Frequently Asked Questions

About Yoga and Pilates

What is Yoga?

the perfect antidote for the modern world
Yoga is the ultimate exercise and method of self improvement. With a proven record of at least 4000 years (possibly much longer), what makes it magical and different from our Western workouts is that yoga gives you true fitness, inside and outside. Some of the many benefits of yoga include: increased tone, strength and flexibility, weight loss, improved posture and breathing; a greater ability to cope with stress and a feeling of calm.
Read more >>>

Is yoga a religion?

No. Yoga is not a religion. It has no bible or other doctrine that its students follow. Instead, it is a practical system for healthy living, which includes movement, diet and a set of ethical principles.

What are the benefits of yoga?

Yoga develops strength, stamina, flexibility and posture. Regular practice not only increases your energy but also promotes emotional and mental well-being. Read more >>>

What is Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise system designed to stretch, strengthen, lengthen, tone and balance the entire body. It improves your posture, releases stress and increases strength and flexibility. Pilates works the deeper muscles in a focused manner strengthening core postural muscles and developing correct body alignment. This stabilises the spine and supports the back.

What's the difference between yoga and pilates?

The biggest difference between Yoga and Pilates is more philosophical than physical. While Pilates takes a mind-body approach to exercise, Yoga's view involves mind, body and spirit. Yoga's teachings encourage us to be kind to all beings, including ourselves, and to search for balance in our lives and lifestyle. Whereas Pilates focuses on mental concentration, breathing and movement.

The physical differences between Yoga and Pilates derive from their contrasting outlooks. Yoga's approach is holistic, emphasising balance in all areas - equally strengthening all muscle groups, creating mental and physical balance, encouraging moderation in everything. Pilates mainly works on the core muscles in your trunk (called the powerhouse), and building strength there above all. Yoga involves poses which are held while exploring your breathing, physical feelings and emotions. Pilates is about moving in ways that help strengthen your powerhouse, including your stabilising muscles. Yoga emphasises flexibility over building strength (although it enhances both), while Pilates emphasises toning over flexibility (but, again, it enhances both).

Depending on your fitness goals, you may choose to practice yoga or pilates exclusively, or include them both in your workout regimen. While there are certainly differences between yoga and Pilates, they complement each other well and are both low impact workouts that can be practiced either in a class setting or in the comfort of your own home.

About you

Do I need any experience to attend a class?

No! Every class is taught at every level. Every pose has its modifications to benefit every person's fitness level. At Whitespace we encourage every participant to "listen" to their bodies and only work at that level. We have Beginners Courses designed specifically with you in mind.

I have a previous injury, can I still try a class?

Yes! If you suffer from back or neck pain, repetitive stress injuries (like carpal tunnel syndrome), arthritis, bursitis, or osteoporosis, you can not only try a class, you're bound to benefit from it. Do let your instructor know of your health concerns prior to class.

PLEASE NOTE: If you suffer from any severe or unusual medical conditions (such as heart disease, high blood pressure, a previous head/neurological injury, a high-risk pregnancy etc), please take responsibility for your body and seek permission from your GP before embarking on any new exercise program.

Can I do a class with a bad back?

There are many different types of back problems, so always seek medical advice first. We have worked with many people who have improved their backs through yoga and pilates. But we have also seen many people damage their backs through unintelligently practice. When approached intelligently, our classes strengthen the core – the natural support of the body – and can release tension that many of us hold in our backs. The main part of the practice to watch out for, as potentially putting too much strain on the lower back, is back bends - these motions should be practiced with care. Don't work through pain in the back – 'no pain no gain' does not apply here. And if experiencing any form of regular discomfort, once again, seek the advice of your doctor or osteopath.

I have special needs, can these be met?

We will always do what we can, and make reasonable adjuments to meet the specific needs of every student. Please contact us to discuss these privately.

Must I be fit or flexible to practice?

No! This is a real misconception. Yoga and Pilates is accessible for all ages, levels of fitness and flexibility. The important thing to remember is this is not a stretch class, but has the potential to go much further than that, as you start to release the deep conditioning within the body and start to build an understanding of it. Physical restrictions will dissolve naturally over time with sensitive practice. This can be done whether you are flexible or not. So, whoever you are, however old or fit you are, however long it has been since you stretched or moved, this is for YOU!

Preparing for Class

How do I start?

A Beginners Course or a few Private 1-to-1 sessions are the ideal (but not the only) way to begin your practice. You will be alongside other beginners, discovering yoga in a safe + fun space. The practice builds week by week, providing a solid foundation + inspiring you for classes or a course at the next level.

If this doesn't work for you, then Beginners or General drop-in classes are the best place to start. These classes are fine for beginners as postures are adapted to each individual's level. Remember, everyone was a beginner once! See details of our classes for more information.

What should I wear in class?

