HOLDEReight meets Antonia Reed-felstead @totesyoges
London based 500 ryt yoga teacher: works across equinox, evolve, the
peak health club, virginia active, urban soul
YOGA IS TO ME …
‘A way to work yourself towards a place of strength and calm and a practice you can come back to when life gets a lit tle too much. It is not how far you stretch but how you stretch. If the alignment is right then the flexibility will come and with that a little pocket of peace in the mind.’
‘ I am so excited to finally find a mat that ticks all the boxes!! My main concern is fit ting it in my bag when I go abroad as I always travel as light as possible, and this just folds up any way I want it to. The grip is per fect so I know I’m not going to slip and the design is really beautiful which encourages me to get onto my mat more of ten.
I really couldn’t be happier with it’
‘This took a while to get the opening in the hip flexors and the deep opening in the back. I tried to focus on opening up my thoracic spine, the mid par t of the back, so the flexibility didn’t end up concentrated on the lumbar spine where it is easy to over do it and get injured. The cur ve coming from the thoracic area makes for a stronger, safer back bend. You have to really press down with your front foot in order to get the balance to grab the foot behind your head and have both hands to your back foot. You can also take the foot in one hand and then have the other hand on either the floor or your front knee in order to work up to being able to use both hands. Lots of prone back bends are useful to warm up the back for this like locust & cobra.
ANTONIAS STEP BY STEP TO ACHIEVING YOUR HANDSTAND …
‘Handstand is one where you really, really have to put the work in. And when I say work, I really mean do it ever y day. Build up your confidence by doing it against the wall, but your main concern is that you have a straight back and you don’t end up taking it into the lumbar spine (again!!). The best way to use the wall for this is to kick up however you want, and then instead of let ting the legs fall against the wall to catch you, bend one knee so that your foot taps the wall instead of taking both feet there, and then you keep the integrit y of the pose in the rest of the body, and the back doesn’t bend. You want to engage your posterior chain, which is the muscles all down your back body. The glutes are incredibly impor tant!!! The glutes are the stabilisers for the hips, so once you’re up or if possible on your way up, you want to engage the glutes as much as possible and squeeze the legs together so ever ything down the posterior chain is switched on. The balance comes from your fingers….the knuckles are ver y slightly raised and you grip the floor with your finger tips. The strength also ver y much comes from your deltoids. Once you’re confident against the wall, it’s time to break free and star t working out your balance point….the only way to do it is try. And of course, you want a strong core to hold you up too.’
‘That’s tricky…..I love them all. Adho Mukha Vrksasana: Handstand, it’s been a long and fun journey. Parsva Bakasana: Side crow, for fun value and it feels strong. Camatkarasana: Wild thing, the opening in the chest is lovely. Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward dog, I go back and for wards on this as the more I do it right and engage ever ywhere, the harder it is, but I still love it and it gives you a great hamstring stretch. Balasana: Child’s pose, need I say more? Skandasana: low side lunge, really great to get into hips. Koundinyasana B: split leg balance, without dipping the shoulders below the elbows, really great for strength. If you the dip the shoulders, you’re just hurting the shoulders and not building strength. Natarajasana: King dancer pose, a long time to build up to this and a wonder ful chest opening and shoulder stretch once you’re there.
ANTONIAS TOP TIPS TO NEW YOGA TEACHERS IN LONDON …
‘You have to be determined and keep hustling. Say yes to ever ything at first so you can be pickier later on, you never know where one class might lead to, or who works where. Manage your time well, people don’t realise how tiring it is running from one class to the next and having enough energy to show up for those students all day ever y day. Naps are your friend when you’re star ting at 6am and get ting home at 10pm. Sometimes I have up to seven classes in a day, and if you have t went y minutes, you need to rest. Save your voice! You have to hold space in the class so the students can achieve what they want and leave feeling they were taken care of during the class, and you can’t do that from an energy deficit. My main piece of advice is be authentic, that’s the way you will find your place in the crazy yoga world.’