The Benefits of a Pair of Yoga Toe Socks

yoga toes socks

Besides the obvious – THEY KEEP YOUR FEET WARM – yoga toe socks are very good for your feet. More specifically the ones with the awkward little individual toes and the sticky bumps on the bottom. This type of sock gives each toes their space and helps to correct all of those years of crushing the little toes into tight shoes and high heels.

It takes a while to put them on. And I know, they feel a bit uncomfortable at first. However, doing yoga in toe socks can help to alleviate a variety of foot problems –

  • bunions
  • joint pain
  • foot cramps
  • athletes foot
  • tired feet after long walks or shopping in the sales

For obvious reasons we need to have a good grip on the sole of the yoga sock – to stop us from slipping on our yoga mats! However, there’s an added bonus to using the socks in yoga postures because the toes are forced to spread out and this gives us more surface area to balance on.

So have a thought…TOE SOCKS… great idea and not just for yoga.

A wide variety of toe socks can be found on the Yogamatters website.

Or you can buy Toe Socks from me in class – they are £5 a pair and come in a range of colours. Have a look at my shop window here to see the socks and other items I can get for my students…

Warrior Works Wonders for Anti Ageing!

Warrior on the beach

Yoga keeps the mind and body young, 22 clinical trials show

(Reposting of Article Published Tuesday 4 June 2019 in Medical News Today)
A review analysing the results of 22 randomized clinical trials has found that yoga practice can improve many aspects of physical and mental health among older adults.

Yoga can be an effective option for older adults who want to maintain good physical and mental health.
Yoga refers to a series of mind-body practices that originate in Hindu tradition.
However, they are growing in popularity across the world as an alternative well-being practice.
Statistic show that in 2015 in the United States alone, as many as 36.7 million people practised yoga, and by 2020, estimates suggest that this number will have increased to over 55 million people.
People who practice yoga often share anecdotes regarding its beneficial effect on their mental and physical health. Intrigued by such reports, some scientists set out to verify whether the benefits are real.
Indeed, some studies have found that different yoga practices are able to improve a person’s general sense of well-being, as well as various aspects of their physical health.
For example, a series of studies from 2017 suggested that people who joined a yoga program experienced lower levels of anxiety and depression.
A study from 2016 found that practising yoga correlated with a lower risk of cognitive impairment in older adults, and research from earlier this year concluded that 8 weeks of intense yoga practice reduced the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Now, investigators at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom have conducted a review, analysing the findings of 22 randomized and cluster-randomized clinical trials that assessed the benefits of yoga practice for healthy older adults.
The trials considered the effects of varied yoga programs — with program durations between 1 and 7 months and individual session durations between 30 and 90 minutes — on both mental and physical well-being.
‘Yoga has great potential’ to improve health
In the review, which features as an open access article in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, the researchers conducted statistical analysis to assess the combined findings of the 22 trials. They compared the benefits associated with yoga with those of other light physical activities, such as walking and chair aerobics.
The team found that among people with a mean age of 60 years or over, practising yoga — compared with not engaging in physical activity — helped improve their physical balance, flexibility of movement, and limb strength. It also reduced depression, improved sleep quality, and boosted their vitality.
Also, the researchers noticed that older adults who practised yoga perceived their own physical and mental health to be satisfactory.

When compared with other light physical activities, such as walking, yoga seemed to more effectively improve older adults’ lower body strength, enhance their lower body flexibility, and reduce their symptoms of depression.
“A large proportion of older adults are inactive and do not meet the balance and muscle strengthening recommendations set by government and international health organizations,” notes Divya Sivaramakrishnan, the review’s lead author.
However, yoga can be an easy, adaptable, and attractive form of physical activity, and since the evidence suggesting that it can be beneficial for health is building up, joining a yoga program could be a good option for older adults looking to stay in shape — both physically and mentally.
“Based on this study, we can conclude that yoga has great potential to improve important physical and psychological outcomes in older adults. Yoga is a gentle activity that can be modified to suit those with age-related conditions and diseases.”

