Life is seemingly returning to normal. Once again there are plans to be made, places to be, people to see. For so many, days spent doing little more than working, walking and resting may now be inundated with appointments, meetings, coffee dates and so many things that many of us missed dearly.
Although having plans and seeing friends is very much a welcome change- generally speaking- this dizzying change of pace and routine may feel a little overwhelming. Here, Youtuber, Yoga teacher and dancer, Charlotte Jones, who is the founder of Amala Movement, talks yoga, meditation and mindfulness.
About Amala movement
I am a dancer and yoga teacher. I completed my yoga teacher training while at Uni. During this time, I absolutely fell in love with yoga, dance, and movement practices. I love just sharing the connection and joy that movement brings to people. So after I graduated from Uni, I spent a couple of years sharing and teaching in different types of places; I worked in nurseries, with elderly people and also with people with disabilities. Working with lots of different people was just a joy.
Shortly after Covid hit, I started a Youtube channel, where I upload videos every week. There’s a wide selection of practises for example: some relaxation practices, chair yoga, wheelchair yoga and some yoga for kids.
Making yoga for every body
What made you want to pursue teaching yoga?
It’s definitely about human connection and helping others. I think dance and yoga and movement in general empowers people. I really believe in yoga being for literally every body. Typically it does tend to lean towards the white middle class demographic, which leaves out a ginormous population. I think it’s sad that sometimes, not everyone is included and I feel passionate about opening it up, and sharing the benefits with other people.
So teaching, for me, is about sharing movement and mindfulness with everybody. I really enjoy connecting with different communities, and holding the space for people to relax and breathe deeper. I love creating a space where people can slow down and bring a blanket.
What Impact has Yoga had on your own life and how do you hope to impact others with your teaching?
It’s taught me to feel present, to really tune in to my body and connect with how I’m feeling at any given moment. I think yoga gives me the permission to slow down, and to rest, which really helps when life is really busy.
I hope my classes each individual the space to just take what they need. I think everyone is beautifully unique, and my hope is that people can nourish their needs and really look after themselves in whatever way, in that moment. If someone comes into my class feeling exhausted and just want to rest for an hour in child’s pose or lie down, I hope my classes give them the permission to do that if that’s what they need. On the other end of the spectrum, if you come in with loads of energy and want to go for it, I hope that my classes also allows people to nourish that need.
What about when you teach children’s classes?
I love teaching kids, it’s such a creative outlet!
Yoga allows kids to be creative and to use their imagination to explore and gain confidence. It’s so important for child development to let children explore things for themselves, so I really bring that into my yoga practises. When I teach kids, it’s not so much about teaching them poses- it’s more like moves that are inspired by yoga. For kids, classes are like a creative play through yoga, where I bring in other practises like dancing and I incorporate story telling.
Notice what you’re doing and how it Makes you feel
You mentioned mindfulness earlier; what does it mean to you?
To me, mindfulness is about being present throughout the day and really noticing what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. It’s just having that awareness about what’s triggering your feelings and being able to control your reaction to them a little better. I also think being mindful can look like colouring or reading, but remaining very present in the activities that you’re doing. For example, a habit of mine is to cook dinner and watch Netflix at the same time, but in trying to be more present in the activity, I might listen to some music instead, so my eyes can just be on what I’m cooking. I think the first step is definitely just to notice when you’re not fully engaging in what you’re doing because of other distractions.
How do you incorporate meditation into your day?
I think meditation is a beautiful way of having a moment to sit and really experience whatever I’m feeling. It teaches me a lot about acceptance and trust in different situations.
Meditation is a practise that I’ve kind of dipped my toes in over the past couple of years and starting is definitely the hardest part. Since Christmas 2020, I’ve been committed to a daily practise. First thing in the morning, I go downstairs and have some lemon-water. Sometimes I’ll do a physical practise first, some Pilates, or maybe yoga. Then I just sit still for ten minutes and close my eyes and breathe deeply. Some days are harder than others. Sometimes my brain is really loud and I have lots of thoughts. Other days are really easy, and 10 minutes of sitting feels really good.
As time goes on, it’s been getting easier to turn off my loud thoughts. After this, throughout the day I feel like I’ve got more space, like thoughts aren’t quite so loud, like life doesn’t feel as overwhelming. In general I just feel overall, less anxious and more able to get through the day.
Would you say it helped you cope with the uncertainty of lockdown?
Absolutely. It’s become such an essential part of my day. Having the 10 minutes of meditation every morning really grounds me and helped me to feel less anxious and more accepting of what’s been going on. Some days I just sit and cry. It’s so important to cry, and to have days when you feel rubbish; you don’t need to hide it from yourself. Sometimes you don’t need to ‘fix’ how you’re feeling. You’re allowed to feel rubbish sometimes. We’re human, and we sometimes just need to let ourselves feel what we feel. I also think it’s important to have real, raw conversations, whether it’s with yourself through journaling or with your family.