to Holly at Yoga Hero for such a great session and for making us think more of how we should pose ourselves and breath to feel stress free.

Jennie xx

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