East Croydon Cool talks… is a new blog series that explores topics of cultural interest via local area experts.
Yoga may be an ancient practice but it’s popularity has soared in recent years (and last year it became one of the most popular words in the UK!) According to a 2016 Yoga Journal report, the yoga and pilates business brings in £812m a year in the UK and globally is now worth over £74 billion.
This month we spoke to Samantha Kruger, Founder and ‘Chief Energy Officer’ at Croydon Power Yoga, to learn a little more about the world of yoga.
Sam originally worked within the financial sector in the City, but six years ago, found herself a little stressed out and decided to try yoga. She never looked back. Not only did a regular practice help her overcome her daily stresses from city work-life but it also helped her overcome anxiety and ultimately become a happier person. She toned up, became physically stronger and no longer suffers from regular colds. Having personally witnessed the life-changing effects of yoga she decided she wanted to share this experience with others.
In 2016, she trained with Hot Power Yoga founded by Dylan Ayaloo and now holds a 200-hour Power Vinyasa Yoga teacher training certificate (accredited by Yoga Alliance). She continues her personal practice, mentoring regularly with Dylan at Hot Power Yoga.
1) How did you get into Yoga?
10 years ago I did my first class and was instantly hooked. It gave me space to connect to my breath, body and heart in a way I’d never been able to before. I suffered from stress and anxiety at the time and through regular practice I found a way to manage it. It has truly changed my life for the better.
2) What are the different types of yoga?
The style I teach is Power Vinyasa. Vinyasa is the most athletic yoga style. In these classes, movement is coordinated with your breath and movement to flow from one pose to another. Ashtanga and Bikram are also challenging styles. Hatha, Yin and Restorative yoga are slower paced. Kundalini and Jivamukti are the more spiritual styles of yoga. Iyengar yoga focuses on alignment, and poses are held for longer.
3) What are the main benefits of the practice?
Increased flexibility, mental focus, cardiovascular conditioning and muscle development. More importantly, it improves sleep, reduces stress, and relieves anxiety. Power Vinyasa classes are active, which helps the majority of Londoners who sit for long periods of time, which makes your joints stiff and contributes to weight gain and chronic disease. Yoga calms the mind, through focussing entirely on the breath, movement and pose sequences, ultimately the practise forms as part of a moving meditation.
4) Yoga appears to attract more women than men, why do you think this is?
I think guys see mostly girls in yoga classes and so believe it’s just for girls. But this is changing thankfully, as I have had many guys join my classes. Many think they’re not flexible enough to practice and that it’s not a real workout. But ultimately, the health benefits you get from yoga are particularly relevant for men, the lower blood pressure, relief from depression and the effects of stress and improved flexibility. Additionally, the strength and endurance that can be gained from Power Vinyasa Yoga are hard to come by, by any other means.
5) Is yoga replacing religion?
I’ve never thought of yoga as a religion. But as eloquently captured from the New Indian Express from November 2017:”Yoga is not a religion, a belief system or a philosophy. It is a technology for inner evolution, to hasten human evolution to its ultimate possibility.” Through my yoga practice I have developed a higher level of self-awareness and self-love along with having undergone huge personal transformation.
6) Why do you think yoga has seen such an increase in popularity in recent years?
I believe there are a few factors that have contributed to this. Stress is on the rise, and mental health issues such as anxiety, chronic stress and depression affects more and more people in the western world today. Yoga provides a fun and easy way to combat stress and chill you out. It is an easy, and enjoyable way to boost those brain chemicals that are responsible for fighting stress and helping you sleep better. After each session, students feel calmer, more positive and ready to overcome whatever life throws at them.
7) Can anyone do yoga? (pregnant/injured/overweight?)
Yes absolutely, anyone can practice yoga. For pregnant ladies, there are specific prenatal and postnatal yoga classes that have been formulated for them as the body goes through a lot of changes pre and post birth. With students with certain injuries, it’s best to consult with a physician (physio/osteopath/GP) to understand if yoga would help alleviate their injury or worsen it. Once the go-ahead has been provided, if attending classes, for certain injuries, modifications can be provided by your yoga teacher. Yoga can most definitely be performed by overweight people. It saddens me that there is this preconception out there that anyone who practices yoga should be slim and bendy, and this simply isn’t the case. Given overweight people can have trouble with joint pain; yoga can help by improving the body’s alignment to reduce strain on joints by allowing the frame to bear more of the body’s weight. A regular yoga practice can also help to improve self-image and acceptance of one’s body. But ultimately it helps you feel better by improving your physical fitness and elevating your mood.
8) What’s the biggest misconception about yoga?
I think a lot of people believe that yoga is just a regular exercise class. But the yoga practice involves the mind, body and spirit. Through a regular practice you learn to become at peace with who you are, where you are currently at in your life and with those around you.
9) How long have you been teaching in Croydon and when do you teach?
I have been teaching in Croydon since February last year. Currently I teach every Tuesday evening at 18:30 and 20:00 at Matthews Yard. But due to popular demand, I will soon be teaching additional classes each Thursday night at 18:30, and Saturday morning from 11:30 at Limitless VR, starting from the beginning of May.
10) Your classes are currently aimed at all levels, but do you have a beginner focused class?
I will start teaching beginner focused classes from May onwards, every Tuesday at 18:30. Here I will focus on teaching students’ basic alignment and breathing. These classes will help to form a good level of basics, enabling them to then attend all other classes at Croydon Power Yoga.
Click Here to learn more or sign up for a Croydon Power Yoga class.