What on earth is Zen Yoga?!

In a way it doesn’t really matter what Zen yoga is – you probably just want to know what to expect in a class – but you’re here now so I’ll give you the short version and then you can decide if it might be something you’d like to try. 

There’s a lot of different yoga classes out there – some old, some new, some bright and shiny, some really helpful. So, whilst a label can help – ashtanga yoga tends to be pretty dynamic, restorative or yin tends to be slow – really we all put our own individual twist on how we teach according to our own journey – so I think you need to know a little about me, a little about Zen yoga and then mostly about how this merges into what happens in my classes.

I was a Maths teacher with a passion for well-being, who went from sneakily teaching meditation and happiness alongside Maths, to burning out. At 50 I retrained as a Zen yoga teacher after using yoga to heal my body. I continue to use yoga, mediation, positive psychology, Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness and anything else that excites and might be helpful to continue my long recovery and share what I learn to help you (if you’re interested that is.)

So, to answer your Zen yoga question – it’s a form of movement that comes from the Zen Buddhist tradition, with a focus on mindfulness of the body as opposed to, maybe, trying to get spookily flexible (so if that’s what you’re after I’d maybe stop reading and check out another yoga teacher). For me, bringing an attitude of curiosity and kindness to my movement, and my daily life, has been transformative. 

So, what happens in my classes? My classes tend to be calm, quiet and very welcoming. I work hard to create space which feels nourishing and safe. I emphasise bringing kindness and curiosity to your movement as you go on a journey of discovery through your body. Each class is slightly different, depending on the season or people’s needs, with enough of an underlying regular structure to allow you to relax into it, with enough variation to keep you interested and challenged (at least that’s the aim anyway!)

You can expect lying, sitting and standing movement. Positions to deeply relax and movement to energise. Some movement may remind you of a more traditional yoga class, some of Qigong and some will be completely new. Whatever we do, you only ever do what is appropriate and available to you. No beasting your body in a wish for it to look or feel different than it is – there are plenty of opportunities for that elsewhere. This is about kindness and acceptance. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It does mean it’s great for befriending your body after illness or injury, or because you’ve ignored the signals about sitting at a desk for too long and now need to find a way to let go of all that tension!

Quick summary! My classes are a little different so if you’re curious please book a trial before signing up for a whole term.

Great for you if you’ve not been moving as much as maybe you should have been and want to get started (before you get any stiffer!); are dealing with chronic pain or getting older and feeling unsure about how to incorporate some movement into your life; are really interested in mindfulness or want to improve your relationship with your body and yourself; want a way to unwind from every day stresses; want to experience a different style of movement practice; would appreciate some space to slow down and reconnect with yourself.

May not be for you if you’re looking for a more traditional yoga class; you’re primary goal is to change your body in some way; you want to sweat and burn calories; you have no interest in anything I am saying…

I want happy committed students and will happily recommend a different teacher if my class isn’t for you. Otherwise, if you’ve read this far (thank you) please do come and join us. It would be lovely to see you!

Heidi Marke with Rosie and Nutmeg