WHY PRACTICE YOGA NIDRA?

Yoga Nidra is both a process and a state which is deeply relaxing and restorative. This process is a guided meditation to take you to the state where you are just barely awake. This state is considered the most restful and restorative and has so many varied and important benefits. In addition to it being deeply relaxing which helps reduce stress – all you need to do is lay comfortably and relax on the mat or floor and listen to the instructor’s voice – Yoga Nidra helps with emotional regulation, sooths the nervous system, helps us feel our infinite self, promotes self- compassion, helps to improve sleep, aids our memory and fosters creativity. Although it might seem as if we are doing nothing because of the stillness, we are actually experiencing a lot but just doing so in a more passive manner as our parasympathetic nervous system takes the lead over our sympathetic nervous system. Also, as with other yoga practices such as poses (asanas) which are the most popular and familiar -- think “Flow”, “Hatha”, “Vinyasa” and “Ashtanga” -- the more we practice, the more benefits we will likely realise. For example, the more often we forward fold, the more space and comfort we find in our lower back, spine and back of our legs. Similarly, the more often we practice Yoga Nidra, the more our sleep and memory improve, the more creative we become, the more emotionally regulated we feel and so on. As with all yoga practices, the challenge is to motivate especially to ensure frequency and consistency of practice. A regular practice can be maintained by booking into live streaming or in person sessions as you are then making a commitment to an instructor which tends to help students stick with a schedule. Other methods include placing your Yoga Nidra practice into a specific time in your diary, blocking the time and also choosing a time that is least likely to have to change or be cancelled. Also, combining Yoga Nidra with another yoga practice where for example there is movement, such as Yin Yoga before the Yoga Nidra, can also make it easier to maintain consistency. The combination of movement followed by rest with these practices being one after another can also make the practice of Yoga Nidra even more enjoyable and beneficial. There are so many interesting phases in the Yoga Nidra journey which most times is just a 10-20 minute session including settling onto your mat, using a sankalpa (goal or wish), rotating around the body, observing the breath, experiencing opposites, and seeing specific images including free flow of images. All of these phases have a purpose in helping you obtain the benefits mentioned earlier. However, it’s important to note that the Yoga Nidra practice is one that we receive rather than do, and there is no performance expectation whatsoever. If you are experiencing stress, struggling with your sleep, feeling distracted or stuck, or emotionally volatile, then Yoga Nidra could be a huge help with a relatively small commitment of time and no experience or skills required.

NOW IS THE TIME FOR PRIVATE 1-ON-1 YOGA SESSIONS

There has never been a better time to invest in private 1-on-1 yoga sessions either in person or online. After all, no worries with social distancing when it is just the two of us! How many times have you felt uncomfortable not knowing whether you were doing the right pose, or doing it safely, or with the best alignment possible for your body? How many times did you want to stop the class and ask something about the pose - eg, how to modify or what it is for? And maybe one of the most common frustrations being I can’t lower down in plank and I tend to just collapse on the way down - now what do I do?! Although I cue a lot of this information during my group classes, there is a lot of information to take in and we all are inclined to think that everyone else in the class is “getting it”, so we need to just get on with it ourselves. The problem with that approach is frustration sets in, injuries are more possible, we develop bad habits, and we are unlikely to grow to love our yoga practice as much. Instead, at any stage of your yoga experience, why not invest in a tune-up via private 1-on-1 with me? If you are near to the Guildford area, these sessions can be in person outside my home yoga studio in Bramley Village - it’s Summer so plenty warm! Otherwise, if more convenient, we can have these sessions together via Zoom. Either way, you will obtain the information and guidance you need to build the confidence and clarity to prepare you for your next group class and yoga practice wherever and whenever that will be. Many of my students do privates and then transition into any of my 5 live weekly group sessions on Zoom. Contact for more info on available times and rate packages.

ANNOUNCING MY RETIREMENT FROM MARKET RESEARCH TO TEACH YOGA FULL TIME

This Friday, 22nd of November 2019, I will be retiring from my 32 year career in market research and beginning my full time career as a yoga instructor. My career in market research started at BBDO in New York in 1987 and ends with FlexMR in the UK, with many other research supplier companies in between with my base in New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco and London. I found this industry by chance, as I never intended it when I went to grad school at NYU for Political Science in 1984. Within that programme, one of my fields became statistics so when I chose to leave in 1987 just short of finishing the PhD, I was able to obtain a very good starting job in marketing sciences at BBDO. As with so many things in life, we don’t realise how good they are until we look back and reflect and this first job followed by many others within the industry fit that profile. Maybe we need life experiences and perspective to really properly appreciate what we have when we have it or to work at becoming more mindful about being in the moment. My career afforded me so many opportunities to learn and be challenged, and I am proud at what I accomplished and the very good living it has provided. But now at 57, it is time for a change. As most know, I qualified as a yoga instructor earlier this year and since then have taught as much as possible alongside my main job. My passion has definitely shifted, and for the first time in my life, I feel a calling — to dedicate my full time attention to teaching yoga. So while I am sad to say so long to an industry that has been so good to me, I am excited to start anew in one that I have no doubt will be a source for considerable learning, challenge, opportunity and personal reward. Every time I teach a session, I have the opportunity and responsibility to help someone else find more space in their body and in their mind. And every time I close a yoga session by bringing hands together to heart centre with a bow of the head and say the word namaste, meaning the spirit in me salutes the spirit in you, I am reminded that we are all connected as one when we live from the heart.

