I have blogged about Freestyle Fitness Yoga before, mainly when I first trained, and then when I became an "Elite" Freestyle Fitness Yoga (I know - I was as surprised as you are!) but I thought it was time to update you. Not that this is entirely necessary, the yoga class is the most popular class on the Hope Fitness timetable and the one that attracts the most new customers.
It the the safe and comfortable class on the timetable. The one people come to, to find their feet. The one their physio has recommended. The one they think will be easiest...
That is until they actually come along and find it's not that easy after all!
Yoga comes in many different forms and there are many classes now that are a fusion of yoga, pilates and fitness, all based on the fundamental principles of yoga. The type of yoga class that I teach takes the three essential elements of fitness; flexibility, strength and balance, and uses the yoga postures to teach them. Within my class there is no meditation or relaxation elements, it is purely a workout for muscles.
Obviously a positive side effect of any workout is well-being and is therefore meditative and relaxing in it's own way.
People often underestimate how much of a workout they are going to get. It can be surprising how something so inherently simple can be felt in your muscles for days after the class. I still feel it even after teaching two classes a week for the last 5 years.
I always aim to make it transparently clear that I am not a "proper" yoga teacher, I am a fitness instructor that teaches yoga. Before I became an instructor I regularly attended yoga classes and did a few Ashtanga yoga workshops and loved the principles of yoga and how it made me feel. Something that is on my to do list to do again sometime.
Proper yoga teaches spend years training, doing many hours teaching training and living the "yogi" lifestyle. They maintain a daily practice and regularly return to their mentor to continue their education. I'll be honest with you, I found the quickest route I could to be able to teach a form of yoga and did it. That was 5 years ago.
I am only allowed to teach a limited number of postures, none of which are contraindicated. If you feel that a yoga posture that I teach is hurting you then there is probably an underlying problem that was already there. I am not hands at all, so there is no risk that I will push you too far. I allow participants to find their own way, and they usually do, by giving clear (mostly) teaching points. I only correct when absolutely necessary. It is important that people learn to understand their own bodies and how they are aligned.
The class is very informal and I am happy to admit when I am unable to do something. It is usually obvious by the end of the class that we are all different, we all move and bend in different ways, some of us have short limbs, some of us have long limbs and we are all tight in different places.
The outcome is usually the same - the legs are tired from holding the lunges postures, the body feels warm and worked out and the mind feels clearer from getting out and doing something for ourselves.
I plan the classes on a 6 week rotation, which new participants can join at any time. I'd be the first to admit that this 6 week period is my comfort zone, I don't have to plan and I just fall into the teaching without having to worry too much. A class rarely goes by without a newbie and this feels like the safest way to do things. I have been threatening change for sometime but haven't quite plucked up the courage.
Perhaps if I say it out loud here it will make me accountable to you all...