Our Birthlight principles of nurture, with self-nurture at its heart, are achieved through creating the space to be and to let go, to be in a state of non-doing in order to renew, to enable passive stretching to reaches the fascia not just the muscles and to promote grounding which neutralizes stress and creates a base for balanced and easeful movement and breath. Well Woman Yoga is a balanced Yoga that integrates these rich elements of nurture, grounding, letting go, passive stretching and restorative Yoga with pleasurable and playful movements and sequences from this stable base that work on both strength and elasticity, and where possible incorporating practices in pairs and circles.
Body alignment, release of tension and focused use of the breath are the three major combined principles for the specific sets of movements that constitute Well Woman Yoga.
The centre of gravity remains in the pelvis in all yoga poses, however extreme. As the oldest of Asian discipline, Yoga is focused on the Hara, the centre of the life force, in the abdomen (Tsan’tien in Chinese arts). The health of the sacrum is of particular importance to female wellbeing and we recognize that all movements come from the pelvis. Our practices are based on female anatomy and physiology – so our Well Woman classes awaken pelvic awareness and honour its energy (Shakti). Birthlight micromovements help to access both strength and release in the deeper muscles and fascia in and around the pelvis, including the positioning and attachment of the pelvic organs and pelvic floor muscles.
In yoga on dry land, our first focus is always on grounding, then finding movement from this base. The centre of gravity is in the pelvis in relation to pressure from feet, sit bones, hands, forearms or head (in inverted balances) and hands and knees (in all fours positions) against the ground. Centring and re-centring in all positions create a comfortable and stable base in all positions ( Sthira Sukha Asanam) and enable optimal alignment. Maintaining ease and steadiness means finding a neutral position, a place of ‘zero balance’ where no strain is involved in maintain the posture. This will also enable the full breath as any strain to maintain alignment and length in the spine will negatively impact on the breath, and limit the effectiveness of the practice.
Well Woman Yoga pays precise attention to transitions – in order to optimize alignment and ease of movement with the breath as we move from one position to another in our practice, as well as inviting us to integrate these into everyday movements.
Well Woman isometric practices enable pressure from extremities on the floor and on walls varies according to exercises to create a vibrant core strength in the pelvis.
Progressive alterations of vertical or horizontal alignments in twists, rolls and turns are used to promote greater body balance and alignment. This core alignment is a fundamental practice in Well Woman Yoga.
These movements combined in flowing sequences are part of advanced practices in Well Woman Yoga but isolated elements can be safely taught for the benefits of very unwell or unfit participants.
Well Woman Yoga instructors give prime importance to proper body alignment in all the aspects of their teaching: warm-ups, yoga asanas, flowing yoga sequences, isolation moves, walks and glides, relaxation and the practice of mudras and mantras.
Well Woman Yoga also includes many elements that are fun, playful and joyful, that awaken or re-awaken the song in the body. Many women who come to these classes are depleted or depressed so we aim to offer Yoga that awakens or re-awakens the desire for pleasure, in both our bodies and our minds.
Relaxation is the most important element of Well Woman Yoga. Any gripping, anywhere in the body, reduces the benefits of therapeutic applications of yoga asanas. Abdominal breathing is fundamental to all aspects of yoga: increased breathing capacity is achieved through a gentle, gradual extension of exhalation.
Breath and movement together (Vinyasa) ensure action on the deepest layer of muscles (skeletal, abdominal). Relaxed stretching, sustained stretching of the limbs on an expanded exhalation, facilitate simultaneous, integrated action on the muscles of the core body and extremities. The practice of relaxed stretching improves the ability to contract muscles and facilitates vagal tone, enabling the relaxation response that frees the body of accumulated tension.
Our classes include many pathways to relaxation: from a relaxed supportive atmosphere to the quality of movement including relaxed stretches and ease of movement at all times, combined with free and deep breathing, to instant relaxation practices as well as time for deeper relaxation in restorative positions. Together these practices create the space to be, a space of no-doing in order to renew and regenerate.