Posts in Q&A
Is Yoga Better with Friends?

Is Yoga Better With Friends?

YOGA-SUTRA-314Are you a lone yogi? Or do you prefer to practice with friends? According to research by Oxford University anthropologist Dr Emma Cohen exercising in a group actually has many benefits - both physical and psychological. Firstly, training in a synchronised group may heighten tolerance for pain, enabling atheltes to train longer and harder. At Camyoga we certainly don't advocate pushing our members to the point of pain - yoga should never be painful - but this does suggest that practising with friends can improve endurance, which is particularly relevant to more physically taxing forms of yoga such as hot yoga, power yoga and ashtanga.  As Jackie MacLeod and Sukey Novogratz, yoga buddies and founders of The Well Daily, point out, "who better to tackle crow pose with than someone you know is rooting for your success?"

Another recent study, conducted by Virgin Active Health Clubs, reveals that friends who exercise together will visit the gym more regularly, and of women who run, go to the gym or attend group exercise classes with friends, 64% push themselves harder than if they went alone. In terms of attendance, we all know that one of the most mentally challenging aspects of yoga practice can be making the commitment to just do it. Whether it's early in the morning or after work, getting into the right frame of mind to get yourself to class on time can sometimes be pretty tough. Whether you're too tired, too busy, too hungry or simply 'not in the mood', finding excuses to avoid practice, and caving in to them, is probably all too familiar for most of us. Even the most dedicated of yogis have 'off' days! Heading to class with friends can take some of the decision-making out of that process - we've agreed to go and 'that is that'. After all, it's much easier to convince yourself that you just can't be bothered than it is to convince a persuasive friend...

On  a less scientific front, many of us live increasingly busy lives, jam-packed with work commitments, financial concerns, busy calendars full of social events and even more for those of us who are parents! Sometimes socialising, outside of pre-ordained 'social events', can be hard to squeeze in. Neighbours are less and less likely to 'just pop round' for a a cup of tea. Practising yoga with friends can be a beautiful and relaxed way to spend time with pals with no pressure attached.

At Camyoga we value the importance of friendship. That's why our Gold Members can now bring a friend to class, absolutely free of charge. To find out more, ask at reception or email for more details.


Adjustments & Consent: Jozef's Viewpoint

Adjustments & Consent: Jozef's Viewpoint


To adjust or not to adjust? That is the one of the questions currently being posed in the worldwide yoga community - read our short introduction to the debate here. We've already heard Camyoga teacher Camilla's opinion on this subject, now here's what Hot Yoga teacher Jozef has to bring to the table:

"I work as a physical therapist/masseur and therefore I am used to touching people with sensitivity, and always after an extensive talk with the client, followed by a physical examination. When there are no issues which need further clarification, through X-rays or other medical diagnostic assistance and we are both still happy to continue, then hands-on work will take place. 

In my other work as a yoga teacher most of the time I don't know the students in my class and the way their bodies are constructed, their possible issues whether physical or emotional and sometimes they don't even know themselves.

So in general I would say I prefer to guide my students into postures using a verbal dialogue and when I see they are not doing a posture correctly then I will suggest corrections using dialogue. If they are still unable to self adjust then I will demonstrate the posture myself  and the adjustment I would like them to make, failing this I may use an assistant or address the student after class about it.

When I do touch I will use short, subtle touches to invite them into the direction I think they should go in, maintaining awareness so that excessive resistance can be examined as this may mean that they simply cannot make the adjustment and their or my force should not be applied.

"To me yoga is not about going deep or how you look on the outside"

I use my Hot Yoga Master classes and workshops to invite students, through deepening their knowledge of anatomy/postures, to understand their bodies better and how this can lead to safer posture work and hopefully less frustration and/or confusion. This is another way they can learn how to bring their bodies to the postures instead of bringing the posture to their body and also another opportunity for me to learn more about their specific needs and challenges.

In my classes I tend to emphasise the importance of technique, alignment and how, with the use of your breath, you can allow yourself to emerge in your posture without forcing or pushing. To me yoga is not about going deep or how you look on the outside, when you push yourself beyond your flexibility it can cause harm to your body both in the short term and more importantly in the long term.   

Of course I do value the teacher-student connection and I always make myself available before and after class to help individual students and to answer their questions. However I do not think that human touch is an important part of yoga practice. I deliberately use the term 'human' touch here because when I teach Yin yoga the props used to support the student creates touch and this allows the student to relax more into that specific posture. And yes there are benefits to hands-on adjustments - I myself have been adjusted by some great teachers and the effect can be amazing. However once again, I like to stress that  there can be the risk of injuring students, confusing /frustrating them and the teacher when the intended correction does not take place.

Though the teacher may have the best intention, the student may never be comfortable with the adjustment brought about by forced touch."


 Jozef Wiewel teaches Hot Yoga and Yin Yoga at our Central Studios in addition to teaching a Hot Yoga Masterclass on the first Saturday of every month.


Adjustments & Consent

Adjustments & Consent: Camilla's Viewpoint


Following on from our previous article regarding adjustments, Camyoga teacher Camilla Leyland shares her thoughts on issues of consent and adjustment in class.

