Welcome to Chandananda Yoga

My name is Michelle Chand, and I have been studying and practicing yoga for twenty-five years. I  teach yoga classes in and around the Guildford area, based on the ancient philosophy of yoga,  and suitable for all students  on a journey of personal growth and transformation.

So what is yoga?

Yoga has been described as a technology that gives us respite from mental turbulence. Currently in the Western world we are suffering from unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia, so this discipline from the East has never had more relevance. When I started yoga, it was still seen as quite a weird thing to do, and finding a class was difficult. Now there are yoga studios everywhere and everyone has heard about yoga! I welcome this shift, and am happy to see that yoga is constantly evolving to make it more relevant to the issues people face today. The urge to start yoga can come from a desire to work on the body, or on the mind. Those who come intent on improving their body: to become more limber, to gain strength, or to alleviate pain, then discover that their practice affects their mood, their emotions, their resilience and their sleep. Those who come to focus on the mind then find that they enjoy the benefits of a body that is stronger, more flexible and more responsive.

So, perhaps you are thinking about starting yoga, or coming back to your practice after a break? The good news is, you do not have to be fit, thin, flexible, young, vegetarian,  or particularly clean living to benefit from a yoga practice. So if that has demolished most of your excuses….read on….

My aim is to teach accessible yoga, to people of all abilities, and to work with challenges such as illness and injury, both physical and emotional, in a creative, inclusive and empowering way. My hope is that with regular instruction and commitment to practice there will be noticeable improvements in strength, flexibility and emotional resilience.

Chandananda Yoga.

One of the first questions prospective students ask is:
“What kind of yoga do you teach?”
And I wish I had a simple one word answer to this question, but I don’t. Over the years I have explored many of the different schools of yoga, including Ashtanga, Iyengar, Desikachar, Scaravelli, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, Therapeutic, all of which have their strengths. My instinct was to blend the different styles together, to combine the benefits of each: precision of alignment,  physical intensity, discipline, intelligent sequencing, and techniques to aid relaxation and the release of long held tensions. And that is how Chandananda Yoga evolved.

My surname, Chand, means ‘moon’ in Sanskrit, (one of the languages used in the ancient yoga texts) and the word ananda means  ‘bliss’. I confess to having chosen the name primarily because I liked the way it rolled out of my mouth (try it) but it’s not the easiest email address in the world…..

A little bit about me…

Yoga has been a constant force in my life through many transitions and changes, and I have found through my own personal experience the transformational power of this ancient discipline. I have used my yoga practice to help me to meet life’s challenges if not always with equanimity then with more patience and grace.  I practiced through the heady free days of my twenties, coping with addictions and issues around body image. I practiced during the changes that came with pregnancy and motherhood, not all of which were blessings, though I did become a Mum to two amazing people, Ros and Theo. I adapted my practice around and illness and injury, including a rock climbing accident that left me with a knee that required surgery, physio and left me with a permanent loss of some range of movement. I found refuge in my yoga through bereavement, the hardest being the death of my brother in a motorbike accident in 2011. Yoga was my daily companion as I learned to live with and train The Black Dog of my depression. And now as I approach fifty, I am enjoying life, and still on my yoga mat most days.

Always learning always growing

I believe that to be an effective teacher, you also need to be a student, always learning, always growing. I have had many teachers over the years and am grateful to those who have shared their knowledge with me. I studied to become a teacher for two and a half years, first with Julia Wheatley, then at Yoga Campus in London. Since then I have completed two intensive periods of education, one on Yoga Therapy and another on Restorative Yoga. I continue to study, attend workshops and explore my own practice. I am particularly interested in the therapeutic applications of yoga: physical and psycho-emotional.

Strength and flexibility

I know what it feels like to have a ‘normal’ body. And by normal I mean one that creaks, clicks, and does not seem to want to move in some directions. I think it is important that yoga is a balance between strength and flexibility, and that we learn what we need to move and what we need to strengthen. People who are naturally flexible are drawn to yoga, and can often ‘achieve’ the postures with ease. Many yoga teachers and students come from a dance background, and this I feel contributes to the feeling amongst those who are naturally stiff that perhaps yoga is not for them. The ‘achievement’ of difficult poses is not the aim of yoga though sadly this is often lost sight of. In my classes, I help you strike the right balance between strength and flexibiity and work at your own pace with patience and compassion. Many of the ‘fancy-pants’ poses just don’t feature in my classes at all. Some of them I have concerns about how safe and advisable they are, including some of the inversions. To me, a sign of a mature practice is the ability to sense the nuances of even the simplest pose, and to have effaced the ego enough to have nothing to prove.