Image of Steph Cheesman performing a Yoga asana outdoors in Bristol

About my classes

Hatha

Hatha yoga is about balance – of the sun (‘ha’) and moon (‘tha’) energies of the body and mind. In finding this balance, we will work with strength and flexibility, movement and stillness, effort and ease. My classes are gentle and suitable for beginners, with options for those with more experience to work deeper.

We’ll pay attention to steadiness and alignment, but I also love to include more dynamic flowing sequences . You can expect gentle warm-ups, energising sun salutations, and a sequence of carefully chosen postures to explore a different theme each week – such as core stability or hip openers. You will also learn how to use the breath to make your practise a mindful meditation. We finish with deep relaxation.

 “Alertness without tension.
Relaxation without dullness.”
 
T.K.V.Desikachar

I aim to work with each student’s needs in mind, safely guiding individuals within their own abilities using modifications and props when possible, so that they get the maximum benefit without any unnecessary strain. This also allows the mind to benefit from the calming effect of the practice. At times I may offer hands-on assistance to help students feel more at ease.

Key principles of my classes:

  • Sensitivity – breath and body awareness to tune in to patterns of energy and thoughts
  • Acceptance – to feel at home in your body. It’s not that frustration has no place in yoga (perhaps it can be a driving force that keeps bringing you back to your mat again and again), but that we learn how to notice emotions instead of allowing them to take over.
  • Mindfulness. Stay present. Listen. Pay attention to what is going on in the body and mind in each moment. This will bring greater awareness to everything that you do.
  • Enquiry. As you practice, remember to take a moment in each pose to observe feelings – noticing without judgement. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now?” “Why am I feeling this way?” and “How is the feeling manifesting in my physical body?” Afterwards you might like to consider: do you feel better? Did the practice improve your mood? Calm your mind? Improve your energy? If not, what can you do differently next time? We are retraining the entire nervous system, not just blindly stretching.

Yoga for me is an alternative to the ideology of speed. A safe haven where you can escape the pervasive feeling that you should always be doing something. My approach is to take things slow, to be curious and playful, to allow space for the breath and the mind to settle. I place a lot of emphasis on releasing common areas of tension such as the neck, jaw and shoulders rather than forcing ourselves into a prescribed shape. The overall aim is to energise without agitating.

You then take that quiet “alert restfulness” back with you to face the world. You can handle stressful situations more effectively and with less reactivity because you are aware, unhurried, and tranquil.

Getting started

Safety

Yoga really is for anyone, regardless of your age or level of fitness. A common phrase I hear is ‘I’m not flexible enough for yoga’ – that’s like saying I’m too hungry to come to dinner! It’s not about being super-bendy, or better than the person next to you. Or better than you were last week. The main thing is to listen to your body. It’s about noticing, learning, exploring – setting up the right conditions to allow change to happen. Working in this way will protect you from injury and allow you to experience intense stretches without pain.

However, if you have particular health conditions and are unsure whether it may be suitable for you, please get in touch. I may either be able to accommodate your needs, or refer you to a more specialist teacher.

If you are on your period, you may need to work more gently, avoiding strong core work or twists, and inversions (going upside down.)

Please let me know before the class if you have any health issues. I am usually available for 10 minutes after class too if you have any questions.

If you are pregnant, I recommend that if you attend a class specifically for pregnancy, especially if you are new to yoga. This will give you the best opportunity to practice safely and to really connect with your baby. However, if you already have an established yoga practice, are in your second or third trimester and would like to attend a general class, I am qualified to teach yoga for pregnancy and may be able to accommodate you. Please get in touch beforehand to check that the class will be suitable.

Preparing for class

If you find yourself arriving after the class has started, please just come in quietly and give yourself a couple of minutes to settle – ideally lying down – before you join in.

Avoid a heavy meal up to 2 hours beforehand (apart from your energy being used on digestion, it’s just not nice twisting or bending on a full stomach!) A light snack such as soup or fruit is fine.

Finally, you don’t need any fancy or expensive kit, all you need is comfortable clothes, a yoga mat, and maybe a blanket. We practice yoga barefoot. Some of my classes have mats and blankets available, for others you need to bring your own or reserve one – please check the class details.

If you would like to purchase your own mat, they have lovely ones in a rainbow of colours at www.yogamatters.com

Payment

Please arrive a few minutes early so that we have time to sort out payment.

I know life is busy, so I offer a drop-in rate but would encourage you to book a block if you really want to feel the benefits. This will allow me to introduce the key principles and will give you a sense of progression. There is flexibility within the block to allow for 1 or 2 absences – more information on each class page.

 

 “After Steph’s class, my body and mind are lighter. Everything feels more worthwhile.”  Roy