Monday, 30 May 2016

Uttanasana with compact legs and pelvis

There are so many ways of experiencing Uttanasana, each one resulting in awakening sensititivity in different areas.

In this way, with the belt around the feet and pelvis the belt creates a compactness in the legs and pelvis. The sacrum is drawn in, along with the femur heads - which is very useful for people with hyper-mobility, although all can benefit. This action stimulates the organs of the pelvis, including the reproductive organs. The bones of the legs working against the resistance of the belt is beneficial for bone density.

Place a looped belt beneath your heels, feet together.

Bend your knees a little & tighten the belt.

Slowly straighten the legs, using the resistance of the belt, lifting the buttocks. Keep the hips gripped, lift the inner ankles & knees.

 The belt must be tight for you to feel the resistance as you straighten the legs

Focus on maintaining the length in the front body, pubice to sternum. Keeping the shoulders away from the ears, press the hands into the bricks & lift your face to aid the dorsal moving in & the sternum lengthening.

If you are pregnant or have a spinal disc problem you should remain in this position & not descend the trunk further.


A restorative way of practising Uttanasana is to have the back against the wall

In this way, the wall helps you to extend and draw the trunk closer to the legs, whilst releasing the back, neck and face. It soothes and quietens the brain, leaving you feeling refreshed and energised.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Yoga: developing a self-practise

A few students have asked me how they can best practise yoga at home, in addition to their weekly class. This is for you.

Practising yoga once a week is beneficial – no doubt about it. Your posture improves - which benefits your breathing, you ward off stiffness, gain strength, ease tension and reduce your stress levels.

Practising twice a week results in faster progress of the above. In addition, you discover more about yourself, become more positive, happy, active and at ease with yourself.

When you practise at home you learn to become your own teacher. You build on what you have done in class. Often, there is a particular chord that strikes…perhaps your yoga teacher introduced you to a new way of approaching a pose. To go home and ‘play’ with this is invaluable. Doing it a few times, on your own, helps you to internalise it: to understand it and really feel it. This may well be beneficial to your practice of other poses. It is likely this quiet practise at home might throw up questions, which you can ask at your next class.

At home, practising alone, you can become completely absorbed in your pose. There are less distractions (arguable if you can see the washing up or a heap of laundry!) and you can tailor your home practise to what you need.

Some people are naturally self-motivated and find it relatively easy to develop a self-practise. Others find it impossible and never practise at home. Either way, don’t beat yourself up over it, or you are simply adding to your stress levels.

If you would like to begin practising yoga at home, my advice would be to start with 10 minutes. Sometimes the thought of practising for an hour or so can be overwhelming – so much so that you do nothing at all! If you just say to yourself, “I am going to do 10 minutes and then just see what happens.” You may surprise yourself and lose track of time as you become immersed in the yoga. And if not, then at least you did 10 minutes.

Another question is, “What poses should I do?” You can be inspired by a point/pose in your regular yoga class. You may find a yoga book motivating , or perhaps a yoga workshop throws up something new for you to work on/’play’ with at home.

When inspiration is lacking then practise what you need. If you are menstruating, then practise the menstruation sequence (which I will be teaching next week). If you have a sore back/tight hamstrings or shoulders then practise poses you know relieve these. Practise uplifting backbends if you feel sluggish, demotivated or down. Following a restorative sequence is beneficial if you have been burning the candle at both ends, or are recovering from illness. If inspiration simply doesn’t strike then just get on your mat and start with downward dog and see what follows.

In terms of safety, practise only what you are confident. If you are unsure of alignment then it is best to practise it a few more times in class first, to be sure you are working correctly in the pose. Never practise after a meal and don’t practise in direct, hot sunlight or tight clothing.

Other than that it’s up to you! Light a candle or don’t. Burn incense or don’t. Set up a special little yoga area or don’t. It’s your practise, so practise away!

Thursday, 5 May 2016


"The process of birth is not a Hollywood script with harp music, diaphanous robes, and sweetly smiling cherubim. It is work made of muscle, sinew, sweat, blood, and love. By toning the body, mind, and spirit, yoga can help a mother be present for the miracle of birth."  - Yoga Journal

A good Pregnancy Yoga class needs the following ingredients:

1) First and foremost the teacher must be highly qualified and experienced. I am shocked at the advice some students have been given. Don't be shy about asking a teacher about their qualification/professional affiliation - and then check it out online. Iyengar yoga teachers will have done 4 years of yoga under the guidance of a more senior teacher in order to obtain even the most basic Iyengar qualification. They also undergo annual professional development and assessment to ensure their teaching is current, appropriate and safe! 

