As I made plans for my workshop in April, it dawned on me that adjusting the volume has been the focus of my personal practice for the past decade. For many years I practised Ashtanga yoga, a dynamic method that involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures. There are 6 series in all, but it is only the truly dedicated practitioners that get beyond the first two series. In 2011, I did a yoga demonstration (my first & only!) for charity in the centre of Manchester. The photo below shows the kind of thing I was doing on a daily basis, usually, around 5.30 am!! It was quite intense, to say the least!
A change is as good as a rest
Ashtanga yoga suited me for a long time. I enjoyed it. I thrived on it. And then, life, as it does, took a few unexpected turns and I found the practice harder & harder to sustain. I was mentally & emotionally exhausted; I didn’t have the time or energy for a strong physical practice. But at the same time, I believed that yoga could help me through these challenging times, I needed to adjust the volume. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since
Each time I roll out my mat is a new opportunity to practice yoga in such a way that will support me rather than leave me depleted. Honestly, there’s an element of trial & error involved as I don’t always know what I need until I make a start. I’ve learnt that what I think I need isn’t actually what I do need. It’s only when I begin moving & breathing that I discover what is going to sustain me at that moment. Movements can be strong, gentle, big, small or something in-between. Adjusting the volume by fine-tuning & modifying my practice, means I remain consistent which in turn helps me to stay grounded & calm however turbulent life is. As the mindfulness teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”‘
Adjusting the volume is at the heart of my teaching.
You’ve maybe heard me use the volume metaphor countless times in class. You choose how much or how little to challenge yourself, you learn to listen to your body and to practise accordingly. As your yoga teacher, my aim is to give you the agency to create a practice that suits your needs each time you roll out your mat. You choose how much, or how little depending on how you feel at that moment.
Less is more
Using more physical effort & then less we move towards & away from our edge. By playing around with our inner volume control we pay more attention to what it is we feel & we get better at responding to our individual needs. We learn to adapt the practice according to how we feel in each moment, we create our very own bespoke yoga practice.
“Kirstin’s classes are so much more than yoga. They are a space for me to find calm through movement, almost like slow-motion dancing. They are a time for me to breathe and find stillness, to reconnect with my strength. I have learned to love and nurture my body, perhaps for the first time in my life. Kirstin’s empathy, humour and joy shine through, taking you on a journey through each movement, so that you get what you need from your time in class”. – Elaine, Switzerland