The summer holidays are a lovely, well deserved break from work and stress, only, being in my first year at University, I’ve found having 20 weeks off it way too much. I’ve been off Uni since the beginning of May, and whilst it was great at first, it’s become rather boring. Since coming back from my holiday last week, I’ve felt like I’m just waiting around to go back to Uni. I was so pleased when the lovely Gabriella Buxton, of Love and Light Shala, asked me to join in on their 10 Day yoga course. I hoped it would be the energy and motivation boost I need to get back in a positive, working frame of mind.
Love and Light Shala has been offering a £20 for 10 days of yoga offer, where you can take any classes over the course of 10 consecutive days for just £20. If you wanted to take every single class, that works out at less than £1.50 a class! I went for just one week (I’m a busy gal, as you’re all probably aware by now).
I’m documenting my yoga journey daily, so I updated this post each day so that I could be open, honest and give a true representation of how I felt straight after class. Please note that I had to miss the class on Monday due to other commitments, and the studio is closed Fridays.
Tonight I took my sister to Love and Light Shala for Gabriella’s Rest and Restore Class at 8pm. The studio is full of beautiful paintings and décor; you feel so tranquil and at home as soon as you’re through the door. Gabriella greeted us with a hug and asked us to find a mat and lay our own over the top if we wished. She began the class by offering us some soothing lavender oil on our hands to smell, massage and relax. Gentle music played in the background of the room as we sat and concentrated on our breathing. Gabriella then led us through a series of beautiful stretching positions that opened the heart and stretched every part of the body after a long week. Poses such as sphinx, pigeon and downward dog were amongst my favourites and are so easy to remember and repeat at home when you’re in need of a good stretch. The class moved slowly and smoothly, easing into positions and there was nothing too intense. If you’ve never tried yoga before, this is the perfect beginner’s class to ease you in. Nearing the end of the class, Gabriella encouraged us to stretch as we wish, as we know what our body needs. We were then asked to get into a restful position, with optional blankets. Gabriella left the room and turned off the lights and invited us to end the class in our own time. This is such a soothing and restorative practice and is perfect for those who don’t sleep well or struggle switching off at the weekend. Leaving the class I felt calm and cosy, ready for a hot chocolate and my bed.
Tonight’s class was Love and Light Virgins with Kirsty, the perfect class for beginners. Kirsty took time at the beginning of the class to have individual chats with new members and introduce herself. Today we were focusing on our breathing, and the correct way to breathe when doing particular, for example, exhale when twisting, inhale when coming back to centre. We inhaled into downward dog and exhaled into a plank position, as well as practicing our warrior two pose, one of my favourite yoga poses. Kirsty’s classes have a really easy-going vibe and she explains everything you need to do well. Some classes can feel hard to keep up with as they flow from one position to the next quite quickly, but in Love and Light Virgins, there are little breaks between each exercise as Kirsty explains how to safely and properly get into the next pose whilst lovely assistant Sam demonstrates at the front of the class. It included a lot of repetition, which was great for practicing and improving technique, a really important part of yoga practice. At the end of the class we took our Shavasana (my favourite part), where we lie on the mat with blankets and reflect on the class, soaking up all the positivity in the room and relaxing the body.
Now that I’m feeling in the swing of things, my sister and I decided to take two classes tonight. We started with Silent Sessions with Sarah. This class is aimed at those who are deaf or hard of hearing, and despite being neither, we were just curious to experience the class which used sign-language throughout. One of the regular members of the class actually commented on how lovely it was that we wanted to join in on their silent class, as she usually joins in with the hearing classes. It was a great experience as we got to see how yoga can still be accessible to anyone… if anything, this class was a challenge for my sister and I, who don’t know sign-language! During the class we did pick up a few sign phrases that were repeated, and it was interesting to see how some of the poses were signed such as camel and fish. The class mainly focused on breathing in a similar way to Love and Light Virgins yesterday, holding poses for five breaths. It was a super relaxed class with a go-at-your-own-pace vibe and I’d definitely like to join in again and learn more sign-language.
