The benefits of practising yoga are unlimited. From increasing your flexibility and improving joint health to boosting your emotional and mental wellbeing, yoga is a great, gentle way to bring natural health and wellness to your body and mind. And there are so many different classes to choose from, such as Astanga, Bikram, Hatha, Iyengar, Kundalini, Vinyasa and so on.
But we were curious about Zen yoga, whose traditions are rooted in Zen Buddhism, so we headed along to one of Positive Change Yoga’s Day Retreats in Dysart – led by yoga instructor Scott Hutchison-McDade.
We learned that Zen yoga takes influence from lots of different types of yoga – sometimes adopting traditonal postures and, at other times, adding its own unique twist. That we can expect a range of movements and sequences in Zen yoga – some of which will be familiar and others which may be completely new. There are elements of Qi Gong included in Scott’s classes, for example, which blend effortlessly with the fluidity of a number of traditional yoga sequences.
Scott makes the class feel at ease and prepares us for a meditation.
“Don’t worry about emptying your mind,” he reassures. “It’s impossible. Your mind is like a train station. Trains (aka thoughts) will come and go but as long as you don’t get on and follow their journey, it’s perfectly fine.”
After the meditation, we practise some classic Qi Gong moves, followed by balance work, squats and traditional stretches. It’s tough but, as Scott would say, it’s also beautiful and incredibly awesome.
After a plant-based lunch, we practise Yoga Nidra, otherwise known as Yogic Sleep. We get comfortable under blankets and drift into a meditative state while trying our best to stave off sleep and wandering thoughts.
“If you find your mind wandering, or if sleep comes, just reconnect with my voice,” says Scott.
The result is thoroughly chilled – and one that’s worth giving a go if…
a) you don’t take yoga too seriously
b) want to experience a myriad of movements, postures and benefits
c) want to feel more spirituality connected with yourself and the world at large
d) want to have the option whether to take things at a slower pace or step it up a gear
e) you are there to release tension, unleash your emotions and explore your best possible self
f) want the full experience e.g. incense, candles, drums, gongs, crystals, yoga, mantras, meditation, chanting and so on…
g) want to feel the love