I know it’s usual to read a trashy novel while you are on your holibobs…
But maybe this year try something new? Why not settle down to a bit of yoga reading? You never know you might find it motivates you to do a bit of summer yoga.
My trusty yoga bible – if you only get one yoga book in your life, make it this one. It really does include everything you need to know. Some (about 10 percent) is a little bit bonkers, and really only for those having been brought up in the East with yoga since they were a kid – but the majority is sensible stuff giving plenty of background reading to the topics we cover in class. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Sw Satyanada Saraswati
Not a yoga book but this is a must for anyone living with a pain in the (insert your area here). Pete Egoscue has a fantastic, down to earth approach to pain – really that you have caused it by your own health and habits and that you can cure it by altering your ways… It’s not exactly yoga but uses many of the principles and asanas with a matter of fact ‘get off your butt’ manner. Please let me know if you get a copy and follow the advice, I’m always curious to find out how people have got on. Pain Free by Pete Egoscue
This book is a fabulous course in yoga for the hands and shows all the various mudras and asana practices for overcoming lifes ups and downs. It’s an enjoyable read to pick up and put down besides being a great guide for mudra and meditation. Yoga in you Hands by Gertrud Hirschi.
Although we will be taking a break from our weekly classes over the summer, there is no reason to stop your yoga practice. In fact this is a good time to make a resolve (in yoga we call this a Sankalpa) to do a bit of practice on your own. This will test your memory and motivation!
To help you I have made handouts for the Sun Salutes you have done in your class (if you haven’t got one, be sure to collect one this week) Plus I’ve filmed the following 2 videos -one is the Simple Sun Salute – best for beginner students and one is Surya Namaskara – more suitable for those that have got a couple of years experience. You can follow along anywhere you have WiFi – so no excuses 🙂
Please ‘like’ your favourite Sun Salute – and subscribe to the channel with the red button to see more videos later in the summer…
I recently read a compelling tale about Alfred Nobel – he of the Nobel Peace Prize. The story touched me so much that I can’t seem to get it out of my mind. The story goes (and I can’t say how much of it is absolutely true) that Alfred Nobel was born in poverty but became very rich as an inventor, chemist and engineer. He created dynamite and had many factories making ammunitions thus amassing a great fortune during his lifetime. Sadly his brother died in 1888 and the media at the time got things a little confused and thought it was Alfred who had died. The obituaries in the papers were brutal ‘The merchant of death is dead’ and similar headlines appeared. Despite many other inventions and his vast wealth creation, the main thing Alfred was remembered for was the dynamite and the destruction it caused. This is said to have incentivised Alfred to set up the Nobel Peace Prize. He left his whole fortune to be invested and each year prizes given to those who contribute the most to society.
What does it all mean?
The ancient Sages suggested that to live a happy and fulfilled life it’s important to have a purpose and to consider what you might be remembered most for…
– great abs?
– fast car?
– amazing teeth?
In our increasingly time-deprived lives we can get caught up in minutia and drowned in emails missing the big picture of what we are actually doing here. Spending weeks, months and years doing stuff that makes us miserable and just wishing we were some place else.
Perhaps there’s another way? To take time to think about…
– what makes us tick?
– what do we care deeply about?
– what do we want people to remember about us?
Though the answers may change from time to time, our life on this planet is short – so we should make it count. I doubt anyone’s last words were ‘I wish I could have spent more time at the office’.
In the Stretch & Relax classes over the next half term we will continue to focus on the spine, but this time to look at the core muscles which support and hold the spine in correct alignment.
The exercises we will do include side bending postures to work the obliques, back bending and forward bending to stretch and strengthen the abdominals, plus twisting postures to both strengthen and release all the core muscles.
Chakras are energy centers… ancient yogis developed a concept of energy pathways running all around the body – rather than our energy just radomly ‘fuzzing’ about inside us. This is similar to the system of meridians used in Chinese medicine, reflexology and acupuncture.
