A Q&A with Nathalie Joel-Smith
Tuesday nights are now home to Embodied Vinyasa, a new class at 7pm with teacher Nathalie Joel-Smith. Curious about what an embodied class is? We asked Nathalie for a little more info on this practice, and what led her towards it.
Q: What is Embodied Vinyasa Yoga?
A: Embodied Vinyasa is less about the shapes we make with asana (poses), and more about the experience we have within and moving between these shapes. It is a flowing practice that invites you into a deeper awareness of being in your body, it is a way of sensing, moving and arriving throughout a Yoga class, to cultivate presence and improve your relationship with yourself, your body and your life.
Throughout a class, the embodied experience is guided in a number of ways:
- experiencing your anatomy - Information about your bones, muscles and connective tissue is offered as guidance for how you move through the practice, so you can feel it! Explore how your body is designed to move, how you can find more efficiency and what feels good for your individual body.
- curiosity and exploration - Becoming aware of bodily sensations and letting go of how things 'should' look, this flowing practice is an exploration of how things feel. Through a variety of movement possibilities, we get curious and find new pathways. This becomes a metaphor for how we live our lives, which is part of what it means to be embodied.
- ground and space - The relationship between gravity, the ground, your body and how you move through space is explored. This helps improve mobility, strength and function. It allows you to become more in tune with yourself and your surroundings, and creates the conditions for shifts in mood and energy.
Q: What can people expect from your Tuesday night class?
A: To move through a nourishing practice, learn something new and access the wisdom of their body. Expect interesting, exploratory and juicy sequencing, guided with a special blend of encouragement, compassion and playfulness
Q: What feedback have you had from people in the first few classes?
I’ve had some great feedback from students so far. One lady said that life feels full of jerky movements, and it felt so good in her body to do something smooth. Others have commented on the link with mindfulness, and how relieving for the mind it is to really tune into the body, and move in ways that feel spacious, supported and self-aware.
Q: Tell us a little about your journey into teaching yoga and embodied vinyasa.
A: I started Yoga 20 years ago, as a teenager with a back injury. It became obvious early on that Yoga alleviated anxiety, which was revelatory for me. My original and still beloved Yoga teacher (Julie Martin) transitioned from ashtanga to vinyasa flow, and I followed her journey, eventually training with her in India. On returning to London I found a mentor in Mollie McClelland Morris, who works with the Franklin Method which encompasses embodied function, and my practice evolved from this. I then studied Space and Flow with Raphan Kebe, which had a significant impact on how I moved and taught Yoga. I have been to many workshops along the way with different teachers, wherever something captures my interest, all of which has placed its own special inspiration in the pot!
All of this has landed with me in beautiful ways that feel wonderful in my body and have created huge shifts mentally and emotionally, allowing my relationship with myself and my life to evolve. This is a ongoing process, and I would say embodiment is now at the heart of how I live my life.
Q: What do you enjoy doing when you're not on the yoga mat?
A: I trained as an actress, dancer and singer, and am still engaged with this, whether it be performing myself, or working with artists in the realms of embodiment. I write poetry and songs (and the occasional rap!). I also very much enjoy red wine, chips and chocolate, usually in that order. The love of my life is a Bullmastiff called Hugo - a 60kg dog who behaves like a teddy bear.
Join Nathalie for Embodied Vinyasa, 7-8:15pm on Tuesdays