We spoke to Leo Oppenheim, Head Of Yoga at BLOK Manchester to ask him everything there is to know about yoga for complete beginners.
From the wellbeing benefits of yoga to the best yoga positions for beginners, keep scrolling to discover how Leo became Head Of Yoga At BLOK Manchester, his top tips on how to practice yoga effectively and how he uses the Liquid Yoga Space Spray in his practice to help him and his clients reach the ultimate state of zen…
1. Firstly, Can You Tell Us A Bit About Yourself And How You Became Head Of Yoga At BLOK Manchester?
My brother is one of the Co-Founders of BLOK London and he made me aware of the prospect of a BLOK Manchester site opening. I have been teaching yoga, fitness and many different modalities of movement (including skating) for 17 years before this possibility arrived.
I began as Head Trainer for BLOK and recruited our initial team. This was a wonderful process, I spent a year taking a variety of different classes in and around Manchester in search of Manchester’s best trainers. From there, I moved into the role of Head Trainer for Yoga and the development of our wellness space on site.
2. For The Absolute Beginners, Can You Explain A Bit About What Yoga Is?
You could ask a hundred different people what yoga is to them and you would probably get one hundred different answers! For me, I feel that the practice of Yoga is a cultivation of internal awareness, observation and purification.
The movements and postures that are held and moved through draw in discipline, mental focus and a present moment connection. The breathwork purifies the body (70% of our body’s toxins are released by the breath!) and brings a stillness within.
3. What Are The Wellbeing Benefits Of Yoga?
There are many. On a physical level, Yoga greatly strengthens the body and increases mobility. Postures that are held increase isometric strength and the practice is fantastic for prehabilitation (injury prevention.) The breath within Yoga increases nitric oxide in the body, increasing blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
Physical postures within the practice act as a stressor for the nervous system, which is then worked into with the breath. Mentally, this allows more autonomy over the nervous systems, increasing the ability to deal with stress off the mat and away from the practice.
4. What Is The Best Type Of Yoga For Complete Beginners?
For those who are new to the practice, I would advise any beginners yoga or restorative classes. At BLOK we have “NEW TO” Yoga both in the studios and in our Video on Demand offerings. This is definitely a great way to enter into the practice.
5. What Are The Best Yoga Positions For Complete Beginners?
This is very much according to your physical condition, a great way to start would be to look into the different sun salutations and simple variations of these sequences. Many Yoga classes have these interlaced in the sequencing so they are a solid foundation to get started. Each of these sequences acts as a complete full body practice, as well as an excellent method of combining movement with breath.
6. How Often Should You Practice Yoga To Feel The Benefits?
The benefits of yoga are very much according to your mental and physical conditions. Even practicing once a week will really bring fantastic benefits both mentally and physically. Twice a week is a great place to start if it is possible! Bear in mind that Yoga can range from a strong physical practice to complete stillness and meditation or even Nidra (also known as yogic sleep).
“There is no greater feeling than a full class of focused practitioners moving together and creating energy as one.”
7. What Equipment Do You Need?
Your body! A mat is absolutely useful but it is not essential. Blocks, straps and bolsters are also a wonderful addition but one of the beauties of Yoga is that you can start the practice with no equipment at all!
8. What Do You Love Most About Teaching Yoga?
It is definitely the connection that is created when facilitating the practice. Sharing space with others and building and cultivating an energy in the room. This energy varies depending on the style, intensity and intention of each practice. There is no greater feeling than a full class of focused practitioners moving together and creating energy as one.
9. What Advice Would You Give To Someone Looking To Try Yoga?
I am delighted you asked this question! Three things:
- Observe your judgement of yourself and others as you begin practice. It is time to leave all that at the door. It is irrelevant how flexible you are or how anyone else is moving around you. Accept and be grateful for your body’s ability to move. When your judgement is released you give the physical body the real opportunity to open up and the mind and emotions follow along.
- You don’t need to push! I spent the first year of practicing yoga trying very hard. Yoga is a practice of discipline but this is very important to balance with non attachment and surrender. Work into about 70% of your range when you first come into a pose and use the breath to draw you deeper. The inhalation creates length and space. The exhale drops you into that space! The practice truly opened up for me when I began to apply this consciously
- There are many styles and types of yoga. If you take a practice and it doesn’t resonate with you then look into other modalities. Every teacher and style is different, there will be a practice that suits you.
10. How Do You Use The Mio Liquid Yoga Range Within Your Yoga Routine?
Mio Liquid Yoga Spray is an excellent tool to calm the nervous system and drop you into a peaceful and present mindset. I use this with my own personal meditation and movement practice and in any classes I facilitate in the studio.
Your Relaxing Post-Yoga Routine
Extend those feel-good vibes from your Yoga session and begin your post-Yoga bodycare routine by taking a long, relaxing soak with Liquid Yoga Bath Soak, charged with a moisturising blend of uplifting essential oils, mineral salts and Cannabis Seed Oil to leave you feeling perfectly relaxed and calm.
Next, nourish your skin and lock-in moisture with Go With The Flow Body Oil, infused with aromatherapy essential oils and Almond Oil to hydrate your skin and soothe your senses.
Finally spritz Liquid Yoga Space Spray over your pillows, bed sheets or anywhere that you want to induce a sense of calm, tranquillity and total relaxation. Supercharged with a blend of Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon, Mandarin and Eucalyptus essential oils, keep this calming spray beside your Yoga mat to fill your room with a soothing and energising aroma to help enhance your daily rituals.