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Shallow, deep, slow, rapid… How you breathe will determine your mood, level of vitality, and health. The breath is like a barometer. Notice the connections between your thoughts, emotions and your breath ? Yoga is a very effective stress reduction and relaxation tool. The practice directs the mind to attend to the body and the breathing in the present moment.


Learn to breathe! You will literally change your energy. Of course, we all breathe automatically but how well do you breathe ? How well does it serve you ? Did you know you could learn how to breathe properly ? In our yoga classes, we use breath techniques to learn to quieten the mind, control our energies and feelings. If you are feeling anxious or worried, we can choose a particular breath and practice to let go and release. We can also choose a breath to energise ourselves or cool ourselves in the summer when it is hot ! This is called “Pranayama” or breath control.


When we are rushing around or simply feeling stressed, tired, anxious, or fearful, we instinctively hold on to our breath. When it becomes chronic, it is not good news for your wellbeing. Your body slows down, energy stagnates and you mind becomes agitated or foggy. You reinforce the feeling of panic and anxiety. A vicious circle. Have you ever heard someone says: “Take a deep breath…” when in fact, you really need to breathe out first to release the pent-up tension and energy within.


So Why learn to breathe ? Some yogic wisdom…


The portal through which we can begin to calm our anxious energy to transcend to higher states of being is found in our breath. Our breath and emotional state form a feedback loop.


When we experience mental or emotional stress, such as when we are anxious or sleep deprived, our breathing becomes compromised. When our breathing becomes compromised, our whole state of wellbeing becomes compromised. The breath is the bridge between body and mind. You can learn how to control your breath to influence your mind and energy.


Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutra, a collection of pearls of wisdom on yoga, was an Indian sage, who knew what science has now proven: controlled, deep breathing shifts our nervous system by activating the calming, regenerating, and relaxing response whilst lowering stress levels.


“Calm is retained by the controlled exhalation or retention of the breath” Yoga Sutra 1.34, Book 1


Controlled, prolonged exhalation has been shown to activate our parasympathetic nervous system, the branch of our nervous system responsible for our “rest-and-digest” relaxation response. When we are in a stress or panic mode, our breath becomes quick and shallow.


In any situation, let us remember to always come back to the breath as our anchor. We can learn to control our breath for different desired effects, energy, balance, relaxation. Today, I would like to introduce you to a way to just find some peace and calm within to discover your inner sanctuary.


So how do we calm down our nervous system to find relaxation and stillness ? How do we release tension from within the mind & body ? The first step is your breath. Let me share with you a short breathing exercise, which we do regularly at the start of our yoga class to relax and let go.


Choose a quiet space and ensure no-one will disturb you. Switch off your phone and other devices for 5 min or so. Sit or lie down comfortably. I prefer to lie down with my legs bent, feet hip width distance apart to allow my pelvis to be in neutral and my lower back to relax completely. Your neck should be in line with your spine.


Now, close your eyes. One hand on your heart and one on your belly. Take the time to arrive. Feel your breath and body. Notice any movement in your chest or belly as you naturally breathe in and out. Settle into your space and allow yourself to just be.


Relaxing Breath Exercise: Breathe in for a count of 4. Pause. Exhale for a count of 6 or 8. Exhale is longer than Inhale. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth very slowly, keeping your face and jaw relaxed. As you slowly exhale and let go, feel your shoulders, neck and back gently melting away. Try this for 5 min or longer.


Feel free to adjust ratios of breath to suit you, shorter or longer. Be comfortable. Don't force or strain your breath. Breathing in and out through your nose is traditional. Personally, for this exercise, I like to breathe in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth as if you were breathing out through a straw. Allow the magic to slowly happen !!


Become the observer. Breathe in, breathe out, let go. Repeat. Notice what you notice.


At the end of this exercise, slowly start to move your fingers and toes and take a nice long body stretch and yawn. Stay still for a moment, notice the effect of your breath practice. Perhaps you feel refreshed and calmer with a sense of space within your body.


