Yoga with Hilary Totah

Hilary Totah

Hilary Totah is registered and insured as a yoga teacher with the Association of Independant Yoga Practitioners (AIYP). She has been practising and working with yoga since 1978 and was a shiatsu bodywork teacher from 1986 to 2004. She was principal of The British School of Shiatsu-Do between 1999 and 2004.

Hilary says: ‘Yoga set me on my life’s path to working with the body, from my first class of ante-natal yoga, through my study and teaching of shiatsu bodywork, to teaching yoga today. There have been many steps on the way and my passion for learning about the body through my own practice and study is undiminished.

Ten years ago I suffered a stroke and was left with restriction and weakness on one side of my body. It was a time when my yoga practice became of prime importance in my life and through working intensively with my body I have recovered to the point where I can move easily and I feel strong again. Yoga has been my healer, my teacher and my life.

For nearly forty years I have been practising yoga, with many different teachers and styles. including for many years, John Stirk, an osteopath and yoga teacher who worked directly with Vanda Scaravelli and was a colleague of R.D. Laing in the 60's. John's teaching is allowing and not restricted by the constraints of yoga postures, encouraging us to move from deep within, bringing his own unique insight to yoga through his knowledge of the body and the psyche.

In my own practice, I find that I want to work less with the surface musculature and more with the breathing and the deep structures of the body, developing inner strength, moving from the inner core and finding my own pace.

In my classes I use simple postures and encourage my students to work slowly, with deep awareness and the breath; to always work within their own ability and range of fitness; to develop a strong inner core so that the surface muscles can then let go of tension and soften, rather than pull and stretch.

Yoga is about developing freedom in the body, helping to develop mobility, strength, poise and the ability to relax, not about striving or pushing the body to its limits. At its most rewarding practising yoga can become an open-ended, ever-expanding self-exploration.