"With a well trained teacher who has studied skilful adjusting there should be no or at least minimal risk of injury to the student. At CamYoga, all the teachers are properly trained and adjusting workshops for teachers are frequently offered. The beauty in being skilfully adjusted makes a group class qualitatively different to practicing alone. A teacher is able to physically manipulate the body into a pose, improving posture and technique or offering a restorative or supportive element to it. Where verbal adjustments can often solve many alignment issues, sometimes, a tweak here and there helps a student get out of bad habits where they think they are making a particular shape but one or more elements are out of sync and yet they cannot feel this. In class, I often find that students want to be adjusted. Only last night one of my students noticed her neighbour enjoying having her lower back drawn towards the earth in childs pose and actually asked me if I could adjust her in this way too!

Yoga is one of the few practices in our lives that connects our physical and and emotional sides. Human touch can be a part of this process, acting in its own right as a form of therapy. I learned this some years ago when I took my first visit to an orphanage in Syria and left with one profound message: that the soothing impact of human touch is powerful beyond imagination. Toddlers left neglected in cots, with sores from banging their heads against bars all day, crying for someone to free them, were transformed into calm, happy beings at the mere touch of a hand. When I picked one up, another dozen started climbing over the bars of neighbouring cots lining the walls of the room towards the child I was holding, hoping for the same. It was such a humbling experience, to realise that all they needed was another human to make contact with them. A touch can mean so many things, that of a parent, a lover, a friend... I hope that through compassion and support, my adjustments will transmit the healing power of touch, serving to relax students as well as to deepen their  practice. Touch can trigger many feelings depending upon the intention with which it is made. The trauma suffered by a student who has undergone sexual abuse may still find solace through the care of being adjusted in class - it really just depends on the person and on the mental attitude of the teacher making the adjustments.

"the soothing impact of human touch is powerful beyond imagination"

For those students who simply don't feel the need or in fact feel an aversion to being adjusted, I offer anyone to come and tell to me in confidence prior to the start of session. I also tread carefully when adjusting students with injury in order to avoid pushing them too far. I realise that at festivals and in super sized classes, a not to touch sign or even a scribbled note in capitals could be useful; but in a typical class, it should be possible to remember the one or two (usually none) who don't like being adjusted. Although I myself use yoga props frequently, keeping the need for these material items to a minimum helps us to remember that to do yoga we need nothing more than the space in which to practice, no matter where in the world we may be. Props like this adjusting notice can be useful and for some of us, a no adjusting sign is exactly what we need at a particular stage in our lives. Whatever our choice, with or without a sign, we should try to remain free in our practice, remembering that none of these items truly matter. None are a requisite ingredient to creating that deeper unfolding that comes from a lovingly attended to regular practice."



Camilla Leyland teaches Yoga Flow, Beginners Yoga and our monthly Family Yoga Class at Camyoga Central.     


Yoga for the Whole Family!

Yoga For the Whole Family!

P1100281_2Camyoga teacher Camilla Leyland is leading a new kind of yoga class, where children, parents and grandparents practice together. Could this be a revival of the traditional Indian family?

With government statistics estimating as much as 30% of children in England as overweight or obese, a more active lifestyle is needed. This figure rises to 61.3% in adulthood: so there is a strong argument that families as a whole to be getting on their yoga mats and making this stress busting exercise a group activity. Unlike ballet or gymnastics Yoga is one of the few activities that people seem to do more of in adulthood.

Camilla, speaking about her own daughter says, “By teaching our children yoga, we are giving them a skill and a coping mechanism that they are more likely to use over their whole lifetime.”

“Parents are waking up to the fact that yoga can benefit everyone. Families who come not only get the benefits of a yoga session, but get to bond with the kids.”

When talking about her daughter she says “I was amazed at her ability just from watching me on my mat and having a go.”

Camilla’s daughter Inaya, just 5 years old, has been attending her mother’s family yoga class and has since been able to attend an adult class. “A Family Yoga class is different to kids yoga because its uses adult pose names but it’s similar in that explanations are simplified…The aim is to equip children with the necessary skills to join almost any adult class when they are ready”.

By starting them young, Camilla hopes that kids will come to accept yoga as something they can do for the rest of their lives.

The social function of a family yoga class is also important - likeminded families are able to come together to practice as a community. At Camyoga we offer a special kids menu in our cafe before and after class, and ensure that both kids and adults have their own social spaces in which to laugh, learn and play.


Family Yoga with Camilla Leyland is on the first Saturday of every month at Camyoga Central, 11.30-12.45. Suitable for all ages and abilities. Learn more

How Do You Feel About Adjustments?

How Do You Feel About Adjustments?


As befits a diverse and global practice, the yoga world is chock full of debates. If you pay attention to the yoga press, you might be aware of the recent talk of "consent cards". These cards have been designed for students, who prefer not to receive adjustments or assists, to use in class in order to communicate their preference to the teacher. Kula Annex in Toronto is one of the studios pioneering this initiative. Their director, Christi-an Slomka, explains why:

“We can’t always know what someone has been through and if touch may be a trigger (especially when it comes without consent),” she continues. “Rape and sexual abuse can continue unchecked in a culture that doesn’t value consent. By demonstrating that consent is important to us, I believe we may be able to empower a shift in culture. Ultimately consent helps us to cultivate a safer space.”

We asked some of our teachers to share their thoughts on adjustment and consent and we'll be publishing these over the coming weeks.

At Camyoga we want our students to feel as safe and comfortable as possible. Are consent cards something you feel are necessary? We'd love to hear your thoughts on this matter! Use the comments space below or send us an email.

Image: Decolonizing Yoga