Mar 21, 2020
Episode 87 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores yoga as a tool for wellbeing for teachers and trainers.
Honestly, I have been unsure about recording this episode because there has, in the past, been negative chat in the community about educational organisations introducing a yoga initiative as a bit of a coverup for other issues. For example ‘workloads are too high; let’s put on a yoga class’… type thing. That’s not what this episode is about. And for the avoidance of doubt, I don’t think yoga should be classed as a form of compulsory professional development or used as a sticking plaster ☺️
My perspective is simply this: yoga, for some, is a great tool for building not only physical strength, but mental strength. It’s had a really positive effect on me so I thought I’d share it with you.
There are lots of different definitions of yoga, but I’ve opted for this practical one from the NHS website:
‘Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. The main components of yoga are postures (a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility) and breathing. The practice originated in India about 5,000 years ago and has been adapted in other countries in a variety of ways.’
Yoga for many is a spiritual practice rather than a form of exercise. I don’t class myself as particularly spiritual so I focus on the physical element. That being said, there are very few times in my week when I actually have a moment when my mind is empty - yoga does that for me. If that’s being spiritual, I’ll take it!
This podcast aims to help teachers and trainers work towards achieving a work/life balance. Teachers and trainers are some of the busiest people I know and as such, we need activities focussed on our bodies and minds more than many. As I just mentioned, yoga helps me empty my head - for that reason alone, it is perfect for teachers. I’m not saying it will do the same for you, but it’s something to try.
Incidentally, if yoga is not for you then it is still worth exploring meditation.
I’m fussy and that’s ok when you search for the right yoga class - it’s about you and your needs.
Something that is really important to me, for example, is that the class is inclusive - particularly in relation to bigger bodies. It’s hard to put a finger on what that looks like but it might mean people with larger bodies attend. It might mean blocks and straps are available to borrow and their use is encouraged. I don’t like chanting; I don’t like a class that feels too serious. I like to be able to arrive early and hide in a corner. And, along the same lines, I like to be able to book online (introvert!)
I attend a couple of classes a week but my favourite is on a Sunday morning as it really sets me up for the week to come; timing is important.
If you’re totally new to yoga and feel intimidated by the idea of attending a class, then you could consider practising at home. While I do a little home practice, generally I need the motivation of a class to attend, but everyone is different.
For home practice I highly recommend Yoga With Adriene. She has lots of free videos on YouTube as well as a subscription-based app. There are also channels sharing yoga practice aimed at people with limited mobility and bigger bodies.
To practice yoga, you need a mat. That’s it. I like a few other props too, including a bolster, blocks, a strap and an eye pillow, but you don’t need them to get started. An eye pillow is lovely for relaxation and a bolster is great under my legs when I am lying down to support my back. Here are my favourites:
And that’s it. If you have any questions about this episode or comments you’d like to share please join The Teaching Space Community: community.theteachingspace.com.
The show notes for this episode include any links I’ve mentioned; you can find them at theteachingspace.com.
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Thanks for listening and I hope you’ll join me for the next episode.