Thursday 12 April 2018

Up until last year, the only experience I had with Yoga was holding a tree pose for 30 seconds on my Wii Fit. Fast-forward a couple of years and I've suddenly become miss bendy who can finally touch her toes after years of thinking I couldn't because 'I had long legs and shorter arms'. As fascinating as this mini achievement is, being able to touch your toes is probably near the bottom of the list of all the benefits Yoga brings. I'm no expert, so in order to find out first hand from someone who knows their Tadasana from their Uttanasana, I had a chat with Zoe Bishop, who recently travelled to India to complete a Yoga course, and is now teaching classes here in Gibraltar.

zoe bishop yoga

1. Hey Zoe! Thanks for chatting with me. So tell me, what was your experience like in India? What made you choose a course there over somewhere closer to home?

Since discovering Yoga in 2012 whilst in my vocational dance training at Trinity Laban, I had always kept the idea of gaining a teaching qualification in future on the back burner. Whenever I saw a potential gap in my dance work or studies, I researched to learn about how I could make this a reality. There were courses I could take in the UK part-time, as well as other intensive courses full-time *like the one I did) in several locations in Europe, but the option of travelling to the source of the practice to learn was just too tempting! This also served as an opportunity to travel solo for the first time and also experience my first long haul flight.  

2. The best way to learn in my opinion! and what an experience, India is beautiful. What was a typical day like for you? 

We had early 6am starts daily, beginning with pranayama (breath control), meditation and chanting class. This followed with morning asana (physical practice) and then breakfast in the onsite restaurant, which served delicious vegetarian food featuring Indian Poha amongst other delicacies. After breakfast we had academic lessons in Anatomy, Philosophy, Ayurveda and teaching methodology (alternating daily). After lunch break, we returned to another academic lesson followed by practical asana breakdown specialised workshops. Then concluding with evening asana practice to finish the day at 6:30pm. 

3. A very hectic schedule then, but starting and ending the day like that probably made the long days a lot easier. What would you say are the main benefits of practicing yoga? 

I believe yoga is a special form of exercise as its benefits are both physical and mental. Although there are infinite benefits amongst the wide bracket of yoga, I would say in summary the main ones are gaining overall strength, flexibility and calming the mind. 

4. I've found Yoga to be a great supplement to my gym training, I feel more energised, can breathe better and feel stronger. For people who might not have the time to go to classes, what 3 positions would you recommend people practice maybe in the morning or after a workout? 

(1) Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana) is a great one for relieving lower back pain and helping to extend the spine, which I feel is common in a lot of people with desk-based lives. 

(2) Shoulder stand (Sarvangasana) is one of my favourites for after any workout, boosting circulation and reenergising after physical activity. 

(3) Sun Salutation A - although not a pose, this short sequence will only take a minute. For most beginners or anyone wanting to stretch daily, I cannot emphasise how beneficial doing just 3 sun sals a day will be! Only taking a couple of minutes at most to. 

5. What kind of classes are you teaching now? Do you cater for different abilities and age groups?

At the moment I am teaching a morning yoga class and an evening yoga class. The morning sessions are taught in a slightly gentler Hatha style, incorporating some elements of restorative yoga. The evening session is Ashtanga inspired and a little faster in pace, incorporating some stamina focused work. However, both classes aim to improve flexibility, build strength and calm the mind. I am hoping to expand these and make them more specialised, also introducing 1-1 offers for individuals with specific requirements. 

Do you have any questions for Zoe? Do you practice yoga yourself? If you're interested in joining her classes or for more information, head over to Zoe Bishop Yoga on Facebook or drop her a line at zoebishop.danceyoga@gmail.com.  


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