In Guernsey, holistic wellbeing has long been considered at the heart of good health...
Bootcamp austerity and deprivation are alien concepts on this tranquil island...
Here amongst the flower-filled meadows, sandy beaches and bird-rich hedgerows the ultimate goal is to feel the serenity of calm inner peace.
Yoga has a long history on Guernsey and the centuries-old health ethos attracts legions of dedicated disciples - both experienced and novices alike. Bringing flexibility and renewed physical and emotional strength, yoga has been tried and tested over thousands of years by millions of people. In Guernsey a variety of styles are practiced in a number of diverse venues and locations, with the focus on channelling energy through spinal chakras in order to achieve a beneficial balance. Health benefits, such as the management of tension and stress, are enhanced by the scenic splendour when sunny outdoor classes are held on soft, secluded sands.
At Power Yoga, under the tutorage of Caroline Wickham, meditative techniques combine with slow, defined movements in a discipline that mixes ancient oriental philosophical principles with breathing and stretching as a precise art. Classes at Shakti Shala Yoga with seasoned yoga practitioner Sheila Maubec centre on the wellness powers of graceful, repetitive, coordinated movements that ‘tune in’ to the life force of Guernsey’s vibrant native flora and fauna: an energising experience that resonates with a strong sense of ‘being’.
Unlike other physical pursuits, yoga needn’t purely be enjoyed as beneficial to the body but also as adding new dimensions to spiritual depth and growth. Couples seeking ways to enjoy a greater bond can use yoga to feel closer to each other, physically and emotionally.
If all this sounds a bit New Age then fear not - even serious yoga sessions with Alice Marshall at Alice Yoga have light-hearted fun as a core component - laughter, after all, provides an incredible boost to good health, especially when combined with a series of slow yoga poses (asanas) under flickering lanterns and melodic wind chimes on a wave-sculpted coast. At Kings Premier Health Club outdoor yoga sessions, a very special alchemy occurs when stretches are achieved with a gentle breeze and birdsong for a soundtrack. Nothing compares to the invigoration of feeling the early morning sun on your skin - an energising sunrise tonic that rewards a body with a vitality surge that lasts ‘till sundown. So if you are intrigued to sample the yoga experience the Islands' have to offer for yourself, then do pop in and they will welcome you, depending on class size and availability.
Kings Premier Health Club
Guernsey Power Yoga
Shakti Shala Yoga
Michael Wegerer Yoga
Keen to practice some yogic stretches on board? Then try these easy-to-follow armchair yoga movements suitable for all ages and types. Yoga is gentle with the focus on relaxing the muscles of the shoulders, back, chest and neck to help decrease tension and increase relaxation and well-being.
FIRST - in a sitting position, slowly and gently, for around five minutes, inhale deeply and steadily with diaphragmatic breaths to help restore order and calm to an overactive mind. With your hands on either side of the rib cage below the chest, feel the rib cage expand and contract as the breath reaches deep into the belly.
SHOULDER ROLL - helps to release accumulated tension across the shoulders by gently moving the shoulders forward, up towards the ears and back whilst you inhale. On the exhale, circle the shoulders down and back to the front in a synchronized, steady circular movement with deep, slow breathing. After 10 to 15 circles, repeat the motion in the opposite direction.
NECK STRETCH - sit up tall with your chin level as you lengthen your neck slowly, dropping the right ear towards the right shoulder whilst the other shoulder is held still. Feel the gentle stretch along the left side of the neck; to deepen it, place the right hand on top of the head and press gently to the right. Repeat the stretch on the opposite side.
BACK STRETCH - this tension-easing seated twist helps soothe the muscles of the lower and upper back with a stretching massage. Sit up straight in your chair with a couple of inches between your back and the seat rest. While inhaling, lengthen the spine as far as you’re comfortably able, then gently twist the upper body to the right on the exhale. Center your body and repeat on the other side. Repeat 10 - 15 times.
CHEST STRETCH - a gentle move to help with poor posture and a forward slump, often the result of sitting at a computer. Place your hands out in front, holding the back of a chair for support. Then, allow the chest to drop forward slightly while you puff out the sternum and rib cage. Curl the shoulders back behind you and breathe in steadily and deeply. Exhale slowly and repeat 5 -10 times.