We recommend wearing loose and comfortable clothing with layers that are easily removed or added to allow for changes in body temperature during class. Be ready to practice in bare feet. This is the traditional (and safest) way to practice. One thing that we would recommend is to wear a top that you can keep on until you warm up and that you can put on at the end of a class, especially for relaxation.

Do I need to bring a mat?

The sticky mats we use in class are further insurance that you don't slip while you practice. The studio does provide mats for hire, however we always recommend having your own mat. Not only because of the obvious hygiene benefits, but also because having your own mat allows you to have your own personal space to practice. It may encourage and help you to develop and deepen your practice at home.

Will I lose weight from doing yoga?

If you have a rigorous yoga session that burns calories you will definitely lose weight. For us, the main advantage of yoga regarding weight loss is the way it starts to balance out the whole body as well as the mind. This in turn has the possibility to re-programme the body for longer results than just a quick weight-loss programme.

About your practice

How often should I attend class?

The more you come, the better you'll feel; once a week you'll really feel the difference but ideally 2-3 times or more is better. The more you practice, the more you'll progress and really experience the benefits.

What should I expect?

Classes follow a traditional Hatha Yoga format and structure as follows:

  • Short Relaxation or Preparation Period
  • Breath awareness/practises
  • Some gently limbering/warming up exercises
  • Asana/Posture work
  • Breathing practises and guided relaxation to finish

Classes are always modified and adapted to suit the variety of abilities and experience of the class, and students are always encouraged to work within their own range of ability.

How do I avoid injury?

Ahimsa is the golden rule. It means 'do no harm', and that starts with you. This means listening to your body, mind and breath attentively, with an attitude of love and kindness. This ensures we have the constant, moment-to-moment dialog to make sure we're ok. If your breathing is laboured, or struggling, it's a sure sign you are somewhere you shouldn't be.

A good teacher will try to protect you from yourself in class, but ultimately its your choice whether you move with ease and grace, accepting your physical limits, or choose strain and consequences. To keep out of mischief, choose wisely.

How do I choose the right class for me?

Read more on our class styles to help choose the right class for you. If you are still unsure, ask our front desk, which is manned by experts who will help you to get to the best class for your needs.

About Bookings

Do I need to book every time for drop-in classes?

No ! Once you’ve registered with us, all classes are drop-in (except courses and workshops) so no need to book – just turn-up, roll out your mat and enjoy the class! All classes are on a first come first served basis, so if you can, please arrive 5-10 minutes early to find a space and prepare yourself.

What's the best way to pay for classes?

We have created many ways to pay so that you get the best value for you. Different people want different things, but here are some guidelines. If you would like to talk through what's best for you please ask our front desk or call 01908 566610.

  • if you come more than three times a week, then the Way of Life Membership would be best, offering you Unlimited Classes and a Membership that supports a way of life – making a commitment to both ourselves and each other – to living more consciously.
  • if you come every once in a while, then Pay-as-You-Go is a great option
  • if you come once a week, using a 5 or 10 class pass, you will pay between £7 - £8 per class
  • if you come twice a week, using an Unlimited pass, you will pay between £4 and £4.50 per class

Class Passes are a great way to buy classes at a discounted rate, available to those who have committed to a regular practice. Once you have committed to a Class Pass, we recommend that you plan for and attend the paid number of sessions to get the most out of the discounted offer.

Can I attend a Course on a Drop-In basis?

No. Courses are designed to build on each consecutive week to give you maximum benefit - helping you to build a solid foundation to your practice and help you to achieve your personal goals. It's also a very nurturing environment when everybody in the group is progressing along the same journey together.

What cancellation notice do I need to give?

There is no need to cancel a dropin class.

We kindly ask that you give us at least 48 hours advance notice to cancel private classes & treatments, or 14 days to cancel a workshop or course. We will then offer you a full refund or a replacement class.

We regret that no refund or transfer can be given if you are unable to attend due to illness, work, family or other reasons. This applies to any private classes cancelled within 48 hours, or any workshop/course cancelled within 14 days. If a course or workshop is cancelled you will be offered either a refund or the option of being transferred to an alternative event. Before committing to a course or workshop, please ensure you can attend the scheduled number of sessions to get the most out of the programme.

All bookings are non-exchangeable. Class Passes are non-exchangeable, non extendable and non-refundable.

What about missed classes during the course? Can I make them up?

No. Sorry. We cannot offer refunds or rollovers for students who are unable to attend some or all of the classes on their course due to illness, work, family or other reasons. We did in the past, until it got way out of hand with too many requests. It became impossible to manage and unfair on those students who either did attend each week or couldn't book on as the course was full.

Before committing to a course or workshop, we always recommend you can attend the scheduled number of sessions to get the most out of the programme. Thank you for your understanding.

Can I roll over classes if my Class Pass has expired?

