Return to a regular yoga flow is one of the most wonderful things to come out of my time in lockdown . In particular, a yoga practice steeped in Vinyasa tradition thanks to teachers spanning the globe who have taken to online platforms to teach their students past and present. And so I found myself connecting with a teacher who once guided me through some sweaty sessions in Sydney but who has now set up home in Bordeaux, France (how wonderful is technology indeed!)
Claire Farrance has been practicing yoga for 8 years, 6 of those as a teacher, and we first met at a local yoga studio in my home suburb. What Claire probably doesn’t know is that her lunchtime ‘donation’ classes saved me. I’d gone through a bad breakup (as most of them are) and was depleted of energy of body. mind and spirit. Her classes were like a homecoming to me – I hadn’t done yoga since high school – and allowed me to let go of the past and be open to the future. It’s rather ironic that I’ve returned at another moment of ‘crisis’.
“Yoga can help teach us how to really be with ourselves” explains Claire, “even during times that are challenging and uncomfortable. By practicing awareness of how we’re moving and breathing and where our attention is going, we learn to live in the moment as it is, without feeling like we have to change anything or to deny certain feelings.”
Claire has also noticed the effect of lockdown. Many are exploring yoga for the first time or practicing more, but others have stopped practicing altogether. “For some, these new circumstances meant yoga at home wasn’t a possibility or they just didn’t feel like it. And that’s absolutely OK,” she says.
And while lockdown has afforded Claire the time to enjoy a longer practice again – believing a well-rounded yoga flow doesn’t have to be a full 60 minutes – she has relished the unlimited time constraints to just get on the mat and see what happens.
“My preferred ‘style’ of yoga is Vinyasa and my philosophy within that is ‘Slow down and pay attention. Be in your experience’. I try to incorporate this into my everyday life off the mat too, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t!”
Unlimited time also gives us a chance to focus in on those poses we’ve longed to master or just really love to do, and for Claire that’s Wheel Urdhva Dhanurasana. Drawn to the ultimate “back-bender”, Wheel pose opens up the whole front line of the body which feels great for those of us working from home after prolonged periods of sitting. At the same time it strengthens the back line of the body to help counteract the effects of said sitting such as slumped shoulders, weakened hamstrings and glute muscles, not to mention cramped hip flexors.
For Claire, though Wheel does require a lot of warming up, the after effects of this pose meant a dramatic boost in energy – something many of us miss being cooped up indoors. And it is this boost in energy that has seen me take to the mat for a Vinyasa flow most days. I’m loving strengthening poses such as Chaturanga Dandasana but also side and heart opening poses such as Extended Side Angle Pose Utthita Parsvakonasana.
“As life slowly regains its rhythm after lockdown, I’m trying to find a balance between maintaining a leisurely way of life and being in the real world again!” Claire explains. Aren’t we all just.
Claire Farrance is owner of Claire Farrance Yoga & Pilates. #skinfitsister