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.

Stretch & Relax Yoga – March 2019

This term we’ll continue our tour of body parts… having explored our FEET, LEGS and HIPS we now move onto the BACK.

We’ll be revisiting the structure of the spine and have a really great sequence of postures that will strengthen and stretch out the back – from the bottom to the top.

At the end of term I will give out the sequence in diagram form so that you can continue to practice at home – I think this sequence is one of the best things you can do to avoid a bad back! Great news for all that gardening that awaits us during this Spring Season.

Yoga classes March – April 2019

In the 90 minute Yoga classes we’ll continue the theme of ‘Opposites’.  Our next set of lessons drawing inspiration from the text of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras –

“sthira sukham asanam” (II:46)

Which is translated to mean ‘the posture is firm and soft’.

With these 2 things in mind we will look at a variety of postures including the Tiger, the Pigeon and a very deep backbend called the Melting Heart pose. Hopefully balancing the firmness and softness both on a physical and mental level. Challenging!

All of our posture work will help to strengthen and stretch our whole bodies so that we can enjoy stability and ease at all times in our lives.

Our focus in Pranayama will continue to develop Kapalbhati and the guided relaxations will aim to connect us all to the gentle and soft sides of our nature.

Kumbhaka

yoga stillness

In the yoga classes last term we explored the feelings of movement and stillness. There were complicated movements that really got our minds concentrating, simple flowing movements and then bringing the body to stillness – standing, seated and lying on the front and back of the body.  And we asked ourselves… can we ever be really still?

In the yogic teachings we are guided to bring the body to stillness to help bring the mind to stillness. Within the Pranayama (control of the breath) practice we observe the points at the ends of the inhale and exhale – where the tide of air changes direction. It is here that our body can be stiller, in this pause, which is called the Kumbhaka.

Try this simple practice – sitting in a comfortable position, breathe in and out through the nose, smooth 3 part breathing if you are familiar with it. Count 5 for the inhale and 5 for the exhale. Watch for the pauses at the end of the inhale and exhale (don’t feel as though you are holding the breath, just let the pauses feel like natural pauses). Practice for about 5 minutes. Watch for the spaces to arise, feeling the stillness in your body and your mind. If you feel dizzy at any time stop the practice. It should feel comfortable and relaxing.

If you have blood pressure issues it’s best to work under the guidance of a teacher rather than on your own with this kind of work.

 

Exton class off to a great start!

exton class

We had a lovely time on Monday at the first ever class at Exton Village Hall. It was warm and bright and everyone was very smiley.

What a super welcome to yoga at Exton – I’m really looking forward to working there – thank you to everyone xxx

January Gin

20190123_205828

Well at last dry January is almost over… and so far I can’t say that I’ve felt any benefit whatsoever. My husband has managed to stay awake at night time and so he doesn’t miss the last 10 minutes of every tv programme ; ) but that’s about the only benefit we’ve found.

I felt convinced that my liver would feel clean and my skin glow, but it just hasn’t been the case. My body hasn’t craved alcohol but I have felt denied. It has been a good time to explore non- alcoholic drinks but I find that many contain too much sugar for my taste. Give me a nice glass of red wine any day!

In the yogic tradition good food and drink is thought to be that which still has ‘life force’ or prana in it. Ie a tomato picked straight from the garden. Also given as an example is beer and wine as it has the yeast which is a live organism in it.

Anyway, as part of my clean living January, I thought I’d try to make my own gin syrup, a healthy alternative for January. So I tried a rose hip syrup and juniper berry infusion. It’s not gin, but it’s not that bad and on the positive side it contains ingredients that might do you some good! The vitamin C (high in rose hips) may help to fend off colds. Juniper berries can be good for you in small quantities helping the digestive tract and acting as an antioxidant. They are not advised for pregnant ladies or people taking prescription medication though – so if you do decide to give this a try please look up the health benefits and precautions of taking juniper here https://www.indigo-herbs.co.uk/natural-health-guide/benefits/juniper-berry

January Gin
Ingredients
200 ml Rose Hip Syrup
2 desert spoons of Juniper berries
1 Chai tea bag

Pour the syrup into a small saucepan and then fill up the bottle twice and add the water to the pan (400 ml)
Grind up the junipers in a mortar and pestle for a bit (until your arm aches) so that the berries are quite squashed and release their fragrance. Add them to the pan.
Drop in the tea bag and heat stirring all the time. Do not let the mixture boil, but wait until you can see a bit of vapour coming off. Turn off the heat or move to a warm spot and leave the mixture to infuse for a couple of hours. Strain off and bottle. Keep in the fridge and use within a month.

To serve – place lots of ice into a glass, add your gin syrup, tonic water and slices of lemon and orange. Toast – GOOD HEALTH!

Roasted Sprouts

roasted sprouts

Love ’em or hate ’em there is no escaping the Brussels Sprout at this time of the year.

