Janel’s classes are guided by FIVE basic principles:
Your breath is a physiological necessity. Akin to your heartbeat, your breath keeps you alive moment to moment. Many of us take the breath for granted; we assume it will always be there and so we shut off the parts of our brain that need to think about it. But if we take the time to be conscious of how we breathe throughout the day, we may notice how our breathing shifts based on what we are thinking, the situations we are in, the people we are with or what we are doing.
How you breathe can tell you important information about the current state of your mind and by extension even the current state of your life. I emphasize breath as a tool for self-exploration and breath as an entry point into the present moment.
We move all day. But the movements we use on a daily basis are often only a small subset of the movements our bodies are actually capable of. For example, if you are reading this on a laptop or a phone, you may be hunched over a chair or a bed or slouching as you stand. Your wrists may be resting on a table as you type or scroll with your finger on a screen. These are the kinds of general movements and postures we utilize in our contemporary lives. But our bodies – our joints, our muscles, our ligaments – are capable of a wide range of movements that we aren’t using! In my classes, I emphasize yoga as a way to explore all the movements and postures that our bodies are capable of. I emphasize counter-postures and counter-movements to the routine movements we utilize. This means that I emphasize shoulder rotations to release tension from the shoulder girdle, hip openers to counter the closed hip postures we take while sitting at a desk or standing all day long, wrist flexibility to prevent injury, ankle flexibility to strengthen and stretch lower body muscles and many more.
Body awareness is an internal understanding of where the body is in space. In neurology, we refer to this form of body awareness as proprioception, which is an integrated function of both the central and peripheral nervous system working together to help us move in our physical space. In my yoga classes, we expand and elaborate on this idea of body awareness to also incorporate having an understanding of our movements and physical sensations. Fostering body awareness helps us understand our bodies, their daily habits, and their cycles. I emphasize body awareness in order to help you trust that your body can give you important signals on how you are feeling. Through guided meditation and yoga postures, we explore how different emotional states correlate to physical sensations in our body. We also learn how to observe body sensations and incorporate this awareness so we may cultivate body acceptance and healthy body image.
Safe alignment is key to learning how to move intelligently. I sprinkle little bits of anatomy knowledge throughout my classes. It is common for me to occasionally walk around studio space during classes to observe posture. I will normally emphasize contracting your transverse abdominal muscles while standing to help you practice strengthening that deepest abdominal layer (which can help when getting into poses like Navasana/Boat Pose or Adho Mukha Vrksasana/Handstand). I will demonstrate neutral pelvic alignment to help you understand what a neutral pelvis feels like in your body. By teaching safe alignment, I provide a safe and effective environment for all my students to explore movement in a way that helps them not only to prevent injury, but also to foster a joy in the sensation of movement.
My classes are non-judgmental spaces for self-exploration, self-reflection and fun. I teach the importance of focusing on your needs and keeping your minds on your own mats. No comparing your practice to someone else! Yoga is about turning inward so keep your minds where you mats are. I emphasize the real definition of an “advanced yogi”. A advanced yogi is a person who knows there body. It is not the person who can do a handstand and not the person who can get into the most complicated twisted yoga pose. Let me repeat: a master yogi knows her or his body. That’s it! That’s why it’s so important to focus on you and your body.