Last Thursday started stormy and unpromising, but by 11am the sun shone and the wind dropped a bit and we were able to meet on Howdiemont Beach (nr Sugar Sands, Longhoughton) for a wonderful Stretch and Sing session with a group of willing and talented participants! The surroundings were inspiring and soothing at the same time, and, we hope, so was the yoga and singing. Becca and I came away feeling excited to carry on doing outdoor sessions - even in the Winter!
It is obvious that we will have to take into account the weather/dark mornings etc, and be flexible (ha! no pun intended), but we are bravely going to put some dates in the diary and TRY - nothing ventured!
Throughout the last two years, yoga has become more important to me. I had a shoulder injury that put paid to my outdoor swimming and of course, as for everyone else, the world turned upside down and I seemed to have to find new ways of doing everything - no surprise there! Early on in the first lockdown, a friend suggested daily yoga and this has been a constant..... it was very easy to go from this into my daily singing practice. So when Becca and I started discussing online sharing between ourselves, then others, it seemed both very natural and very obvious.
We intend to run online classes after Christmas also, and aim to try and run them around lunchtime so that people who work can join in, as we did before. Please get in touch with us if you have ideas or questions about this as we want to be as accessible as possible.
Now, the outdoor sessions.......
To singers I would say that Stretch & Sing does not feel odd or new - it's another version of the many warm up and stretching exercises we all do before practice, albeit in a focussed and extended way. It has helped me sing more safely, find notes naturally and feel like I am supporting my voice better.
To people less sure of the singing element, I would suggest that the voice is just another part of the whole body that yoga addresses and celebrates, and it really is an easy way to find and enjoy using your voice. It really is an easy way to explore either discipline. We sing songs - often ones you know, sometimes something new but always easy and fun.
And to outdoorsy types (like Becca and myself) I would say - what a fantastic way to feel part of the sights and sounds of the landscape, feel the breeze on your skin, turn your face to the winter sunlight and join the birds in song. Everyone comes away feeling more relaxed, you will meet some lovely people and perhaps explore an area of Northumberland you didn't know.
The first of our three Winter Stretch and Sings is a woodland event on Tuesday 2nd November at around 11am - we will be watching the weather and will be in close contact with participants prior to the session in case it needs to be delayed or postponed. Becca Poremba is a terrific yoga leader and calm presence and I will be my usual over-enthusiastic self! If you have a yoga mat, fine, but otherwise we can provide what you need. A blanket and warm hat might be good......