Spotlight On… Sarah Spear
1. Describe your yoga journey. Why; who; how?
I first discovered yoga when I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now nearly 18. As my pregnancy progressed, classes had to be put on hold for a while but after she was born I got to a class as soon as I could! My first regular class was held at my local YMCA and I was the youngest in the room by 40 years or so. I am not a naturally flexible person and was unsure at first if this was right for me, having always gone to the gym or step classes [ remember those? ] but the group of ladies I joined were so welcoming and inspiring and the classes bought me a sense of calm and peace I had never felt before. At the time, my baby was very demanding and motherhood was all very new, so a yoga class once a week was a welcome time for me to just breathe and be me.
I started practising at RHY in 2011 and very quickly joined the team behind the desk but it was Denise’s Yin classes which inspired me to want to teach. In 2014 I did my 200 hour Vinyasa training with Jason Crandell and Yin training the following year with Norman Blair.
2. Which is your favourite class to teach?
Yin and Vinyasa… we all need Yin, and we all need Yang.
Yang energy is more energetic – Ashtanga, Vinyasa, hot or flow, even running or cycling, is Yang energy – it is more cardiovascular.
Yin is cooler, deeper and slower, but that doesn’t mean it is easy, it can be a very challenging form of yoga for lots of people, especially if they lead busy [Yang] lifestyles… it can be difficult for some to slow down and just be still.
3. What’s your favourite pose?
This is a bit like asking who is your favourite child… if my daughter or son are reading this… the same!!
In poses it depends on my mood, the time of day, time of the month, the weather. It can be warrior two, it can be pigeon or camel, or savasana! Every day is different. But I hate arm balances… if I am honest, probably a bit scared of them, I practise them quietly by myself but really do not enjoy them in public classes – a work in progress for me!
4. What do you bring to your class that makes it’s unique?
A Red Hot class student once described me as ‘the velvet assassin’!! She said I have a voice that makes you think it will be easy but you soon find it isn’t always the case… I also try to bring a little of everything I have learned from the different disciplines I have trained in – Vinyasa, Yin, Hatha, Forrest – it is all yoga, but a teacher’s delivery can make it special for students.
5. How often do you practice?
Never enough! I try to practise 3 times a week minimum but an ideal week is 5.
6. What are the differences between Yin Classes and Yin Workshops?
Yin classes tend to be 75 or 90 minutes long – if you have practised Yin, you will know that as soon as you cross the threshold of the studio, you step into a sort of time warp, the time passes very quickly – we can be holding poses for anything up to 6 or 7 minutes.
Yin is a complex form of Yoga, we not only stretch the body and focus the mind but it is also has connections with TCM [Traditional Chinese Medicine] so we also tap into the meridians and energy flow [Qi] of the body.
Workshops last 3 hours so I have more time go into much more detail about the meridians, set a seasonal theme around the pair of meridians associated for that time of year as well as using essential oils linked to that season. Yin is a practice of patience and self love, allowing the body to slow down, and you come away from workshops with a tranquility and calmness which can last for days from having had such a deep practice.
7. Top tip for a mindful practise?
Try to leave the outside world at the door when you walk into a studio… that phone can wait for at least an hour
Bring your attention to your breathe and the feeling of being in your body.
8. What would your advice be to beginners?
Don’t be self-conscious about breathing out… we relax on the exhalation breathe. When we breathe out through our mouths, imagine you are fogging up a mirror.
9. How do your workshops/courses enhance students’ practice?
I hope my Yin workshops bring more understanding to the practice. Lots of people who have not tried Yin think it is easy, or restorative – that we just lie around on cushions!! It is much more than that. The props serve as support to allow the body to fully let go into the poses. The more you practise, the easier it becomes to stretch into our fascia and connective tissue, helping us find more length and space in the body and improving our flexibility for our Yang styles of yoga or other activities.
10. How do you relax at the end of the day?
The end of my day currently involves a lot of checking teenagers are revising for A levels & GCSEs… normal family life really. I enjoy cooking and family meals, walking my dogs and gardening… so the end of the day will normally involve one or all of the above and possibly a very cold glass of white wine… it is all about balance :}
Sarah Spear teaches Hot, Yin & Vinyasa classes at Red Hot Yoga – find her on the schedule here. In addition, she has two exciting seasonal Yin Workshops coming up on: Summer Solstice Yin is on 24 June and Autumn Equinox Yin is on 23 September – for details and to book your place click here.