Yoga is so much more than the poses we see on social media! Poses are part of a yoga practice, but there are multiple ways to live out your yoga practice that don’t even include a mat. The various practices help people to restore their inner balance and bring their focus of consciousness inward. Regular practice leads to greater peace and contentment. In addition to the poses, there are practices of gratitude, self-compassion, and setting boundaries. It is about self-awareness and a journey to seeing yourself as whole, complete, and worthy to receive and share love.
Asana is the physical poses and movements of yoga. They are often what most people think of as yoga. They are important for our physical health (healing, strengthening, flexibility, and muscle relaxation), but they also are important for our mental and emotional health. The poses help us to notice and release tension, again physically, but also emotionally and mentally. It is not uncommon to experience an emotional response when getting into a pose.
Breathwork (pranayama) is a key part of yoga. We are to be aware of our breath not only while practicing on the mat, but also in our daily activities. Our breath reflects how we are feeling and we can use our breath to bring more calm into our day. There are several different breathwork practices. We can use them in our yoga classes but also in our day-to-day living.
There are several benefits to a regular yoga practice from releasing physical and emotional tension to improving flexibility, strength and immunity. Yoga also helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It helps to reduce chronic pain and improve the quality of sleep. Yoga helps us to gain clarity, focus and live with greater intention. The daily internal practices of yoga help to live better in relationships with others while also promoting an overall healthy lifestyle.
Trauma-informed yoga classes are designed to hold space for all emotions and feelings that may arise for a person who has experienced trauma. Cues, poses, and verbiage are carefully thought out to avoid potentially activating students. Classes are created to be more accessible and provide an environment for students to feel safe and foster healing. It’s holding space for all students to notice any sensations in their body - physical or emotional. It is not about getting each yoga pose just right, but rather to allow the poses to be an expression of how you are feeling in the moment, being mindful of any tension. Props and variations are available throughout the practice. It is recognizing that the time you spend on the mat is your time, it is your practice and to honor what it is that you need in each moment.
Classes are taught through the lens of trauma-informed to make them more accessible regardless of your past experiences with yoga or in life. You are welcome to share any information before a class is taught if you want anything brought into consideration during the class. You are also encouraged to provide any feedback after a class.
Restorative yoga is a practice suitable for all people. It provides space for relaxation and healing. It can be done anytime, using items you already have at home so that you feel fully supported. A few props to have nearby are pillows, blankets, bolsters, books, blocks, and an eye mask. Poses are typically held for 5+ minutes and allow for the release of any tension in the physical, emotional, or mental body. If your mind wonders, it is perfectly normal; just bring it back to your breath. It can often be challenging to still the mind and body. You can focus on inhale - exhale throughout the practice or you can have a mantra or affirmation to go along with the breath.
Yin Yoga is a practice one would want to do when their muscles are cool (for example, before a workout, not after). Yin Yoga targets the deeper connective tissues. Since the muscles are cool when beginning to practice, it is recommended that you ease into each pose, not pushing yourself to your edge when you first get into a pose. Yin can help wake the body in the morning. Practicing before bed helps to calm the mind before sleep. The longer held, slower poses of Yin help to balance the hectic activities of the day. Poses are held for at least one minute and up to 20 minutes depending on the target area, person’s experience with Yin Yoga, flexibility, and other circumstances. Awareness of the breath throughout the practice is important. Props are not required, but are often helpful to increase stress in desired areas and decrease stress in undesired areas, to provide support and comfort, to create length and space and to make poses more accessible.
Yoga Nidra is often referred to as the Yoga of Sleep. It's derived from ancient yogic practices that were designed to create a sense of wholeness and balance. Yoga Nidra works on the central nervous system (CNS) and helps to relax the body from the inside out.
Most Yoga Nidra classes offered through Heart and Wings Yoga begin with a 15-30 minute gentle asana (physical movement practice) to give the body a chance to release any energy followed by a few minutes to prepare the body and mind to be fully relaxed for the Yoga Nidra practice. Yoga Nidra begins with an invitation to set a personal intention or reflection on one’s heartfelt desire. A written Yoga Nidra script is read providing a guided visualization or imagery. Cues will be offered to relax the physical body, followed by the energetic and mental body. Breathwork is part of helping students to relax. The Central Nervous System is activated by the integration of the physical, energetic and mental body.