One of the main energy pathways (nadis) is along the spine. Where pathways cross the spine, the energy is said to become greater and move in a circular motion hence the name ‘Chakra’, which means wheel in Sanskrit.
You can find more out about the Chakras on the following websites
Spring is in the air… it’s time to spring into action!
At this time of year yogis often ‘cleanse’ their systems with a variety of practices. They can be physical asana, breathing practices or literally cleaning out the sinuses or digestive system with a special kriya or yoga cleansing method.
I’ve devised a simple sequence of asana for you to give it a try – a few stretches including the all important twisting movement which help the digestive system to ‘flow’.
Please note – always work within your own comfortable range of movements. Do not strain! If you have any blood pressure issues it is not advised to do a standing forward bend, try one of the modifications we have done in class instead.
Heal is a documentary film about the connection between stress and illness. It shows how the mind and the body can affect each other when they are out of kilter. It is a very life affirming film. Many examples are used where giving the mind and body the right conditions/therapy has had tremendous healing power. It’s well worth a watch.
You can find the film on Netflix if you are a member or buy it on Youtube. Below is a trailer from youtube.
New research published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine (Feb 2018) suggests that yoga can be a helpful way to boost your immune system and decrease inflammation in the body.
Psychological stress can impact many systems in the body, including weakening the immune system and increasing chronic inflammation. Inflammation is natural part of the immune response and in the short term can be helpful to heal wounds, injuries, and infections, but chronic inflammation can do more harm than good.
Researchers collectively reviewed 15 randomized controlled trials that examined whether the regular practice of yoga postures could strengthen the immune system and reduce chronic inflammation. The average sample size of the trials was 70, and sample sizes ranged from 11 to as many as 140 participants. The majority of studies used Hatha yoga, a general term that indicates a style that includes postures.
Scientists in these yoga trials examined the immune system response by measuring blood or saliva levels of circulating pro-inflammatory markers such as cytokines, a protein called C-reactive protein (CRP), as well as immune cell counts, antibodies, and markers of gene expression in immune cells.
Researchers found an overall pattern that yoga reduces pro-inflammatory markers, with the strongest evidence for the reduction of a cytokine called IL-1beta. There are mixed but promising results regarding other types of pro-inflammatory markers. One study found that yoga increased levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-10. Another trial found that yoga could mediate inflammation at the genomic level, changing levels of proteins that control the DNA transcription of proinflammatory cytokine genes.
Overall, the collection of research trials indicate yoga has a promising anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
How often and how long do you need to practice yoga to get this effect? So far researchers do not have a conclusive answer, but most of these research studies implemented yoga programs that lasted from 8 to 12 weeks with a frequency between once weekly to daily. Yoga classes in the research studies range from 30 to 90 minutes. As with most mind-body practices, regular consistent practice yields the most promise.
As it’s coming up to Christmas I thought I’d give you some recommendations for a little present for your Christmas list or for you to give to a friend. Reading about yoga is a great way to supplement your own practice – it’s another way to learn, just looking at the poses helps you to understand the shape the body is supposed to be in!! And you don’t even have to get up off the sofa! And giving the gift of yoga to someone else is the best gift you can give…
SLIM CAM SEXY YOGA – Tara Styles
This a great guide to yoga postures – geared towards the younger, (more bendy!), however the photographs, words and sequences are well put together (even though some are a little ambitious).
Tara Styles helps you to discover your own home practice… in just 15 minutes a day yoga can help you…
sculpt your body
control diet-busting cravings
get smooth glowing skin
improve mood and energy
YOGA FOR LONG LIFE – Stella Weller
By contrast, his book offers gentle, effective exercise for the mature person. It’s more of a practical workbook offering strengthening and stretching yoga exercises for anyone wishing to preserve the quality of their mobility and life.
With lots of drawn illustrations, this book offers chapters on breathing exercises, mental exercises, eating for longevity and help for common disorders such as arthritis, eye problems and osteoporosis.