Now feel free to move your body freely, taking any shapes, poses you feel like instinctively before bringing your knees to the chest rocking from side to side before slowly getting up to sitting and standing. Take a few steps and see how you feel. Notice any difference ?


This is a great technique to ground yourself and calm down at any times. It is particularly beneficial to practice before going to bed for a good night sleep. Practice indoor or outdoor. When the sun shines, you can practice this breath even when walking - with eyes open, once you are used to it. As a yoga teacher, I have practiced this many times with myself and my students. They always come out feeling good and smiling. It is a ritual at the start of each of our classes.


Feel the magic happens. Feel the transformation. Our body is always talking to us. Reset your nervous system, improve your breathing, lower your stress level and feel good !


For weekly online classes, check my website. In the summer, I offer outdoor yoga classes. Yoga and nature all in one, simply the best. If interested, in either, please just contact me.


Lesson in French & English. I offer beginners yoga, dynamic yoga and relaxation yoga with somatics. Choose what suits you best. To find out more, visit www.yogawithbelle.co.uk


To book, simply email yogawithbelletw@gmail.com to receive your Zoom link 24hrs prior to class. You can sign up for the newsletter to be kept informed of our yoga classes and workshops and follow me on Instagram or Facebook for yoga tips, fun and wisdom.


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  • belleleroy

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Mental Awareness Week 2021 is great as it highlights the importance of self-care. However, it is key to attend to our “mental garden” on a daily and weekly basis.


If you plant a seed in a garden, it will only blossom if you lovingly attend to it regularly with love and the right nutrients. It is the same for our mind and body.


There’s no better time to look at the link between mental health and wellbeing. Research from the Mental Health Foundation revealed that going outside in nature for walks was one of our top coping strategies amid recent events. As a mindfulness practitioner, I would recommend you use some of your senses such as sight, smell, hearing and touch.


Look around you, breathe the fresh air, marvel at the beauty around, listen to the nature sounds around you. Touch or hug the trees. Feel the grass under your feet. As little as five minutes per day spent outside can improve motivation and wellbeing. As I went on a quiet meditative walk recently, I found a magic wall carpet full of gorgeous vibrant spring flowers. It literally took my breath away. Wow! More on this with images and a short video on my Yoga with Belle FB page.


Social connections, as we all know, are key to us feeling good. It is a human need. During the pandemic, even if we could not connect face to face, technology assisted us to connect with one another. My students and I were able to carry on with our yoga classes online when we needed it the most. Yes, it takes a little time to adjust but that’s what life is all about. Knowing about how to adapt, being strong and yet flexible, letting go of what does not serve us, such as fear, worry… This is where yoga can really help us to stay anchored and feeling stable no matter what.


So, how about Yoga and Mental Health ? Here is an appropriate quote by Debasish Mridha: “You may not be able to control the whole world but you may learn to control your inner world through yoga”. It requires a real desire and discipline. You just need to get out of your head and change your focus. Get in your body. Shake it off. As emotions get locked into the body, movement is key.


Psychologists have long known that moderate exercise is good for depression and anxiety. Yoga promotes exercise and much more... strength, flexibility, balance, relaxation and emotional control.

The practice affects your whole self inside out. As you create space in your body, yoga promotes a certain kind of mental freedom, a feeling of mental ease you experience at the end of class.


Yoga is a very effective stress reduction and relaxation tool. The practice directs the mind to attend to the body and the breathing in the present moment. The stress response that so many anxious and depressed people experience begins with the fight or flight response, a physical preparation of the body to fight or flee any perceived danger. Chronic stress has an impact on the body in the form of chronic muscle tension and stiffness creating "dis-ease" in mind and body.