Published Tuesday 4 June 2019 Medical News Today
By Maria Cohut, Ph.D.
Fact checked by Jasmin Collier
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325374.php

Chill Out with the Cooling Breath

Yoga breathing practices aren’t just for relaxation and helping us to feel calm…

You can literally alter the temperature of your body so that you feel a little more chilled – try it for yourself – it’s easy and may help you to keep your cool in this heat!

If you are able curl up the sides of your tongue to form a tube.  Inhale through the mouth – well through you tongue – a feeling of chilled air will hit your mouth and throat.  If you find it difficult to roll the tongue then inhale through the teeth – the same effect can be felt.

Draw the breath in nice and slowly, then close the mouth and hold the breath in slightly before breathing out through the nose.  Do it 9 times and feel the coolness of the chest.

This practice is known as Sheetali Pranayama – Chill Out and enjoy!

The Benefits of a Pair of Yoga Toe Socks

yoga toes socks

Besides the obvious – THEY KEEP YOUR FEET WARM – yoga toe socks are very good for your feet. More specifically the ones with the awkward little individual toes and the sticky bumps on the bottom. This type of sock gives each toes their space and helps to correct all of those years of crushing the little toes into tight shoes and high heels.

It takes a while to put them on. And I know, they feel a bit uncomfortable at first. However, doing yoga in toe socks can help to alleviate a variety of foot problems –

  • bunions
  • joint pain
  • foot cramps
  • athletes foot
  • tired feet after long walks or shopping in the sales

For obvious reasons we need to have a good grip on the sole of the yoga sock – to stop us from slipping on our yoga mats! However, there’s an added bonus to using the socks in yoga postures because the toes are forced to spread out and this gives us more surface area to balance on.

So have a thought…TOE SOCKS… great idea and not just for yoga.

A wide variety of toe socks can be found on the Yogamatters website.

Or you can buy Toe Socks from me in class – they are £5 a pair and come in a range of colours. Have a look at my shop window here to see the socks and other items I can get for my students…

The Durga Gallery

Over the last half term our Yoga class students have been working with the Warrior and Goddess postures to strengthen our legs and improve our lungs. We have also looked at images of the Goddess Durga with her 8 arms and thought about how fantastic that might be at this time of year to help with all of our jobs at Christmas.  Mental images of empowerment like this can be used as a coping strategy and help us to combat stress in our lives. Stress happens when we feel overwhelmed or unable to cope – Christmas is a prime cause of stress, especially as one year closes (where has the year gone?/another year older!) and a new one begins (fear of change and uncertainty). So just imagine if you had 8 arms to help you out with all of your jobs and deal with whatever is to come next year!!!

Just for a bit of fun and to immerse ourselves fully in our yoga practice – we have made a ‘Durga Gallery’ – I hope that this inspires students to feel empowered (maybe enlist an extra pair of hands? or maybe reduce the amount of tasks you set yourself? you do only have 1 pair of hands really!)

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Dhyana Mudra

dhyana mudra2

We often see the Buddha represented with this gesture. It is beautifully simple and brings you into deeper, more profound concentration. It is the traditional mudra to aid qualities of tranquillity and inner peace.
Method: To do the Dhyana mudra, simply sit with your hands facing upward, right hand resting on top of your left palm. The right hand, representing enlightenment and higher spiritual faculties, rests over the left hand, representing the world of maya, or illusion.
I like to visualise the hands as a little basket. Sometimes there are flowers in the basket and sometimes there is a little fire burning. The space within the hands is empty and you can see that space as freedom and a way to empty the mind. You can do whatever works for you – it’s a soft embrace and the fingers could be holding a dove…  allow your imagination to roam and find something that works for you.

Weekly Yoga Classes – September 2018

This year our yoga classes will revolve around the theme of OPPOSITES. This concept was used widely in yogic literature to help us understand ourselves and the world in which we live. Our first pair of opposites will be BIG and small. As always with Hatha yoga we begin with the physical body and using the body to explore ways of being big – like an Oak Tree or a Mountain and also being small – like a child, a bird or a seed. Moving from one to the other challenges our balance, and strengthens and stretches our muscles.

