Meet Eszter…

Eszter is an amazing yoga teacher and a wonderful friend of mine. Below, she tells you all about her journey into yoga.

In fifth grade every student in my school had to have a check up by a chiropractitioner to make sure that before we would hit puberty, we will grow into bones, joints and muscles that can hold us all till retirement. This was when I was told that my feet are a little flat and that my right shoulder is lower than my left, therefore I needed to take special PE classes. I was not sure what a “special PE class” meant, but the first Wednesday when I had to go I found out it was yoga.

About 6 of us attended from different classes, we each had different “problems” with our bodies that needed fixing. The class was fun, our teacher was great at providing poses and challenges that made us really focus on the given task, like taking off and putting on a sock only using your toes.

I attended these classes for 3 years and I loved them. I was so dedicated that there were times that it was only me who made it to class each Wednesday. In high school, parents and teachers thought that probably we were all fixed now or might never be able to change our structure anymore, therefore, yoga classes were cancelled. I missed it a lot, but my busy schedule pointed my attention elsewhere anyway.

It was only when I was about 19 that I decided to start yoga again. It was somewhat out of the blue, as a friend of mine mentioned it to me, and after a quick search on YouTube I could roll out my mat and do a session each morning before breakfast. First the familiar downward dog was hard, felt that my back and hamstrings were so tight that I would never be able to reach my toes or the floor ever, I had to sneak in extra breaths through a Surya Namaskar. Don’t even get me started on a chaturanga push up… As I kept pushing myself, I started to feel powerful again. Downward dog felt like a relaxing pose, I began challenging myself with more variations and decided to attend a local yoga class. It was amazing. The sense of connection between the attendees brought back great memories from the past from primary school.

Now, as a 27 year old yogi, this ancient practice is truly my companion in life. I often chant to my students to create a breath that is a strong companion throughout their practice. Something they could rely on. If the knee doesn’t bend or the arm can’t reach, your breath should still carry you through the challenges. And it works. Just breathe. Even now, as you are reading this, soften your gaze and take a deep breath in and out of your breath. Now back to my scribbles.

Although I am still not an experienced teacher, but I can say that I am a well-nourished learner. All the progress I have made wasn’t always bodily, but more often came from my mind or my spirit. Even now I struggle with some of the asanas, that either scare me or my body doesn’t allow me to access, yet I find peace in the thought that I am working towards progression, not perfection. Somehow my own body language changed, I started to find comfort in awkward poses (sometimes literally), encouraged myself more than talked down on me, and most importantly enjoyed the ride. Yoga is not for just the perfect body type, mental state or emotional stability. Hell, no on has that. Yoga is for those that battle day by day to stand up from the couch and stretch their arms. It’s for the mums that need 30 minutes away from the craze of a laundry explosion. It’s for the men who have the tightest hips in every specie of the world and can’t sit with a straight back for the love of their life! Yoga is for you, even if you can’t get out of your chair or don’t know the sanskrit names of all of the Hatha yoga poses.

Because of this, lately I started a basic series on my Instagram and Facebook page where I share the tricks and tips for each Hatha pose that you might ever come across in a yoga class. Most of us have aching backs after mowing the lawn, hunch over computers 10 hours a day, and hardly walk anywhere anymore. Our muscles are tight, weak, and not at all flexible. It makes sense that you’d rather focus on finding the perfect alignment in downward dog first, even if your knees are slightly bent, then work from there, than rushing through a Sun Salutation or a power flow in a Vinyasa class. That is like itching your left ear with your right hand – doesn’t make sense.

This is why I teach friendly and fun classes in Herefordshire, where students can be 19 or 90 (I did have a 92 year old visit one of my classes once… never sweat more in my life), new or old to the practice. Yoga is one of the most important movements you can do to bring the youth back into your muscles.

I’d like to share two testimonials from my local classes. A lady in her 60s came up to me shortly after I took over another lady’s yoga classes at the local leisure centre. She mentioned to me that she had attended the previous teacher’s classes for 4 years and could never reach her feet in a happy baby pose, but in my last class, as I was giving here the ques, she somehow managed to grab hold of her ankles, then her feet. She said nothing really changed in her flexibility after 3 classes with me, but she had a connection to her limbs in a way she had never had it before. That is yoga, letting you use the body that you have today.

The other story is about a gentleman that attends one of my classes. He does all sorts of classes, but somehow feels the need to come to yoga to give his muscles some time to regenerate. He had told me that his calves had been really tight for years and he had trouble walking long distances as the sharp pain would accompany him immediately. I kept that in mind as I taught the classes he took part of, gave him some stretches he could do every day at home as well. After a month he came back to me and said that for the first time, when he embarked on his usual walk, the pain never appeared. He was delighted.

Yoga will give you the tools to learn how to use your own body for its best benefit. It was only now, almost 15 years later that I realized that in primary school the doctor’s diagnosis after a quick look was incorrect. There is a difference in the position of my shoulders, yes, but instead of heaving a low shoulder on the right, I actually have really tight muscles around my left collar bone which lift that side a little higher. He wasn’t far off from the truth, the end results are almost exactly the same, yet they are completely different.

Eszter K. Browning – Zsálya Yoga

Hen Parties!

Are you a bride to be or a super lovely friend planning a hen party? If you are looking for something a little bit different, something like yoga perhaps, then look no further!

All About the Om can offer you a lovely yoga session for the Bride and all her friends to celebrate this exciting time in her life and her future marriage.

