Candice Walley is a yoga teacher from Eastleigh in the UK, teaching dynamic Vinyassa classes where students flow from one posture to another. It can be fast paced, so it is a yoga which you can get hot and sweaty in or you can relax in it.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years, you can still practice very traditional yoga but it has changed and evolved immensely.
A lot of yoga teachers may feel upset by calling it a form of exercise – but it is an exercise, a meditation and way of being that combines the body with breath, movement and really understanding yourself.
Yoga initially came from India so there are lots of different lineages and lots of different texts. Initially it was mainly a meditative thing – where you prepare the body for sitting for long periods of meditations. Yoga was dominantly about the mind and how we control the mind. Now modern people do enough sitting around perhaps at desks, watching TV or playing video games… so the movement side of yoga helps us to balance out other things in life to create harmony in the body. What we need from yoga now is very different to what we needed from yoga centuries ago.
Yoga is a way for us to be happy within our bodies. That can be how we deal with things like the stress of everyday life or illnesses. Its about harmony and getting the best out of our body and our mind and combining all that together, to be happy within our bodies and mind.
There is a stereotype of yoga where people do this Down Dog thing, dress up in lycra, do stretching and roll around on mats, which can be very off putting for many people … especially men. Candice feels that it should not be about what you are wearing or how you are presenting yourself, but yes there can be lots of “Down Dogs”! Lycra is a great type of clothing to wear although many people just come along in clothing they can stretch comfortably in. Yoga is equally as beneficial for men as it is for woman. Candice personally would be horrified if someone was put off coming to one of her classes because they were a man so didn’t feel it was right for them. Men are equally as welcome and lycra does not have to be involved!!
Vinyasa is just one style of yoga. There are many more such as Hatha yoga which involves more individual postures. Ashtanga yoga is a strong, physical practice which involves lots of chanting and breath control. Iyengar yoga is very specific on alignment. So you can experiment with different styles of yoga as there is a style out there for everybody!
For Candice, the fabulous thing about Vinyasa is that it is so varied and she can be creative with different styles of classes each week. She can make it very fast and difficult or easier and more relaxing and pitch the classes to whoever is in front of her, using it to work on different parts of the body in different sessions. Yoga is about connecting with different types of muscles through the postures and looking after injuries by adapting some of the postures. Yoga stretches and builds the body, increasing flexibility and strength. One size does not fit all because everybody is different, so we can tweak each posture to suit everybody. She starts off with gentle warm up exercises and work up to whatever suits the people in the room. Finally, a calming session at the end could be a meditation, a visualization or simply lying on your back in shavasana, relaxing.
Yoga is great at helping people become aware of their bodies, as it focuses on the different parts of our body. Every posture works a whole series of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Each class helps to break things down by focusing on a particular group of muscles. Because each end posture has are a series of postures working towards that, very advanced people can be in the same room as beginners – people can stop wherever they want to and the advanced people can take further progressions if they chose. Mixed ability classes are great because it is nice for beginners to see where they can progress or aspire to without feeling intimidated or pressured. When you are on your yoga mat, you are just focusing on what you are doing yourself.
You really just need a yoga mat to get going after you have been a few times to see if you like it, however lose fitting clothes that are not too baggy makes life much easier. It’s a very accessible thing for many people and doesn’t cost a lot of money to get into.
With the varying styles of yoga, some are more focused on meditation and the mind. Personally for Candice, yoga is about movement and the unison of the body, mind and breath. She aims to be with the mind in the present moment. If you are doing movement where you are focusing on the breath, the mind is already in that moment…. not thinking that you didn’t turn the light off before I came out or what are we going to have for dinner! Its about allowing thoughts just to pass by rather than thinking about the past or future – the present moment … which is probably the most difficult thing for most people.
We see the whole mindfulness movement as being quite recent – but yoga teachers have been sharing this for years. Being mindful is potentially the most beneficial part of yoga and probably the part that is discussed the least a lot of the time. It is not really something that needs to be discussed as it just happens – and that’s the wonderful part. People will go to a yoga class initially to tone up their body but actually after having practiced yoga for a number of months, the benefits are far beyond this, you feel far more relaxed with yourself and it just happens subconsciously.
Many people breath very unconsciously and not always in the most useful way. By focusing on the breath, we can use different types of techniques, but breathing deep down into the diaphragm is incredibly important and takes a lot of getting used to. Candice doesn’t expect people to get it right initially – it takes a long time to get used to. A lot of people who are stressed, breath up into the collar bone and take quick shallow breaths… but after a while of practicing yoga you learn to really breath down into the belly. It is great to see people starting to relax and connect with the breath and therefore the mind.
The advantage in going to a class is that it helps you practice the postures safely and correctly to avoid injury. It’s also about inspiration from the teacher and those around you .. and the social side is just a huge benefit. Candice has an absolutely fantastic group of regular people that come to her classes – all such lovely, welcoming, warm and inviting people and this reverberates around the room and helps new people be put at ease.
No body should ever feel embarrassed at a yoga class. It really helps with body awareness as well as body confidence. The body image is just a by-product as it really is just about you in the room. When Candice started she used to go in her biggest baggiest T-shirt and know she does not mind what she is wearing as she is just happy to be there, enjoying it.
Candice first went to a yoga class with her partner because they were both runners, and thought it would help prevent injury and speed up recovery. Candice fell in love with it from the start as it was the most different thing that she had ever done and it felt amazing. She went back weekly then decided that she was going to become a yoga teacher. After her 200 hour course she qualified in 2013 and is permanently going off at weekends to learn something new, somewhere in the country as you can never stop learning about it. Yoga has changed her life and changed her outcome and so she just wants to share that with other people.
Why not give it a try as what have you got to lose? Check online to find our where your nearest classes are.
You can find out more about Candice’s classes at www.yogawithcandice.com Please feel free to just turn up to her drop in classes if you live nearby or email with any questions.
There is a yoga teacher out there for everyone – just don’t give up if you don’t find them at your first class!