If the answer to your question is not here, please do Contact Gabriella at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will reply as soon as she can.
What is the point of yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice with infinite benefits. ‘Yoga’ means ‘union’ in the ancient language of Sanscrit and the general idea is to unify the mind, body and soul. Yoga can improve the physical condition of the body both inside (promoting healthy digestion, movement in the joints, flexibility of the body hence boosting mobility etc) and out (conditioning the muscles and burning fat). Yoga also benefits the mind, allowing the practitioner to find a sense of quiet and calm in the crazy world which we live in. For this reason many people use yoga in order to treat anxiety, stress, insomnia, depression and so on. Yoga can help with virtually any minor medical condition from migraines and period pains to constipation and arthritis. It is also being used to treat major medical conditions and rehabilitate those who have been in life-changing accidents across the world.* Finally, yoga has a whole host of spiritual benefits which will be different for each individual practitioner. It is up to you to find them!
Should I book my class in advance?
Definitely. Gabriella hosts a maximum of 20 students per class in order to be able to dedicate as much attention to each as they deserve. In order to reserve one of these spaces you must Contact Gabriella in advance at email@example.com or on 07527441898. Otherwise you will not be guaranteed a mat or space in the class and may be turned away at the door.
I have never been to a yoga class before… I’m super unflexible/unfit and feel like everyone will laugh at me… Should I just stay at home instead?
Absolutely not! If you hadn’t noticed, yoga is all about peace and love and looking inside yourself, not about judging other people. The great thing with yoga is that you can’t become an expert at it… everyone is always a student and the more you learn the more there is to learn, so even if you are a beginner, the intermediate student next to you probably has enough to be concentrating on to not care about whether or not you can touch your toes! Gabriella welcomes all abilities into her classes and offers a selection of variations for each posture. So bite the bullet and give it a go. If you are still concerned, please give Gabriella a call on 07527441898 to discuss.
What should I expect of a GabriellaYoga class?
Students are advised to arrive five minutes before class in order to get settled. Upon arrival you will be welcomed into the room and invited to sit on your own individual yoga mat. Gabriella will ask if anyone has any illnesses or injuries that she needs to know about (if you prefer for this to be confidential please arrive ten minutes before the class begins for a private chat). There will be a short period of meditation during which Gabriella may invite you to chant ‘Om’, assess the way that you feel that day and come into your breath. She may ask you to identify a personal intention for the practice or give you something to focus on which she will prompt you to think about throughout the session. A warm up sequence will be carried out which may include sun salutations A and B and flowing yoga movements. The session will move in a gradual manner offering variations for each posture in order to ensure that each student’s practice is their own and one in which they feel comfortable. Just over half way through the session will be a kind of physical crescendo, where you will find yourself attempting the most challenging postures of the class. After this point the class will begin to wind back down and begin to regain that meditative state visited at the beginning of class. Students will be invited to lie on their backs and relax for about ten minutes during which Gabriella may lead a guided meditation, chanting experience or stay silent. Students may be adjusted in this position with a gentle massage to the shoulders or forehead. From here, students will be asked to come to a seated position, perhaps practice a breathing exercise and return their thoughts to the initial group focus or their personal intention. Once again, students are invited to explore how they feel, assess the differences in their bodies since the beginning of class and come back to their breath. Class will end with a simple chant or gentle ‘Om’, then as a mark of respect to ourselves and the others in the room, hands will be placed in a prayer pose as everyone bows and says, ‘Namaste’. Gabriella often uses music, incense, candles, chimes or a singing bowl in her classes, and will physically adjust your body in postures as and when necessary. Please make Gabriella aware if you’d rather not be adjusted for whatever reason.
What do all of these foreign words mean and why do we say them???
This is a good question which we could write a whole book on! But here are the main words which you might hear during a yoga class…
‘Yoga’ = ‘yoga’ itself is a Sanscrit word which has now been adopted into Western language. ‘Yoga’ in its purest sense, means ‘union’, and isn’t that what yoga is all about? Bringing the mind, body and spirit into one unified health.
