Today I want to talk a bit about why I have chosen yoga, as part of my mind/body fitness regime, and specifically why I have chosen the teacher that I go to – Vernette Butler of VernYoga.
My previous experience with yoga
I think I first went to a yoga class in the early 90s when I was newly graduated and trying to qualify as an accountant. I was stressed as (expletive deleted) in
I can remember finding the
Nobody showed me a different way – the teacher stood at the front and tied herself into knots and somehow, you just had to follow along. If you couldn’t do it, oh well, never mind…..
I remember one excruciating episode at the end of a difficult class. In the relaxation section, I had a full-on panic attack and started twitching and shaking uncontrollably. Nobody knew what to do with me and everyone stared. It was beyond embarrassing.
I left that class crying and never went back – yoga and me parted company for many years, and my body became even more stiff and tired.
So why yoga now?
Many people would be put off yoga for life after an experience like that, and I must admit that I have shied away from it for most of my adult life, and generally, I don’t do as much exercise as I should.
My attempt to train as a personal trainer was ultimately a failure, because although I qualified, I really don’t enjoy exercise and find it hard to motivate myself to do it, never mind motivating others.
But I’m well aware that I’m setting a bad example
So when my daughter suggested that she would like to take up yoga as the sports element of her Duke of Edinburgh award, I was really pleased for her. We looked at the local council-run gyms, but they did not have classes suitable for under-18s.
I looked at a couple of other yoga teachers in the area, and then I found Vernette, who was instantly warm, inviting, and more than happy to accommodate a 15-year-old in her class.
The class is about 6 miles away from home – as such it didn’t make sense to drop her off and then pick her up again – the easiest thing would be for me to accompany her to the class.
And then I panicked… what if the class was too hard for me? What if it was too easy for her? How would I get through an hour and a half of yoga without collapsing in a sad and sorry heap? If the class was OK for me, then maybe she would get bored?
I put all these questions to Vernette at the beginning, and she told me to just come along and give it a try. And so we did – and we have both found something extremely special…..
A little bit about Vernette and Vernyoga
Vernette’s CV on the Vernyoga website, is very impressive:
Yoga is my home, my sanity and my healthcare as it has helped me lose and maintain a 4 stone loss in weight, stabilise an underactive thyroid and adrenal problems, manage flare-ups from a back injury, depression, phobias and anxiety, bereavement through suicide, as well as helping me to cope with a mild form of fibromyalgia and it CAN help you too, in many ways to improve your health and well being.
For these reasons, yoga and the anatomy of yoga are my passions and I’m in a privileged position to be able to teach these things to you, along with introducing amazing guest teachers for workshops and inspiring students to take the step to become teachers themselves.
The first paragraph of the Vernyoga website sums it all up
Vernyoga offers you high quality, joyful, energetic vinyasa flow yoga, slower alignment-based traditional hatha yoga, kundalini and yin yoga, pilates stability and barre, chair yoga, pranayama, meditation, kirtan, pregnancy and baby yoga, fitness and personal training, nutrition advice, massage, and reiki through classes, workshops, retreats and private sessions at realistic, affordable prices in Weybridge, Byfleet, Addlestone, Chertsey, Egham and throughout Surrey.
Joyful is certainly a good word for these classes. My previous experience of yoga was quite serious – make sure you get everything in alignment and don’t whatever you do get the breathing wrong.
Vernette is the exact opposite – she will help us to do it right of course, and is always professional, making sure that everyone is safe in what they are doing, protecting their spine and joints.
However, she is also human and forgives us our weaknesses too. She knows when we are hurting, and she reads the energy of the room and adjusts the intensity of what she is teaching to suit the ability and energy level of the class in front of her.
She certainly focuses on breathing – but rather than just using it as a corrective technique, she is clearly doing her best to ensure that we have a meditative experience as well as just a physical exercise session. This is a full workout for your mind as well as your body.
There is a structure to each class, but also enough variation each week, to make it challenging, interesting and fun.
Our yoga class
And so, I started going with my daughter to the Thursday evening
My daughter asked me if I could position myself some way away from her, so that she was not put off by the idea of me staring at her, and this is good for me too – I am able to fully relax and enjoy the session for myself, knowing that Vernette would look after Anne-Sophie if she needed any help.
The 90-minute class begins and ends with a relaxation session. During the beginning relaxation, Vernette reminds us that this is our practice, and we should each do as little or as much as we want to or feel that we can.
If anyone needs help with modifications they can put up their hands, and if they just want to go ahead and modify the poses themselves she will watch and nod.
This put me at my ease straight away. I may not have done yoga for a while but I have done some pilates and strength training of various kinds, and I do know how to modify a lot of classic moves to suit my level of fitness.
Vernette’s class is a bit of a fusion of traditional yoga with some pilates and other bits thrown in. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much of it was familiar, and with my core about the strongest part of me, because of my singing, I even find some parts of the class reasonably easy that others struggle with.
When it gets on to the traditional poses of yoga that I have problems with due to being weak and stiff – the downward dogs, the sun salutations, the lunges, squats and similar. I just do as much as I can and then either modify or sit out, with a nod and a wink from Vernette.
Quite often while I am sitting out I look around and realise that I am not alone – there really are people of all levels in the class. And that doesn’t matter – we are all accessing the class at our own level.
Vernette keeps up a jolly commentary at all times, and positively encourages us to just be ourselves and do what we can. She shows advanced versions for some poses but tells us only to attempt those if we feel comfortable. She encourages people to go to the wall if they need help balancing, or otherwise we all have a bit of a giggle as we wobble about.
She also intersperses the poses with plenty of rest breaks, poses to shake out or stretch the part of the body you have just worked, and also brief interludes to let your mind rest a bit.
The last 15 minutes of the class the poses become gentler and more and more
I leave the class each week feeling that I have done just enough – I usually feel pleasantly stiff at the end of class and ready for bed, but the stiffness rarely lasts beyond the next day, so it is probably about right.
And my daughter, who is also not particularly sporty is also loving the class. After 4 months she is pretty much doing all of the moves now – still finding it pretty taxing but also fun.
We tried out the Monday evening class in Weybridge over the summer, which is maybe one step further up the difficulty scale. We may move to that class sometime this year – I want to keep pace with Anne-Sophie’s level and let her grow, as I am now happy that I can work at my own level in any of Vernette’s classes.
Vernette also has a couple of sample sessions on her YouTube Channel. Here is a basic 27 minute sequence for legs and hips, which is similar to what we do in the first part of our classes.
In conclusion, I can honestly recommend Vernette and Vernyoga to absolutely anybody. I have given her a 5 star review on every site that she advertises on and I have nothing but praise for her and the courses she runs.
Vernette has allowed me to make peace with my old, tired body, and to learn to love yoga and not fear pain or humiliation from it. She is welcome and accommodating to people of all ages and abilities, and my weekly yoga class has become almost as essential as my singing, in keeping me sane and helping me to maintain and regain my fitness.
From being someone who has shied away from exercise for so long, I have now found something which I could grow to love – I never thought I would ever say that about anything physical.
If you are looking for a form of exercise, I would encourage anyone to give yoga a go even if you have been put off before. My feeling is that it has come a long way in the last few years and teachers are learning to be more accommodating.
And if you live anywhere near Chertsey, Egham, Lyne, Thorpe Weybridge or Byfleet then please give Vernyoga a try, and tell Vernette that you heard about her on Mum’s the Boss.
You will need to contact Vernette before you come to a class, as she is so popular that many of her classes are booked up in advance, but once you start going to a class it is easy to keep booking the next one and to develop a regular yoga habit.
Maybe I’ll see you on the mat! Namaste!