Each hen party yoga class is planned with you, so you can all feel special, relaxed and calm. If you are staying in a house/cottage etc. with space in Somerset/Wiltshire, then All About the Om can come to you (yoga in your PJs anyone?!). However, if you are looking for a venue, we work with several local places, so can look to sort this for you for your yoga class.

Friends who yoga together, stay together!

Fear not! At All About the Om Yoga, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. So, if some of your hen party are new to yoga, it’s absolutely fine, in fact, it’s great! It’s all about enjoying yourself, giving it a try and feeling fantastic – simple!

If you would like to talk about All About the Om yoga hen party classes, get in touch at allabouttheomyoga@gmail.com.

Yoga – A ‘Proper’ workout!

“I don’t want to do yoga, because I want a ‘proper’ workout” – this is something I often hear from people…who have never tried yoga!

Don’t get me wrong; some linages of yoga, especially yin are really gorgeous ways to calm the body and mind, with a relaxing, deep stretch. In yin yoga, you are likely to do only five or so postures in one session, but each one is held for several minutes, so you can really deepen into the stretch.

However, yoga can demand a lot more strength (both physically and mentally) than many people think. My lovely students quite often leave my All About the Om yoga classes in Frome with a real sweat on!

Many yoga poses take a lot of stamina to remain in for a prolonged period of time, with good posture and alignment. Take chair pose for example: your core has to engage and really work hard to maintain a good posture. Your thighs feel like they are on fire and your whole body is likely to get a bit of shake going! This is when the breath is even more important – yogis use breath to allow them to focus and remain in an asana (yoga posture) for a longer period of time. 

Sun salutations involve a good amount of cardio as well as strength.  The yogi moves into a new posture on every inhalation and every exhalation. The steady pace of the vinyasa flow gets the heart rate racing and your body temperature rising, particularly when the whole sequence is repeated multiple times. 

There are no doubt other great ways to workout, but the great thing about incorporating yoga into your fitness regime, is that you can really work the whole body in one class or session. So often I hear students say that they are using muscles in yoga they do not use at any other point in the day! 

What’s more, whether you are spiritual or just want to help calm your mind, yoga is a great way to do it. Some yogis love to practice meditation every day, and others just like to take a few moments to focus on their breath, to find some peace and stillness. Either way, we all need to take time in our lives to look after ourselves and this is a positive way to do it.

And of course, when all the sweating, shaking and hard work is done in yoga you get to indulge in Shavasana, the conscious relaxation section of a yoga class. 

So, with the New Year upon us, why not set yourself an intention to try something new in 2019. Forget all your preconceptions about yoga and give it a go yourself. 

See you on the mat!

Kate is the Founder of All About the Om – Yoga with Kate. She is a yoga teacher based in Frome in Somerset, offering group classes, 121 sessions and yoga and brunch events, perfect for all levels and experiences of yoga.

“I’ve got nothing to wear!” – A yogi’s tale

As a yoga teacher, one of the things I often get asked by new students to my classes is “what should I wear?”

Now, everyone is different when it comes to what they like to exercise and relax in, but for me it’s about feeling comfortable.

In yoga there are many strong movements and deep stretches, so I find that leggings or trousers that allow you to move easily are best. I’m also a big fan of a stretchy waistband! If you don’t want something too clingy, don’t worry, there are lots of looser yoga trousers available.

When it comes to tops, I’m all about the layers! In yoga your body temperature can increase greatly through the main practice and cool down significantly during Shavasana (relaxation), so it is important to have a jumper or long-sleeve top on hand to keep warm (and even a blanket if you feel so inclined). 

Again, I like to go for comfort, with a supportive sports bra and then a top that is not too restrictive (I tend to go for a strappy top or vest, not a t-shirt). The restriction factor is not only for ease of movement in yoga postures, but to allow you to breathe freely. Utilising your breath is very important in yoga, it allows you to be strong in a pose and deepen into a posture, so you won’t want to wear something too tight, which restricts your ability to breathe deeply.

I have to say that I never wear socks when practicing yoga. This is for two reasons. Firstly, safety – floors and sometimes even mats can be a bit slippy, so when you are in a standing balance, or anything wide-legged, you may well find that socks will not only hinder you movement, but also your stability. Secondly, in yoga it is important to ground yourself with your mat and the earth beneath you and being bare foot helps me with this. I can spread my toes to anchor myself into the ground and feel that connection. Of course, if you need to wear socks for any reason there are pairs available which have grips on the bottom. You also may well like to put socks on for your shavasana, to keep those toes warm!

Now let’s talk accessories! It’s best to remove any jewellery or accessories that may get in the way or get tangled. It’s also a good idea to take things off like a smart watch, mainly because it can be distracting if messages are coming through whilst you are trying to get into the yoga zone!

Likewise, if you have long hair like I do, it’s best to tie it back when practicing yoga, because quite frankly, it just gets in the way!

What I will also say is that you do not have to spend a fortune on new fancy yoga clothes or activewear to practice yoga. I often mix it up. I have some great pieces from the likes of Sweaty Betty, Gymshark and Lululemon, but I’m also a big fan of H&M’s activewear range and when it comes to layering up, you may well even find me in a supermarket-bought cardigan. There are lots of great options out there.

So, I guess the point of this post is – don’t let not knowing what to wear to a yoga class put you off going – as long as you feel comfy, that’s all that matters.

See you on the mat.

Kate is the Founder of All About the Om – Yoga with Kate. She is a yoga teacher based in Frome in Somerset, offering group classes, 121 sessions and yoga and brunch events, perfect for all levels and experiences of yoga.

Yoga mat

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Form create the awesome circular mats like mine and also beautiful rectangular ones.

I love my mat so much that I have become an affiliate partner for Form.

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