“In Yoga Nidra, we move in between two layers of consciousness, where the states of waking and dreaming meet. This state is similar to the moment when you begin to awaken after a night’s sleep. Your eyes are still closed, but you slowly become aware of conscious thoughts. As you open your eyes, thoughts, awareness, and sensations begin to come together, and the state of waking begins. The practice of Yoga Nidra is meant to train the practitioner to be cognizant of awareness more often, if not at all times” (Young, Michelle, 2021).
A slow flow yoga class begins with a time for centering followed by a gentle flow of movements that are held for a few breaths. There is time to notice sensations - physical or emotional - while holding each pose. Some poses work on balance or physical strength. Props and variations are provided throughout the practice. Each class concludes with a time to rest in savasana.
Savasana is the final resting pose in each asana class, usually taken in a supine position. There is an invitation before savasana to get yourself as comfortable as possible so that you can truly relax. You may use props to help you relax and feel fully supported. A few ideas are a bolster or towel under your knees, a pillow under your head, a blanket over you and/or an eye mask.
Jon Kabot-Zinn defines mindfulness operationally as “the awareness that arises by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” (Full Catastrophe Living, 2013)
Mindfulness is something that can be practiced by anyone, anywhere. It is allowing ourselves to be fully aware of our emotions, thoughts, breath and any sensations. This awareness allows us to be more fully present in each moment and to make any adjustments (such as taking a few deep breaths) so that we can better regulate our emotions, thoughts and actions. It is a way of practicing compassion for ourselves and others. Mindfulness gives us the ability to practice compassionate self-forgiveness and the understanding of what we have (or don’t have) control over - this can be very freeing!
Even though mindfulness is a simple practice, it is not always easy! However, each moment provides a new opportunity for us to practice mindfulness and with regular practice it does become more natural.
Mindfulness intentionally allows us to slow down and check-in on our physical, mental and emotional self. If we are feeling tense, frustrated or our patience is wearing out, we can draw on our mindfulness tools to prevent further activation. We can also notice if we are ruminating on the past or getting anxious about what is to happen. If so, mindfulness helps to bring us back to the present moment. This allows us to see and accept things as they are, opposed to how they seem in our stressed or anxious state.
Mindfulness helps us to act and make decisions with greater clarity and intention. When we notice negative, critical or fear-based thoughts, we can redirect our thoughts to be ones of compassion, encouragement and truth.
“Mindfulness not only makes it possible to survey our internal landscape with compassion and curiosity but can also actively steer us in the right direction for self-care.” Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
“The path to developing our capacity to express love more fully is to bring awareness to our actual feelings, to observe them mindfully, to work at being non-judgmental and more patient and accepting.” Jon Kabot-Zinn
By being aware of our emotions, our energy levels and state of mind, we can take the appropriate action to help us feel calm and at ease. This lays the foundation of being able to respond to people and situations with compassion opposed to being more reactive and creating potential unease within ourselves and in our relationships. Mindfulness helps us to see things through the lens of an observer. This change of perspective is beneficial for our wellbeing and our relationships.
Coaching is a partnership between the client and coach that is built on trust, open communication and healthy boundaries. It is a collaboration between the coach and client to set goals and action steps to achieve those goals. Coaches hold space for clients to explore their experiences and emotions safely, without fear of shame or judgment. Coaches support, encourage and empower their clients as they heal and grow.
Prior to your first call you will receive an intake form to fill out. On the first call, we will review the form. There will be an opportunity to ask any follow-up or clarifying questions. We will then talk about goals, what has or hasn’t worked in the past and develop an outline for upcoming sessions. The goal of the first call is to have you feeling confident about the coaching process and about the collaboration that we will do together to work towards your goals. The goals and strategies are reviewed in future coaching sessions to evaluate the progress and see if any adjustments need to be made.