We’ll work with the breath, expanding the lungs with physical moves and breathing exercises – discussing the benefits of large breaths vs small breaths and taking time to feel what this experience is like for us. Throughout our work during the year there will be many ‘companion’ opposites – loud and quiet, easy and strained may well be other pairs as we develop our work with the breath.

There will be time spent on thoughtful reflection too – looking back at BIG life events and forward to BIG life goals. And then considering the smaller things in life too –

Sometimes,” said Poo, “the smallest things take up the most space in your heart.”

(from Winnie the Poo by AA Milne)

I’m very much looking forward to exploring this concept and other OPPOSITES with you as the new year of yoga unfolds. Namaste xx

Why Sanskrit?

Yoga is a way to keep healthy and happy. It was developed way before we had the science of medicine and so relied very much upon nature and observation. Yoga was developed by Sages and Gurus (wise men and teachers) thousands of years ago. Sanskrit was the language used to pass the methods on (by word of mouth for centuries and then in written format). It is said to be the oldest language and is often referred to as ‘the language of the gods’. Many of the Sanskrit words we use in class (including the names of exercises) have been passed down from these ancient times. So why should we still use them? Aren’t they a bit old fashioned? Well, I think that it’s good to keep the Sanskrit in circulation as a way of remembering that we who practice in this day and age are simply a link in a very long chain of people who have practiced yoga. True that we must acknowledge new developments in science and medicine and we wouldn’t want to be without them but, respecting the lineage of yoga gives us grounding and deep roots from which to grow. You may feel differently, but in case you are interested I’ve compiled a short list of Sanskrit terms which I feel are important to understand when you are embarking on your yoga journey…

  1. Asana.

The correct pronunciation is AH’-sah-nah. Literally, it means “seat,” but in yoga class it’s pretty much interchangeable with the word “pose.” For example, Bhujangasana = Cobra Pose, Navasana = Boat Pose… and so on.

  1. Namaste.

This is my favorite Sanskrit word because it’s fun to say–nah’-mah’-stay. It means: ‘The light within me respects and honours the light within you’. My incredibly simplified translation: Isn’t it awesome that we just practiced yoga together? Thanks for your presence.

  1. Om.

Ooooooohhhhhmmmmmmm. This is the sound/vibration of the universe. But what does it mean? Essentially, we are all a part of this universe–always moving, always changing, always breathing. When you chant Om, you’re tapping into that vibration.

  1. Shanti.

Peace. When you chant, “Om shanti shanti shanti,” it’s an invocation of peace. In Buddhist and Hindu traditions you chant shanti three times to represent peace in body, speech, and mind.

  1. Sthira Suka Asanam

The posture should be steady and easy. This guidance from the great Sage Patanjali means that we should not strain to get into any posture or for it to be too much effort to hold.

Lets Explore… SEATED TWISTS

Twists are great ways to reduce tension in the back muscles and they also help to undo knots in our minds as well… (It’s the yoga magic!) Additional benefits include a wringing action in the soft tissues which squeeze out fluids and then upon release of the twist refill with fresh juices – FEELS GOOD!

Here in pictorial format, I thought I would show you the development of the seated twist from basic to advanced. YOU know where you are on this scale – look out for the key alignment of the spine in all these postures and then work on it yourself. I know I don’t have to tell you – but it is best to feel accomplished in the first posture before attempting the next stage.

If you are able to sit cross legged, this is the best start for a twist. Use your blocks to get comfortable in Sukasana (cross legged) and then place the hand on the opposite knee, breathe in and as you exhale twist the shoulders around and place the finger tips on the floor behind you. Stay for 3 – 5 breaths and then untwist on the inhale. Work both sides. Keep the spine aligned throughout. Cross the legs in the opposite direction now and repeat.