‘Om’ = ‘Om’ is known as the universal sound. As in, the sound of the Universe. Just imagine that you could step outside of our Universe and listen to all of the sounds that you would normally hear… car horns beeping, birds singing, traffic trundling, babies crying, people shouting, electricity buzzing, oceans flowing, trees blowing, fingers clicking, music playing, people walking… Now imagine if all of those sounds came together in ‘yoga’. Take yourself out of the universe, mentally, close your eyes and chant long and strong from your belly, ‘om’. Let the sounds vibrate through your body and go on until you are out of breath. That, is ‘om’. A sound of unity, of oneness, of ‘yoga’. As well as honouring ‘yoga’, a union which is the main focus of our practice, we also get the meditative vibrations of the sounds… when we chant ‘om’ we hear three sounds, melting into one another, the wistful ‘ah’, the relishing ‘ooh’ and the satisfying ‘mmm’. The sounds bring peace into a world which is usually so full of hustle and bustle with everyone trying to make themselves heard individually, yet when we are all heard together, the sound is beautiful. This is why Gabriella thinks we chant ‘om’.
‘Namaste’ = You will often hear Gabriella greeting you or saying goodbye with the word ‘namaste’. ‘Namaste’ is a mark of respect… its exact translation is often disputed, but it means something along the lines of, “The divine in me recognises the divine in you.”
‘Asana’ = Gabriella will occasionally refer to yoga postures in Sanskrit and you will notice that regardless of the posture the Sanskrit word always ends with ‘asana’. Think about it… Tree pose? Vrksasana. Boat pose? Navasana. Child’s pose? Balasana. Dancer’s pose? Natarajasana. Corpse pose? Savasana. ‘Asana’ means pose.
‘Pranayama’ = ‘pranayama’ is usually inaccurately described as ‘breathing exercises’. This is technically true in a manner of speaking, but it ignores the real crux of the word. ‘Prana’ means energy or life force rather than simply being limited to ‘breath’. So when we practice ‘pranayama’ methods we are learning to control the flow of energy into and out of our bodies.
‘Mudra’ = ‘mudra’ is essentially a symbolic hand gesture. However, there is so much more to ‘mudras’ than that… In the same way as we practice certain postures in order to gain certain benefits, individual mudras can bring a variety of specific physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Some of these hinge only on the positioning of the fingers, palms and wrists whilst others embrace acupressure points within the hands in order to trigger shifts elsewhere in the body and mind. ‘Mudra’ is yoga for the hands!
‘Drishti’ = Gabriella will often ask students to focus their ‘drishti’ on a certain point, like the middle fingertip or towards the back of the room or on an unmoving spot. ‘Drishti’ basically means ‘gaze’. Focusing your gaze on specific spots during your physical practice can bring more comfort to a posture, enhance a meditative experience or allow you to move deeper into a specific pose.
What should I wear to yoga?
As yoga is a physical practice it is advisable to wear tight leggings or shorts with a breathable, lightweight fabric. As we do a lot of bending and stretching, proper sports materials tend to be best for bottoms. Similarly, tight-but-stretchy vest tops and t-shirts are best. We advise stretchy, tight clothes for comfort, range of movement and corrections (if you are wearing loose clothes, Gabriella cannot see if you are not activating your thigh muscles, steeling your core or twisting from the waist). However, if you would be more comfortable in looser fitting clothes this is fine too. During yoga we typically do not wear shoes or socks in order to give a better range of movement to the feet, although if you prefer socks can be permitted. Depending on your own levels of perspiration you may find it beneficial to wear sweat-bands. Long hair is best tied back as it limits the distraction of it getting in the way. Ladies with a larger bust will find it beneficial to wear a sports bra, as although we don’t jump up and down (like in an aerobics class) we do bend forward a lot. Of course, any injury-prevention accessories (eg. wrist or knee-guards) are welcome.
What do I need to bring to yoga?
Aside from your lovely self, a bottle of water is advised as it is really important to stay hydrated before, during and after any form of physical activity. You may wish to bring a towel (to dry off sweat), a blanket or cardigan (for the end-of-class meditation) or any yoga props which you are used to working with.
I’m unwell this week… should I still come to yoga?