TOP 5 REASONS FOR LAUNCHING YOUR YOGA TEACHING CAREER AT 55+

There is no magic to being over age 55, it just happens to be when I started my yoga teaching. Yet it has occurred to me that there are some great advantages to starting at this age, or at least later in life. Sure, I wish I had started practicing yoga more often when I was younger. But practicing and teaching are related but different, and coming to yoga teaching with life and work experience provides many advantages.

My first class was just over 20 years ago. I dabbled in yoga at most on a weekly basis as part of my gym membership where scheduled classes were offered along with other fitness classes. It was not until age 51 when I started practicing very regularly, at least 3-4 times weekly, at a local yoga studio. If I had started practicing when I was younger, I assume there would be many benefits in terms of what my body would able to do and the breadth of advanced postures I would be able to experience and now demonstrate as a teacher. My knowledge base would also be far greater had I started regular yoga practice and teacher training 20 years ago. However, for those who are older and thinking about taking this step and think it might be too late, I want to highlight the top 5 reasons for launching your yoga teaching at 55+:

Money

At 55+, you will have presumably been working for at least 30 years. My career in market research began at age 25 after I completed a masters in statistics and started work at BBDO (a major advertising agency, referred to in the popular “Mad Men” TV series) in New York City as an analyst within their marketing sciences department. I have had a very successful career progressing within this industry and am still working full time in it today.  No matter what the specifics of your career, most will have worked many decades by the time they are 55. By this point in life, you will most likely have earned and saved some money and be in a reasonably well-paying job, certainly one that pays more than what you will earn just starting out anew as a yoga instructor.

Taking yoga teacher training courses is not cheap, also the amount you will earn at the initial stages is very low especially when taking into consideration the additional unpaid time associated with class preparation, travel to and from, and the need to arrive before to greet and to stay after for questions. For those of us age 55+, the course fees will likely be far less of a burden and you can best support your yoga teaching by continuing with your current work. It is far better to build a teaching business when you don’t have the pressure of having to earn enough from teaching to pay the rent, the mortgage, the car payment, and all else.

Maturity

We expect by 55+ that we have obtained a certain level of maturity by this time, certainly on average far more than when we are in our 20’s or even our 30’s as we are still trying to find ourselves, experimenting, and the like. For most of us, those years are ones where we are trying out different types of work, changing jobs, sorting out relationships, starting a family and developing interests as adults. We simply have a lot more life behind us by the time we are 55+, thus making us clearer about our interests, more balanced in our approach, and better prepared to make choices, changes, commitments, etc. This applies to our yoga teacher training, as we likely know ourselves better by this time in life and are clear and confident regarding our decision to do teacher training as well as embark on a teaching career.

Experience

The experiences in our work and personal lives can have a great bearing and benefit to our yoga teaching career. In fact, most business careers and work careers in general include presenting to an audience, whether this be pitching ideas or solutions to internal colleagues or to prospects or clients outside your company. Many careers are associated with a regular responsibility of standing up in front of an audience or at least interfacing with customers or other stakeholders on a regular basis such as customer service, teachers, retail, and other occupations. The bottom line is that our work and life experience up to 55 will likely have included many opportunities to be in front of an audience, to present, to interact, and to try to persuade or just share information. These skills and experiences prepare us for the challenges associated with teacher training, as we are expected to begin practice teaching almost immediately when the yoga teacher training programme begins. Of course, there will be unique challenges associated with the newness of the yoga teaching language – cues, Sanskrit, transitions, and the like – but those 55+ will likely have less fear, more confidence, and in general be less distracted by the basic requirement of standing up and speaking and moving in front of others.

Developed Affluent Network

At 55+, most of our friends are also our age or often older.  Age differences also seem less significant as we age, so at 55+ we are apt to have a big range in both directions, that is friends who are anywhere from 35 to 75+.  With a more mature network, this means that those around us are more settled, have more means, and are likely thinking about their own longevity and quality of life long term.  The likelihood is that your friends will have the interest and means to help support your yoga teaching career.

Preparation For Later Life

By the time we are 55+, we are thinking about what we might do in our later stages of life. For most of us, we are unlikely to continue with a high-pressure career and at the very least will want a change from what we have been doing for so long. Most of us will no longer need to work full time, so we are seeking part time work that will provide more flexibility in our schedule.  We are also experiencing more challenges with our own body, as we are more prone to injuries later in life and our recovery periods tend to take longer.  We are also dealing with our own mortality so are considering those activities which can help us live longer and better. Yoga and yoga teaching fit all of these needs very well.

If you are 55+ and are considering yoga teaching, go for it … as it is far from too late and you likely have many advantages vs. doing it when you were much younger.