Focus Magazines The local magazines for Abergavenny, Crickhowell, Brecon & Talgarth – Events, News and Advertising
In our new Guest Column, we invite yoga practioner Jane Reynolds to talk about Yoga.

I began to do yoga 30 years ago because I had a sit-down-office-job, I needed to move and I loathe all competitive sports.  I found a class in Queen Square in London, with a beautiful lady called Felicia, and off I went. (Don’t be fooled, by the way.  Just because she was beautiful and called Felicia, she taught yoga in Pentonville and Wormwood Scrubs prisons as well).

Yoga is a revelation.  Although it’s non-competitive, it is very demanding of your attention, your concentration ….. that word that is now so popular – of your MINDFULNESS. If you want a short definition of mindfulness, we have a saying in yoga, ‘Be here, now.’  That’s all it is.  Being here, in this moment, and being aware of it. It’s much harder than it sounds.  Most of us are away planning, making lists, rehearsing difficult conversations with the boss, making judgements (‘what is she wearing?’) and preparing dinner menus.

The other big difference between yoga and other forms of physical exercise is the link it forges between mind and body, and it does this by using the breath.  When we do an exercise in yoga, we co-ordinate the physical posture with the breath.  When you use the breath and the body together, you calm the mind.  Calming the mind, with its endless chitchat, is what yoga is all about.
Most of us only breathe at the top of our lungs, around the collar bone area.  But our lungs take up most of the space in our rib cage!  They are there to be used, to be filled with wonderful, life-giving breath.  Yoga helps us to relearn how to breathe to our full capacity.

The relationship between body and mind is a two way street.  You know when you are tense or stressed, you feel a tightening in your shoulders and neck.  When you are nervous you get butterflies in your tummy.  When you feel angry but you can’t express it, you clench your jaw.  These knots of emotion have a physical impact on your body.  Imagine being able to let go of all this tension by stretching and mobilising your body using specific yoga postures, and breathing.
I invite you to try this simple exercise before you go to bed at night:


  1. Lie on the floor with your legs bent, your feet flat on the floor about hip width apart and a comfortable distance away from your body.
  2. Have your arms by your sides, palms facing down.
  3. Keep your chin tucked in.
  4. Breathe in, slowly and deeply and raise your arms until the backs of your hands are on the floor behind you. (You can keep the elbows bent and take the arms wider apart if you need to).
  5. Breathing out, slowly and mindfully, lower the arms.
  6. Try to co-ordinate the arm movement with the breath.  Concentrate on making the hands touch down at the very moment you finish an in-breath or an out-breath. Focus on your breathing.  Do this three or four times.
  7. Sleep well.


Article by Jane Reynolds

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