I was delighted to be asked to facilitate a yoga class for trainees of The Bayford Foundation.
Being a yoga teacher for several years, I have seen the many benefits yoga can bring to people’s lives, not just in improving their physical health, but also their mental and emotional wellbeing.
During my session at the foundation’s ground breaking 12-week boot camp training programme in Hunslet, South Leeds, we worked through a variety of practices that can be incorporated into everyday life, and can be done while sitting at the desk, making sales calls, on the bus journey into work, or during a meeting.
One of the great things about yoga is that there are so many basic but powerful practices that can be done discreetly, without the need for a yoga mat or lots of space.
We started the session with a breathing practice to help the trainees to tune into their breath and explore it with their full attention. Although we all know how to breath and have been doing it since birth, few people use the breath to its full potential, so I was keen to let the trainees see just how powerful the breath can be.
During the balancing breath practice, I encouraged the trainees to feel the connection between their breath and their physical body, noticing where they could feel the breath creating space and openness in their body. I also encouraged them to see how observing their breath helped to calm the mind and quiet the mental chatter.
This is a valuable practice for releasing tightness or discomfort from the body, almost using the breath to massage away tension – as well as bringing the mind to quietness.
After the breathing practice we worked through some yoga asana (posture) to stretch out the body and improve posture. As the trainees will be spending most of their working day sitting at a desk and using the phone, I wanted to offer them some basic movements that can be done throughout the day to give the body a boost of energy and to open the chest and stretch out the spine. Good posture is not only important for overall health, but it also makes a big difference to how a person is perceived – even when they can’t be seen. When we slouch, round our shoulders or drop the head forward, it’s more difficult to carry the voice and sound confident. When we sit or stand tall and upright with an open the chest we instantly become more outgoing, more approachable and carry an air of authority.
To end the session, we enjoyed a guided meditation with a visualisation. The focus of the visualisation was about following your dream and trusting that you can achieve anything you want to achieve, if your mind allows it. The trainees learned about the power of the mind, and how we can create our reality by focusing on positive outcomes.
I hope to work with The Bayford Foundation again in the future and really look forward to hearing what yoga practices they have adopted into their everyday lives, and what benefits they’ve seen from it.
Blog author Louisa Thomas is from Yoga Wetherby, which offers classes in Wetherby and across Yorkshire. She has seen huge transformations take place in her regular yoga students including improved mental clarity, an end to insomnia, a reduction in asthma attacks, dramatic weight loss as well as improved physical fitness levels. http://www.yogawetherby.co.uk or yogawetherby on Facebook