If cross legged is not comfortable then begin in Dandasana with the legs outstretched. (This is also stage 2 if you did work in the cross legged pose.) Cross one leg over the other and hug the knee into the torso with the opposite arm; breathe in, and as you exhale twist the shoulders around and place the fingers on the floor behind you. NB Keep the spine aligned CROWN OVER TAIL BONE it is so easy to lean back but this doesn’t help the twist. Also, if you find this causes lower back discomfort, you can sit on one block.

Keep working on stage 2 until the shoulders comfortably twist into alignment with the outstretched leg. There are a number of different variations with different arms. This is where most people spend time working ( 3-5 breaths for each side is enough in each practice). Gently encourage your spine to twist as you exhale. Keep the spine aligned throughout.

As the twist movement comes with ease, you can begin to bend the outstretched leg. Do the previous version first and then try the new leg position in a 2nd round. Take your time with these advancements – don’t force anything. Breathe and relax the body will stretch over time – and by time I mean months and years.

In the final stage (Ardha Matseyendrasana), the shoulders twist easily around enabling the arms to ‘bind’ underneath the upright knee. The example here shows the spine beautifully aligned and the head twisted around (not as relaxed as the rest of the posture seems though). It is the ease of the legs and arms which your are seeking – this yogi feels relaxed in the posture. A feeling of being in the posture rather than pushing to achieve it – which is what you want to aim for in your practice.

No matter what stage you are at – this is the right stage for you now. Don’t force anything. If you are unsure about what you’re doing – pay attention next time you are in class! Get in early and sit at the front, I regularly demonstrate postures at the beginning of when we practice and then get up and move around the room. If it suits you better, come along for a 1-2-1 in my yoga room, great gains can be made with a few moments spent in preparatory movements to open up a particularly tight area of your body – this can’t always happen in a class environment.

Happy Twisting – and remember spine upright and practice safely x

 

New Yoga Classes Come to Ryhall Village Hall

There is a saying about yoga ‘Whatever Age You Begin To Practice, You Stay…’

Why not put it to the test and join one of my new classes?  You too can halt the march of time and reap all the benefits of this ancient form of health care!

The 2 new classes will begin on September 7th, ‘Beginners Yoga’ 11.45 – 12.45 and ‘Yoga Fit’ 6 – 7. This is a great opportunity for people new to yoga to ‘get in at the start’ and learn with like minded people about the postures, breathing and relaxation practices.

‘Beginners Yoga’ will focus on the systems of the body. Each half term we will take a look at how our body works and what exercises we can do to improve the function. Beginning with the Skeletal system in September and then moving onto the Muscular system, Cardiovascular system, Digestive system, Respiratory system and Nervous system. Each class is in fact an all round practice working on the body and mind, but with its particular focus holding your attention and building up your knowledge of yourself and yoga throughout the term. The posture work takes around 40 minutes and we take a relaxation exercise for the last 15 minutes. Relaxation is a key part of yoga, aiding the body in bringing it to harmony and allowing time and stillness for healing. The whole class lasts for 1 hour and is suitable for all levels of fitness.

‘Yoga Fit’ concentrates on the physical elements of yoga, getting the body to function and flow with grace as nature intended. This year we will be focusing on the core. Each term we will look at a variety of yoga postures (asana) learning about correct alignment and the benefits of each pose. As we become familiar with the postures they are linked together to form a graceful flow or vinyasa. This is performed several times during the class in tune with the breath. The class lasts for an hour with the final 5 minutes dedicated to a relaxing breathing exercise.

If you are not familiar with Ryhall Village it is a couple of miles from Stamford along the road past Sainsbury’s. It takes about 5 minute by car, passing the new football ground, then 2 mini roundabouts and finally turning into the village on the right hand side. A minute later and the village hall faces you with the tiny library opposite. There is ample car parking directly in front of the hall, and what makes it super for yoga is that the hall has a foyer and then a large space with wooden flooring and wall lights. The space is ‘womb like’ giving you a feeling of escape from the world outside.

If you are interested in either class, or know someone who may be, please contact me for more information or to book your place.