Mindful Yoga with Rhys

Do you want to increase your resilience and ability to handle stressful situations? To become more present, connected and self-aware?  

I'm Rhys Johnstone, yoga and mindfulness teacher and researcher.

Join me for regular practice and expert, science-based guidance to develop your wellbeing, resilience and insight.

Let's get started

Mindful Yoga with Rhys

Do you want to become more present, connected and aware? To increase your resilience and ability to handle stressful situations? 

I'm Rhys Johnstone, yoga and mindfulness teacher and researcher.

Join me for regular practice and expert, science-based guidance to develop your wellbeing, resilience and focus.

Mindful Yoga With Rhys

Regular practice can create lasting change

That's why I've packed this monthly membership with

  • live Zoom classes a week
  • Video classes you can watch anytime
  • Guided meditations
  • Monthly masterclasses
  • An exclusive newsletter

This monthly membership package contains everything you need to develop a regular mindfulness practice in an accessible, safe way.

Sign Me Up Now!

So what happens in the classes?

Mindful yoga includes gentle yoga stretches held with awareness, and guided mindfulness meditations. Watch the video to learn more.

 
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What students are saying about Mindful Yoga with Rhys

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Tshidi Mathibe, Post-Doctoral Fellow

"With the current situation, it's really hard to cope with work, home and kids. Since I joined your class, I'm more calm, relaxed and focused. Thank you once more."

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Shelly Nel, Documentary Director

"The pace is gentle and allows me the time to focus. I am now aware of where I hold tension in my body and I am able to start the day with a wonderful sense of calm."

More about Rhys

Rhys Johnstone has been practising yoga and mindfulness for 12 years, and has been teaching since 2012. He is qualified in several styles of yoga and has trained to post-graduate level in teaching mindfulness. Rhys takes a gentle, caring approach and his personal practice focuses on the intersection of yoga and mindfulness, the embodied breath and sound. Rhys teaches at business schools and companies as well as to individuals; his doctoral research interests are in mindfulness and the workplace.

Rhys Johnstone, mindfulness and yoga teacher

Mindful Yoga with Rhys

R499/month (7-day free trial)

Membership includes

  • 3 live Zoom classes a week
  • Video classes you can watch anytime
  • Guided meditations
  • Monthly masterclasses
  • Exclusive newsletter
Sign Me Up Now!

Regular practice and science-based guidance to develop your wellbeing, resilience and insight

This monthly membership package contains everything you need to develop a regular mindfulness practice in an accessible, safe way.

So what is mindfulness anyway? And what can it do for me?

Mindfulness is a natural state of being that we all experience to some degree, but which is unfortunately often absent in our daily lives. Instead, mindlessness predominates, leaving us feeling disconnected and overwhelmed. The good news is that we can train ourselves to be more mindful, improving performance, relationships and wellbeing. Being more mindful helps us to navigate the complexity, uncertainty and change which face almost everyone today.

Mindfulness is a state of awareness that naturally arises when we intentionally pay attention to what is going on in the present moment, in a particular way: without judging or overlaying conceptual analysis on what we observe. It is the act of simply noticing, before we form opinions and attempt to categorise or analyse our experience. It has a feeling of curious, friendly attention that is completely different from conceptual thinking. Mindfulness is also the act of catching ourselves when we default to mindless states of rumination and automatic patterns of thinking. We can train ourselves to prolong this open, accepting awareness, creating a stable attention that sees clearly without comparing, assuming or judging.

In training ourselves to be more mindful we choose an object of attention, such as the breath, and gently return our attention back to that focal object every time it wanders. By strengthening our mindfulness in these practice sessions, we become more mindful during our everyday activities and interactions.

It sounds simple, and it is. But it is not easy. This is because the mind is built to wander. Our incredible evolutionary advantage, the ability to imagine the future, make plans, and analyse the past, which has brought us to our dominant place on the planet, is also our Achilles’ heel. Untamed, the “monkey mind” leaps from thought to thought, often without our even being aware that we are thinking. And it forms deep grooves, repetitive thought patterns which are often unproductive and hold us back. It takes great patience to gently keep bringing the attention back to the present moment, and kindness to not spiral into self-recrimination, which is really just another way of disconnecting from the present moment.

So why would we bother to perform this difficult and seemingly boring procedure? It turns out that even a relatively small dose of mindfulness meditation (15 minutes per day) actually changes the physical structure and functioning of the brain, as seen in fMRI scans. These effects are associated with a host of beneficial changes in our thinking, emotions, behaviour and physical well-being. The more you practice and the longer you train consistently, the greater the benefits. Studies show that meditators make better decisions, are happier and more resilient, have better relationships, are more ethical, sleep better, are less prone to some chronic illnesses, maintain their cognitive abilities better as they age, and are less likely to resort to harmful coping mechanisms such as drinking excessively.

What’s the catch? You have to do it. Just as reading a book about running will not get you fit, no matter how many articles about mindfulness you read, it won’t make you more mindful. It is an experiential practice and it only works if you do it. It is also, paradoxically, counter-productive to try too hard, or hold on too strongly to any particular outcome. 

It is best to get some support, an ethical trainer who emphasises the attitudinal and intentional components of the practice. Mindfulness is not a panacea for every issue. Not everything that comes up is pleasant and a kind, gentle approach is required. A community of practice can be a helpful way to stay accountable and to find support if the going gets tough. Mindfulness is also not recommended for people with severe mental/emotional challenges or trauma, unless they are working with a qualified professional with experience in these areas.

 

Where does the Yoga part come in?

Mindful Yoga is a lovely gentle entry into mindfulness, especially for "fidgety" types like me, or those who are daunted by the whole idea of "meditation". 

Yoga is a vast territory which includes philosophy, psychology, meditation, ethics and physical practices. The original Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme adopted some of the physical yoga postures, without including the other elements, and these gentle yoga movements are an integral part of any mindfulness training today.

By moving our body with awareness and a mindful attitude, we learn a great deal about how our attention functions, and we begin to notice sensations in the body, thoughts and emotions - and our responses to these experiences - all of which are worthy objects for our mindful awareness and inquiry. 

Of course, yoga should always be mindful in the sense that we pay very close attention to how we are breathing and moving when we practice yoga postures. However, there are some subtle attitudinal differences between the two traditions. Mindfulness focuses more on noticing and allowing, while yoga incorporates a conscious attempt to relax or transform the breath, body and mind.

And so, I have named the practices I teach Mindful Yoga, since they use Yoga postures while cultivating this mindful allowing and noticing, rather than conscious "relaxation". However, we do also explore some typical yoga practices that you would not find in a traditional Mindfulness class, such as breathing exercises where we consciously change the breath (called Pranayama). And we also include "classic" Mindfulness exercises that you might not find in a typical yoga class, such as the body scan. 

Even this fidgety guy has learned to sit still for a while. And so yes, I do include short seated meditations in some Mindful Yoga classes :).

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