Learn to breathe! You will literally change your energy. Of course, we all breathe automatically but how well do you breathe ? How well does it serve you ? Did you know you could learn how to breathe properly ? In our yoga classes, we use breath techniques to learn to quieten the mind, control our energies and feelings. If you are feeling anxious or worried, we can choose a particular breath and practice to let go and release. We can also choose a breath to energise ourselves or cool ourselves in the summer when it is hot ! This is called “Pranayama” or breath control.


Know also that the past does not define your future. You are in control. Reframe and surround yourself with positive energy. Where your attention goes, your energy goes. Change your thoughts. Think positive. Yoga works on your mental and physical wellbeing. It literally shifts your energy, as we breath and move in a certain way. It acts on our nervous system and has positive benefits throughout our whole body and mind. Find a teacher to guide you and support you.


You can join us online and move as I gently guide you through your yoga class. Feel the magic happens. Feel the transformation. The body benefits from movement and the mind from stillness. You will reset your nervous system, improve your breathing, lower your stress level and boost your immune system to name just a few of the benefits. All in one hour, and the best bit is that your 1st online group class is complimentary. Wow !!! This is a gift from me to you.


For weekly online classes, check my website. In the summer, I offer outdoor yoga classes. Yoga and nature all in one, simply the best. If interested, in either, please just contact me.


As Indra Devi said: “Yoga is a way to freedom. By its constant practice, we can free ourselves from fear, anguish and loneliness “. Lesson in French & English. You will feel amazing, both in body and mind . I offer beginners yoga, dynamic yoga and relaxation yoga with somatics. Choose what suits you best. Ideally, you want to mix an active practice with a more relaxing one during your week. To find out more, visit www.yogawithbelle.co.uk


To book, simply email yogawithbelletw@gmail.com to receive your Zoom link 24hrs prior to class. You can sign up for the newsletter to be kept informed of our yoga classes and workshops and follow me on Instagram or Facebook for yoga tips, fun and wisdom.


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“Yoga means addition of energy, strength, and beauty to body, mind, and soul.” Amit Ray


I love the glint in my students’ eyes, their rosy cheeks, and their huge smile after a strong yoga class. Even though they feel all hot and sweaty, they will say: “Whoa, that was wonderful !” I am so proud of them when every single one of them managed to get into Half-Moon pose because they were well prepared.


Have you ever wondered why you might find balancing in yoga a challenge ? Tree Pose or Half Moon for example, to be able to get into those poses, you need to approach them with calm, poise, balance and strength. You need strength in your ankles, legs, glutes, back, core and key warm up exercises are essential to assist. A sense of proprioception, i.e. knowing where you are in space is also helpful.

How can yoga help ? Yoga is known for gaining flexibility. It often comes as a surprise to many who come to class to realise that actually yoga is much more. Yoga can also strengthen you. It depends on the type of yoga you choose to practice but if you choose a physical practice, you should fairly quickly benefit from a gain in proprioception, strength and flexibility.


Why should you include strength in your practice ? Strength and conditioning are essential for balance and enhance your movement quality. In class, we work on strengthening by consciously connecting and engaging our core, back, leg muscles and glutes rather than simply relying on our joints to stand in a yoga pose. I see this happening too often in yoga classes. When you learn to engage your muscles, your brain is alert and it creates stability throughout. Balancing becomes easier.


What is strength ? It is defined by the ability of muscles to overcome resistance. Strength can also be defined as the amount of force a muscle or a muscle group can exert. It can be divided into two parts dynamic strength and static strength . So you gain strength by engaging in a vinyasa flow as well as holding more static poses for a length of time. Ideally, you will combine both.


The word strength is an attested word from Old English: "strengþu", "strengð." It had a sense of bodily power, vigour and fortitude but also a sense moral endurance.

There are numerous benefits to incorporating strength in your practice.


1) Improving performance: In any given sport but also in real life scenarios such as being able to move with ease and keep the range of movements you currently have to be able to perform all the things you love as you get older. One of my older students, currently in his 70s, who started yoga with me a year ago has improved so much in flexibility, strength, and balance and loves it.


