Spring Clean Home Practice

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.

Happy spring cleaning!

Heal!

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.

Immune Boosting Yoga

Immune-System-600

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.

Originally posted by Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D.

Some Book Suggestions…

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 calm sexy

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
banish stress
get smooth glowing skin
sleep better
improve mood and energy

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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.

KEEP IN TOUCH OVER THE SUMMER…

Whether you are at home or travelling over the summer KEEP IN TOUCH…   Send me a picture taken of yourself in your favourite yoga posture, add a witty title and enter it in our competition – you could win yourself a bag full of yoga goodies…

Please send your entries to me via email – deb@do-yoga.co.uk.  Get snapping and good luck xxx

The competition will be judged by a panel on September 1st 2018 and the winner notified in the first week of the autumn term.

(Small Print… By entering your photo you are agreeing for it to be published on the do-yoga website and other printed do-yoga materials.)

 

 

MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS – A MORNING WORKSHOP

Saturday 26th May 10 – 1 Ryhall Village Hall

Many people get frustrated with meditation or simply have no idea where to start. Meditation is meant to be enjoyable, relaxing and a powerful tool for our health. I have put together a morning of movement and stillness, noise and silence, laughter and peace so that I can pass on this hugely rewarding practice. No previous experience of yoga is necessary – just a mat and blanket.

So what exactly is meditation? Emptying your mind like emptying your kitchen bin??? Well it can have that effect – but in a more gentle manner – we are trying to sooth the mind and reduce the ‘background’ noise. Meditation gives our mind something to focus on, so it has an anchor to hold onto. Anchors may include saying a mantra, looking at an object, watching the breath or simple movements. An anchor also helps us be fully present and live in the moment – trying to stop thoughts of the past and future.

Holding onto these anchors helps quiet our minds and then we can get a glimpse of how the mind is working.  We can then get to see our worries, our obsessions and the busyness of the mind just like clouds floating in the sky. Potentially, we can choose to let these things go as we put some perspective onto the thoughts and see them as just that – thoughts.  In a sense we develop our own method of managing our thoughts. Instead of our thoughts controlling us we get some control over them!

Some people see meditation like sitting at the shore of the ocean of your mind and just watching the waves come and go. We’re not pushing our thoughts away, or judging them but simply watching these thoughts as we’d watch the waves while sitting on the beach. And whilst on the beach watching each wave there’s also a sense of connection to something bigger, something that helps you put some perspective onto the thoughts.

But what if I can’t sit still? Or simply don’t have 5 minutes a day to practice? Don’t worry, meditation is not supposed to be something that is added to your to-do list. Fidgetty people are actually the ones who can benefit the most from meditation, as it helps you to r-e-l-a-x. You can meditate walking or gently moving the body in different ways as well as the traditional statue-like state. That said, being still in the body does help to be still in the mind, but this will come with practice and patience.  There are many well respected studies that show how beneficial meditation is for stress reduction, productivity improvement and easing insomnia. You can read more about this here

On this MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS workshop you will take a light hearted tour around the important aspects of meditation and explore several different methods. It is experiential (you will do things) as well as being a little theoretical, giving you some background information which will hopefully inspire and fire you up to make time for meditation in your life.

Please book your place in class or email me via the Contact Us page.

Is it time to find yourself a yoga buddy?

I know, it sounds a bit American, but it’s so true – a yoga or fitness buddy is a valuable resource to keep you motivated and save you money. We’ve all experienced the initial enthusiasm of a new sport or New Years’ Resolution, but as it wears off people often find that they give up despite the fact that the new routine is really doing good things. Research shows that having a fitness buddy in fact helps to keep you on track and motivated. The same is true with a yoga buddy, there are so many advantages that you’d be mad not to go out and find yourself one right now! Here are just 5 ways that they can help you…and you can help them…

1 – Safety in numbers! It sounds silly, but even as grown-ups, if you are starting a new class, you can feel a bit intimidated by the other class members who have been coming a while and know the ropes. Bringing along a pal is a great way to overcome this sense of intimidation.

2 – Ensure that you turn up! We all have those days when we just want to crash on the sofa… If someone is relying on you to help them then you have to find the energy. And you know that you’ll feel better yourself too.

3 – Share lifts! A great way to save money, especially in our area where we often have to drive for 15-20 minutes.

4 – It’s more fun! By creating shared moments you will develop your friendship and have more fun along the way particularly when you travel together and can review the highs and lows on the way home!

5 – You can make your yoga a social event! Why not have a drink or meal afterwards once a month as a reward for sticking at it? What about a yoga day? Or a yoga holiday? Look out for workshops where you could go along with your buddy and have a new experience, delving a little deeper but still with the comfort of knowing your buddy is there with you.

Pause a while with a mandala…

Why not print off this lovely ‘mandala’ and colour it in for someone special this Valentines’ day?

What’s a mandala? I hear you ask…

mandala (meaning circle) is a spiritual motif. Without beginning and end, just as the universe is believed to have no end, the circle symbolises the universe. It’s seen as a representation of the inner and outer world.