No. Class Passes are a great way to buy classes at a discounted rate, available to those who have committed to a regular practice. Once you have committed to a Class Pass, we recommend that you plan for and attend the paid number of sessions to get the most out of the discounted offer.

Can I switch between different Course days?

As the courses are not running concurrently, it's not possible to switch between days/courses. Once you have committed to a course day and time, we suggest you check you're available to attend the same day/time for the following sessions.

I’ve been to Whitespace before, can I use purchase the Introductory Offers for newbies?

Our Newbie Offers are only available for anyone brand new to Whitespace. These are (admittedly crazy!) offers to help encourage people to stay a while so they get to experience the magical benefits of the practice. Hopefully you enjoyed one of these offers when you first came to Whitespace too! Throughout the year we ensure there are great deals for ALL of our customers including Discounts on Classes, Sales, Free Talks & Taster sessions - make sure you take advantage of these!

About your mat

What equipment do I need?

Yoga and Pilates is something you can do without any equipment or props. But you might want to consider a number of things. A mat designed specifically for yoga and pilates not only gives you much-needed grip, but can also act as a cushion against hard or cold floors. These are available for hire at the studio, but you might want to take in to consideration the hygiene benefits of owning you own mat.

Sometimes you might benefit from a few extras. Belts are very popular as they can give you length in the arms when needed, or they can be used in imaginative ways in certain positions. Blocks are often used to aid and support particular parts of the body to help with the correct alignment of a position. All of these pieces of equipment can be very useful when practicing, but it is our belief that we must be careful not to become too reliant on any of them.

How do I care for my mat?

Mats are so easy to care for, in fact all you need to do is pop them into the washing machine.

washing instructions

  • Machine or hand-wash in 30 degrees, or cold water
  • Add a tea spoon of mild detergent
  • rinse twice

hang in a well ventilated room: drape over banister or over radiator to dry (may take up to 2 days depending on how well ventilated the room is) but do NOT direct contact with the radiator.

Breaking in
If you find your mat is a little slippery to begin with, then here are some tricks to breaking in your new mat:

  • machine wash as above – this will help to increase the ‘sticky’ nature of the mat when new
  • place your mat on well used floor space and walk over it to break in
  • take a scrubbing brush that you would normally use for pots & pans and break the surface gently over the top and bottom of mat where the hands and feet are positioned
  • place your new mat under an old mat while doing practice to break in

When is it time for a new mat?

Good, quality mats are very durable, however no mat will last forever. You will know when it’s time for a new mat when your old mat just doesn’t have the grip it used to, when it starts peeling off and you leave a trail wherever you go, when it smells and no amount of washing changes that. Or maybe it’s just time to get a new one when you spy a great new colour!

What to do with my old mat?

You can be creative as you like with this one! Contact your local homeless shelter, your favourite old mat could bring so much comfort to another person’s life. Maybe donate it to another student or local charity, use it as a non-slip surface at home between rugs and wooden floorboards, as protection under pot plants. The possibilities are endless – let us know if you come up with a good one, we’d love to hear from you.

Yoga during Pregnancy

When can I start?

For those new to yoga, any time from the 14th week of pregnancy - at this time the embryo "implants" in the womb and once embedded the pregnancy is more stable ie risk of miscarriage is much reduced and energy levels often improve. For those who are already practicing yoga, it is safe to continue with modifications.

Can I continue throughout pregnancy?

You are encouraged to do yoga during Pregnancy for your health and the baby's health. Yoga and Pilates are excellent for pregnancy on physical, emotional and mental levels. However, for the first trimester, it is recommended you do not practise yoga (or reduce your practice if you've already been doing yoga for a while). This is a crucial phase and it is important that the body is allowed space to adapt to the transition. The second and third trimester are times when yoga can support and aid pregnancy - into and beyond the 40th week of pregnancy!

I have SPD, can the yoga help?

You will need tell the teacher about the SPD and take the sessions very gently. The teacher will give you different practices to many of the other women- your focus is on keeping the pelvis level and steady and strengthening rather than stretching.

Will it help me prepare for birth?

Yes on both a psychological and physical level the yoga helps women prepare for birth- these classes are specifically designed to support the journey from pregnancy into birth and beyond.

I have had miscarriage(s) before- can I do yoga?

Yes the sessions are quite gentle. If you are concerned do mention it to the teacher but nothing you do will put the pregnancy at risk.

When can I start Mum-Baby Yoga

Any time you feel ready, the baby will need to sleep and feed often in the early weeks but the classes are there to support you in the mothering journey and in that way to support the baby, as well as the practices specifically for nurturing the baby.

Can I drop in to the Pregnancy classes?

The classes are only offered as a full course on consecutive weeks, as your practice builds week by week and you grow more confident and stronger in your body. Where your due date falls within the 8 weeks, you can pay-as-you-go at £10 per class.

Any further questions

If you have any questions that haven’t been answered here, please call us at the studio on 01908 566610 and we’d be happy to help.

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