2) Preventing injury: By having a better range of movement, you have less risk of injuring your body in your sport or in real life. If you injure yourself, your recovery will be quicker. You will also have a better proprioception and have a lesser risk of losing your balance. Proprioception is awareness of movement and position of the body into space.


3) Adding quality years to your life: Movement and strength are essential especially with a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting hours at a desk, in the car or on a train, on the sofa, on a chair, reduces the range of movements in and around your hips, pelvis, lower back. Your hip flexors shorten, your lower back gets compressed, you get back pain and your upper back collapses. As your muscles weaken, your whole body gets out of alignment and your body starts to complain in the neck, shoulders, back etc. Your breathing and digestion get affected and you start to feel tired. It is a downward spiral. By adopting a regular yoga practice, you help to address all those issues.


4) Balance: What your body really needs is something like yoga or any other sport you enjoy that helps you counteract all those daily effects. First you need to elongate your tight muscles, mobilise your joints and open the whole of your front body and only then you should start strengthening your back muscles. By opening your front body, decompressing and lengthening your spine, you are allowing your body to get back to its natural alignment.


5) Better health: Everyone knows balanced exercise improves your overall health and wellbeing on a physical and mental, emotional level. In addition, building muscle is known to improve bone density, boost your metabolism, improve sleep, and increase brain health. Numerous studies have shown that strength training can play a role in slowing bone loss, and several show it can even build new bone. To prevent or slow down osteoporosis, there are numerous articles into the benefits of strength training improving bone density with a safe regular yoga practice.


6) Improved posture: Better alignment and stronger muscles improve your posture and your overall body functions including your respiratory system and circulation. Both of which impact your daily energy levels and mood. In yoga, we consistently work on good posture and breathing for our wellbeing.


7) Happy mood: As you exercise, you tone up, you find strength you did not think you had. You build strength and resilience. You feel exhilarated as you push yourself out of your comfort zone and starts to do things you never thought were possible. As you challenge yourself and exert discipline to do your practice regularly, you start to see results. As you get stronger in body and mind, you have more energy and feel happier in yourself. You gain a stronger body, stronger mind, and new confidence: And with the release serotonin and endorphins you feel good !!


8) Team Spirit & Community: When you join a class, you are part of a group. You feel supported and motivated. You create bonds and encourage each other. You grow together and rejoice together. The teacher and your peers are there to support and encourage you. You get individual attention and yet we work as a team to achieve best results.


It is so beneficial for your mind and body to be stimulated and challenged. As well as strength, why not also consider varying the ways you move ? If you tend to always do the same things, you set patterns in the body which limit your movements. Did you know that by doing something different and new, you not only stimulate your body and muscles, but also your coordination, your brain and nervous system get a boost by creating new neural pathways ?


Why not try to mix speed, agility, endurance, mobility, core stability, and weight training in your practice ? Variety is the spice of life to keep your body and mind in tip top shape.


I like to vary my classes by choosing a different theme for each month. We explore and move in different ways. We warm up. We hold poses different length of time. Sometimes we move slowly, sometimes fast. And we take the time to relax, always.


When you change your body and your posture, you also change your mindset. As you become aligned and connected, you feel calmer, focussed, grounded yet light and energised. A better version of yourself which can fire on all cylinders whether it is walking, playing golf, sailing etc.

I offer various online zoom classes such as beginner’s yoga, non-beginners’ yoga, dynamic morning yoga, meditation, Somatics or relaxation. Classes Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays. Group sessions or private tuition available. To find out more, visit www.yogawithbelle.co.uk


To book, simply email yogawithbelletw@gmail.com to receive your Zoom link 24hrs prior to class. Your 1st group class is free. You can sign up for the newsletter to be kept informed of our yoga classes and workshops and follow me on Instagram or Facebook for yoga tips, fun and wisdom.


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"I help my clients to find balance, strength, ease of movement and

peace of mind for a happier life"

Isabelle Leroy, founder of Yoga with Belle