Welcome to Chandananda Yoga

My name is Michelle Chand, and I have been studying and practicing yoga for twenty-five years. I  teach classes in and around the Guildford area, grounded in yoga philosophy,  and suitable for any student who is ready to begin their 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? So what is stopping you? When you step on the mat you meet yourself exactly as you are with acceptance. You might not be as fit as you would like to be, you might be carrying extra weight, you might not be clean living, it doesn’t matter. Don’t delay the beginning of the journey. Just start.

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 answer to this question, but I don’t. Over the years I have explored many of the different schools of yoga, 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 part of my life through many transitions and changes, and when I look back  I see that is has provided a steady and constant source of support to me. I practiced through the heady free days of my twenties, battling addictions and issues around body image. I evolved my practice around pregnancy and becoming a single-parent, experienced marriage, baby number two and divorce. I adapted my practice around illness and injury, including a rock climbing accident that left me with permanent damage to my right knee. I found refuge in my yoga through many bereavements, the most devastating being the death of my brother in a motorbike accident in 2011. Yoga was my daily companion as I learned to live with and manage depression and anxiety.

Now as I approach fifty, with grown up children having moved out, I am enjoying my freedom, my home, my garden, my companion animals and am still to be found on my mat mosts days, sometimes just sitting, breathing and looking out at the sky.

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 or gymnastics background, and this I feel contributes to the idea that unless you are super-bendy, you can forget about trying yoga. The ‘achievement’ of difficult poses is not the aim of yoga though sadly this is often lost sight of.  Yoga is about getting the body fit to sit  in meditation, so that you can train the mind to be more peaceful. In my classes, I aim to strike a  balance between strength and flexibiity and encourage you to work at your own pace with patience and compassion. Many of the ‘fancy-pants’ poses just don’t feature in my classes at all as I have concerns about how safe and advisable they are, including some of the inversions. So, if your intention is to be able to accomplish the more hard-core poses, then my classes are probably not for you. As your practice matures you begin to sense the nuances in even the simplest pose, and as one of the purposes of yoga is to efface the ego, you will not feel the need to ‘prove’ how accomplished you are. I am often asked what is the most impressive pose I can do. Honest answer? Sitting still with the chaos of my thoughts and holding on to my sanity.