“Learning to rest properly has also been a major lesson for me, through restorative yoga and yoga nidra we can return to our natural state where we feel more balanced, our bodies function better and we live with ease. I love hearing from my clients that they have never felt more rested or gotten the best nights sleep ever after a class, yoga can really change lives!” – Claire Dunniece from Prana Yoga Retreats. You can bag 10% off all retreats booked before March 17 2017, and your first weekly yoga class for free when if you mention GirlCrew when booking.
It’s only February, but it’s already quire clear that the “new year, new me” mantra is largely BS. I am in fact, still the same old ball of knots and tightened muscles. I’m almost certain there’s an actual muscle or two in there somewhere. Almost. Sitting at a desk is killer, and while standing desks are now uber-trendy. Most of us don’t have that option, and seriously, no.
While most of us are a walking shuffling mass of dodgy knees, bad backs, and general aches. GirlCrew Cork member, Claire Dunniece, has gained a newfound spring her step through her love of yoga – “I had always been aware of yoga and its benefits; I had some interest as a teenager but had never managed to start a proper regular practice.” Like many of us, Claire spent many a year waitressing and enjoying life (and youth) during her college years. Once out the other side, the reality of a desk job began to sink in and with it, the usual aches and pains. “Having waitressed for years, I found suddenly being desk bound tough on my body and I took up a weekly yoga class to start moving more. I didn’t realise at the time that that decision was putting me on a path to change not only my physical and mental well-being but ultimately change my whole career path.”
After completing a BComm in UCC Claire worked her way up the ranks to become manager in an Accountancy firm. But the stress led to chronic pain and anxiety. To counteract this, Claire had been attending yoga classes regularly, but it was clear that one class a week wasn’t enough. “During a trip to Indonesia in 2012 I began to deepen my practice trying out various teachers and styles of yoga, when I got back to Cork I joined the Himalaya Yoga Valley Centre. I could see that regular practice was helping me to feel better physically and enabling me to cope better with stress.”
In 2015, Claire left her job to travel India and complete a 200hr yoga teacher training course in Goa. Despite having no intention of teaching at the time, she was drawn by the lifestyle and wanted to learn, while taking a break from the stresses at home. “The course was intense, exciting and amazingly rewarding. It opened up a lifetime of learning and development for me.”
“And as it turned out I loved teaching! When I returned from India I immediately set up classes in my local hall, taught in gyms, and spent the first year taking up every offer that came my way to build up experience. I now run regular classes at RB Fitness in Ballincollig where I teach Ashtanga style weekly classes and host popular Relax & De-Stress Sundays sessions. I am also very proud to now teach at and still remain a student myself at Himalaya Yoga Valley, Cork.”
Along with her classes, Claire and her husband also run a number of yoga retreats in Ireland, Poland, and soon also in Spain. “Retreats are very special experiences, so much more than a holiday. It a holiday where you actually come home well rested, with new perspectives and perhaps a new found love for yourself and your body, a chance to stop and take stock of your life…We have people in their 20’s and 60’s all participating in the same class. Regardless of age, size, or perceived flexibility there is a style of yoga for everyone. You don’t even need to be able to touch your toes!” If getting fit and flexible sounds like something you’d like don’t forget you can bag 10% off all retreats, and your first weekly yoga class for free when if you mention GirlCrew when booking.
Your Yoga Questions Answered by Claire Dunniece
1) Would you recommend Yoga for someone who is recovering from a long term condition and if so what type?
Yes, I would highly encourage someone in recovery to take up yoga! Yoga can be greatly healing for both for the internal body and external. Furthermore, it is healing for the mind which is just as important when you have suffered the stress of coping with a long term condition. The key will be in finding the right style of yoga and the right teacher for you. Without knowing the condition I cannot make a precise recommendation however a restorative style of yoga will almost always be a safe choice. Be sure to discuss your condition with your teacher before you join the class and ask their advice as there may be specific poses to benefit you or ones to avoid.
2) I’d like to become a yoga instructor myself. Where do I even begin?
Firstly, well done on wanting to make the leap from student to teacher! The first step would be to figure out what style of yoga resonates with you. Finding the one you are most passionate about will mean your teaching will come from the heart and your students will relate to that. Consider whether you would like to do an intensive course in a month. Or spread it out over a number of months. Do your research and be sure to pick an experienced teacher training school that is reputable especially if you are considering doing it abroad. Check if they are registered with recognised bodies such as Yoga Alliance Professionals. And try to seek out teachers who have taken the course so you can hear first hand what it is like.
3) What’s your advice for new yoga students? How can I make the most of it?
I have a few things that I always say to beginners –
- Try to let go of the idea that you need to be flexible to do yoga before you even start, this is simply not true! It is not a prerequisite.
- Let yourself be a beginner, don’t rush to force yourself into advanced postures, if your teacher offers modifications or props, use them. Understanding the basics first will really stand to you when you are ready to progress, enjoy the journey!
- The best way to make the most of your practice is to never compare yourself to others. We all have different bodies, different lifestyles and different reasons for being on the mat. There is no perfect pose. What may feel easy to you could be the biggest challenge for someone else and vice versa.
- If you have tried a class and think it’s not for you, try again! Try different styles, different teachers, you will be surprised at the stark contrast between one class and another. So don’t write yoga off, there is a class out there for everyone.
4) Are there any other exercises I should be doing alongside yoga?
This comes down to the individual really, e.g. what your lifestyle is like, what your aim is. In my opinion yoga works the entire body. I feel stronger, healthier and more in tune with my body and for me personally this is enough. The great bonus is that it can be as challenging as you want it to be. It can also be a great complement to other activities such as cycling and running. Many sports players are now incorporating it into their training to prevent injury and keep them flexible.
5) I’m looking to focus on toning more than flexibility, is there a certain type of yoga I should be doing?
I cannot speak for all forms of yoga but I have undoubtedly found Ashtanga yoga to be beneficial in toning muscle. Certain aspects of ashtanga style classes such as ‘chataranga’ – the yoga pushup and Navasana – Boat pose are a particularly good fortoning up.
6) What’s your favourite thing about GirlCrew?
The support and the positivity. I love how you only have to ask a question and a whole host of girls will come back with suggestions and offers. There can be so much negativitiy in the world so It’s a wonderful thing to see women being supportive of one another.