2) The yoga is varied. It will strengthen your body and mind to prepare both for the arduous nature of labour and delivery. You wouldn't run a marathon without training for it. Labour is (possibly) the most physical thing you will ever do. Holding poses a little longer, with your thighs aching, you will be guided through breathing and feel better prepared to tackle what lies ahead. It also helps you to enjoy a pregnancy with minimal discomfort.

3) You will learn to breathe. There are different breaths to aid the different stages of labour. I cannot express how crucial the breathing is. If you cultivate a strong practise the breathing and movements will kick in automatically. My preparation helped me move with the energy during labour, using it, rather than fighting it. 

4) To give you confidence. It is common to feel unprepared and fearful at the beginning of a pregnancy. We feel we should somehow know how to do it, and yet, in this first-world that we live in, we are so far removed from our instincts that we lack faith in ourselves. Prenatal yoga should weave together mind, body and spirit, giving you an insight and awareness that provides confidence in yourself.

5) Shared information and experiences happen naturally, as women meet and chat with one another, bonded by this experience. Some women find it difficult - how pregnancy changes their body - and talking things over with others can reduce anxiety and stress.

6) At the core of all yoga is acceptance and surrender. Prenatal yoga will not guarantee you the birth you want, but it will grant you the grace of acceptance and surrender. You cannot control certain events in life, but you can be in control of how you react and respond.

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga:

Boosts circulation - less likely to suffer from varicose veins
Relieves aches and pains - including back pain
Reduces fluid retention
Strengthens abdominal and pelvic floor muscles - helping you get back into shape afterwards
Lowers stress
Reduces inflammation
Eases depression
Increases stamina, strength & flexibility of muscles needed for childbirth
Improves sleep
Decreases nausea

Experts agree on some general rules for practising yoga during pregnancy:
If you have never practiced yoga or have practiced very little before your pregnancy, you should practice only prenatal yoga while pregnant.
If you already had a strong yoga practice before your pregnancy, you may be able to continue a fairly vigorous practice - with modifications - after your first trimester.
During the first trimester both beginning and experienced yogis should only do a gentle practice or none at all, as the fetus is still implanting and the risk of miscarriage is highest.

The prenatal yoga class is a time for women to prepare themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. It is a time to hear positive labour stories, to know you can feel empowered, to learn tools to help you achieve a positive birthing experience.

Pregnancy yoga class

6.45 - 7.45pm

19th May 2016 


Great Dunmow Primary School

The entrance is on Stortford Rd, Dunmow CM6 1DN (beside the lay-by near Tesco) (map)

Phone Sarah on 07427 596961 or 
email with any questions, or to book a place

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Yoga Workshop Sunday 22nd May

10am until 1pm at Great Dunmow Primary School on 22nd May 2016

The focus of this workshop will be getting the most out of seated poses, twists and supine poses, with an extended session of pranayama (breath control) at the end of the class, to aid relaxation and calm the nervous system. 

This workshop is not suitable for absolute beginners. If you are unsure please contact me to chat about it.

I have included a few comments from students explaining how yoga has improved their lives:

"Sarah is an expert yoga teacher and also has a tremendous ability to motivate her students. She works plenty of one-to-one attention into classes, and fine-tunes the practice to fit every student's ability. She gets to know everybody's quirks and injuries and finds ways around them. Although everything is slow, there is lots of physical effort, as well as concentration and laughs. Every class leaves you with tired muscles and a clear mind. I started yoga in the hope of dealing with a lower back problem. Sarah's classes gave me control over that, and much more."  

"Sarah's classes are transformative, invigorating and passionate. Prepare yourself to be inspired! You truly inspired me and the practice awakened me fully!! Thanks so much, Sarah!"

"Sarah was my first yoga teacher and I can still remember my first class with her. I took to Sarah's teaching style and Iyengar yoga immediately, soon I was attending classes regularly at Sarah's teaching space. I found Sarah to be an excellent teacher; her classes were obviously well-planned, structured, varied, professional and always delivered with plenty of 1:1 adjustments. I'll never forget the calm and peace I felt after each class. I believe those first years of yoga teaching were the best I had.

The May workshop will be on Sunday 22nd May 2016 from 10am until 1pm at Great Dunmow Primary School. The entrance is on Stortford Rd (B1256), Dunmow CM6 1DN. It is beside the lay-by near Tesco (map)

£20 if booked before 15-5-16. £25 after then. Please note, this is a non-refundable payment. (If you book in advance and then are unable to attend, I will do my best to fill your place..If I can fill your place then I will of course return your £20)

I hope you can come! Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions at all click here to contact me