Calm and Ease
Heather Till Yoga offers classes streamed online
At a young age, HEATHER TILL would watch her mom practice yoga on their living room floor and occasionally make fun of the positions she was in, fast forward to today and Till finds herself offering yoga for people to destress, reach goals, and find wellness.
Heather Till Yoga is a Wilmington studio that had roots planted in 2000 when it began as Heartsong Yoga.
Founder Till says she was motivated to start the studio to help others feel better and experience a different way to be in their bodies.
“I had always planned on going into the field of dance therapy, but ‘bumped’ into yoga therapy along the way and saw the vast benefits that this practice could offer people who were suffering from chronic pain, injuries, anxiety and so many other illnesses,” she says.
A few years ago, she added a virtual yoga studio to the practice which has become timely during this stay-at-home period.
Currently, yoga classes at Heather Till Yoga are being offered via livestream through Zoom or Facebook.
Classes include restorative yoga, chair yoga, prenatal yoga, among others, as well as family yoga, “Sweet Dreams Bedtime Yoga + Music,” and “Mid-Day Mindful Moments” on Facebook Live.
“All of my classes are grounded in mindfulness-based yoga that seeks to meet the student where they are,” Till says.
Some of the yoga classes are accompanied by music played by her husband Perry Smith.
Streaming her classes online has given Till a way to offer relief during these stressful times, she says
Till shares tips for those wanting to start practicing yoga and for de-stressing while stuck at home.
WILMA: Do you have advice for people wanting to start practicing yoga?
Till: “It can be a little confusing because there are so many different types of yoga and what works for one person, may not work for another. I’ve seen a lot of people get injured or be turned off from yoga because they had a bad first experience. I think a few things are really important. Number one is that you are never too old or too inflexible to learn yoga. I always say that if you can breathe, you can do yoga and yoga will help you to be able to potentially touch your toes, but keep in mind that the practice is in the journey not the destination (in this case, the toes). Here are a few tips for beginners:
What is your goal? Do you want to increase your flexibility, improve your balance, recover from an injury or illness, relax an overstressed mind and nervous system, strengthen your core…knowing these things will help you in choosing the class that best fits your current needs. Of course, yoga, in general, will address all of these needs, but perhaps a restorative yoga class v. a vinyasa yoga class, or a chair yoga class v. a floor yoga class, or a meditation class v. an asana (physical postures) class would be more appropriate.
Know your body. Are you a brand new beginner to movement, an athlete or somewhere in between? What are any current injuries or limitations that you might have? These things will determine where you start. I almost always recommend looking for a gentle or beginning level class with a qualified teacher that moves at a slower pace and focuses on more of the fundamentals of posture and breathwork. This gives the student time to feel and understand how the yoga practice fits into their unique body rather than trying to force their body into a position that may not be healthy for them (or at least not at this time). As they get more familiar with the practice, they might branch out and try more physically vigorous classes if that’s ultimately what they are looking for.
Find a good teacher. Just like anything in life, you have to find the right fit for you. I recommend trying out different teachers and different styles of yoga to find someone and a practice that you really click with, that you feel supports you where you are, and that is able to gently and confidently move you forward toward your goals.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s a human thing to compare ourselves to others and feel like we’re not ‘good enough’ or ‘doing it right.’ Yoga is a practice, there is no perfect pose or perfect way to do the practice. Let yourself be curious, explore, play, find out how the practice fits into your body and life and enjoy yourself along the way.”
WILMA: What are some tips/advice for people to de-stress at home during the coronavirus?
Till: “Now, more than ever, it’s essential that we take time for our self-care and well-being. This is a really unique time where there are so many options available for people to find online resources for taking a break, whether that’s enjoying a virtual museum tour, learning how to cook pasta with an Italian granny, or practicing meditation. Some of my go-to tips/tools are:
Turn off the TV or stop scrolling. Give your brain and nervous system a break. It’s good to be well informed but at some point, we need to step away from the fear and chaos to regroup and reset to the present moment.
Breathe. Take a few deep, slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth with a long soft sigh. Feel your eyes soften, your shoulders drop, and your belly relax. Do this as often as you need to.
Practice Mindful Moments. Stop what you’re doing. Notice your surroundings. What’s right here, right now in this moment. What do you hear? (birds singing? fan blowing? children laughing?) What do you feel? (cool air on your skin? your hips on the chair? hungry belly?) Are you breathing? What thoughts or emotions are you aware of? Presence yourself here. Welcome the moment in just as it is. Know that you are not your thoughts and emotions, they are just sensations traveling through you. Keep coming back to what’s here now. Keep coming back to your breath. This can be something that you do throughout your day. Just pause and notice the moment.
Move Your Body. Change it up. Go for a walk or run, have a spontaneous dance party in your kitchen, pull up a yoga video or just shake it off (literally shake the stress off). Movement creates a new perspective and possibilities in the brain and nervous system. If you’re feeling trapped by stress and anxiety, change your position, move to a new room in your house, look out the window, bounce your heels up and down (or if you have a mini-trampoline hop on it for a few minutes), just get your energy moving. Movement is medicine for your body and mind.
Get Outside. If you live in a place where you can go outside, do it, socially distanced of course. The balcony, the back yard, the woods, whatever bit of nature you can get into. Breathe the fresh air, feel the sunshine on your body, put your bare feet on the earth. There are countless health benefits from unplugging and getting back to nature that show reduction in stress and a boost in immunity.
Gratitude and Appreciations. With all of the uncertainty and confusing information around us right now, tensions can run high. You might notice that you are a little more short-tempered than usual (or is that just me?). I’ve found a daily practice of gratitude to be very helpful in setting the tone for the day and releasing stress at the end of the day. You might simply jot down in a journal 3-5 things you are grateful for either in the morning before you get out of bed or in the evening before you go to bed (or both). Similarly, my husband and I have started a practice of appreciating each other. You could invite your whole family to do this over an evening meal, or your Zoom book club could start every meeting with appreciations. Simply share an honest appreciation of the person across from you and if you are the one receiving the appreciation, let it land. In other words, don’t be modest and just shuck it off. Really let yourself receive the love and appreciation. This helps move us from criticism and fear into love and acceptance (and it does wonders for your relationship that might be a little taxed during this time).
Eat Well and Stay Hydrated. I know we all want to eat all the junk food right now. But even if you can just drink a little more water throughout the day or add some extra greens to your next meal (I’m a big fan of green smoothies and green drinks to get the essentials in), it will help support your body, mood, and energy levels. Try to eat more nutrient-dense meals when you can. Personally, I’ve had to up my water and greens intake to help combat stress levels and it’s made all the difference in the world in my ability to get through the day with a little more calm and ease.
Laugh Often. Did you know that laughter yoga is a real thing? It’s true! So whether you’re watching funny cat videos, your favorite stand-up comic on Netflix, taking a virtual laughter yoga class or belly laughing with a good friend (even through livestream) you are helping to relieve stress, build resiliency, and it gives you hope that you can and will get through this challenging time.
Yoga and Meditation. I would be remiss if I did not mention these essential tools for well-being. There are many online resources for yoga and meditation (even for kids too) that show you simple ways to stay calm, get better sleep, improve your mood, and boost your immune system.”
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