This year has been especially exciting for Body and Soul Yoga with the introduction of new classes in addition to my regular Sunday morning slot in the Tesco Community Room at Roneo Corner. Although all classes are informed by the Dru tradition they each offer something unique and special. To really understand what I mean it’s best to try all the classes for yourself but, as that’s not possible for everyone, I’m going to try to describe below what to expect from a typical class.
Sunday morning in the Tesco Community Room, Roneo Corner store
Stretch and Flow
It’s three years since I started teaching in the Tesco Community Room. Before that I taught on Friday evenings in the HAD hut (in Wingletye Lane). The Tesco Community Room is a convenient venue with plenty of free parking (up to three hours and you can stay longer if you let Tesco staff know that you’ve been to a class) and you can even do your weekly shop afterwards. What could be more convenient? The room itself is spacious and comfortable.
There’s usually about eight of us there on a Sunday, some who’ve been with me since the beginning and others who’ve joined more recently. While most people opt to pay in six blocks to reserve their place and take advantage of the discounted rate, others like to come occasionally and pay weekly as a drop-in. The class is suitable for all abilities. If someone is completely new to yoga I will go through the basics with them and make sure they know how to adapt or modify postures throughout. Being a small group everyone is friendly and supportive and complete beginners are always especially welcome.
We start either lying down and focusing on breath or from seated. You’ll need to remove your shoes or trainers as yoga is practised barefoot. Some people like to keep their socks on which is fine although barefoot is usually better. If you’re wearing socks it’s important to take care not to slip. I recommend loose clothes with layers you can remove as you warm up (and put back on for the relaxation at the end).
The class usually involves hip openers in the seated warm up and Cat/Cow to mobilise the spine. New students are introduced to the basic yoga breaths (three part and ujjiya) and other pranayama (breathing techniques) such as Alternate Nostril Breath or Humming Bee Breath. More confident students are encouraged to practise Kapalbhati (Shining Skull Breath) and you’ll also find yourself introduced to a range of mudras (hand seals) which can be incorporated into your everyday life.
These are followed by Dru Activations (fun standing warm-ups where you’ll be encouraged to get moving, raise the heart rate and generally freestyle so you can adapt the movements to suit your own body) leading to body preps (getting your muscles safely ready for the sequences and postures to follow). The next section usually involves one of the Dru Energy Block Releases (there are seven different EBRs for you to experience) incorporating small but powerful movements to allow energy to flow freely around the body. Dru yoga works with the koshas (subtle bodies) so as you get used to the physical movements you will be led deeper through the other layers. This is achieved through visualisations (harnessing the power of our mind), affirmations and breathing techniques.
EBRs are followed by main phase asanas (postures) with body preps to stretch your muscles and check your personal range of movement. There is usually a balance posture such as Tree or Dancer and you may find yourself using blocks, balls or the wall as aids.
Towards the end of the class you’ll find yourself back on the mat for some gentle stretches and maybe some “rocking and rolling” to strength your core before ten to fifteen minutes of complete relaxation in Savasana. Most people tell me this is their favourite part of the class. Dru takes relaxation very seriously! Make yourself warm and comfortable (I bring along blankets especially for savasana). You will be invited to tense and release your body in sections from the toes upwards and then again in your mind. Finally, allow warmth and sunshine to spread from the crown of your head downwards before gently turning to your side.
The class finishes with an affirmation or suggestion for the week. You then slowly move into a comfortable seated position, rub your hands together and place them over your eyes. Then tap your head, waking yourself up and grounding the hands back to the earth. We end with an OM for those who want to take part (no obligation if you prefer not to join in with this chant which is simply an expression of the universal sound) and a final bow to each other, thanking and acknowledging our shared practice.
I’m around afterwards if you have any questions about the class. It’s nice to take a few minutes to get to know each other better if you can spare the time. People tell me that they feel super relaxed after my classes so don’t expect to get a lot done in the afternoon – it’s best to go with the flow and make the most of that blissed out feeling!
Tuesday morning in Lodge Farm Park (Main Road, Gidea Park)
Outdoor Dru for everyone
This completely new class is due to start after the Easter holidays (30th April). We’ll be meeting in Lodge Farm Park by the outdoor gym equipment (opposite the children’s play area) for registration at 10.00am. Lodge Farm Park is directly opposite it’s more well known sister, Raphael Park. You can park in the park itself (Main Road or Carlton Road) – 20p for up to three hours. Alternatively parking is available in side roads – wait until 10am to park due to parking restrictions. Although registration is 10am we won’t actually start until just after so there’ll be time for you to park and join us.
It will be a drop-in class so no need to book – just come along on the day and pay £3 for the session. If it’s your first Body and Soul Yoga class you’ll need to complete a Health Form but after that, just turn up, pay your money and join in! Children and babies are welcome too (even well behaved dogs if they are OK with being tied up for a while). There’s no matwork involved so it’s accessible for everyone and no need to drag a mat with you. We’ll keep our shoes on (coats etc too if you need them although I recommend layers as you’ll warm up quickly). Benches are available if people need to take a rest or adapt the movements.