The Sanskrit word mandala indicates everything that is round or circular. In tantric traditions, it often refers to a sacred space, which can be round or square or any other form.

The model of the mandala is a square with four gates containing a circle with a central point. Often the mandala is also in an outer circle. This basic form can be found in many ancient mandalas, but there are many more variants. The mandala can be filled with all kinds of patterns.

In the recent trend of colouring as a form of relaxation, one of the most popular types of patterns to colour is the mandala. Many people find coloring a mandala a form of meditation. As they focus on colouring in the patterns of the form, they relax, their mind grows quiet.

The mandala can also be used as an object to focus your attention on while meditating. Because of the symmetrical shape, your attention is directed to the centre.

 

WHY COLORING MANDALAS IS FOR EVERYONE

It’s an activity everyone can enjoy:

  • Children: Because the mandala isn’t a literal representation of reality, children can fully enjoy their creativity. They don’t have to worry about choosing the right colour green for the trees or what colour blue the sky should be. The mandala can have all the colors of the rainbow. Or just their favourite colour. Colouring a mandala is an excellent way to end a busy class and help children unwind.
  • Adults: Everyone has had those days when your head overflows and your thoughts just seem to keep running in circles. Colouring a mandala for an hour may help you calm down. By focusing only on the pattern and colours, your mind may become wonderfully empty. You come to rest for a little while.
  • Elderly: For the elderly, colouring mandalas may help you keep your memory in shape. The repetitive nature of many mandalas allows you to create beautiful symmetrical patterns, but you must concentrate to ensure that your colours are symmetrical (if that is, indeed, your goal). Remaining focused on a creative endeavour of this sort may keep your mind sharp.

Finally, you may not think at first glance that colouring mandalas is something that can be done in a group, but it’s a great activity to do with friends or relatives. Make a photocopy of a mandala that everyone can work on at once and go to town. Or give everyone their own copy of the same mandala and see how people come up with different colours and patterns for the same design. There is no end to creativity when it comes to madalas.

 

 

Walk With Me…

If you would like to learn more about Thich Nhat Hanh and his methods of meditation and mindfulness, there will be a screening of a film about his village on Thursday 1st February at the Arts Centre, Stamford.  If you are interested in something it’s always worthwhile to find out about it from a variety of sources – our brains seem to like to connect a bit of reading, a bit of chatting and a bit of doing together and this makes ideas ‘stick’ firmer into our minds.
Review from Rotten Tomatoes –
With unprecedented access, WALK WITH ME goes deep inside a Zen Buddhist community who have given up all their possessions and signed up to a life of chastity for one common purpose – to transform their suffering, and practice the art of mindfulness with the world-famous teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Filmed over three years, in their monastery in rural France and on the road in the USA, this visceral film is a meditation on a community grappling with existential questions and the everyday routine of monastic life. As the seasons come and go, the monastics’ pursuit for a deeper connection to themselves and the world around them is amplified by insights from Thich Nhat Hanh’s early journals, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch.

 

SYNOPSIS

“Slow down and breathe. This contemplative journey follows in the steps of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and is a rare insight into life within a monastic community. The sun rises. Everything is calm and still. Life is beautifully serene as Benedict Cumberbatch’s composed, meditative voice reads an extract from Thich Nhat Hanh’s early journals. So begins Max Pugh and Marc J Francis’ (Black Gold, LFF2006) fascinating and immersive exploration of what it means to devote one’s life to mindfulness. With unprecedented access to the famous secluded monastery of Plum Village in the South West of France, Walk With Me captures the daily routine and rituals of monks and nuns on a quest to develop a deep sense of presence. It is an insightful rumination on the pursuit of happiness, living in the present and our attachment to material things – a welcome remedy to the stresses of city life and a world in turmoil.”

Laure Bonville, London Film Festival

Is Your Posture Getting On Your Nerves?

Did your know that your posture effects the alignment of the spine and this can have a knock-on effect on the nervous system?

As the nerves travel through the spine – down the central cavity and in between the vertebrae – it stands to reason that any misalignment due to injury or bad posture will have and effect on your body and mind.

nerves of the spine

When the body is in correct alignment there will be less tension and the nervous system will run smoothly, unimpeded as nature intended.

Below is a which indicates problems and their possible sources if nerves become pressured by the spine…

spinalchart

This is only meant to hi-light how important posture and alignment are in our lives – not for self diagnoses or to worry you.

Stretching out the spine in the 6 main directions, as we do in yoga, and awareness of good posture should enable all of us to move with grace and live without pain.

If you want to read more about what goes on inside you… try Spine Universe where you can watch their short video.

If you would like to work on your posture and gain a greater understanding of the spine and how to strengthen the muscles around it, why not come along to my workshop in Ryhall on Saturday 24th February? We will be looking at exercises to do just that – you can see more information here or contact me to see if there is a place.