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Meet the teacher

Faith Matthews

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Do you have to be very flexible to do yoga?

No! A lot of people assume yoga is not for them because they’re not naturally flexible, but this is such a missed opportunity. Viniyoga is very much about the relationship between body and breath - if you can breathe you can practice yoga. What I love about the Viniyoga approach is that it is so inclusive – it doesn’t matter what your starting point or background, it can be tailored for you.

So how fit do you have to be before you start?

Any level of fitness is fine - we all have different starting points and Viniyoga respects that. In Viniyoga the idea is to give you chance to really focus upon yourself - we use our breath as a point of focus and by timing our movements with smooth and even breathing we become much more attuned to what’s right for us. This means we can practice safely, according to our own capacity and develop at an appropriate pace.

How does this work in a group class?

​For group teaching, I take everyone through a practice I have designed for that class. But because Viniyoga respects our individuality there isn’t a rigid system of poses that everyone is expected to perform. So, I also give modifications for postures as we go along so that everyone can access the posture in the way that’s right for them. We might all be practicing the ‘same’ asana (posture), but it might take on a different form person to person.


How does this differ to one-to-ones?

With one-to-one teaching sessions, I take time to find out what your specific aims or goals are. If you’re wanting a home practice that’s right for you then an individual lesson is a really good idea.

I aim to understand whether you’re looking to develop strength or flexibility in a particular area or whether your aims are more to do with relieving stress and feeling more balanced, for example. I take your starting point in to account as well as practical factors like the time of day and duration you’ll be practising for. I draw up a bespoke yoga practice that is yours to keep and I take you through this practically to ensure you can get the most from it, and I can develop this practice with you over time as your abilities and goals change.


With it being such an accommodating form of yoga can I still expect to see an improvement in my fitness?

Viniyoga takes a mindful approach to movement. That means that although gentle it can also be quite deep.

For general classes, I choose a theme or focus for each group, which we then work on across each few weeks, meaning that with commitment students will see a development in this area across each period.

In one to ones, you will feel improvement in the very specific areas you’ve decided that you want to focus on, and you can change and add to these as you feel yourself improving.

Whatever the setting, by taking time to emphasise correct alignment and by using the breath effectively to support us, postures can be accessed deeply and in a sustainable way with long term developmental results.

What would you say to someone who was nervous about coming to yoga for the first time?

It’s not uncommon to feel a little self-conscious in your first yoga class. I encourage everyone to view classes as an individual experience and to not worry about what anyone else is doing. Sessions are a brilliant opportunity to focus upon and come back to yourself. And yoga practice really is just that – a practice not a performance.


How did you get in to practising, and teaching yoga? 

I came to yoga when I was struggling to sustain my wellbeing; juggling a career and family. I attended local yoga class on a whim and it was the only night that week that I slept! By attending weekly, I began to feel more connected to myself and more relaxed. It was really transformative. Over time, I felt more settled and more resilient in other aspects of life. I knew yoga was a practice that would sustain me and it has done so through times of stress, bereavement and big life decisions. Finding yoga so positive, I naturally began to immerse myself in it further, reading and taking courses. I was fascinated by this ancient tradition and teachings that were clearly so applicable to our modern-day lives. I knew I wanted to share with others the tools that were so beneficial to me. Three years later, I taught my first yoga class.

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