This class will consist of Dru Activations (as described before), EBRs and standing sequences. We’ll finish at 10.55am with a short standing meditation and after that you’ll be free to join the council walk in Raphael Park, use the outdoor gym equipment or wander over to Raphaels Restaurant for a coffee.
Wednesday afternoon in NCC Redbridge (opposite Ilford Station)
Yoga for ESOL
Another new class starting next week (24th April). This is supported by NCC Redbridge where I am an ESOL teacher. Students will need to enrol through the college on this course. I will have the paperwork with me at the first class and students should bring ID and the course fee of £44 for five 90 minute classes and resources. The class is for anyone whose first language is not English and who wants to improve their vocabulary, fluency and grammar while enjoying the amazing benefits of Dru yoga. It is for all ESOL levels from pre-entry to advanced. It’s a fantastic opportunity to improve your English. If you are thinking of enrolling on an ESOL course in September this might also be a way to get to know the college and kick start your learning.
The class format is similar to the Tesco class but there is a focus on new language (body parts, prepositions, every day phrases, slang etc). The pace is slower and more structured than a traditional yoga class giving students the opportunity to use language and to follow instructions. Mats and handouts are provided. Smartboard technology supports learning throughout. I am excited to be able to offer this course which is not available anywhere else. It is ladies only and culturally sensitive. Another five week module will be offered after half term.
Please let anyone you think you benefit from this course know about it. I need to get the word out into the various communities around Ilford, Romford and East London (Ilford station is only ten minutes away from Romford and the college is just across the road from the station, over Wilkinsons).
Thursday morning in The Golden Lion, Romford
Mindfulness and Movement
This is for anyone wanting an introduction to mindfulness or meditation. It is accessible to everyone with the only physical requirement being the ability to climb a short set of stairs (we’re in the room above the main bar).
The Golden Lion is a 700 year old coaching inn and you can really feel that history in the space upstairs. The room is warm and cosy in winter (light and airy in summer) with beautiful beams (useful for balancing against!) and framed pictures of old Romford.
We meet outside at 11.00am (when the pub opens) and head upstairs for registration before starting properly around 11.15am. The class is barefoot (socks are fine). I provide blocks to help people sit comfortably in the chairs and some people bring cushions and shawls for their comfort. It’s important to have water to sip in this class as you will be detoxing.
The session starts with a short time of seated relaxation to centre mind and body. This is followed by breathing techniques and mudras (hand seals) before we stand up for the Dru Activations and EBR sequences. All the movements are standing so there’s no need for mats and people are welcome to use the chairs if they wish.
You will be introduced to the Dru Kriya Vayus which prepare the mind and body for meditation. This is a series of five simple, easy to practise but amazingly effective movements unique to the Dru tradition working on the energetic body.
Finally, we regroup into a seated circle and I lead you through our mindfulness practice. This varies each week. Our Easter practice involved chocolate! The session finishes with time for reflection and the option to join me in the bar for coffee, cake or something stronger if you fancy it! Every six weeks students are invited to stay for lunch and enjoy the Golden Lion’s delicious food.
Thursday afternoon in Faringdon Lodge Care Home
This class is for residents of the care home but visitors and staff join in too. I have adapted Dru EBRs and sequences for older people to practise from a chair. We also use music, instruments, pictures and spiky balls. If you know someone in the home why not plan your visit for a Thursday afternoon (I’m there every other week at 2.30pm) and join in? Or let me know if you’d like me to do something similar for a group elsewhere. I’ve provided well being sessions of various types for other groups in the past. Sessions can be entirely chair based or involve movement or gentle walking depending on the requirement. I also offer walking meditations, labyrinth walking and laughter yoga. Contact me with your requirements and I will let you know what I can offer.
Thursday evening in Hollieslocks Salon, Wingletye Lane
Beginners “Candlelit” Yoga
Come to this class if you’re looking to completely relax and destress towards the end of a busy week. Hollieslocks Salon transforms into a candlelit yoga studio at 7.30pm every Thursday with glowing candles (battery type), Ganesha throw and essential oil infused aromas for the ultimate relaxing experience.
The class started in January so everyone is new and the group is still small. You can expect lots of personal attention and the pace is slow and meditative. It is ideal for beginners or anyone who is looking for a gentle and relaxing practice. The format is similar to the Tesco class but with the focus on winding down for bed.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to:
- book a trial class at Tesco, the Golden Lion or Hollieslocks.
- arrange a small groups, Chair or Well being session (usually £30 per hour depending on location and individual requirements).
- reserve a place on the Yoga for ESOL course starting Wednesday 24th April / or for a place on the second course starting after half term.