15 minutes later it was time for the Chakra Shake-up with Gabriella. Being new to yoga, I didn’t know what a Chakra was, but Gabriella explained during a breathing exercise as we visualised our seven Chakras. Each Chakra represents something different, but today we were focusing on the Crown Chakra, located at the top of the head. The Crown Chakra is the centre that connects you with the deeper universe, be it a God, nature, existence – anything you believe in. Gabriella asked us to leave our egos at the door and be free. We started with some poses that stretched the spine and focused on the Crown Chakra. The second part of the class included free-flow yoga, where we were invited to more around the room and flow however our body desired. This is where Gabriella’s comment about ego comes in. At first, I felt a little awkward; I’d been comfortable in my little bubble on my little mat and being asked to move away from my safety blanket was a little unnerving, but actually, you really get into it and let yourself go a bit mad! We went on into something called Chaos, which is quite literally more freeflow yoga, but more chaotic – crazier, wilder, free-er. Eventually we all settled down after our whirlwind of dancing for Shavasana. I’ve noticed already after just a couple of classes how much better my sleep is – both my sleep routine and my quality of sleep which is really important. It’s crazy that only after two classes I noticed that, and the two classes tonight will only add to the benefits.
I was super excited about Thursday’s Sacred Feminine Fitness session. At the beginning of the class we were welcomed to pick a Goddess Card, who would symbolise how we were feeling and would help guide us through the class. My sister’s Goddess, Bast, represented independence and her feline streak; incidentally, all Kirsty has spoken about for two weeks is getting a kitten. The Goddess I picked out of the deck was Maeve, Goddess of cycles and rhythms. The card suggests ‘there are times where you feel energised, awake and alive. There are other times when you feel isolated and sky’ which is very much so true. Various meanings of the card suggest gynaecological changes – and I am actually due by injection soon and tend to fall into a grumpy cycle close to needing it. It could also mean that I need to take steps to alleviate depression or lethargy. Starting back at uni after 20 weeks off has been so difficult as I’m used to sleeping in! The Goddess suggests I should take better care of my body. All-in-all, this card summed me up pretty well. During the class we incorporated traditional strength training with yoga, for example giving our burpies a yoga flow, and working our planks with our downward dog. I got my sweat on. It’s possibly the first time I’ve sweat exercising since I quit dancing; and you know what – I enjoyed it. Gabriella created such a positive stigma around her MIIT (mindfully intensive interval training) and made everything so simple. For the typical gym lad it’s a no pain, no gain attitude, and that isn’t how it should be. This class was enjoyable as well as empowering and liberating and I would certainly prefer to attend this class than go to the gym. The gym doesn’t let you take Shavasana.
Ann, who usually teaches the Strala class on Saturday mornings, was off – so Gabriella took the class. It was just me and Gabriella in the studio, so instead of doing a full class, we just sat down, had a chat and put the world to rights. Sometimes that’s all you need. Keeping the mind peaceful and off-loading your stresses and anxieties can be a massive help in maintaining mindfulness. We drank herbal teas from wine glasses (it is Saturday after all), and sat in the amber glow of the saltlamps. I actually love these lamps so much that I brought myself one for my bedroom. Their orange glow counterbalances the blue light from technology screens and helps aid sleep whilst cleansing the air. Towards the end of the hour, Gabriella still had be doing some stretches and poses, like the wheel pose, three-legged dog and a tree pose. Even though we didn’t do a regular class, it still felt great to get up early and so something. It set me up ready for the day and made me feel like I could tackle anything.
Next Saturday, the Love and Light Shala is holding an open day, where you can pay £3 a class or £15 for the whole day to check out the classes and see if Yoga is for you. It’s going to be a fun filled day with goodie bags, taster sessions and yogi’s on hand to answer any questions you might have. Gabriella has huge plans for the Shala. There are talks of a café, a retail section as well as two large studios. This is a project that is going to blossom beautifully, and ideas can only get bigger!
Love and Light,