With more and more people turning to Yoga as a way to improve their health and wellbeing, we chat to mother and daughter Yoga teachers of ‘Liz Yoga’ in Tynemouth about their Yoga journey and their passion for moving their classes outside.
In recent years, there has been an increasing trend to practice yoga outdoors & marry the benefits of Yoga with the great outdoors. We already know spending time in nature can have a profound effect on your physical and mental well-being, so by combining that with Yoga you could have the perfect partnership of calm & happiness.
Liz and Louise can regularly be found practising Yoga on the beach at Tynemouth and their weekend classes are always well attended. Liz and Louise took some time out to answer some questions for us:
When did you discover Yoga and can you describe your Yoga journey?
Liz ~ Actually my husband Dave introduced me to it, he went along to a class and came back and said, “You should try that, you would really like it.” That was about 15 years ago and he was right!
Louise ~ It was when my mum and dad moved up to the North East nearly 6 years ago. I wasn’t really interested at first and just went to help with my running. Over time I ended up practising more and more and I guess it became more of a lifestyle. Then last year I followed in my mum’s footsteps and did my yoga teacher training.
Which type of Yoga do you practice and who are your sessions aimed at?
Liz ~ I have practiced and enjoyed lots of different styles of Yoga and like to incorporate aspects from many traditions in my classes. However, my training was based on the Ashtanga practice and this is the main basis of my self-practice and also for my classes. I call my classes ‘Ashtanga Mix’ they are perhaps, not as intense as a pure Ashtanga practice and I try to make them accessible to all levels. We work with the Ashtanga Primary Series but bring in a monthly focus area to work on which means the postures do vary a bit month to month. I do like to teach a Primary led practice for the last weekly classes of each month and also tend to keep the Beach Yoga practice as a shortened Ashtanga sequence.
Louise ~ I mostly practice Ashtanga and I teach based on the Ashtanga Primary Series too – it’s a really intelligent sequence of postures and can be adapted to suit anyone. I think some people find Ashtanga intimidating at first, but as long as you can breathe and move you are doing it right! For me, it’s really a moving meditation and the more you do it, the more it teaches you about yourself. I guess my sessions are aimed at people who want to improve the way their bodies and minds work and connect with themselves better. I teach kids’ classes too, which are lots of fun and a lot less strict than Ashtanga!
What do you find rewarding about being a Yoga teacher? Has Yoga made a difference to your life?
Liz ~ Yoga has been amazing in my life, it gave me a real focus at a time when the kids were all grown up and I wasn’t sure of my identity. I think of it as a whole mind and body workout. Teaching is so rewarding, I have such lovely students and it is great to get to know so many of them better by having events such as the Yoga Breakfast or even just a coffee after class. As a teacher, it’s really important sometimes to step back and watch people practice, it helps me see where they may need help or areas we should work on but also it’s just brilliant to watch the progress your students make and it keeps me on my toes to work on my practice!
Louise ~ Yeah it’s definitely made a difference to my life. It’s helped me understand myself a lot more and made me realise what things are important to me. And of course, it’s made me feel a lot healthier and happier. I’m still quite new to teaching but it’s lovely when students give you nice feedback and it’s always pretty magical when you feel the stillness during savasanaat the end of class.
How do you think Yoga can help people’s Mental Health & general wellbeing?
Liz ~ I think many people are drawn to the physical benefits of Yoga first for example flexibility and strength, but then as you return, again and again, you start to notice the breath, find that focus for the mind and calmness within. When you practice Yoga you become much more aware of your body and mind and find you want to do more things that give you that sense of general well-being throughout your life.
Louise ~ Yeah, a lot of people think Yoga is about being bendy or doing handstands but it’s not at all! Actually, the main purpose of Yoga is to steady the mind. When you practice Yoga you connect movement and breath and this brings stillness to the mind. You learn a lot of lessons on the mat too that you can then take into everyday life. So I think it helps people accept different situations and trains their mind to stay calm no matter what life throws at them.
You teach a lot of classes outside on the beach? How do you find this and what do you think the benefits are to practicing outdoors?
Liz ~ Teaching or practicing Yoga outside or on the beach on a beautiful day is an uplifting and energising experience. We all know how much better we feel just being outside so to practice Yoga in the outdoors as well just adds to that good feeling. If you are practicing outside you feel more at one with nature and you sometimes find it easier to focus inwardly by listening to the wind or sea for instance. However it’s not without challenges, this week we got caught out by the rising tide and had to move mid-practice!
Louise ~ I love teaching and practicing outside! Sometimes it can take a while in a studio to switch off from your thoughts and tune in to the present moment, but when you are surrounded by nature you can’t help but be present.
Where would be your dream location for a Yoga session?
Liz ~ I think I already have it – King Eddies [Tynemouth] early on a sunny day when there is hardly anyone on the beach
Louise ~ I agree! You can’t beat King Edward’s Bay on a sunny day when the tide is out.
What advice would you have for someone thinking about joining a Yoga class for the first time?
Liz ~ Just come along and give it a try, we aim to make our classes welcoming to everyone. Also, I would say don’t worry too much about the other students who seem to know more than you, they were all new once and you will be surprised how quickly you pick up the basics!
Louise ~ Give it a go! Try to let go of any expectations and just take from it whatever you want or need. And if you stick with it you will definitely start to notice the benefits!
For more information on Liz and Louise’s inspiring classes: