Nadia’s a bit of a legend around these parts, teaching yoga in Nappy Valley for fourteen years now. She co-founded Battersea Yoga, an independent yoga and meditation studio on Cambridge Road, with her partner Angus Ford-Robertson and for the last few years she has been running her own yoga business, 'Nadia Raafat for yoga, mindfulness and birth education'. Many of the mammas in Nappy Valley know Nadia well in her role as a doula, and pregnancy yoga teacher and some of you may have seen her yoga and mindfulness for pregnancy DVDs too.
For those of you who are confused by all the different strands of yoga – Hatha is probably best described as the traditional yoga that all the other strands derive from. It includes the practice of Asanas (yoga poses), Pranayama (breathing exercises) and Savasana (relaxation) which collectively energise, mobilise and integrate the mind and body preparing the practitioner for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation.
Nadia’s class is for a mixed range of abilities - although not ideal for absolute beginners. I noticed a mix of age ranges there from 30-something to 60 something; and men practising alongside women.
The pace was slow and mindful; with plenty of guidance given to focus on the breath whilst holding positions for a little longer. But don’t let that slow pace fool you – it is a full work out or 'work in' as Nadia calls it (but more on that later) and you will most certainly feel the burn.
There were other yogis in there already, but I may as well have been in there alone, the atmosphere was so quiet and calm. Some people were chatting, some lying on the floor, stretched out on their backs in the Savasana pose (or corpse pose - this is a relaxation position) or maybe they were just having a quick snooze (who knows), everyone was unwinding from a long day in the best way for them. I quietly found a mat and stretched my tired body out in preparation for Nadia’s class.
Very quickly whatever was bothering me that day became a distant memory. Nadia’s mantra is that yoga is a ‘work in’ not a ‘work out’ and at that moment, it couldn’t have been more true. I became acutely aware of being in my body, being with my breath, my thoughts, my aches, my pains, my breath and through it all a rising sense of calm.
Nadia explained why we were doing each movement and how it would improve our body awareness or function. It was easy to follow her cues and enjoy the session.
As I looked round the room I could see that everyone was in their own zone - just as I was. It felt like I was having an individual session with Nadia, even though I was sharing the hall with twenty plus others and that in itself is magic!
Nadia is offering NappyValleyNet readers a free introductory class- just bring a print out the flyer (pictured above).