BEND IT LIKE BECKIE; IT May Be Knee Deep in Snow, but Come Summer the Bowling Green at Coventry's War Memorial Park Will Be Full of Yoga Students Practising Their Downward Facing Dog. CATHERINE VONLEDEBUR Reports
Byline: CATHERINE VONLEDEBUR
FOOTBALL Yoga has OUTSIDE it is snowing, but Ashtanga yoga teacher Beckie Hannah practices her Sun Salutation series in the warmth of the Visitor's Centre at Coventry's War Memorial Park.
The 26-year-old Coventry University theatre graduate and trained actress has been running classes here every Sunday morning since September.
In the summer, she is expanding her classes to the picturesque Bowling Green. It is set to become the first outdoor public yoga spaces in the region.
"I run yoga at the Visitor's Centre every Sunday from 11am to 12.30pm which is becoming more and more popular," said Beckie, from Radford.
"I am now introducing a new beginner's course in February which will take place every Sunday from February 3 between 10am and 11am.
"We have even been offered a designated yoga space on the Bowling Green this summer, making us the West Midlands' first ever designated outdoor yoga venue.
"My classes attract a wide range of people from all walks of life and abilities, including American footballers (Coventry Jets), doctors, pilots and teachers.
"The style of yoga I teach is great for building strength, tone, stamina and flexibility so not only does it attract people who want to relax and unwind, but it also provides a more in-depth training for people who want to improve their current sporting practice or even recover from injury.
With more and more professional athletes bringing yoga into the spotlight, I feel now is a great time to be promoting this message.
Adam Gibson, who plays with Coventry Jets, is one local athlete who has found Beckie's Ashtanga Yoga classes have helped his performance.
"I have been plagued with shoulder and elbow injuries throughout my sporting career," he explained.
"Ashtanga yoga has slowly started to allow my shoulder to repair itself while still allowing me to put muscle mass on. I am finding myself using a lot more free weights since I have started yoga.
"As someone who considers themselves to be physically strong, Ashtanga yoga has really tested my physical abilities. With Beckie, you will always feel supported and guided in a friendly professional way, while pushing yourself to achieve all you can.
"I have even gone as far as dropping days on the weights at the gym to do two more yoga sessions a week."
It was through her classes that Beckie met personal trainer Craig Gilkes, who has a studio in Westwood Road, Earlsdon, Coventry. The pair now work together offering a joint yoga and weight training fitness programme.
Craig said: "I train a number of athletes and encourage a lot of lads to go and do Ashtanga Yoga as it is so dynamic and increases flexibility." Beckie is on a mission to widen the appeal of Ashtanga yoga to teenagers, in particular. She runs Coventry's first teenageyoga classes at Wyken Young People's Centre, Rathbone, an alternative education college in the city, and Coventry Foyer.
Her classes aim to help young people improve their fitness, reduce their anxiety and build confidence.
The qualified physical theatre performer and yoga teacher said: "As a teenager I suffered a lot from panic attacks, negative body image and confidence.
"I guess initially, theatre was a form of escapism. It allowed me to propel myself in a world full of colour, bright lights and excitement where I could pretend to be someone else.
"After studying Theatre and Performance practice at Coventry University I went on the become a director/actress/writer working on many successful productions from carnivals, musicals, operas, festivals and tours. Every time a show finished though, it felt like an anti-climax, like there was something missing. And living heavily on my nerves it also affected my lifestyle and my health.
"I first got in to yoga at a clowning course in Barcelona. …