Well, it kind of depends on you! What is your sickness? Is it contagious? Is your sickness likely to be disruptive to the class? For example, do you have a terrible cough, or sneezy hay fever which might affect the group energy? If so, maybe consider staying at home until you are feeling better. On the flip side, do you just have a mild headache, or back pain, or menstrual cramps? Is your sciatica or arthritis playing up? Is it a mental health issue, like depression today, or anxiety? If the answer to these questions is yes, just let Gabriella know at the beginning of the class and she will take all this into consideration in the sequencing, offer you variations and maybe even discreetly adapt the practice for your needs. If your illness has not been mentioned here and you are still unsure, please feel free to Contact Gabriella in advance of the class to ask.*
I’m injured… will I have to skip yoga?
It entirely depends on where the injury is, how long it has been injured and how severe it is. But generally we would recommend that you seek medical advice and use your own judgement. For example, if you got tendinitis in your wrist about three months ago and it is still feeling a bit iffy but the doctor said yoga might be good rehab, then come along. If you broke your toe days ago and the doctor said you need to rest it for two weeks, don’t come along. If you got whiplash a year ago and the doctor says some yoga would be good for you but you still don’t feel ready, listen to your own body.* Nonetheless, if you have to take a bit of a break from yoga Gabriella will welcome you back with open arms as soon as you are ready to hit the mat again.
I booked a package with Gabriella Yoga but I haven’t been able to use up all of my classes in the eight-week period… can I carry them over?
All GabriellaYoga packages have an expiry date… any classes not used before that date are lost from the package.
If I have booked into a yoga class, can I cancel it?
If you know that you are unable to attend a class that you have booked, please Contact Gabriella immediately to let her know. If you contact Gabriella up to 48 hours days before the class you have paid a deposit to attend or booked as part of your package, GabriellaYoga will be able to swap you into another class more suitable to you (subject to availability). If you cancel a booking within 48 hours of the class, you will lose your deposit or that class from your package.
Where can private group classes be held?
If you choose to book a private group session with Gabriella, the class can be taught in your own home or workplace (assuming that there is space for Gabriella, you and however many other students make up the group to practice in). Weather permitting if you choose to practice in the outdoors like a public park Gabriella would be happy to teach in such a space.
Is yoga all about being a Hindu or Buddhist?
Absolutely not. Across the world there are Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Atheists, Muslims, Realists, Surrealists and pretty much every other religious group you can think of practising yoga. People often become wary of yoga if they are attached to a non-Hindu or non-Buddhist religion because they notice that some elements of a yogic lifestyle align with those of Hindu and Buddhist practices. This is simply because yoga originated in the same part of the world where Buddhism and Hinduism originated too, so naturally they ‘bounce ideas’ off one another so to speak. However, there are many more differences than similarities when you compare a yogic lifestyle with the Hindu and Buddhist religions. People often assume that when we place our hands in prayer position whilst sitting on the floor and chanting in an ancient language that we are praying. This is only true if you want it to be… Otherwise, we are just sitting in a position which is conducive to meditation as it is comfortable and prevents us from becoming distracted by what our hands should be doing! If you find yourself physically or spiritually uncomfortable in this position, you will be invited to find your own easy pose and meditate in that seat. When we chant, we often chant in Sanskrit because that was the original language of yoga, and frankly, it sounds nice! Having said that, there are times when we will chant in English too, because it isn’t about the language, but about the sound and the intention in the words. Gabriella will always let you know what the Sanskrit words you are chanting mean and if for whatever reason you are uncomfortable with the message, no-one will be offended if you sit silently instead of joining in. All of that being said, if you prefer to dedicate your own personal practice to a religious belief and offer your meditations as prayers, that is fine too! Yoga is not a religion but a personal lifestyle to be adapted for your own needs. If there is a specific reason why you are concerned about the religious implications of yoga and whether or not they align or contradict your own personal beliefs, please discuss these with Gabriella and she will gladly advise.
*Always seek the advice of a medical professional before practising yoga if you are working with any kind of illness or injury. If you choose not to follow the advice given, know that you do so at your own risk. Always inform Gabriella of any illness or injury even if you don’t think it is relevant. As before, if you choose not to do this, know again that you practice yoga at your own risk.