Meet the teacher: Rachel, our Thursday Hatha Yoga Class teacher at YogaSpace Yorkshire explains her Hatha yoga journey and the benefits this practice can bring into your life.
Meet Rachel, our Hatha teacher living in the Yorkshire Dales and who teaches Hatha Yoga Class here, (Thursdays) bringing over 20 years class experience. Read on to find out how she became a yoga teacher. Rachel used to be a fell runner, and yoga enabled her to keep her muscles in peak condition to tackle the hills.
Q: Rachel, why do you practice yoga?
Rachel: As a young adult I worked for a few years before I went to university to study for a ceramics degree. I found it hard to manage creative academic work, work part-time and try to make friends. By the end of three years I felt depressed like I had been on a mental, and emotional roller coaster. As I started a job working in an art department, I promised myself I was going to spend some time getting to a place where I felt confident and happy in myself, and try to find some happiness in this demanding chaotic world.
I tried one or two yoga classes earlier in life and had always been interested in holistic health. I chose a local teacher who I felt would be a good instructor and started attending his classes. He taught me the important and basic principles of yoga. Yoga was for everyone, and yoga was not just about the body; it was also about your approach to life, your lifestyle, and most of all, yoga was about listening and understanding all aspects of yourself.
Q: What benefits has yoga brought to your life when you look back?
Rachel: I was a runner and a climber and despite being reasonably fit and strong I found some of the physical practices really highlighted areas of my body that were tight from exercise. I found my new job very demanding but the breathing practices helped me forget about all that had been going on during the day and enabled me to feel quieter in my mind. My yoga teacher and I would go for long walks and talk about yoga philosophy and I started to be able to apply what he told me to my life in a way that made things seem more manageable.
Q: Is yoga now a vital part to your life for health and wellbeing?
Rachel: Yes, since then yoga has always been a part of my way of life. It has helped me maintain a balanced body and mind. Yoga helps me manage all the aspects of life that come at us every day. Yoga has taught me how to look after myself, and others, when times challenge our physical and mental wellbeing.
Q: What is the type of yoga you practice and teach?
Rachel: I am trained Hatha yoga teacher and experiential yoga therapist. I have been taught and teach with the philosophy of the yoga texts (Hatha Yoga Pradipika text) entwined into my classes. I give time and space for each person to explore and experience the practice with a non-judgemental attitude, without pushing, and to progressively help the body and mind to soften and open.
“I was looking for someone to inspire me, motivate me, support me, keep me focused… Someone who would love me, cherish me, make me happy, and I realized all along that I was looking for myself.”
Q: You teach two Hatha classes here, can you tell me what students can expect in each class?
Rachel: In the Thursday morning yoga fundamentals class we really practice the fundamental Hatha yoga postures (asanas) to keep joints supple, to release stiffness in tight areas of the body such as the neck and shoulders. These are postures you find in many classes but we make sure there is time to find the right alignment for each person, and to be able to make progress. A student of mine can see their body slowly opening, over the class time but also over the weeks of practice.
We also spend time working with pranayama (breathing) practice. I teach each student how to become an observer of the body and the breath. I find most students look forward to this part of the session the most, as it is the first step towards meditation. My students often comment that the postures leave them feeling physically more open, looser, but the breathing practices give time and space to let go of stress and worry.
In the evening class on a Thursday, we have the same attitude, of creating time and space to explore your yoga practice, but when people are ready, we use stronger or deeper forms of postures. It still aims to be a holistic weekly practice to counteract the demands of each week and make sure all areas of the body, breath and mind are given a chance to reset.
Q: Rachel, you love yoga and are as passionate as all the YogaSpace Yorkshire teachers for their practice and to serve students with beneficial classes. How would you define the yoga benefit for someone thinking about starting a yoga practice here?
Rachel: Yoga really is for everyone whatever your experience, shape, background or starting point. Yoga is all about getting to know yourself better so you can to keep fit, healthy and positive. Yoga is about the time and practice to give yourself space to develop towards your potential and honour yourself.
Rachel teachers two classes of Hatha yoga –
Yoga Fundamentals is on Thursday mornings – 11.15am -12.30pm and Hatha Practice is on Thursday evenings – 6-7.15pm. Rachel teaches all year round enabling students to access a solid practice.
Classes cost £12 but class pass discounts are offered when you book a block of lessons with Rachel. Contact Rachel to book.
Rachel is available for Private One:One lessons on Thursdays at YSY between 1pm and 5pm for one hour. (price on request)