A modern approach to yoga and Pilates

YOGA    I teach straightforward, unflashy yoga rooted in Hatha traditions of using physical practice – postures, movements and breath work – to develop presence and ease. Some days, the work can be strong and muscular, building functional strength and flexibility; other days, it can be exceedingly soft and internalised.

However body-centred this kind of yoga might be, it is underpinned by close observation of the fluctuations of your mind. In fact this is probably the hardest part – noticing when you’ve wandered off with your thoughts and returning to what you’re doing, which is simply putting your body into different positions and breathing.

I encourage students to practise simply for the sake of it, as a means of exploring the art of being fully present, dropping any notions of achieving anything, be it a healthy body, or a chilled mind, or some notion of “enlightenment” or “liberation”.

These things might happen, almost as byproducts of the practice, but grasping after them as goals is a fool’s errand. Far better simply to practise experiencing what’s happening moment by moment, whether in a posture or through a more deliberate meditation.

PILATES   If you want a different, perhaps consistently stronger kind of physical workout – although also an extremely mindful one – consider Pilates. The system originally developed by Joseph Pilates last century was essentially a series of 34 mat-based exercises but has evolved over the decades into a much wider-ranging form of training that makes you strong and flexible.

The 34 classical mat Pilates exercises are at the heart of the way I teach it, but I also incorporate work from the reformer on the mat series – floor-based expressions of techniques used on Pilates equipment – as well as movements from a broad range of other methods including Hung Kuen kung fu, Original Strength and Foundation Training. The result is a fun, effective full-body workout that is accessible and adaptable to just about any body.

MY APPROACH   While I provide detailed guidance in the methods of yoga and Pilates, the most important thing I try to encourage in students is self empowerment. This means truly embracing the idea that every human body is unique and that the best way to carry out any movement or posture is your own way. In other words, you don't try to make your body suit the work; you try to make the work suit your body. Sounds simplistic, but it's very liberating. It's a recognition of the fact that however much I might be able to inspire, teach or encourage you, you are in fact your own best teacher.

MY QUALIFICATIONS    I have internationally recognised industry qualifications: a Level 3 Diploma in Yoga Teaching, certified by ITEC, and a YMCA-certified Level 3 Diploma in Teaching Pilates. I remain a constant student, learning from a wide range of teachers and texts, but, even more importantly, from my personal practice, which is where I test all the theory I learn and the source from which all that I offer flows. I teach nothing that I do not practise myself. This is my real qualification, of more value, I believe, than any piece of paper.

PRACTISE WITH ME    Apart from the classes I teach for staff and pupils at a school in my neighbourhood, I have suspended all of my in-person group lessons for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, I offer regular weekly sessions on Zoom (details here).

If you happen to be near me in East London, I am also able to offer socially distanced one-to-one sessions, depending on current rules and advice on household bubbles etc. If you're interested in this, please get in touch for more information; telephone, text or WhatsApp 07917 468 647, email yogayelvy@gmail.com.

Martin Yelverton | Buckhurst Hill | Tel: 07917 468647 | Email: yogayelvy@gmail.com