Rebecca Bradley, Mandala Yoga Teacher

13 March 2019

A few months ago I'd never heard of Mandala Yoga, until I walked into Rebecca's class at Yogarise in Peckham. Following the same principals of a vinyasa flow but instead of working to the front of the mat you move 360 degrees around it, therefore, 50% facing the back and the rest to the front.  A Mandala Vinyasa class is established on the 4 basic elements to bring connection between you and each of the Elements in the Universe – Earth, Water, Fire and Air – and with their corresponding Chakra. Each of the element relates to a specific group of muscles of the leg mandala:

Air – quads and backbends. Energetically activating Anahata Chakra, related with our social identity and self love, finding space in our hearts.
Fire – glutes and IT band accessing through twists. Energetically activating Manipura Chakra, our solar plexus, related with our will power and ego identity.
Water – groin and hips. Energetically activating Svadhisthana, the Sacral Chakra, our source of movement and connection, related with our reproductive system.
Earth – hamstrings and forward folds. Energetically activating Muladhara, the Root Chakra, related with grounding and safety.

One of the main missions of this blog was to profile the some of the 'standout' yoga teachers of London and Rebecca is certainly one of these. Her warm, bubble attitude and teaching technique is delightful and what ever standard of yoga you are she will make you feel 100% at ease.  You'll find her teaching at fantastic London studios such as, Yogarise, Core Collective in Knightsbridge and Kindred Yoga. 

I caught up with her to find out how she started and more about the Mandala practice..

Do you remember the first time you practiced and how did it make you feel?

Kind of, I trained as an actor and I think now looking back at drama school days we did way more yoga than we really realised in our warm-ups and breath work. However, my first proper yoga class in a legit studio was 7 years ago in London and I think I probably cried all the way through! I was going through a tough time, dealing with the grief of loosing my dad and I found practicing yoga a totally healing experience.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed or stressed in the busy city we live in?

Either call my mum, go to a yoga class, walk my dog, or hide on my sofa. I love socializing and I love my friends dearly but sometimes spending a bit of time just being by myself and having my own space (both physically and mentally) is really calming for me.

For anyone who hasn’t practiced mandala why would you recommend it and do you have a favourite element?

Ooh ok, so my favourite element initially was earth (I like forward folding and enjoy the sense of ‘groundedness’ you get from the earth practice), but I do like the ‘flowyness’ of Water, and with air I have a love/hate relationship as I don’t backbend easily, so all of them really but perhaps fire is my least favourite (I can sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed practicing fire).

I would recommend mandala to those who already have quite an established practice and who are looking to explore a different style and to find a bit more of flow/fluidity to their practice. There are opportunities to invert, rest or down dog which is good for giving a bit of responsibility over to the student and encourages them to take their practice to where they want it to go to. I personally find Mandala very liberating and I enjoy the freedom it gives you. However, I wouldn’t really recommend Mandala to a brand new beginner as it does move quite quickly and there isn’t much time to teach the basics, so if you are new I would definitely balance out Mandala with a couple of good solid beginners classes.

Top tips for someone trying to master inversions or pincher?!

Stretch your hamstrings, strengthen your core and practice with patience. After 7 years of practice I still can’t really handstand, maybe I have too much patience ha! Also for Pincha what helped me was opening up my shoulders but if you’re already quite open it will probably be a case of strengthening them. Everyone is different and remember it really isn’t just about the pose!

Where do you practice yoga in London?

Yogarise Peckham or Kindred in Deptford both really close to where I live, great studios and really good teachers.

What are the books or book you go back to read time after time?

I’m more of a Netflix kind of girl, I know that’s bad, but if I had to choose a book, hmmm....Can I say Winnie the Pooh?!

Follow Rebecca on instagram here for all her updates.

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