In actual fact, I always find they are not as bad as I remember and think we should have them more often. When you look at the nutritional facts there is a lot to be said for the humble sprout… high in vitamins, minerals and fibre and amazingly low in calories. They also contain small amounts of vitamin B6, potassium, iron, thiamine, magnesium and phosphorus.

So as with most vegetables in the past month or so I’ve given the sprouts the roasting treatment… just chuck ’em in the oven with a good glug of olive oil and perhaps a bit of garlic. 25 – 30 minutes later a wonderful dish awaits. A couple of tips.. I prefer to half them but I’m sure whole would work with a little more cooking time… a few shavings of parmesan also enhances the flavour. Enjoy!

Brand New Yoga Class in Exton

61 cropped

I’ll be starting a brand new class on Monday mornings (10.30 – 12.00) in Exton Village Hall from January 2019. The hall has been completely refurbished, has a sprung wooden floor and central heating. There is plenty of parking around the village green and I’ve timed it – it’s only 5 minutes from Oakham.

data=OoqJqYav83i7b1Hs-6bMAuFtjuwhyJsGe4xhnh60z0M9xYgVHlvryYMc6CFdm8YgF2wULuwtFKfpBrYAIhEYqAPZ-cjcrTvZc7fKyN_TbGNoRGhlgPxsNRpwueUTl7nwIQ[1]

The classes will begin on the 21st January with a 4 week ‘Introduction To Yoga’ – this is a great guide to what yoga is and how the postures, breathing and relaxation exercises work holistically for optimum physical and mental health. This is a rare and fantastic opportunity for anyone who would like to learn yoga from the beginning with a group of people all at the same stage.

The cost will be £32 and include a free A5 file to keep your hand outs in. Afterwards the classes will follow the same terms as the other classes and go at the pace determined by the members of the group.

Please help to spread the word – if you know anyone who you feel might benefit – please encourage them to get in touch. It’s nice to learn from the very beginning and to belong to a group at the same stage of learning.

 

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

51ZSNP78APL._SX361_BO1,204,203,200_

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.

Shining Skull Breath (Kapalbhati)

Kapalbhati Pranyama

In our yoga classes this term we have begun to work with Kapalbhati Pranayama. This is a practice which is cleansing and energising – the forceful exhalation clears out the nasal passageways and the pulling force of the abdomen stimulates and strengthens the abdominal muscles and organs. When you have got the hang of this practice it literally takes 5 minutes and you feel strong and ready for anything!  It will make sits up a thing of the past.

The way this makes you feel so good is because the blood is enriched with more oxygen than your usual breathing which is very good for your circulation, renewing body tissue and helping your nerves and metabolism. There really is no other practice in any sport or exercise like it – which can make it difficult to understand and get into.

The following guide is meant as a supplement to our class work. It’s always best to learn from an experience teacher and exercise caution – building up the tummy muscles gradually and the bodies’ capacity to deal with the changes. If you feel dizzy at any time you should stop and sit still until you feel better. People suffering from high blood pressure, eye problems, hernia or recovering from any abdominal injury or operation should not do this practice. IF IT HURTS OR MAKES YOU DIZZY THEN STOP

The body should be prepared over some weeks before even having a go.  A gentle way to do this is to lay on your back in the semi supine position and work with leg raises and apanasana (knees to chest) to bring your awareness to your abdominal muscles and strengthen them. In class we worked with a routine called Mooncat (which I have given as half term homework). This sequence of postures includes the cat and cow, half moon pose and plank – all of which work the abdominal muscles.

Further preparation is required to understand abdominal breathing and our breathing process in general. Visualise air travelling into the body thought the nose and down into the abdomen allowing the abdomen to swell and then visualise the air travelling back out up through the body and out through the nose squeezing the abdominal muscles increasingly tighter with each round. You can begin practising in the semi supine position and then move onto a sitting posture. For more information about abdominal breathing read this post.

To practice Kapalbhati – (it is very important to have taken the steps to prepare, this lays the foundation for your success)

Sit in a comfortable seated posture (one that you can hold and feels as if your back is upright and if someone came along and gave you a shove you wouldn’t fall over)

The back must be upright and the crown of the head up towards the ceiling

The hands resting on the knees, shoulders and elbows relaxed – use your favourite mudra

Close the eyes and relax the whole body – especially the abdominal area

Inhale a deep abdominal breath and then pull the abdominal muscles back to force and exhale back out through the nostrils

The next inhale happens passively as you relax the abdomen then pull the abdominals back again to force the exhale out through the nose.

Continue pumping the air out like this for 10 – 20 rounds or less if your tummy feels tired.

Relax and then take a deep slow inhale, pause gently then exhale smoothly and slowly.

This concludes 1 round, begin again and practice up to 3 rounds.
Always practice with awareness – keep your mind on what you are doing. Stop at once if you feel faint or dizzy.